§ 62. Mr. BOWERMAN
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has received Mr. Redmayne's Report regarding the conditions under which colliery deputies are employed in Northumberland and Durham; whether the communication addressed to the Home Office upon this subject on the 2nd June last has yet been considered; and whether he can see his way to receive a deputation of representatives of the men in order that they may be given an opportunity to state their case?
§ Mr. McKENNA
Yes, Sir, I received from the chief inspector a report of his inquiry into the complaint made by the Northumberland and Durham deputies. The complaint had reference to a change introduced by the owners of some mines by which the work of timbering, that has hitherto in these two counties fallen on the deputies, is entrusted to another class of workmen. The old practice, under which the deputies did the timbering, differed from the practice generally adopted in the other coalfields; and the new Act, though it contains a saving Clause which would have permitted the continuance of the old practice in these two counties only, clearly recognises the opposite practice, by which the firemen or deputies give their whole time to inspection and safety duties as the best. I understand that the representatives of the Northumberland and Durham deputies put their case fully before Lord Mersey, who held the recent inquiry, but he declined to alter the Regulations so as to reimpose the old practice. In the circumstances, and as I am advised by the chief inspector that the new practice does not impair the safe working of the mines, but tends rather to increased safety by leaving deputies more time for their inspection and safety duties, I do not think it would be advisable for me to take any action in the matter. Several deputations have already been received by me and by the chief inspector, and the Department is thoroughly acquainted with the views of the deputies, and I am afraid a further deputation would not serve any useful purpose.