HC Deb 31 March 1925 vol 182 cc1093-5

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary for Mines whether he can give the House any later information with respect to the disaster at the Montagu Colliery, Northumberland; whether any of the entombed men have yet been rescued; whether, in view of the deplorable loss of life in the mines of this country, his Department has taken more stringent action to secure full compliance with safety Regulations; if so, can he state the nature of this action, and whether he proposes to take further measures for safeguarding the lives of the workers in the mines.

Colonel LANE-FOX

I am sure that the House will have heard with the deepest regret of what I fear must be a very serious disaster. The latest information telephoned from the Divisional Office is to the effect that the water is still rising slowly, and is now 35 feet to 40 feet below the level of the pit bottom. If it reaches the pit bottom, pumping operations will be much more difficult. A large pump is being installed in the pit bottom, and a portable pump will be put to the edge of the water to pump to it.

Thirty-eight men are trapped at present; either one or two other men, originally missing, have escaped. All the old workings that could be got into have been explored this morning. No one was found there, but, as these workings are a long way from the point at which water broke in, there was little expectation that any would be found. Further exploration can now only be made when the water is lowered.

All possible action is taken to ensure full compliance with safety Regulations, and I will deal fully with this part of the question in the Debate this evening on the Motion of the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hirst).


Might we have an opportunity of having the last part of the Minister's statement made quite clear? I understand that an arrangement has been made, very largely by the courtesy and goodness of the hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Harrison), to allow the Motion which has the second place on the Paper to-day, dealing with accidents in mines, to be discussed at a quarter-past eight. May I ask the Prime Minister if such an arrangement has been made, and if we may now assume that the debate at a quarter-past eight to-night will be on the second Resolution and not on the first?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

As far as I understand, the feeling of sympathy on this occasion was so general throughout the House that there was a consensus of opinion that precedence should be given to the Motion to which the Leader of the Opposition has alluded, by allowing it to be moved to-night, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Harrison) at once gave way. I might just, mention here that I understand there is also a general desire—but I do not commit the House to this at all, because it must be discussed through the usual channels—that if there be any procedure which makes it practicable, my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin, who is raising a question of considerable importance to the part of the country which he represents and to other parts of the country, should not be deprived of the opportunity of moving his Motion.


Hear, hear!


May I have your permission, Mr. Speaker, to ask the indulgence of the House on this question of the disaster in Northumberland? A few days ago the Members of this House expressed their sympathy with the death of Lord Curzon. I wondered if you would allow me to ask the House to express its sympathy with the relatives of the men who have lost their lives in this tragic occurrence?


I am sure that in this matter the hon. Gentleman has the sympathy of the Whole House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]