§ MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether colliery owners are required by Statute to send their returns relating to their output and number of persons they employ to the inspectors before the 21st January in each year; whether, seeing that much of the value and interest attaching to the summaries of the statistical portion of the inspectors' reports is lost by the great delay in their publication, he can state why, last year, they were not issued, and this year it is not proposed to issue them before the middle of May, whereas formerly they were delivered early in March; whether, having regard to the importance of the coal mining industry in the United Kingdom at the present time, he will, rather than permit delay, arrange to present the statistics relating to it separately from those concerning quarries and other minor trades; whether he is aware that the then Secretary of State promised in 1892 to secure an earlier presentation of the Reports of the mines inspectors than had previously been the case: and whether, in the event of his being unable to carry out that promise, he will, when asked, furnish information on specific and important points, such as the total production and number of persons employed in the various districts?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
The date for the Returns from coal mines is the 21st January, those from metalliferous mines and quarries the 18th February, but the hon. Member must surely understand that it is impossible to secure the receipt of all the returns on the statutory 1378 dates. The promise given in 1892 referred only to the Reports, not to the summaries, and has been carried out as far as possible, but the Reports as well as the statistics are to some extent delayed by the necessity of including the Returns under the Quarries Act of 1894. Every effort is made to expedite the publication of the statistics, which, as I have already stated, I hope will be ready in April, but I think it is desirable that they should be published in a complete form, and pending their publication I cannot undertake, except in special circumstances, to give the results piecemeal.