§ MR. D. A. THOMAS (Merthyr Tydvil)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he can state approximately the proportion of foreign pitwood used in South Wales and Monmouthshire collieries; if he is aware that British-grown larch and Scotch fir are stronger than, the wood imported from France and Norway, and that their more extended use would tend to greater security to life and limb underground; and if he can say to what extent it would be practicable for Welsh collieries to obtain a regular and sufficient supply of British wood.
§ *MR. RITCHIE
The inspectors for the South Wales coalfield estimate that about nine-tenths of the pitwood used there is imported from abroad. They report that the British timber referred to in the question is considered somewhat stronger than foreign wood, but that this difference of strength has very little to do with the number of accidents due to falls of ground, which, when they occur, are caused almost invariably not by the weakness of the timber, but by the insufficient amount used to support the roof and sides. I can give no information on the point raised in the last paragraph of the question.
§ MR. D. A. THOMAS
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if he can give the quantity of pitwood imported 1460 into Cardiff, Newport, and Swansea last year, stating that from France separately.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR, Leeds, Central)
The imports of pitwood were not separately recorded in 1900, but were included under the general head of hewn wood. From the 1st January, 1901, a heading to show the imports of pitwood has been adopted, and in the four months ended April the quantity of pitwood landed at Cardiff was 245,612 loads, at Swansea 24,717 loads, and at Newport 76,887 loads. Of these quantities there were landed from France at Cardiff 189,547 loads, at Swansea 19,155 loads, and at Newport 68,018 loads.