§ SIR ALFRED THOMAS (Glamorganshire, E.)
I beg to ask the Undersecretary for the Home Office whether steps will be immediately taken to initiate an inquiry into the sad disaster that has occurred in the Rhondda Valley.
§ *THE UNDER - SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. COCHRANE, Ayrshire, N.)
I take the opportunity to express the regret of the Home Office at the disaster. The Answer is that the mines inspector for the Cardiff district, in which the colliery is, proceeded to the scene as soon as possible, and is now supervising the necessary work. He has sent the following telegram, in which he says that "considerable progress in the exploration of the working of the colliery has been made; seventy-seven bodies have been discovered, and twenty-seven have been brought to the surface. I fully expect the whole of the working will be explored by to-morrow. The loss of life is expected to be 119. The cause of the explosion has not yet been ascertained. (Signed) Gray, Mines Inspector." I may say that the Home Office will be represented by counsel at the inquest, when it is hoped that all the facts relating to the circumstances of the disaster will be ascertained.
§ MR. WILLIAM ABRAHAM (Glamorganshire, Rhondda)
May I ask that on this occasion they will see that a legal gentleman who has had some experience in these inquiries will be sent down to South Wales? It would be better if a gentleman who could speak Welsh was selected, but I think it is essential that he should at least understand the Welsh language.
§ *MR. COCHRANE
I have told the hon. Member that counsel will be sent down, and I will draw the attention of the Home Secretary to the further point he has made.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will agree to a Motion being passed by the House expressing their sympathy with the relatives of those who have suffered so greviously in this terrible disaster?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am quite sure no such Resolution is required in order to show how deeply the House feels this sudden tragedy which has overcome so many of our fellow-countrymen. I think the hon. Gentleman will feel not only that no such Resolution is required on the present occasion, but that if the precedent were set which he suggests, it would be impossible to distinguish between cases when such a Resolution was really fitting and those cases where it was at least doubtful whether this House should pass such a Resolution. Those doubtful cases would necessarily lead to debates which I would be essentially painful in their character; and I should therefore deprecate a precedent which might be inconvenient, and which would add nothing, I think, to the expression of deep emotion which we all feel.