§ MR. MOSS (Denbighshire, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the special rules proposed to be established under the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act,. 1872, in Dr. Foster's inspection district; and whether he is aware that in some cases special rules have been established without the miners having had an opportunity of considering the same, and whether, in future, before any special rules are established under the said Act he will give the miners an opportunity of considering the same and of sending objections to the same for the consideration of the Home Secretary before they are established and become law.
I beg also to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been called to the fact that some of the special rules proposed to be established under the Metalliferous Mines Regulation Act, 1872, in Dr. Foster's inspection district, conflict with the general provisions of 1313 that Act, especially Rule 54, applicable to ore mines, which provides that where ladders are constructed for the ascent or descent of persons in the mines the distance between the platforms shall not exceed ten yards, whereas Section 23, Sub-section 15, of the Act provides that the distance between the platforms shall not exceed twenty yards; and whether he will take steps to make the rules conform with the terms of the Act.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. RITCHIE, Croydon)
I will, if I may, answer both questions at once. The rules referred to have been proposed by me to a number of mine owners, with the object of securing better and fuller provision for the safety of the miners. The inspector would, as is well known, be ready to receive any representations from the miners, and these would, of course, be considered by me with a view to seeing whether any modifications of the rules were in consequence necessary. As a matter of fact, these rules are very similar to others which have been in force for some time in other mines in the same districts, and as to which no representations or complaints have ever reached me. I do not consider that the particular rule to which the hon. Member refers conflicts with the general provisions of the Act. It adds an additional precaution for the safety of the miner, which is, to my mind, one of the chief objects of special rules. If these rules were to be merely copies of that Act I cannot see why they should be made at all.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
The Act does not require that the miners shall be informed of the new rules, when they are promulgated by the Home Office, but I may say that the inspectors do take care so far as is possible to consult the miners with regard to matters of this kind, and I am always ready to listen to any representations which may have been made.
§ MR. MOSS
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if a new inspector is about to be appointed for Dr. Foster's inspection district in the place of Dr. Foster, who is retiring; and, if so, whether, seeing that all the lead mines in this district have been allowed to be worked for a period of nearly twenty-nine years without special rules, he will consider the advisability of withholding his sanction from any special rules until both the new inspector and the miners interested may have had an opportunity of considering the same; and whether, having regard to the fact that the miners in many portions of Dr. Foster's district in Wales are monoglot Welshmen, he will, in appointing a successor to Dr. Foster, appoint a gentleman who is able to speak and write the Welsh language.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
The arrangements necessary in consequence of the retirement of Dr. Foster are still under my consideration; but I may say that I have no intention of departing from the present practice, which secures that one or more of the inspectors attached to a Welsh district shall be able to speak and write the Welsh language. As I have already indicated, I see no reason for delaying the establishment of the special rules which I have proposed.