HC Deb 22 March 1917 vol 91 cc2143-4

Section four of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908, which authorises the suspension of that Act as respects coal mines in the event of war and other emergencies, shall extend to all mines to which the other provisions of that Act apply in like manner as it extends to coal mines, and accordingly in that Section after the words "demand for coal" there shall be inserted the words "or for the product of any other mines to which this Act applies" and for the words "coal mines" wherever they occur there shall be substituted the word "mines."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I desire to ask the Home Secretary one question. The Mines Eight Hours Act provides that in time of national emergency it may be suspended by the Government. That, however, applies only to coal mines and not to other mines, although those mines are included in the scope of the Coal Mines Regulation Act. I have the honour to represent in this House a district in which important ironstone mines are situated. The right hon. Gentleman and this Bill takes power to apply to all mines the provisions with regard to the suspension of the Mines Eight Hours Act to be found in that Act. The purpose, so he informs us in the Memorandum, of taking this step at the present time is with regard to shale, in view of the necessity of increasing the output of shale oil. What I want to ask him is, whether before he takes any steps to apply this new provision to ironstone mines, he will give the interests affected the opportunity of making representation on the matter, just as no doubt he would do if he found it necessary to suspend the Eight Hours Act with regard to coal mines?


The effect of the Bill is as my right hon. Friend has said, to extend the provisions of Section 4 of the Eight Hours Act to mines other than coal mines, so that, if necessary, the suspension of that Act may be adopted in regard to these other mines. It is only in respect of shale that the question has in practice arisen. There we have consulted the persons interested in both sides of the industry, the employers and the men, and an agreement has been come to, and the intention is to use this measure as regards shale at once. As regards stratified ironstone, I quite agree that we should not, and we do not propose to, use the dispensing power in respect of those mines without giving those who are concerned, both employers and men, the fullest opportunity of being heard. We should certainly consult them before any step was taken to suspend the existing Act.

Question put and agreed to.