§ MR. MARKHAM
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, seeing Messrs. Cunynghame and Atkinson have reported to His Majesty's Government that the Courriéres mine disaster was, in their opinion, due to a coal dust explosion without any evidence of gas being present, and that if an explosion from the same cause occurred in this country the loss of life might equal that at Courrières, he will say if he has taken any steps to get special rules established prohibiting the use of naked lights in all British mines.
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
It would be impracticable to attempt to establish a special rule prohibiting the use of naked lights for every mine in the country. Special rules have to be proposed separately for each mine, and must have regard to "the particular state and circumstances" of the mine. If the owner objects to the rule proposed for his mine he has the right to take the matter to arbitration. It is by no means every mine in the country which is liable to a coal dust explosion, and in those that are so liable the mere prohibition of the use of naked lights alone would not be a sufficient protection. The question, however, whether the existing rules on the subject of the use of safety lamps require amendment, is included among those which have been referred by me 697 for the consideration of the Royal Com mission on Mines now sitting, and I would suggest that my hon. friend should address to that Commission any observations upon the subject which he may desire to make.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
Is the light hon. Gentleman aware that there is no case on record at the Home Office where a coal dust explosion has been set up in any other manner than by shot firing? Will he introduce legislation dealing with shot firing in mines?
§ *MR. GLADSTONE
That matter is now and has been for some time past under the consideration of the Royal Commission, and, of course, no legislation can be undertaken until we have received the Report of the Commissioners.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
Is the question of the proper watering of dry dusty mines also under consideration?