§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether his attention has been called to the late lamentable accident at the Snailbeach lead-mine in Shropshire, in which a number of miners lost their lives, owing to the breaking of an unsound rope which had been in use for nine years; whether he is aware that the Government Inspector at the inquest expressed his dissatisfaction at the way in which the rope was looked after; whether it has been ascertained, who, if anyone, was responsible for the supervision of the rope; and whether any further proceedings will be taken; if he will inquire whether a system prevails in this mine compelling the miners to buy from the owners, at a price alleged to be excessive, gunpowder, fuses, and candles; and, whether this system is in accordance with the provisions of the Truck Act?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. H. ASQUITH, Fife, E.)
I have received a report from the inspector, who says that the rope had been in use eight-and-a-half years, which he considers too long a period, and that some specified person ought to have been deputed to grease it; that the outward appearance of the rope did not betray its inner corrosion; and that in his opinion no contravention of the Acts of Parliament had been committed. The question whether the law in this respect requires amendment will be considered by the inspectors at their next meeting. Under the Truck Acts, it is allowable for the miners to contract to buy their materials, such as gun powder, from the employers, and to pay even an unreasonable price for them. The Bill introduced by me is aimed at the kind of evil complained of by the hon. Member, for it does not permit any but reasonable prices to be paid or deducted from wages. If the hon. Member 467 will supply me with any details of the acts complained of they shall be investigated.