HC Deb 23 November 1911 vol 31 cc1502-5

(1) In any mine or part of a mine in which safety lamps are required by this Act or the regulations of the mine to be used, no person shall have in his possession any lucifer match nor any apparatus of any kind for producing a light or spark except so far as may be authorised for the purpose of shot firing or relighting lamps by an order under this Act regulating the use of explosives, or any cigar, cigarette, pipe, or contrivance for smoking.

(2) The manager of a mine in which or in any part of which safety lamps are required by this Act or by the regulations of the mine to be used, shall, for the purpose of ascertaining whether they have in their possession any lucifer match or such Apparatus as aforesaid or cigar, cigarette, pipe, or contrivance for smoking, cause either all persons employed underground in the mine, or in the part of the mine, as the case may be, or such of them as may be selected on a system approved by the inspector of the division, to be searched in the prescribed manner after or immediately before entering the mine or that part of the mine.

(3) No official of a mine shall search any workman employed in a mine unless before such search is made, an opportunity has been given by such official to some two workmen employed in such mine to search himself, and if no lucifer matches, or such apparatus as aforesaid, or any pipe or smoking appliance is found on the person of the said official, the said official shall then have the right to proceed to search such workman or any other workmen employed in such mine.

Amendments made: In Sub-section (2), after the word "ascertaining," insert the words "before the persons employed below ground in the mine, or in the part of the mine, as the case may be, commence work."

Leave out the words "persons employed underground in the mine, or in the part of the mine, as the case may be," and insert instead thereof the words "those persons."

At the end of Sub-section (3), insert,

"(4) Any person who refuses to allow himself to be searched in accordance with the foregoing provision shall be guilty of an offence against this Act, and shall not be allowed to enter the mine, or the part of a mine, as the case may be, and any person who on being searched is found to have in his possession any of the articles prohibited under this Section shall be guilty of an offence against this Act."—[Mr. Masterman.]


I beg to move, after the words last added to insert the following new Sub-section,

"(5) Managers, under-managers, and other officials and visitors about to enter the mine shall be subject to the provisions of this Clause in like manner as though they were persons employed underground in the mine."

Under this Clause miners going down a mine are to be searched to find out whether they have upon them any smoking apparatus, cigar, cigarette, pipe, or contrivance for smoking. I am not going to oppose the Clause as it stands, but I am about to ask that what applies to the collier should also apply to the manager. If the collier is to be searched under suspicion of being about to do a dangerous, foolish, or dishonourable thing, the manager and the visitor about to descend the mine should come within the same provision. I beg to move.


I beg to second the Amendment.


I am afraid the Government cannot accept this Amendment. After all, so far as the manager is concerned, he runs very considerable risk indeed if he is guilty of any contravention of the Act. He is liable to lose his certificate, a much heavier penalty than to which an ordinary miner is liable. So far as visitors are concerned, it is right enough that they should be searched to see that they have not matches or other inflammable material upon their person. If you find them with such material on their persons all you can do is to take it away. You cannot impose upon them a penalty for a contravention of this Act. According to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil, he would render all visitors to a mine liable to the penalty that is imposed for breaking the law. His suggestion goes beyond what is reasonable.


I beg to support the Amendment. I think there is much more danger from visitors than from the ordinary workman. There ought to be the same responsibility for visitors to be careful when they go into the mine as for the workman. If a visitor goes down the mine with matches in his or her possession then there should be a deterrent provision such as we have here. As to managers and under-managers, there is much more liability of their being a little more careless, not intentionally perhaps, because they spend more time above ground. I hope the Committee will allow these words to go through.


I really think this is going a little too far. I think my hon. Friends are well aware that when any of us do take visitors down a mine we are all exceedingly careful not to run any risks. Usually when visitors go down they are attended by the manager and possibly by someone interested in the mine. Anyone who takes personal friends down a mine is very particular in the matter. Scientists go down the mines, and occasionally archbishops. I am proud to say that the Archbishop of York, in whose diocese I reside, loves to go down a mine and chat with the colliers while they are at the coal face. And really the last thing one would like when the archbishop came would be that he should have his pockets turned out. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] Well, a word of reminder to the archbishop would be quite sufficient. If you look at the thing in a practical manner you will see that there is no real danger at all, because visitors, distinguished or otherwise, as a rule are attended by the heads of the colliery, and the whole thing is gone about in a very correct manner. The same thing applies to taking a party of ladies down a mine. I have had that gallant duty more than once, and I may have it again on Saturday. I assure the House that there is no danger to be apprehended on these occasions, and you do not need legislation.

Amendment negatived.

Shafts and Winding.