HC Deb 27 June 1899 vol 73 cc771-2

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been called to the statements made by Mr. Matthews, inspector of mines, and Mr. Brighouse, the county coroner, at an inquest held on Saturday last at Ince, near Wigan, into the cause of the death of a collier named Joseph Almond, who was killed at a colliery at Ince through the imperfect timbering of the working place; whether he is aware that the coroner stated that with his fifteen years' experience he had come to the conclusion that they ought not to allow the responsibility of timbering to remain with the collier, and if the colliery owners would not voluntarily do what they ought to do to protect life the Legislature must step in and make them, also that both the inspector of mines and the jury in their verdict recommended systematic timbering of mines; and whether, in view of these expressions of opinion and with the object of preventing this large class of accidents in mines, he will issue a Provisional Order to the colliery owners or introduce legislation on the subject.

COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, Ince)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman the following question, of which I have given him private notice: Whether it was not proved at the inquest that there was plenty of available timber at the place where the general and special rules required that the management should place it; whether it was not one of the special rules of the colliery that the workman should himself see to the safety of the roof and sides of his working- place; and whether, as the roof of a mine varies, "systematic timbering" has as yet been accepted by mining engineers as, a safer system than that existing.


I have received a report of the inquest in this case, and find therein statements to, the effect indicated by the hon. Member. The question of what can be done to, prevent accidents from falls of roof and sides has been under the consideration of myself and the inspectors of mines for some time past. I have no power under the Mines Acts to issue any "Provisional Order" on the subject; but in some districts owners have themselves adopted special rules requiring additional precautions to be taken—among others that of systematic timbering—and I have decided to bring the matter specially to the notice of colliery owners throughout the country in the hope of securing the, adoption of further precautions. In answer to my hon. friend the Member for the Ince Division of Lancashire, I would say that there does not appear to, have been any evidence given at the, inquest of disregard of either the general or the special rules in force at the mine, but I understand the jury's recommendation to be that the rules should be so altered as to require systematic timbering. As regards the third of my hon. friend's questions, the mines inspectors, report unanimously to me that much greater safety is, secured by systematic timbering.