HC Deb 05 December 1911 vol 32 cc1283-5

(1) The manager of every mine shall fix within the limits allowed by the foregoing Section, and shall specify in a notice in the prescribed form, which must be affixed at the mine—

  1. (a) the period of employment; and
  2. (b) the times allowed for meals;
and no boy, girl, or woman shall be employed in connection with any mine except during the period so fixed, but different times may be fixed for different persons and for different days.

(2) A change in the said period or times shall not be made oftener than once a quarter unless for special cause allowed in writing by an inspector.


I beg to move the omission of Clause 93.

The point which I have in view in moving this Amendment has been met to some extent by the Amendment which the Under-Secretary has put down. I would appeal to him to make it a little wider, because these alterations of time will have to take place more frequently than is possible under the proposal which has been put down. Accidents happen constantly in collieries which render it absolutely impossible that meal times can be uniform, and regulations such as are imposed by the Amendment will not permit of that variation which is requisite in order to provide for these eventualities. I quite recognise that the Under-Secretary has attempted to meet the difficulty, but I think that if he looks into it he will see that it does not put in what is required, and I would ask him to reconsider it.


I beg to second the Amendment.


If the hon. Gentleman looks at the Amendment on the Paper he will certainly see that it meets the particular case in regard to which he has appealed to me. These general regulations do not of necessity mean that they will fix the conditions, for these can be subject to variation. I think what the hon. Gentleman wants to know is that under the general regulation there will be full power of criticism and of arbitration where necessary. I think that the case of small accidents and delays underground will be met by the suggestion I have made.


I do not think the hon. Gentleman's reply quite meets the point made by my hon. Friend. This special provision is really made under the Factory Acts, and I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that there is no analogy between the working of a factory and the working of a mine. He appears to imagine that these words which are on the Paper meet the case, but it is impossible in a mine to lay down an actual time limit. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that this is really a matter of very great importance.


I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My hon. Friend the Member for Wilton (Mr. C. Bathurst) has asked me to submit to the House an Amendment (with several consequential Amendments) which appears on the Paper. His object is to insert in Sub-section (1) words which will fix "the period of employment" within the limits allowed by the previous Clause, and would omit paragraph (b) as to the times allowed for meals. He points out that there is already provisions for the meals of women and children. As far as grown men are concerned, they would be left to arrange among themselves when meals were to be taken. In cases of timbering or using explosives, it would be quite impossible to leave off those different works in order to sit down and have a meal. In the case of emergency, work has to be continuous and carried on until it is finished, so that it would be quite impossible to stop in order to obtain a meal in the times set out by the regulations. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary will give me an assurance that the Amendment which he has on the Paper will meet the object of my hon. Friend, and if he does that I do not think I shall press the Amendment.


I may inform the hon. Baronet that the proposal does not interfere with the men's meal times at all; only with those of women and children.


In the circumstances I will not proceed with the Amendments.

Amendment made: At the end of Subsection (2), insert the words, Provided that provision may be made by general regulations for allowing a different time to be substituted in case of any special emergency for the time for any meal fixed under this Section.—[Mr. Masterman.]