§ (1) No person, other than an official of the mine or a person, employed on the road in connection with the haulage shall, while the haulage is in motion, travel on foot on any haulage road on which the haulage is worked by gravity or mechanical power, except—
- (a) Where there is provided on one side of the road a clear space of at least two feet in width between the tubs and that side of the road, and the rate of haulage is not more than ten miles an hour; or
- (b) Where, in the case of a haulage road in which such a clear space as aforesaid is not provided, the rate of haulage is not more than three miles an hour and the gradient does not exceed one in twelve, or in respect of any part of the road not exceeding one hundred yards in length, one in nine, and the space between the tracks of rail, where there is more than one track, is kept clear of obstructions:
§ Provided that the exception hereinbefore contained as respects haulage 1558 roads in which no such clear space as aforesaid is provided shall apply only in the case of mines opened before the passing of this Act or mines in which the character of the strata makes it unreasonable to require such a clear space to be provided.
§ If any question arises as to whether the character of the strata in any mine makes it unreasonable to require a clear space to be provided, that question shall be determined in the manner provided by this Act for settling disputes.
§ Provided further that where there was originally such clear space as aforesaid, but such space has on any part of any haulage road become reduced to less than two feet by reason of any squeeze or other cause over which the management have no control, such persons as aforesaid may travel on such haulage road during the time the necessary repairs are being carried out provided that such repairs shall be carried out by the management without delay.
§ (2) Where the haulage is worked by gravity or mechanical power, no person shall be allowed to ride on sets or trains of tubs except—
- (a) a person travelling on a set or train for the purpose of detaching or attaching tubs from or to the haulage rope, if that set or train is not proceeding at a higher speed than three miles an hour; or
- (b) men being conveyed, with the written permission of the manager or under-manager, to or from their work at the commencement or end of their employment; or
- (c) the driver of a locomotive.
§ (3) In all places where sets or trains consisting of three or more tubs are coupled 1559 or uncoupled there shall be a clear space of at least two feet between tubs standing on any rails and the side of the road nearest to those rails, and between tubs standing on two parallel lines of rails.
§ Where, in the case of any existing mine, compliance with the requirements of this Sub-section would necessitate the removal of arching or other masonry work, or where in the case of any mine sets or trains of tubs are coupled or uncoupled at the face, or at the pass-by next the face, other provisions for securing safety may be substituted by the regulations of the mine for those requirements.
§ (4) In measuring any clear space for the purposes of this Section, any props or other supports of the roof projecting beyond the side of the road shall be deemed to form part of the side.
§ Amendments made: In Sub-section (1) at the beginning, insert the words "On and after the first day of January nineteen hundred and fourteen."
§ After the word "haulage" ["in connection with the haulage"], insert the words "or a person engaged in carrying out any repairing work requiring to be carried out forthwith."—[Mr. Masterman.]
§ In paragraph (b), leave out the word "passing" ["before the passing of this Act"], and insert instead thereof the words "coming into operation."—[Mr. S. Roberts.]
§ In Sub-section (2), paragraph (b), after the word "employment," insert the words "including any person in charge of a set or train of tubs on which men are being so conveyed."
§ Colonel HICKMAN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out the word "the" ["and the side"], and to insert instead thereof the word "one."
The object of this Amendment is to carry out what was really the intention of the Government, that is where tubs are uncoupled it is necessary, if the rail is single, to have two feet on the one side of the road where the man stands who uncouples, but where there are double sets of rails the Government provide for three feet between such rails, or three feet on each side of the rails. I think the Under-Secretary will be willing to accept my Amendment as part of his intention.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I am afraid I cannot accept this Amendment, but I have already gone some distance towards meeting this point. By our present proposal we leave the first part as it stands, but we give an alternative, and we say that either there must be two feet on both sides of the tub or three feet, and not two feet, between the two lines of rails, in which case the line can be up against the wall, and my inspectors say the nearer the wall the safer. Considering the evidence we have before us of the considerable number of accidents and the death-rate especially among boys, which is a rather tragic death-rate owing to this clear space not being provided, I hope the hon. and gallant Gentleman will not press his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out the words "and between tubs standing on two parallel lines of rails," and to insert instead thereof the words "or where there are two parallel lines of rails, a clear space of at least three feet between tubs standing on those rails."
§ Mr. RICHARDS
All those familiar with the discussion in the Committee know that there is some necessity for an alteration of this Clause, but we do not think it is necessary to go as far as the Under-Secretary proposes to go. We think the space is much more valuable on either side of the rails. The coupling of these trains often take place on steep gradients and if you happen to have a runaway, if you have this amount of space between, probably two or three horses will be standing in the space between the man and his place of refuge from the runaway, and there is simply no space to run to at all and the man is hemmed in. That would be introducing another danger. We are prepared to support the Under-Secretary in simply leaving out the words he has proposed to leave out without inserting the words suggested in the Amendment, otherwise we shall be compelled to oppose this Amendment. We are prepared to leave out the provision of two feet between the rails which is reducing the space required by two feet if you leave in the provision providing for two feet on either side. I think that is a reasonable attitude to take up.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
Our Amendment is supported by the opinion of experts, and 1561 I submit that my hon. Friend might allow the alternative. My inspectors think it is safer to have three feet in the middle.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
But I cannot put aside the opinions of the inspectors, backed up as they are by the Royal Commission. If you insist upon the rails being close, and allow the space between the wall, there is a danger of the boys being nipped.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
When two tubs are coming, if the lines are close together, there is a danger of the boys being nipped between them.
§ Mr. RICHARDS
There is no necessity for the boys to go between the rails at all if you have the proper space.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
I think the suggestion made by the hon. Member for West Monmouthshire is an excellent one. In the case mentioned when the tub was coming down the man would have to work left-handed. It is preferable to have the room on either side of the tubs and that alternative ought to be given. You are proposing to increase the width of the rails unnecessarily, and I think it would be safer to have the increased space between the tubs and the wall. In this matter hon. Members below the Gangway are better experts than the inspectors, because some of them speak from experience. The people I have discussed the matter with think the space on either side is much more preferable than having it in the middle. There is the point which the Under-Secretary mentioned about two tubs meeting each other where there is no room. A boy might get crushed. If the roads were made on either side, he need not go between the tubs.
§ Mr. S. WALSH
I would like to reinforce the appeal made by my hon. Friend. I can assure the Under-Secretary it is not for the purpose of vexatious opposition we are taking up this attitude. It is perfectly well known to every worker in the mine that the place of safety is not in the centre of the roads, but at the side of the roads. We did recognise there was what might be held to be a rather costly burden being put upon the employers if it was proposed to make the spaces both at the sides and in the centre, and we also felt 1562 there was a real risk of the spaces created becoming dangerous to life. If we took out the provision with regard to the middle space and left the spaces at each side, it would enable the roadway to be narrowed where the boxes are coupled and uncoupled and yet give the necessary provision for safety at the sides of the road. At the very last inquest I attended at a colliery in South Lancs, not far from Wigan, the death occurred under the conditions which the Under-Secretary proposes to provide. The man was in the centre of the roadway. There was ample space in the middle, but the full boxes from above came down, and there was no other way to escape. There were no refuge holes. It was really on the part where the boxes were being coupled and uncoupled. The man could not get into any refuge at the side. Had there been two feet clear space at each side, the man might have climbed over and got into safety. Unless you do provide clear spaces at the sides, it is simply trifling with the question to provide space in the centre. The rope breaks or the chain slips and the boxes run away, and, when boys are coupling boxes in the shunt, they are killed. If there are spaces at the sides, and they can climb over to them, they escape death. May we appeal to the Under-Secretary? We are not putting this forward in any captious spirit, but simply to make the Bill as good as we can.
§ Colonel HICKMAN
I think my hon. Friends are rather under a misapprehension about this. There are very few cases where the provision for three feet between the two rails will be carried out. Most people are of opinion it is more convenient to have two feet on each side. The whole thing seems to rest whether the pressure from the weight above will render it necessary to have a prop in the centre to support the roof, and it is quite clear, where you have a prop in the centre, the spaces must be on the outside. Where there is no such pressure, and the natural strata of the place allows it, I think most coal-mine managers would prefer to have two feet space on either side. I think it is quite necessary, however, to have some such proviso as has been suggested to meet special cases.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
If the Under-Secretary's Amendment is incorporated in the Bill a colliery will be free to choose one alternative or the other. They can have either the two feet on each side or three feet in the centre.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
It is quite clear if they want three feet in the centre they need not provide the spaces at the side. I want to make it quite clear the alternative is there. I am not sure that in some cases it might not be very much better to have the space in the middle, though I know it is more dangerous generally. I think we might leave the selection to be determined by the local conditions.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
I cannot admit there is a real alternative. It appears to me, reading it literally, it means that "where there are two parallel lines of rails," there shall be a clear space of three feet between the tubs standing on those rails. Where you have two parallel sets of rails it is imperative there shall be a space of three feet between the tubs, and not spaces of two feet on either side. That is the way I interpret it, and I think that is the way it would be interpreted by a Court of Law. I am entirely in sympathy with the views expressed by the hon. Member opposite. Speaking on behalf of those who work in the Forest of Dean coalfield, I may say that, although they would infinitely prefer to have the two alternatives, their own experience would leave them to believe it would be more safe, at any rate for the boys, to have the spaces at the sides rather than in the middle between the tubs. After all, it is commonsense, whatever the experts may say. The natural inclination of a person seeking safety is to go to the side of the road rather than to the middle It is at the side the manholes are provided, and the inclination of a boy who has no great experience would be to seek safety in the direction in which in other respects he would naturally seek it. Whatever the experts say, I hope the Under-Secretary will see his way to accept the suggestion of those who are really experienced in coal mines.
§ Mr. WEBB
I wish to support the remarks which have fallen from the hon. Member opposite. Speaking on behalf of my friends in the Forest of Dean, it would be far better to have the spaces on either side of the trams. If the space is made between the trams, it would be far more dangerous than if the boys were allowed to work and spaces were provided for them on either side. The trams move in opposite directions, and that leads to the 1564 great confusion of the boys who are usually employed in this work. I hope the Government will therefore see their way either to give us the alternative or to provde for the spaces at the side and not in the middle.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
There is no doubt at all, and my learned Friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland agrees with me, if my Amendment is carried, we are offering a clear alternative. If there should be any doubt I will take care it is put right, because that is absolutely the intention of the Government. I do not think the Gentlemen who have spoken from below the Gangway ought to divide against us in this matter, because it is a real case of disagreement in expert evidence. A certain number think the best way of arranging the matter is to have the spaces between the wall and the road, and that is freely provided for in this Clause. Others who have made a life study of this subject, including my inspector and the Royal Commission, think it more essential to have the space between the tubs. They say if you give three feet between the tubs, especially where there is a danger of the breaking away of the walls, it is the better system. Surely, therefore, the best thing would be to accept the Government Amendment.
§ Mr. S. ROBERTS
I think, with all due deference to the hon. and learned Gentleman, the legal construction of these words would be this. The first part of the Clause relates to where there is a single line, and the second part is governed by the words "or where there are two parallel lines." Where there are two parallel lines it is compulsory to have the space in the middle.
Mr. C. EDWARDS
I do not quite understand what is the undertaking of the Under-Secretary. It is perfectly clear there is no alternative where you have two sets of parallel lines. There the three feet in between operates. If the Under-Secretary gives a definite undertaking that where there are two sets of parallel rails it may be left for decision 1565 as to whether there shall be three feet in the centre or two feet on either side, I think we may agree with him. I do not know whether that is so.
§ Sir CLIFFORD CORY
As Sub-section (3) is worded, I submit that it would mean that you must have a clear space of at least two feet on each side of the line of rails, even in a place where there is a single line of rails. Is that the intention of the Under-Secretary? Because I understood that he said that in places where there was a single line of rails he only intended that the two feet should be on one side of the rails, and not on both sides.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Question, "That the words 'or where there are two parallel lines of rails, a clear space of at least three feet between tubs standing on those rails' be there inserted in the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Further Amendment made: In Sub-section (3), at the end, insert the words "The provision of this Sub-section shall come into operation on the first day of January, nineteen hundred and thirteen."
§ Mr. HARMOOD-BANNER
I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to insert the words, "Provided that this Sub-section shall not apply to any district in any seam in any mine the probable duration of which district is less than three years from the coming into operation of this Act."
It is very important, in view of the heavy expense that will be incurred through these alterations, that there should be ample time in which to do the work. I hope the Under-Secretary will accept the addition of these words in order to give the mine-owners time to complete the work.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I made a promise in Committee not to impose large structural expense upon mines of very short duration, which might necessitate the mine being closed altogether.
§ Mr. S. WALSH
Who will determine the probable duration? I remember, check-weigher, that the statement was common, "This mine will work out in twelve months," and I have known mines doomed to extinction which are now in the hey-day of prosperity. There is no term more disputatious than "probable duration." This Bill does not come into operation until January, 1913—[HON. MEMBERS: July, 1912.]—and this provision will not come into operation within three years from that time, so that wherever there is danger existing that danger is not to be dealt with if the probable duration of a mine is not going to be more than three years. I want to know who is going to determine the probable duration. Is the danger to be permitted to go on unheeded. The Sub-section at present runs,Where in the case of any existing mine compliance with the requirements of this Sub-section would necessitate the removal of arching or other masonry work, or where in the case of any mine sets of trains of tubs are coupled or uncoupled at the face,other regulations may be made. Surely that meets the whole position. All this talk about the heavy expense being required is simply flapdoodle—to put it very mildly. You ought to have a two feet space at the sides of a shunt where young people are engaged under conditions which in many cases invite disaster. To say that the necessity of making the two feet space at each side of the road where parallel line of tubs are standing will involve such an expense that, in the case of a mine, the probable duration of which is going to be only till 1916, it will put the owner to a ruinous loss, is simply nonsense. This is whittling down a Bill which has already been whittled down seriously in Committee. I consider that in Committee we got to the minimum conditions of safety; now we are undermining those. It is ridiculous to assume this Amendment is necessary. I must protest against the Under-Secretary constantly receiving from colliery owners proposals which can only have the effect of whittling down the already existing minimum of safety.
§ Mr. C. BATHURST
Throughout the proceedings in Grand Committee I very 1567 often found myself entirely in agreement with the hon. Member who has just spoken, but in this respect I cannot. He has suggested that this is an attempt on the part of the coal-owners to get out of their natural obligation under the Bill.
I am asked to speak on this Clause not only by the coal-owners, but by the representatives of the men working in the Forest of Dean area. They, so far from being contented with the three years' limit, have asked that a period of seven years should be provided in the case of all mines likely to be exhausted within that period, and I have incorporated that in an Amendment. Most of those who represent mining interests in this House are associated with very large mining undertakings. The district which my hon. Friend the Member for the Forest of Dean (Mr. Webb) and I represent consists largely of small mines, and any considerable structural alterations would materially affect the future existence of those mines. Although I fully admit that what the hon. Member (Mr. S. Walsh) has said is perfectly relevant as regards the large mines to be found in the North of England and in South Wales, it would not be applicable to the sort of mines with which I am familiar in the Forest of Dean. At the same time I think this particular Amendment is not by any means well drafted, and I am inclined to think it will be an exceedingly difficult one for the Home Office to interpret. Who is going to decide what the probable duration of a mine is? I think it will be extremely difficult to decide in a faulty district, where a mine may appear to have come to an end, and, in consequence of piercing the fault, the mine may live longer than was anticipated. I suggest in my own Amendment it should be left to one of the inspectors of the Home Office to decide definitely whether a mine does or does not come within that category, otherwise I am sorry for the Home Office if they have to interpret such a Clause as this. I hope the Under-Secretary will not be biassed by what has fallen from the Labour Benches as to this Amendment, and I certainly hope that in the case of the Forest of Dean a longer period will be granted.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
Will it not be possible to come to an agreement on this Amendment if we leave out the word "probable" and insert after the word "is" ["duration of which district is"] 1568 the words "in the opinion of the Secretary of State." It will then read,Provided that this Sub-section shall not apply to any district in any seam in any mine the duration of which district is, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, less than three years from the coming into operation of this Act.
§ Mr. HARMOOD-BANNER
Would it not do if it were put generally that the Sub-section should not apply to mines or seams which, in the opinion of the inspector, are at the time of the passing of the Bill within three years of exhaustion?
§ Amendments made in proposed Amendment: Leave out the word "probable" ["the probable duration of which"].
§ After the word "is" ["duration of which district is"], insert the words "in the opinion of the Secretary of State."—[Mr. Edgar Jones.]
§ Proposed Amendment, as amended, agreed to.