HC Deb 27 July 1896 vol 43 cc752-4

(1.) The inspection before the commencement of work required by Rule 4 (i) contained in Section forty-nine of the principal Act, shall extend to all working places in which work is temporarily stopped within any ventilating district in which the men have to work. (2,) A safety lamp shall not he used in any mine or part of a mine unless it is the property of, or provided by, the owner of the mine, and no portion of any safety lamp shall be removed by any person from the mine while the lamp is in ordinary use. (3.) In Rule 12 of the general rules contained in Section forty-nine of the principal Act, for the words "nor shall coal or coal dust be used for tamping "shall be substituted the words "and only clay or other non-inflammable substances shall be used for stemming, and shall be provided by the owner of the mine.

MR. W. ABRAHAM (Rhondda)

asked whether the word "or," in Subsection (2)—("or provided by")—was not a clerical error?


No; it is not a clerical error.

MR. ABRAHAM (Rhondda)

said that his objection to the word "or" was this, that a miner might have to pay for the lamp that the mine owner provided. This was the case at present.


said that the words "or provided by" did not mean "provided by the owners to the workmen," but that the owners were responsible for providing the lamps.

MR. W. ABRAHAM (Rhondda)

said the question was whether the workmen had to pay for the lamps. Owners undertook to provide lamps for the workmen, and then charged each workman twopence per week for the use of the lamp. If the miner was allowed to buy his own lamp he could get a good one for 9s. or 10s., and in the ordinary condition of things it would hold good for eight or nine years. Heaving regard to safety, however, it was only right that the lamps should be the property of the mine owner. If the miner undertook to provide the lamp he should keep it. The workman had no authority over the lamp, only the privilege of using it; yet he had to pay twopence a week for the use of the lamp. His Amendment was only reasonable, that the mine owner should provide the lamp as long as he remained owner, and pay for it if he kept it in his custody.


said his object and that of his hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda was the same as that of the Home Secretary. In cases in which he had been professionally interested he had heard inspectors say that in their opinion the lamp ought to be provided by the employer, that those responsible for the safety of the mine might have absolute control over the lamp and prevent the workman taking it home. In a great many mines where the lamps were theirs the men were allowed to take them home. The Home Secretary's object was that the miners should have absolute control over the lamps. How could that be carried out without changing "or" into "and," so that it might run "and the safety lamp shall be the property of and be provided by the owner himself. "If the Inspectors of Mines in South Wales and Monmouthshire were consulted—and he had heard them give evidence on oath—they would be on the side of the hon. Member for Rhondda in this matter. So it was of vital importance that the lamp should belong to and be provided by the owner.


said that it was not until he saw the notice on the Paper that his attention was called to the word "or," and the proposal of "and "for it. He had not sufficiently considered what the effect of putting the word "and" would be, and he would not say no to it without further consideration.

* MR. J. WILSON (Falkirk)

said that in Scotland the mine owners provided the lamps and kept them entirely under their control, but the men were charged the cost of the lamps. He considered that this system was the best, and should be adopted by the Government.


thought the owner should not have sole control over the lamp if he was going to charge the workmen for it. The point of his hon. Friend was that if the employer was to have the right to provide the lamps and dictate what lamps should be used, he must provide them at his own expense, and not make the workmen pay.


suggested that the words "unless it is the property of or is sold by the owner" should be inserted.


said the practice prevailing in the North of England was for the employer to find the lamps, which were his property, and there was practically only one class of safety lamp used throughout the collieries. The employer was, therefore, able to get the best class of safety lamp in existence. The Home Secretary would find that the Reports of the inspectors pointed to the fact that the lamps ought to be the property of the mine owners, and simply let out to the workmen for their use during the day. In the north, miners seemed to be in a most favourable position compared with what they were elsewhere; they not only provided the lamp, but the oil too.


said that he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would see his way to accepting the Amendment of his hon. Friend.


said that he had no objection to the Amendment. ["Hear, hear!"]


said that he thought that some difficulty might arise if the Amendment were accepted in its present form.


said that he was quite willing to accept the Amendment at the present moment, but he must ask for further time to consider the matter, and, if he found it necessary to alter the form of it on a future occasion, he must reserve to himself the liberty of doing so. ["Hear, hear!"]

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6,—