HC Deb 17 March 1926 vol 193 cc429-30

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that Boldon Colliery is still idle because the workmen refuse to commence a fourth-shift system; and whether he will take steps to urge upon the management to abandon their claim, seeing that this is against the custom prevailing in Durham County?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Colonel Lane Fox)

As I stated, in. answer to a question by the hon. Member on 3rd March, my Department have made every possible effort to bring about a settlement of this matter. A representative of the Department, who spent some days in Durham in connection with this dispute, attended joint meetings of the parties, and in this and other ways tried to secure agreement. I regret that his efforts were not successful, and I am afraid that I can do no more.

Captain GEE

Is the question of an old custom of greater importance than providing work for unemployed miners?


Is it not a fact that places must stop where gas has been prevalent for some hours, so that the places can be cleared, and that where firedamp becomes prevalent the places must be stopped? Is the Minister aware that a large number of places have been reported by the local mines inspectors every time they went down because gas was prevalent in the mines?

Colonel LANE FOX

No, I am not aware that anything has been asked of the men which is absolutely illegal. On the other point, the hon. Member has more knowledge than I have.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that all the points in dispute have been narrowed down to one, that the management want the men to work four shifts. Seeing that that is the dispute, will the Minister not make another effort to get the matter settled?

Colonel LANE FOX

Yes, I shall use every effort possible. At the moment I have done all that I can, but I certainly will not miss any opportunity of making a further effort.


Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to advise the Prime Minister to withdraw the whole of the subsidy from this firm in order to make them face this issue?

Colonel LANE FOX

No, Sir, for a very good reason. If that were done it would release the owners from the obligation to pay the recognised wages. The immediate effect would be to reduce the wages of men in that area by about 2s. 6d.


Is there such a demand for coal that it is not sufficient for men to work three shifts and that they must work four shifts?