HC Deb 03 August 1894 vol 28 cc13-5

On behalf of the hon. Member for the Penrith Division of Cumberland, I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the recent appointment of an Assistant Inspector of Metalliferous Mines in the Cumberland district, whether the blue paper containing a statement of the qualifications necessary for an Inspectorship of Mines was issued to many or all candidates for the office; whether one of the candidates for this office was informed by a letter from the Home Office, dated 10th April, 1894, that as he appeared to be above the maximum limit of age for the appointment—namely, 35 years, the Home Secretary regretted that he was not able to take the application into consideration with those of the numerous other candidates; and if there be no limit of age required for the office, how it came about that the said Circular was sent and the letter of the 10th of April was written?


When the three additional appointments of Assistant Inspector of Metalliferous Mines were created at the beginning of this year, the original intention was to appoint the Assistant Inspectors under both the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1887, and the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act, 1872. The conditions prescribed in the Paper to which the hon. Member refers would therefore have applied, and candidates who stated their age to be under 35 were furnished with copies of this Paper, while those who were above that age (including two who were written to on the 10th of April) were answered to the effect stated in the second paragraph of the question. I afterwards came to the conclusion that it was undesirable to carry out this intention, as it would have limited the candidature to persons of coal mining experience, which for the present purpose is not required, one of the three Assistant Inspectors being needed to inspect metalliferous mines in Cumberland, and the others to inspect slate mines and quarries in North Wales, while some of the most eligible candidates, including two of those selected, are over 35. The three officers have therefore been appointed under the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act, 1872, and for the appointment of Inspector under this Act, as I have already stated, no limit of age or other qualification has been prescribed.

MR. HOZIER (Lanark, S.)

Is it intended that these Assistant Inspectors shall inspect quarries?


Yes, Sir, certainly, as far as North Wales is concerned.


And so far as Scotland is concerned?


Probably, but I cannot say definitely.

MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)

Is any age limit prescribed in the Act of 1887?


There is no limit prescribed by the Act. It is fixed by the Regulations of the Secretary of State.


asked whether the candidates who were over age were notified that they were ineligible?


There were only two such gentlemen, and their claims were carefully considered. If they had been very eligible, I should have appointed them in spite of their being above the age.


But had they an opportunity of having their qualifications reconsidered after the withdrawal of the limit of age?


They had sent in their testimonials. I have all the facts before me.

MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

asked whether the gentlemen appointed had been examined by the Civil Service Commissioners, with regard to their health, and whether they were entitled to a pension?


Perhaps the hon. Member will give me notice as to the examination in respect of health. They are not entitled to a pension on the terms prescribed in the 4th section of the Superannuation Act.


Is it not the fact that no one now is allowed to enter the Public Service without passing an examination as to health?


I cannot say how far that applies to the excepted appointments under the 4th section of the Act, but I will inquire.