HC Deb 20 May 1890 vol 344 cc1396-8
MR. DAVID THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is the case, as has been alleged, that fatal accidents on the last of the nine hours work per day in many Welsh collieries are 100 per cent. in excess of the fatal accidents during the whole of the remaining eight hours; whether he has any reason to believe that fatal accidents are at all more numerous in the last hour of a nine hour shift than they are in any other hour of the shift, or than they would be in the last hour of an eight hour shift in the same district; and if he will grant a Return showing for the years 1888 and 1889 at what hour of employment of persons killed in collieries underground the accidents which resulted in their deaths happened?


The Inspector for the district informs me that the statements in the first two paragraphs of the question are not correct. In 1889 out of 126 fatal accidents it appears that 12 occurred in the first hour, nine in the second, 14 in the third, 18 in the fourth, 17 in the fifth, nine in the sixth, 12 in the seventh, nine in the eighth, 18 in the ninth, seven in the tenth, and one in the 11th. I have no reason to believe that it is the fact that the last hour of a shift is accompanied by more danger to life than any other hour of the employment. I will inquire whether it is possible to give generally the information asked for in the last paragraph of the question, and if it is I will direct the Inspectors to include it in their Annual Reports.

MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that so few miners work into the 11th hour that the Return is misleading without that explanation?


I have given the figures as they have been given to me.


Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly make inquiry?


I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the deaths resulting from miscellaneous underground accidents in coal mines are annually from two to three times as numerous in the South Wales district as in the Newcastle district, although the number of persons employed is only fractionally greater; whether his attention has been drawn to the following statement made by the Inspector of the South Wales district, in his Report for 1887, in reference to fatalities arising from miscellaneous accidents underground:— I am thoroughly convinced that the number could be sensibly reduced by the enforcement of stricter discipline; and what steps, if any, have been taken since 1887 to enforce stricter discipline?


The deaths resulting from miscellaneous underground accidents in South Wales are rather more than twice as numerous as compared with those occurring in the Newcastle district; but the number of persons employed in South Wales is 30 per cent. more than in the Newcastle district. I am informed by the Inspector that his observations with regard to the fatalities had reference to the better enforcement of the special rules by colliery officials, and that he takes every opportunity of calling the attention of owners and managers to their responsibilities under the Act of Parliament, and of urging them to use the powers given them by law to enforce a strict observance of the special rule's. The Inspector has, whenever he could procure evidence, instituted prosecutions against owners and managers for not enforcing the observance of the general rules.