HC Deb 11 March 1897 vol 47 cc504-5
MR. B. PICKARD (York, W.R., Normanton)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received from Mr. Peter Muir, Miners' Agent, of Glasgow, a letter complaining of the action of the Hindsward Pit, Old Cumnock, belonging to William Baird and Co., Limited, as having unduly interfered with the appointment of a checkweigher; whether the men are within their right in taking a ballot in accordance with the Acts of 1887 and 1894; whether he is aware that the men did ballot for the appointment of a checkweigher: that intimation had been given to the manager to either attend himself or send someone on his behalf to see that the ballot was properly taken; that the manager was informed of the election by ballot of a checkweighman; and that when the person appointed presented himself for work the manager objected, and demanded the men to signify on the pit-head whether or not they wanted a checkweigher; whether the manager is acting within the law by thus interfering in the appointment of a checkweigher, and in preventing the checkweigher acting for all the miners in the mine after a ballot has been taken; whether the manager is bound to provide reasonable shelter and proper facilities for the checkweigher so that he may take correctly the weight of the mineral gotten by the men; whether he will instruct Her Majesty's Inspector for that district to prosecute the manager for unduly interfering in the appointment by ballot of a checkweigher for this mine; and, whether he will take steps to enforce the weighing clauses of the Mines Acts in Scotland as they are carried out in England?


I recently received a letter from Mr. Muir on the matter referred to, and was in hopes, from the report which I called for from the Inspector, that the difficulties which had arisen had been amicably settled. These difficulties were, I understood, not in connection with the taking of the ballot or the appointment of the checkweigher, but with the mode in which the appointment should be communicaied to the manager and the persons for whom the checkweigher is to act. As the hon. Member is well aware, the law on these points, as also on the question whether the facilities which are to be afforded to a checkweigher include the provision of shelter, is doubtful, and I am not prepared, on the information before me, to express an opinion that the manager was acting illegally. I have sent for a further report as to how matters stand at present. I do not understand the distinction which the hon. Member appears to draw between the enforcement of the Act in Scotland and in England.