§ Competent persons appointed by the manager for the purpose, shall—
- (a) once at least in every twenty-four hours examine thoroughly the state of the external parts of the machinery, the state of the guides in the shafts, and the state of the head gear, ropes, chains, cages, and other similar appliances of the mine which are in actual use for the purpose of raising or lowering persons in a mine; and
- (b) once at least in every week examine thoroughly the state of all other machinery, gear, and other appliances of the mine which are actually in use, whether above ground or below ground; and
- (c) once at least in every week examine thoroughly the state of the shafts in which persons are lowered or raised; and
- (d) once at least in every week examine thoroughly the state of every airway in the mine;
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I beg to move, after paragraph (d), to insert,(e) once at least in every week examine into and make inquiry into all matters and things connected with or relating to the care and treatment of the horses and other animals used in the mine.By previous Clauses of this Bill the managers have to look into some matters connected with the machinery, and very properly. My suggestion is that they should look into the matters connected with horses. By common consent of the Committee upstairs certain regulations were introduced into this Bill to provide for the proper care and treatment of ponies and horses in the mines. But may I suggest that it is perfectly useless to put into the Bill any regulations in regard to the ponies unless you have some means of seeing that those regulations are carried out, and the only way of effectually doing that is by having proper periodical inspections. The Commissioners who reported upon this question called special attention to the difficulty of administering the law in places underground where matters are removed from public observation. That commends itself to commonsense. It is true that by Clause 109 special inspectors are appointed for the purpose of looking after the treatment of ponies, and I am sure everyone interested in the question must feel most grateful to the Government and to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Greenwood) for his efforts in getting these regulations into the Bill. But it is not quite sufficient in this case to trust only to the reports of the special 1611 inspectors. These reports will necessarily be at somewhat distant intervals, and as matters stand at present there is not even a provision in the Bill that the inspections should be made at any definite period. Even if there were, it would be impossible to ensure that the inspections should be made at sufficiently close intervals to secure proper observation of the regulations.
In order to supplement the inspection by the special inspectors there should be inspection by persons appointed by the managers. To my mind not only would that be for the advantage of the ponies in giving additional assistance in carrying out the regulations, but it would be to the advantage of the managers themselves. The managers have no interest in having their ponies ill-treated; quite the contrary. Therefore it is extremely desirable that something should be put into the Bill to the effect that they should make this inspection. In well-managed mines probably none of these regulations will be necessary at all; but we are not legislating for the best managed mines. We do not lay down laws against murder because we think everyone is going to commit murder. You lay down these regulations because in a certain number of the less well-managed mines the ponies might not be properly attended to. Such a provision as I propose would, I think, greatly assist the operations of the special inspectors. If inspections by persons appointed by the managers took place at frequent intervals, and the results of these inspections were embodied in the books, it would enormously facilitate the work of the special inspectors. They would look at the book, see what had been wrong, and know if there was anything to remedy. From that point of view it would be most advantageous.
Possibly we may be told that by a later Clause the horse-keepers are required by the Bill, in addition to their other duties, to keep books relating to the condition of the horses. I think that is a most valuable and important thing, but I would like the House to remember that the horse-keepers are very often the persons responsible for these grievances. Therefore you want reports not merely from the horse-keepers, but from a person appointed by the manager, who will overlook the action of the horse-keepers. If this were going to involve any great cost on the management I should hesitate to propose it, because I 1612 agree that to impose duties on the mine-owner which make it impossible for him to work the mine is not wise. The main thing is to protect the men. But in this matter I think we have a duty laid upon us to protect to the best of our ability the ponies as well as the men. I do not want for a moment to say that this shall be done on the same basis as the men, but having protected by this Bill as far as we possibly can the lives and limbs of the men, let us do what we can to protect the lives and limbs of the ponies. I do not think that this will involve any cost in the management. I think it will be a great help to the managers themselves to have this special inspection so that the due observance of these regulations, which everyone wishes, may be observed.
§ Mr. RICHARDS
I should like to have the opportunity of seconding that Amendment. I subscribe to every word that the hon. and learned Gentleman has said in respect of the necessity for a periodical examination by some responsible official in connection with the colliery of the conditions under which these horses work and are kept in the mine. I do not want to say more than to state another phase of this question. The proposal is not only in the interests of the horses themselves, but in the interests of the health of the miners. It will be within the knowledge of the Home Office that a little while ago we had to call attention to the deaths of some of the workmen consequent upon disease contracted from some of the horses in the mine. The Home Office at once instituted an investigation. As a result of that investigation—and this is all I want to say—some hundreds of horses had to be destroyed immediately. Such a thing would not have happened if we had had a responsible official like that suggested looking after the horses. It is not a matter of great expense. There are plenty of officials making examinations, and it would not be difficult to include this within their duties at very little expense, or none. I hope the Under-Secretary will accept this Amendment.
I do not think that this Amendment is really necessary at all. It certainly is not appropriate to this Clause which is dealing with the appointment of competent persons who have got the special duty of the inspection of machinery. So far as inspecting the condition of the animals is concerned, that is amply covered by the provisions in the Third Schedule, and also in Section (17).
§ Mr. BUTCHER
One moment. I pointed out that that Schedule and Clause 109 provides for inspection by special inspectors, not to inspections by persons appointed as I suggest by the management.
I was just going to call the attention of the House to the precise words of the Third Schedule, Sub-section (11),Every horse-keeper shall keep a record in a book to be kept at the mine of all horses under his care, and shall make a daily report therein as to the condition of each horse, the driver in whose charge it has been, the time at which it was taken from the stables, and the time at which it was returned thereto.In addition to the special provision to which I have alluded, it is also provided in the first Sub-section of Clause 17 that,(1) In addition to the reports specially required by this Act, it shall be the duty of every person on whom responsible duties are imposed with respect to safety or to the condition of the roadways, workings, ventilations, machinery, shafts, shot-firing, safety lamps, electrical plant or animals at a mine, and who shall be required to do so by the regulations of the mine.That provision in Clause 17 is in addition to the minute provisions contained in Sub-section (11) of the Third Schedule.
§ Sir C. CORY
I think this would be inflicting an onerous duty upon the officials. The other day instructions were given to the hauliers in the Cambrian mine that the horses not having worked for a long time during the strike were in a soft condition and should not be hard worked, and one haulier disobeyed this instruction, and the official reported him. This haulier met the official and asked why he had reported him, and on being told he struck the official in the mouth. On the official taking out a summons against him for assault, the whole of the 5,000 men employed in that colliery went out in support of the haulier.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
May I point out that when we were discussing in the Committee the care of animals, we adopted the policy of dealing with this question in a compact place at the end of the Bill. May I suggest that that is a better place to deal with it. The Noble Lord opposite, who was not on the Committee, has taken up an enormous amount of time dealing with this point.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
Because the proper place to deal with it is at the end of the Bill. Hon. Members are wasting time discussing these separate Clauses, and I would appeal to them to leave this matter until we reach the end of the Bill.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I should not have intervened but for the tone adopted by the hon. Member opposite. Under the conditions under which such Bills as this are discussed upstairs it is impossible for hon. Members to take any part in those discussions. I would like to know are those hon. Members when the Bill comes down here to be denied these scanty opportunities of making their views known. I think the suggestion which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Edgar Jones) made is one which ought not to be made. I have great pleasure in supporting the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for York. I do not think the argument of the Solicitor-General for Scotland meets the point, because it seems that in both the cases he referred us to provision is made only in regard to the persons who are responsible for looking after the ponies. That is not sufficient in our opinion, and we think there ought to be some provision for inspection of the work of those very people who are called upon to make reports. I think this is the only place where that provision could suitably be put in. I feel very strongly that there is need for an improvement being made in the regulations under which the horses are worked in mines, and it seems to me that this provision is one of the most important of all the Amendments which have been suggested. Bearing in mind that all we are asking for is a periodical inspection by some persons not actually responsible for doing the work, I think the Government ought to accept this Amendment in order to meet the case.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I point out to the Solicitor-General for Scotland that the paragraph made out by him relates to horse-keepers. The horse-keepers are no doubt very excellent men, but they want to be inspected just as well as the drivers, and to put upon them the whole duties of inspection is really to make inspection a farce. If you are going to have inspection, have it done in a proper manner. At present the horse-keepers have plenty of horses to look after. I intend to move to reduce the number, and I shall expect to 1615 have support of hon. Gentlemen opposite when I endeavour to lighten the work of these men. A horse-keeper who has to clean and look after twenty or even twelve horses cannot be perpetually filling up papers and forms and making returns. If the learned Solicitor-General for Scotland would give us an undertaking that a similar Clause will be introduced on the Third Schedule, I would ask my hon. Friend to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Mr. ATHERLEY-JONES
Do I understand the hon. Gentleman is willing to embody the Amendment in the Third Schedule? I have gone into this matter with some little care, and I have before me the evidence of the undoubted cruelties which are occasionally perpetrated upon horses, and of the undue length of time which they are sometimes worked. I think it is very desirable a fuller measure of protection should be afforded. The horse-keeper is an existing institution, and he has now one additional duty which he has not exercised before—that is to report—and I think there should be some check imposed upon him. There is this inspector to be appointed. Why not allow him to extend his inquiries to the ponies?
§ Mr. McKENNA
The horse-keeper is at present inspected. In Clause 17 a reference is made to the person responsible for inspection.It shall be the duty of every person on whom responsible duties are imposed with respect to safely or to the condition of the roadways, workings, ventilation, machinery, shafts, shot-firing, safety lamps, electrical plant, or animals at a mine.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No. I have consulted my advisers, and I understand the persons who are responsible for the condition of the horses are the managers. It is the duty of the managers, at stated intervals under the regulations, to make a report. It is also the duty of the Inspector of Mines to inspect the horses like every other part of the mine. We have, therefore, got the security, first of all, of the horse-keeper, who has to make his daily report; secondly, of the manager or his officials; and, thirdly, of the inspector. I have given the House the authority on 1616 which I speak, and I hope that under the circumstances the Amendment will not be pressed.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
One of the objects of the Clause is to deal with the inspection of machinery. Are horses less important than machinery? If a special inspector is required to enforce the inspection of machinery, why is it not necessary in regard to ponies? Clause 17 imposes a duty with regard to reports on the inspection of animals, and I would suggest that a similar duty should be imposed on the horse-keeper to make regular reports. I would strongly press on the Home Secretary the advisability of accepting the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London. Speaking from personal experience, I venture to assert that you cannot make the regulations for the protection of animals too strong. It is not the pony drivers who want to do wrong, but very often the pressure of the work and the conditions of the collieries result in cruelties being imposed on the animals which, if they were known, would force the House of Commons out of sheer sympathy to take any necessary action.
§ Mr. McKENNA
I may have been misunderstood. If I am wrong in my reading of the Bill I will take care to place the responsibility on some higher person than the horse-keeper. I will see that some one else is made specifically responsible.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his assurance. What I am anxious is that it shall be made necessary for some competent person to report on the horses.
Mr. CATHCART WASON
I am specially interested in the ponies employed in these mines, and have some knowledge of the way in which they have been used and abused. I cordially support the suggestion of the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) that the Government should bring in a general Clause for proper inspection in the mines. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir H. Dalziel) was a member of a deputation to the Prime Minister upon the subject, when the right hon. Gentleman gave what we understood to be a definite pledge that there should 1617 be inspection of the ponies and the way in which they do their work, so that the intolerable abuses of the past should not be repeated in the future.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
I understand that we are going to have another opportunity of discussing the matter. For myself, I say, we shall do our best at the proper stage to get proper Government inspection.
§ Mr. RICHARDS
I desire to express regret that the hon. Member for St. Ives (Sir C. Cory) has introduced into this matter a colliery dispute in South Wales. His statement of the facts was totally inaccurate.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.