MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether Mr. William Leek, Postmaster at Cleator Moor, has been appointed Assistant Inspector of Metalliferous Mines in the Cumberland district; (2) whether the same qualifications are necessary for an Assistant Inspectorship of Mines as are required for Inspectorships; and, if so, whether in respect of the limitation of age and of previous employment underground, Mr. Leck possesses the necessary qualifications; (3) and whether this is the same gentleman with respect to whom a coroner's jury, in 1888, found a verdict that there had been great, but not criminal, neglect on his part, in the matter of the deaths by suffocation of three men in the pits of the Cleator Iron Ore Company?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
(1) The answer to the first paragraph is, yes. (2) The inspection of metalliferous mines is in most districts performed by the Inspectors and Assistant Inspectors of Coal Mines as a subsidiary part of their duties; but for the appointment of Inspector of Metalliferous Mines per se, no limit of age or qualification as to previous employment underground has as yet been prescribed, the few appointments of the kind having been conferred on gentlemen who, on account of their training and experience, have been considered qualified to hold them. (3.) Mr. Leck is one of the three gentlemen who, as officials of the Cleator Ore Mines, were concerned in the case referred to in the third paragraph. I was aware of this case when I appointed Mr. Leck, and, after carefully considering it, I came to the conclusion that the circumstances were not such as to disqualify him. These circumstances were within the knowledge of the large number of persons engaged in the mining industry in the district as employers and employed, who urged me to appoint Mr. Leck.