§ Mr. GEORGE HIRST
I beg to move,That this House deplores the heavy loss of life and the large number of non-fatal accidents in mines, and regrets the failure of the Government to give effect to repeated pledges that every possible step would be taken without delay, whether by legislation or otherwise, to secure the fullest protection to those engaged in this dangerous industry.This Motion is not new to the House. It has been brought forward on three or four occasions to my knowledge and it may be well, at the outset, to refer back to the year 1923, when the Motion was brought forward by the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker). He went into all the facts connected with accidents in mines and pressed upon the Secretary for 938 Mines the need that something should be done with a view to the better regulation of mines in this respect. Promises were made at that time, but nothing has been done. Again the question was raised in 1924 and a similar Motion was brought up by me in 1925, and the same promise was given by the Secretary for Mines in 1925 as that which was given to the hon. Member for Abertillery in 1923. Nothing, however, has been done in connection with these Motions. I do not know of any new Regulation or any new Order which has been brought into operation. At the time the Motion was introduced in 1925 there occurred a terrible disaster caused by an inrush of water into the Scotswood pit at Newcastle. We said we should want to know when that inquiry took place, whether some means could not be brought into operation to prevent boring where people were working and where it might be expected that there would be some force of water out of old workings. I do not know that 939 anything was done, but the result of the inquest and the inquiry simply was that the men concerned had accidentally lost their lives by an inrush of water. One would imagine when Motions of this description had been introduced from time to time and when statements had been made bringing the facts before the Government, that they would do all in their power to introduce some Regulations to minimise accidents in mines. Following on that disaster, however, we found that at Garforth, in Yorkshire, there was another inrush of water into a mine. Then there was a further disaster which happened in Wales, but on which I shall not attempt to dilate, because I think some of the Welsh Members will be able to get into the Debate and they will deal with it. Nothing has been done as far as we can discover to prevent a recurrence of these accidents. Only a fortnight ago a terrible disaster occurred in Yorkshire at Wharncliffe Woodmoor. That was in connection with the cutting of a cable where three men lost their lives and some 12 or 14 lives were jeopardised and the men were only saved after suffering from the fumes caused by the burning of the cable. This cable, we are told, was a bare cable running for more than a mile, but when the men went into that level to work they covered the cable over temporarily with timber. They fired their shots and when the dirt fell it cut the cable and the cable fused and these men lost their lives. We suggest that an inquiry should be made into these circumstances. Probably there are some very serious questions which could be asked.
These accidents are taking place day after day, but nothing appears to be done, in order to bring together the people who are to some extent responsible in these matters and holding an inquiry. If they were called together and if a searching inquiry were made we should be satisfied that something had been done. I only read this morning about another sad accident at the Mickleton Main Colliery in my own division where two men have been killed by a fall of roof and two or three more seriously injured. We contend that this is a very important question and should be dealt with very seriously. I have been looking over the figures with reference to accidents in mines and particularly some figures that 940 were given in reply to a question put to the Secretary for Mines by the hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams). I have made a comparison between the number of accidents which occurred during the time when the men were working seven hours a day and the number of accidents which occurred when they were working eight hours a day, and I find that the number of accidents under the eight-hour system is tremendously larger than the number under the seven-hours system. The Prime Minister when he introduced his famous Eight Hours Act was told that it would lead to more accidents in the mines. The answer given by the Secretary for Mines to which I have referred shows that this has proved to be the case. Working out the averages of fatal accidents during the eight-hours system and the seven-hours system over a number of years, we find that the rate works out at 260 more deaths per year under the eight-hours system than under the seven-hours system. A question was asked of the Secretary for Mines by the hon. Member for the Rother Valley (Mr. Grundy), and the reply received was that there had been 306 deaths and 1,214 persons had been seriously injured through accidents in coal mines in the first three months of 1926 under the seven-hours rule. The corresponding figures for the first three months of 1927 were 324 killed and 1,291 seriously injured. That means that as far as the first three months of this year were concerned there were 20 more deaths under the eight-hours system than occurred in the first three months of 1926 under the seven-hours system. In the first three months of 1926 the non-fatal accidents were 1,214 and in the first three months of 1927, 1,291, so that there were 80 more non-fatal accidents in the first three months under the eight-hours rule than in the first three months under the seven-hours rule. That is the way things have been going, yet nothing seems to have been done. The purpose of this Debate is to draw the attention of the Mines Department to the fact that something ought to be done to prevent the terrible accidents that occur from time to time. I made several suggestions, in 1925, when the Motion was before the House as to steps that it might be advisable to take, and which we think the Mines Department ought to take.
941 The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in introducing his Budget, told us in his economy stunt that he was going to do away with the Mines Department. It is absolutely ridiculous for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to suggest that that Department should be abolished, seeing that it is connected with an industry so dangerous as mining. We hope that he will leave that Department alone and that instead of doing away with it he will add to it more people who have direct knowledge of the working of mines, so that they will be able to use their influence with the Department and be able to minimise accidents to a great extent. One of the things which I suggested was that more shafts should be sunk. At the present time, mines are worked where men have to walk from 2 to 3 and 4 miles from the shaft bottom to the working face. There is nothing in the Mines Act to prevent any manager or owner from continuing that state of things. When one considers that a man may have to walk 2, 3 or 4 miles to his working it must be evident that it takes the work out of him and that it does him more harm to travel in this way to his work than the work harms him when he gets to the coal face. When he has finished his work he has to battle his way back to the pit bottom, 2, 3 or 4 miles away, as the case may be. We say that more shafts ought to be sunk nearer together in order to prevent these long walks underground between the working places and the pit bottom.
The sinking of more shafts would reduce the haulage costs, because it would not be necessary to convey the coal from the coal face 2, 3 or 4 miles to the bottom of the shaft. The sinking of new shafts would also have a tendency to reduce accidents. It would also improve the ventilation and improve the health of the miners. It would also reduce the risk of explosion, for the simple reason that when a miner has to go 2, 3 or 4 miles to his work, the ventilation before it has a chance of getting round to the working becomes very heated and it is more like steam than the fresh air which the miner would have if the pit was properly ventilated. Accidents from falls of roof and sides are numerous, but if the shafts were sunk much closer together and it was not necessary to travel such long distances under 942 ground it would be possible to pack the walls and make them solid, thereby stopping the accumulation of gas in the sides. At the present time, such accumulations are liable to cause explosion. Moreover, the dirt could be taken into the old levels instead of being sent down into the pits, and that would have a tendency to prevent the falls which take place. I will not pursue the subject further, because there are three or four hon. Members on this side who wish to speak, and an Amendment is to be moved from the other side, and we want to hear what is to be said by those hon. Members who wish to cut out of the Motion the very words which we wish to retain. In this business everybody ought to do the best they possibly can with a view to preventing the increase of fatal and nonfatal accidents. We know that from time to time these disasters are taking place, and that practically nothing has been done for the last two or three years as far as Rules, Acts and Orders are concerned. We ask the House to take this question seriously into consideration and to pass the Motion to-night so that the Ministry can set to work at once to deal with these things.
§ Mr. GRUNDY
I beg to second the Motion.
I am glad that we have another opportunity of raising this question. I had the honour of seconding the Motion two years ago. On that occasion we pointed out the terrible catastrophe that had occurred at the Montague Pit in Northumberland, and to-day we have to point out that there has been another inrush of water at the same pit and that one man has lost his life and 10 men have very narrowly escaped with their lives. We ask the Secretary for Mines to say what steps have been taken to deal with accumulations of water in the old workings at the Scotswood Colliery. Does it not appear strange after a terrible disaster of this kind, that within two years a similar disaster occurs, with the result I have mentioned. The toll of life and limb in the mines still goes on. We have the risk of fire, water, gas, explosion and falling roofs. Those dangers are there all the time. Ever since the Members of Parliament for mining constituencies have been returned to this House they have raised this question, not in a party spirit but with the 943 sole object of getting the Government to do something to lessen the number of fatalities. We have had an inrush of water at the Garforth Pit in Yorkshire, where the men at the risk of their lives went waist deep to rescue the ponies. In addition we have the fire at Wharncliffe Woodmore, which was caused by a cable. If a miner had taken a match in his pocket in that mine he would have been prosecuted and punished severely, yet a cable could stand there and there seems to be no doubt that that cable caused the fire in that pit. We say definitely that if these cables have to be carried into the mines—and they never ought to be carried to the length they are into the mines—they ought to be covered underground, so that at least it might mitigate fires which arise similar to that one in Wharncliffe Woodmore. Listen to what one man who was rescued said:The heat was terrific, and we were nearly roasted alive. The roof was burning and cracking all the time. It would have been impossible for us to escape, even if we had possessed the strength to stagger to safety. I thought my time was come. I was being slowly suffocated, and when the rescue party arrived I was barely conscious.If we speak with warmth, surely there is some excuse. We live amongst these people, and know the sorrow brought about by these accidents. In answer to a question I put to the Secretary for Mines the other day, in addition to the figures given by the previous speaker, he said that the corresponding figures for the first three months of 1927 were increased by the serious disasters at Cwm and Bilsthorpe. But these serious disasters occur nearly every year. You have all the accumulated knowledge; you have the expert knowledge, and all the evidence given at these inquiries, and yet, since 1911, there has been no legislation in this House with the intention of giving additional safety for these men who work in this dangerous occupation. In view of these figures, which prove a greater number of serious accidents in the first three months of this year, one might ask the Secretary for Mines if he does not think that the lengthening of the hours of the miner has not had something to do with this increased rate? If it has, I say, again, it justifies all the strong language that has been used 944 by the representatives of the miners in this House. Nothing, in my opinion, can be said that is too strong. It ought to be "Safety first." We put that on the omnibuses, but I am rather afraid it is not always carried out in our mines. I am not going to blame the managers, who are brave men, the under-managers or deputies, but I am asking if these people have the safety they ought to have. We know something in respect of this that makes us say these men ought to have greater security of tenure. Profits and dividends ought not to rule the working of a mine; it should be "Safety first."
I, really, wanted to ask one or two questions, and to point out another serious side in the miners' calling. We have some 3,000 pits. Have we sufficient inspectors to inspect those pits? What is the number of inspections that might be made at the collieries by the inspectors? When inspection has been made, is it not possible to call in consultation, representatives of the men and the owners? Is it not possible to set up a consultative council to deal with the whole of the reports, consisting of men's representatives, coalowners and mine inspectors, so that at least there can be something gleaned from this accumulated evidence and knowledge which might lead to a reduction in these accidents? There is one other phase I want to mention. What is being done with regard to nvstagmus, for which there are startling figures? A committee of the Medical Research Council reported in 1922–23 that the chief cause of the disease was insufficient illumination, and that the cases severe enough to cause disablement could by degrees be entirely prevented by improving the standard of lighting.
The miners' representatives here know what nystagmus is. From 1905 to 1912 there were 1,760 cases; in 1913, 4,550; in 1920, 7,028; in 1921, 6,717; in 1922, 9,155; in 1923, 11,142; in 1924, 10,906; and in 1925, 11,334. It has increased enormously, and greater attention ought to be given to this subject, and something ought to be done. If it be possible by any means, no matter at what cost, these cases of nystagmus ought to be decreased. The Medical Research Council has said that by degrees this industrial disease could be eradicated. There is 945 only one class of employment that has a greater fatality rate than we have. In 1922, fatalities in mines amounted to .95; in shipping, it was 1.33. In 1923, the figure was 1.06 against 1.14 for shipping; and in 1924, it was 1.05 against 1.39 for shipping. If I ran through the rest, it would be seen what our fatalities amount to in comparison with any other industry. I come to accidents. The non-fatal accidents in mines in 1922 were 160.56. In shipping they were 18.66. In 1923, nonfatal accidents in mines were 177.041. In shipping they were 1.791. The average of non-fatal accidents in the mines was a startling figure compared with that of any other industry. Accidents in mines are eight times as many as in shipping, twice as many as in docks, and five times the average of factories, docks, quarries, constructional works and railways taken together.
Therefore, if in pleading here at any time we happen to use language that sounds harsh, we ought to be forgiven. Here is the terrible toll and the appalling loss of life that goes on year by year. It appears to us, rightly or wrongly, that little, if anything is being done by the Department. We do not want to lose the Department, but we are asking that the Department should at least justify its existence. We ask the Secretary for Mines, as the responsible head of the Department, at least to give us to-night something that we may regard as a serious attempt to lessen fatalities. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will also say something in regard to nystagmus cases. Year by year we bring forward this Motion from higher motives than political motives. We bring it forward with a, sincere desire to see an improvement in the mines. If longer hours of work are responsible for these accident figures, those who brought about those longer hours ought to be eternally ashamed of themselves. If lower wages and the lessened stamina of our men have anything to do with the matter, the country ought to be ashamed. Outside all that, we ask that at least the Secretary for Mines will regard us as serious men, whose lives have been spent in the pit and who know this subject from A to Z. We are not men who have learned the lesson outside the pit. We have been in the pits from boyhood to 946 manhood, and we ask that the Government should take any action at any cost to protect the life and limb of the miners of the country.
§ Mr. R. HUDSON
I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out from the word "mines" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsbut recognises that steady progress is being made towards the attainment of safer conditions by means of regulation, research, inquiry, and inspection, as a result of which the safety of mining in the country compares on the whole very favourably with that in other countries.I would like to preface my remarks by saying that I think it is distinctly unfortunate, to say the least, that such an Amendment should have to be moved from these benches to such a Motion. It is a great pity that the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. G. Hirst) did not follow the example that he set two years ago by altering the wording of his Resolution at the last moment. I do not think it is right or proper that party capital should be made out of a subject which affects the lives and happiness of so many of our fellow men engaged in one of the main industries of the country. I go further and say that I do not believe the hon. Member is doing himself or his party, or the men on whose behalf he claims to speak, any good by making, or attempting to make, this a party question, and thereby preventing or impeding the dispassionate inquiry which otherwise we would all desire. I do not propose to follow the hon. Member's example but I want to preface my main remarks by referring to one statement that he made. That is in relation to the inference to be drawn from the answer which was returned by the Secretary for Mines to a question put by an hon. Member opposite. The hon. Member for Wentworth said that the number of fatal accidents was tremendously larger in the first three months of this year than in the corresponding period of last year. The actual figures are 324 this year and 306 last year.
§ Mr. G. HIRST
The number of accidents was higher during the time that they were working eight hours than when they were working seven hours. I gave the question and the answer of the Minister, that for the first three months in last year the accidents were 306 and for the first three months of this year, under the eight hours system, they were 324. The figures are 947 higher. I did not say "tremendously higher," but if you carry the year through you will find that they are.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I am not going to argue about the matter now, because the OFFICIAL REPORT will show what is the difference between us. The figures are 324 for this year and 306 for last year. I am endeavouring not to bring party passion into this matter. This year we have unfortunately had two very serious accidents, and I am certain that no one, whatever his party prejudices may be, would suggest that those particular accidents are in any way connected with the Eight Hours Act or with the increase in that particular area of the hours of working, because in any case they did not occur in one of the later hours of working but in one of the earlier. If it is legitimate to compare short periods hon. Members must at least admit a deduction for those two exceptional accidents, and that gives you the result that under the Eight Hours Act the number of fatal accidents was 264 this year as against 306 last year. As a matter of fact you cannot prove anything one way or the other. You cannot prove that those disasters were in any way due to the Eight Hours Act. As for the other figures that the hon. Member quoted, namely, that there were 260 more deaths per year when working under the Eight Hours Act, as he knows more than half the difference was due to accidents caused by coal dust, and since the amended Regulations regarding stone dust have been in force these accidents have disappeared.
I cannot claim such a technical and expert knowledge of the mining industry as some hon. Members of this House. I can at least claim that this Debate is of interest to me, because I am the representative of a mining area which in the past has had a melancholy notoriety for great disasters. When we were discussing this question two years ago, we were under the shadow of the terrible disaster in Northumberland, which has been referred to by the hon. Member opposite, but to-day no such disaster is oppressing our thoughts. It is very desirable that this Debate should take place, if only to remind the public of the hazards of the mining industry. It is quite clear that the ordinary individual, when he puts his lump of coal on the 948 domestic fire, fails to remember that, in spite of all the Regulations, the law and everything being done to minimise the hazards of the industry, the miner still pursues his calling under circumstances of considerable discomfort, constant danger, and often is very inadequately paid. He does not realise that the toll of fatal accidents is still over the 1,000 mark and the non-fatal accidents approach nearly 200,000.
We are invited in the first sentences of this Motion to deplore these facts, but I think it is quite unnecessary to ask us to do any such thing, because the inevitable response will come before the question is put. We are concerned, not only to deplore these facts, but also to ascertain whether or not this state of affairs can be remedied, and to inquire whether things are better now than they were in former years; whether any decrease has taken place in the number of fatal and non-fatal accidents; what prospects there are of accelerating that decrease; and what steps we can take to facilitate that acceleration. Whenever one reads the annual reports of the Inspectors of Mines, one must always be depressed by their harping year after year on one topic, and that is the avoidability of so many of these accidents. But in spite of all this, we have the same story cropping up again and again. After we have looked at the most depressing side of this subject, have we no ground for hope? If we compare the conditions in this country with those abroad, are we better off, or can we learn any lessons from the state of things existing abroad? The hon. Member who seconded this Motion last year urged that we might learn some lessons from the conditions abroad, but are those conditions any better than they are in this country?
I have looked up in one of the reports the figures of the mean annual death rate for two periods of ten years, namely, 1903 to 1912, and 1913 to 1922. In Great Britain the percentage was 1.3 in the first period and 1.2 in the second period; in the United States the percentage was 5.1 in the first period and 4.3 in the second period; in Belgium, 1.0 and 1.2; in the Netherlands, 1.8 and 1.7; and in Germany, 2.1 and 2.8. These figures apply to the same period. The only country which has a less death rate than ours in this respect is France, where it is 1.0. If you examine our figures you 949 9.0 p.m.
still find that there has been a sensible improvement. There were fewer people killed in 1925 than in 1924, and if you take the rate per 100,000 man shifts worked between 1922 and 1925 you will find that it has fallen from 66.3 to 63.9. On those figures I think we can say that there has been a slight improvement, although it is perhaps not a very satisfactory diminution. The question is, are we taking all possible measures and steps to diminish those figures? I think we really ought to inquire whether everything has been done in regard to regulation and research and inquiry, and above all, education, in order to minimise those rates. I think that if the question is regarded dispassionately hon. Members must agree that never in our history has so much been done before to minimise danger in mines as is being done at the present moment. Never during the last ten years has so much been done to deal with the real basic problems of industry as they affect the health, efficiency, and the comfort of the individual worker. The Institute of Industrial Psychology, the Medical Research Council, the Industrial Fatigue Research Board, the Safety in Mines Research Board, and other organisations too numerous to mention are all carrying on an intensive campaign. An immense amount of information is being gathered from other industries which is applicable to coalmines. The results of investigations into the diminished output and increased liability to accidents to munition workers, open hearth smelters, and rolling mill men have caused a similar investigation to be made into the conditions in hot and deep mines. These investigations have shown the importance of ventilation, and the subject is being intensively studied by a committee of the Institution of Mining Engineers, and when the engineering problems involved have been solved, we may anticipate a corresponding diminution in the accident rate.
The importance to the country as a whole of those discoveries needs no emphasising when you consider the extent to which our shallower seams are being gradually worked out. There are some interesting results showing the human factor as the cause of accidents from which it appears that in any particular group of men which you like to take 950 there are certain individuals among them whose liability to accidents is greater than in the case of others. They do not, apparently, differ externally from any of the rest of us, but all of us know from our own experience that some people have "butter fingers," and are more liable to accidents than others. Accidents to such people in any factory or workshop increase the accident rate at that particular establishment, and, if means could be devised of discovering them at an early age and putting them to jobs of less danger, it is obvious that the accident rate would decrease, and the total number of accidents in mines would decrease correspondingly.
Let it never be forgotten—and I do not need to remind hon. Members opposite of this fact—that it is not the few big accidents that strike public opinion that matter so much; it is the daily fatality, the daily accident, that really brings sorrow to wife, mother, or fatherless children, or, too often, a crippled miner. It is those that we want to avoid even more than the spectacular accidents that occur from time to time. And not only that, but the economic results of these accidents are a serious drain on the industry and a serious reason for trying to eliminate them. I forget exactly where I saw the figures, but I saw an estimate of the cost of compensation for accidents—and most people will agree that the compensation is not always adequate. It was estimated that it imposes a cost of something over 3d. on every ton of coal raised in this country. A great deal has been done by way of the "Safety First" movement, but there again education is sadly needed, and the need for it is strikingly illustrated in the report of the Inspector for the Northern Division, which includes my own constituency. Speaking of the year 1925, he says that of the deaths caused during that year by explosives, 67 per cent., I think it was, were due to clear breaches of the regulations; that 61 per cent. of the nonfatal cases were due to the same cause, and that 30 per cent. of the remainder could have been avoided by the exercise of due caution. [Interruption.] He is not speaking exclusively of the men but is speaking of caution all round. The seven years' figures are worse still. Ninety per cent. of the fatal accidents, and 80 per cent. of the non-fatal accidents, were due, he says, to breaches in 951 one way or another of the Explosives in Coal Mines Orders. To me that represents a situation most appalling to contemplate.
In another passage, the same Chief Inspector—[Interruption.] I am not trying to take any unfair advantage; hon. Members can go and look at the Report in the Library. In another passage he deplores the lack of any real, organised co-operation in safety matters between owners and workmen. There is, he says, a tendency on the part of the workers to expect all action for protection to come from the official side— [Interruption.] These are not my words; they are the words of the inspector. I venture to think that they strongly bear out what I said at the beginning of my speech, namely, that it is a great pity that hon. Members opposite insist on making this a party question. They would be very much better employed in facilitating and upholding the work of these inspectors in trying to persuade the men of that. They forget, he says, that they themselves must always be the chief movers if the majority of avoidable accidents are to be prevented. Finally, let me remind hon. Members opposite that in the Debate of 1925 they put forward, as one of the suggestions for improving matters and avoiding the recurrence of disasters such as we were then discussing, that the Secretary for Mines should take steps to get hold of all the old pre-1872 plans. If they will take the trouble to read this Report for the year 1925, they will see the action that was taken on that suggestion, and they will see that it was to a large extent successful, for a great number of these plans have been deposited, and considerable work is being done in the way of recording them, although it is not yet complete. That, surely, disposes of the suggestion that has been made to-day that nothing came out of the Debate two years ago. It has also been said that no action has been taken by way of legislation to assist in the prevention of accidents, but I venture to think that our action in passing the Mining Industry Act last year, and in increasing the amount of money available for the Welfare Fund, cannot fail, by improving the general physique and the general well-being of the men engaged 952 in the industry, to have its results in diminishing the number of accidents. It stands to reason that it must. I hope I have succeeded in showing that there is a steady progress. A great deal remains to be done. The number of accidents still remains, and must remain, a blot on our industrial civilisation. I am perfectly certain that hon. Members in all quarters of the House are earnest and sincere in their desire to see those conditions ameliorated, and to do everything that is possible to see that steps should be taken to improve these matters. I would appeal sincerely to my hon. Friend who moved this Resolution, as to whether he could not see his way to accept our Amendment, so that this Resolution, on so grave and serious a matter, might go through unanimously, instead of being divided upon and being made the subject of party conflict.
§ Mr. CLARRY
I beg to second the Amendment.
I should like to supplement the remark of my hon. Friend that there would have been no need for us to move an Amendment to this Motion if the hon. Member who moved it had taken the same attitude this year that he took in 1925: but we do take exception to his blaming the Government in ally respect for accidents in mines. That is the reason why we have brought forward this Amendment. I can only think that in 1925 the hon. Member had in mind that, the year before, a Socialist Government was in office, and that it would hardly do to blame the failure of the Government to take any steps that might have been taken. Both the Mover and the Seconder of the Resolution have endeavoured in their speeches to cast some reflection, though not by any direct challenge, on the eight-hour shift principle which is now in force, suggesting that it is responsible for some of the increase in accidents which they say has taken place recently. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I would like to remind the Mover of the Resolution that in 1925 he intimated to this House that, during the operation of the seven-hour shift, accidents, fatal and non-fatal, had accumulated all along the line. If they can accumulate under a seven-hour shift, how does he make out that they can now accumulate under an eight-hour shift? As a matter of fact, whether it is seven 953 hours or eight hours has no bearing whatever on the question of accidents. [An HON. MEMBER: "You ought to have been down a mine!"] I have been down mines as much as the hon. Member.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain FitzRoy)
I really must remind hon. Members that the Debate is useless unless it is conducted in an orderly manner and all points of view can be expressed.
§ Mr. CLARRY
It has been proved time and again that accidents happen where the human element arises, in the third and fourth hour of the shift. Of course, if it is a question of explosion, in which the human element does not arise, the question of a seven-hour or eight-hour shift does not arise either. It is, therefore, rather a pity that it has been introduced to-night. When hon. Members endeavour to bring in this question of eight-hour shifts in relation to accidents in mines, we can, only put one interpretation upon it, namely, that they are endeavouring to make some small political capital out of it. It is a very great pity that in a grave matter like this, in which we sympathise no less than Members on the other side of the House and the whole country, these accidents should be exploited for political purposes. We are all trying with the same object of eliminating as far as possible both fatal and non-fatal accidents in mines.
One hon. Member called attention to the question of safety lamps, and said nothing had been done in this respect. I should like to refer him to page 60 of the Fifth Annual Report of the Secretary for Mines, in which he will see that something considerable has been done with regard to safety lamps. There has been another design adopted, in accordance with certain findings and decisions arrived at, and electric lamps are also being more widely used. With reference to the total number of fatal accidents, it certainly is a very serious matter, and no one wishes in any way to minimise the seriousness of it, but I am afraid that in their enthusiasm some hon. Members opposite rather exaggerate and stress it because they do not realise that there is no less a number of fatal accidents in the streets of London than in the mines of Great Britain. I do not make that as a direct comparison, but 954 hon. Members do not take into consideration the accidents that occur in other directions than in mines.
§ Mr. CLARRY
Some of your friends, I expect. Sir Richard Redmayne, in his evidence before the Sankey Commission, said that British mines were second to none in the steps that are taken with regard to safety, and my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson) has given comparisons of the fatal accidents in other countries, in which it is shown that there is only one country that is able to get lower than we are, and that is one of the reasons why we cannot subscribe to any blame being put on the Government in respect of that matter. It was shown before the Royal Commission that enormous progress had been made in arriving at greater safety in the mines and eliminating risks over a vast period. In some cases the risks have been eliminated down to nine-tenths of what they were in a previous period. That is a very important step, and those steps are continuing. I have in my hand a preliminary statement of the Mines Department for 1926. I am aware that 1926 affords no comparison with any other year, because of the stoppage, but it gives the cause of accidents, which is a very important factor, and it shows that more than half of them are due to falls of ground. Falls of ground are matters which cannot be prevented by passing an Act of Parliament. Nature works every hour of the 24, whether Acts of Parliament are passed or not, and I am sorry to say that half the accidents from falls of ground are due to the human element itself, and unless the human element is cut out it is no good passing Acts of Parliament and hoping you are going to eliminate a large number of these accidents.
Explosions and fire-damp represent a comparatively small proportion, which has been reduced to an enormous extent by research work. The human element again enters very largely into shaft accidents and haulage accidents. Out of the total accidents both underground and on the surface of 640 in 1920, 332 were due to falls of ground. These Resolutions are brought forward usually for other 955 purposes and I know that hon. Members appreciate that there is a very big difference between legislation and administration. One can legislate but it will not have the slightest effect unless that legislation is administered and carried out by all concerned. [Interruption.] If that is so why do you criticise the failure of the Government to legislate? I think we should refer the matter back to the mines and ask them, whether masters or men, to administer to the best of their ability, having regard to safety of the person and the property, the law such as it is and take any further steps for the safety of those concerned in this industry.
Another matter that hon. Members seem to have lost sight of is the existence of a very powerful and imposing Safety in Mines Research Board, which is doing an enormous amount of good work. Money is allocated to the Board to operate and they are also co-operating with the United States and getting a good deal of valuable information from that source. In addition to that, grants are made to individuals and organisations who are carrying on certain other research work. I have summarised one or two points. Their programme, which is very extensive and which would take half an hour to read out, comprises certain investigations now in progress. Under the heading of Ignition of Coal Dust there are 18 sub-sections in which matters are being investigated at present. On the subject of safety lamps there are six sub-sections also being dealt with. In connection with firedamp there are 15 separate headings now being investigated in progress. All this research work covers the very point of the Motion. The work is going on to the best of the ability of those who can deal with it. I do not think there is any section of the community which would not do everything in its power to render the mines safer in working. Science and human ingenuity are hard at work in every direction all the time to secure safety first in the mines.
§ Mr. EVAN DAVIES
I rise to support the Motion for a very special reason. I have been rather surprised at the two speeches to which we have just listened. The hon. Members who have brought forward the Amendment have 956 made it perfectly clear, especially to those who have some experience, that they have simply been skirting the subject and have made no attempt to deal with the fundamentals which have some connection with accidents in mines, and they have made it very clear to all of us that they have never worked in mines and have very little experience of mining operations and they have been dealing with the question from a superficial and artificial point of view. I hope the House will grant me the indulgence of departing a little from the usual procedure, because I think the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson) has forgotten that there has been a terrible calamity in the coalfield so recently as two months ago which happened close to my own door. It has been said that this is a human question and the human element comes into it. I appreciate the point that the human element comes into a subject of this kind, but not exactly in the same manner and form as the hon. Member referred to it. The human element comes into the question of accidents in mines because it is a question of safety as against finance. There can be no doubt that, if all the precautions which could be taken were taken, if there were not the great anxiety for dividends that there has been, and if everything that could be done were done the accidents could be reduced considerably. I am not suggesting that it is possible to eliminate all accidents in mines. I do not think any person outside a madhouse would make such a statement. Explosions will take place in the mines; there will be falls of roofs, but not in the sense to which the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Clarry) referred. You would imagine from his statement that it was according to an act of God or nature that falls of roofs must take place and men must be under each particular fall. The falls of roofs will take place, but many of them which take place underground could be, prevented if the necessary expenditure were incurred to protect them and put in the necessary timber. It is all a question of expense.
I will not refer any further to the two speeches which have been made, but I should like to deal—and I am sure the House will be sympathetic to what I have to say—with the experience we had recently at Cwm. When I heard of this particular explosion, and I saw placarded 957 all over the London streets that a disaster had taken place in the Welsh coalfields, it was the farthest thing from my mind that it was possible to have such an explosion in the area from which I come. We have been working collieries in that particular area for the last 60 or 70 years. The colliery in which the explosion took place has been worked for the last 40 years. We have been working in that particular area from the outcrops down the valley, and from the outcrops to this particular colliery it is a distance of five miles. The coal seams have been worked near to the outcrops, and we had thought that by this time we had practically extracted the dangerous elements from the coal, and that obnoxious gases and so forth would be practically unknown, because the seams were not considered to be of a very foul nature. From that particular point down the valleys, about six miles, you come across a freak of nature which alters the geographical formation, and in this particular area we thought we were practically immune from the possibility of a colliery disaster of this particular character.
I want to assure the House that, if this disaster had taken place during the day shift instead of the night shift, undoubtedly there would have been about 300 men killed in this particular explosion, because the blast was of a terrific character. I am convinced there is nobody—in the capitalist class or anywhere else—who could be so diabolical as to wish to see a calamity of this kind take place. We on this side have our political point of view, but I am sure everybody, on all sides, is extremely sympathetic in the case of a disaster of this kind. We have been working this area for a considerable time. I have been a mining agent for many years, and have been connected with the district for the last 25 years. We have been operating it to the best of our ability, and educating our own folk to try to see that they do not work in danger and to keep the collieries as safe as possible. I want to make one statement. I believe that the last stoppage was indirectly responsible for the explosion. It was indirectly responsible in this way, that the domestic pressure on the home had become such that men, perhaps, were prepared to 958 work under conditions which they would not tolerate for a single moment if the domestic pressure had not been such as it was.
I am not going to go into any particular point because an inquiry is pending, and I do not wish to suggest any responsibility anywhere, but there can be no doubt that the great cry in the coalfields is to get coal in order to reduce the cost of production and to get as much coal to send into the market to compete with the foreigners. Our people undoubtedly well know that this fact exists. I want to make it perfectly plain to the House that whatever this inquiry may reveal—and I do not profess to be a technician or expert, though I have had about 30 years of practical mining experience and I think I may claim average intelligence—I know one fundamental fact which stands out in this explosion as in every other. There was something in that colliery that ought not to have been there and that was an accumulation of gas which caused the blast to take away 52 lives. It may be a matter of opinion as to whether it was avoidable or unavoidable. I can only say that it is my own conviction that the accumulation of obnoxious gas underground is a preventable thing if the Acts of Parliament already in existence for dealing with the mines are put into operation and are enforced by the management, the men and the Government inspectors who are responsible for work of this class.
In this district we did not expect an explosion because we had dealt with practically the whole of what may be termed the fiery seams. There are five of the seams there. In the particular seam in which the explosion occurred we had thought, as experienced and common sense people, that we had drained away practically all the noxious gases that were likely to be found. When I went into that district I was amazed to find the explosion which had taken place; we thought we were immune from anything of the kind. It shows, perhaps, that owing to our having been free from an explosion for so many years we had become careless, and I am afraid there was some carelessness about this thing. I can assure the House that I witnessed there sights which I do not wish to experience again in the whole of my lifetime. We talk about these things being 959 necessary and unavoidable periodically, but hon. Members opposite and on this side of the House, if they would go to a colliery disaster, would see heartrending scenes such as I witnessed there, which would move this or any other Government to spend the necessary money to prevent disasters of that kind.
The miner's occupation is different from any other. Not only is the miner in danger of his life during the day but you have that pall hanging over his wife and children throughout the whole of the day when he is there. There is that anxiety of mind as to whether he is coming home safe, and after getting up at five in the morning, you have the wife or the mother thinking of the boy perhaps going to work in the colliery at 14 years of age. The mother of the miner's boy has the same heart as the mother of any hon. Member or other person better situated. These mothers and wives are thinking of their boys and husbands throughout the whole of the day and the mental pressure in the miner's home is obviously greater than in any other particular class of industry. Let the House remember the wages for which the miner is working. I should like to bring this fact home, that the least this country can do is to sec that the miner is relieved of this heavy domestic responsibility which he has to be under to-day in consequence of the low wages. Here the political significance of the question comes in. Hon. Members on the other side say it is an economic necessity. I believe economic laws ought to be made to fit in with human needs and if there is a political disposition in this House to do so, it should be possible to make economics fit in with the human needs of this particular industry.
That was the thing I witnessed when I got home to that tragedy which occurred recently. Let me refer to the little incident of which very much was made by the Press of the country when the Prime Minister visited the scene on the second day. It was unfortunate, from my point of view, that there was a demonstration. I know all the areas of South Wales and I know you will find the level of intelligence among the mining population is as high as that of any other part of the population, and I did not wish that there should be mis 960 representation of the characteristics or the intelligence of the miners broadcast over the country. Consequently I said that I regretted that the incident had taken place. It was not the time for me, under the shadow of death, to have anything in the nature of a demonstration at that particular moment, and that is my explanation for regretting the incident at the time but I can fully understand it.
We are told that the Government cannot do anything to eliminate these accidents in mines. I am going to bring before the House certain ideas of my own. Being a very practical miner with considerable experience, I am satisfied that with the law as it is, and without any amendment of existing laws, it is possible to get an explosion practically every week throughout the year, and it is really only as a matter of chance that we are saved from having explosions. This sort of thing is encouraged. It is encouraged, for instance, on the economic ground that you must get what is called the conveyor into the coal face in order to bring coal more cheaply to the pit bottom and to the surface in order to compete with the foreigner. I am absolutely against the working of the conveyor system at a coal face which is suitable for the ordinary stall and trolley work. When you work with a conveyor system you have three or four possible dangers. In the working of a conveyor there is the danger of creating sparks. You can also create friction in such a way that the men at the coal face do not understand or hear when there is danger about, and you must have experience as a collier to understand when you are in danger underground. The practical collier can hear when danger is about, but with the conveyor system you create such a noise that it is impossible for him to hear what is going on.
The fundamental question is this. In working with a conveyor you take 100 yards of face in one stretch, instead of under the old system, 10 or 20 yards. The Mines Department has no power to enforce anything in order to obviate this danger, so far as I can see, unless they introduce fresh legislation. There ought to be in every coal face at least two safety roads. Just imagine a body of men working in 100 yards of coal face 961 with, perhaps, a seam two feet high—boys and men working in the middle of the coal face. If a crash comes, they have to rush to the bottom of the pit to save themselves. In working under a conveyor system you do not fill up the cavities. You leave large areas and allow them to fill themselves by pressure and cracking of the roof or to remain open, with the possibility of a terrific "blast" at any moment. Anyone who understands underground working knows that you have to keep ventilation in progress at the place where men are working. If you have cavities in consequence of not filling up the gaps you leave them open to the possibility of their being filled with noxious gases which may break out at any moment and send all the men into eternity. I should not be at all surprised, at any moment, to hear talk of a "blast" occurring in any part of the South Wales coalfield, or anywhere else. In the interest of economy it is not considered wise to do anything to avoid this possibility. While the industry is being worked in the way that it is, with no unification or organisation, each company competiting in the market against the other and each driving the men as fast as they can and speeding them up in every possible direction, there is the possibility of a "blast" occurring at any time. I am here to tell the House very solemnly and seriously that our civilisation ought to save us from this. That is what the people in the particular colliery where the explosion occurred think. I hope we may never have a repetition of that kind of thing, but I am quite satisfied that unless there is legislation and better administration there is a possibility of an explosion taking place at any time.
I am not a believer in theory and I cannot follow what some of the technicians and experts talk about. Many of our technicians say that it is possible to work in a colliery with 2½ per cent. of gas and be quite safe. That theory ought to be exploded once and for all, whoever the experts may be. We ought to have our collieries perfectly free from gas as far as it is practicable, and where there is a possibility of any gas arising there ought to be a current of air to render the pit safe for men to work in. This sort of thing will go on for all time unless this industry is put under a better 962 state of organisation and unless there is some unification and a better understanding and the industry can be made to work on an economic basis with the necessary safety for the men. If this industry cannot be worked without men being killed like rats the sooner we turn our attention to some other industry that will be a substitute for this industry the better. The men engaged in the mining industry ought to have as much consideration as those engaged in any other industry. They are working in a most hazardous industry and they are putting as much physical energy into their work as any men I know, and we ought to do all we can to protect them.
Again, you have the electrical appliances in the mines. I think the Mines Department should take this matter up. It is no use telling us that the wiring of the mines is done in a way that is safe for the men. I hold the opinion very strongly that there ought not to be the possibility of explosion in mines caused by a spark from anything. If there is a possibility of an explosion from any of these things, then the mine is not safe to work in under any circumstances or conditions whatever. All these things that are producing sparks—and they do produce sparks—should, as far as possible, be avoided. All those things should be cased, so as to make the mine as safe as possible. I believe that every Member of this House, if it were not for the question of cost, would say, "We will have all these things done," but we are up against the problem of where the money is to come from in order to do them. I have tried to point out as best I can some of the things that might be done. There are many other things that it is possible to do, and there is one very important thing to I which I wish to call the attention of the Minister of Mines.
But first I would like to point out that. with the rest of the people on this side of the House, I deplore the idea that the Mines Department is to be abolished. It gives us the impression, and it gives our people the impression, that the Government, owing to the last dispute in the coal mining industry, are now going to wash their hands of that industry and let the employers and the men fight their battles out in their own way. The Mines Department ought to be strengthened and 963 better equipped; it ought to have the information ready at hand every time, in order to render the necessary assistance to the people who are working in the mines of this country, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer with his economy stunt prevents it. He agrees to expenditure with a lavish hand in any other direction, but when it is a social service of some benefit to the community, we always find that there is an economy stunt in order to reduce the effectiveness of our social services, so that the money can be expended in other directions, and we are protesting very solemnly against the idea of the abolition of the Mines Department. We ask that there should be an efficient Department, equipped with men and with everything that is necessary, in order, not to interfere less with the mining operations of this country but more. This proposal to abolish the Department is a political stunt on the part of the Government to keep out of the industry altogether. The Government cannot afford to keep out, unless they are going to sacrifice the lives of the people in it, and we say that the Mines Department should have very effective powers to deal with those employers and even with those workpeople who are breaking the law in any shape or form.
One very important thing appeals to my mind. I do not want to try to give any idea as to what I think about ventilation—I hare my own ideas—but there is one very important point. I believe that wherever there is a pair of shafts sunk into the earth for the production of coal, and those two shafts are going to be used for the raising of coal, there should be a third shaft sunk to be kept specially as an outcast or ventilating shaft. In the area from which I come we have two sets of shafts. In what we call the Wawn Llwyd collieries, we have people working precisely similar seams, and we have two shafts, what we call the downcast shafts, which are for fresh air, that are winding coal, and the third shaft, called the ventilating shaft, which is kept clear for the purpose of ventilation. In the two collieries in which this explosion occurred there are only two shafts. The one is an upcast shaft, and the other is a downcast shaft, and they did start, some 10 or 12 years ago, to sink a third shaft. I believe that legislation should be introduced into 964 this House, compelling any company or any individual that is going into the earth for coal to sink two shafts with the idea of raising coal, and to go to the expense of sinking a third shaft for ventilation, in order to cool the mine in a proper way. The expense would be infinitesimal when you consider the life of the colliery. It is an initial cost, but the collieries in the area from which I come last about 100 years.
In the colliery to which I refer you get the one downcast and the upcast shaft. The fresh air goes down the one, and at the bottom of that shaft you take half the fresh air away, and send it in another direction to go down another small pit in that colliery, so that it may go to feed the other shaft. You have thus taken 50 per cent. of the current which might go down one colliery to ventilate the other, and you have not the air current going through the colliery that you should have. If a third shaft of sufficient dimensions were sunk, it would give the power of ventilation that is necessary. This is a question with which I think all of us on these benches sympathise and of which we understand the practicability and the utility, and I am bringing it before the Mines Department as being a question of infinite importance.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Two downcasts and one upcast shaft, of sufficient dimensions to take the air from the other two. That would keep a colliery as practically free from gas or danger as it is possible to keep it. I do not wish to charge any person with any responsibility for what has happened, but in a general sense I want to say this, that our men complain generally that the Inspectors of the Mines Department are more apt to be severe on them in the observance of the laws and regulations than they are on the employers. They go to the colliery face, and they call the men's attention to what we call the spragging of the coal at the working face, but at the same time, the men say, the Inspectors pass by places that are absolutely dangerous and that ought to be rectified, without paying attention to them, so far as they know. That is the expression of the men's opinion generally with regard to the Inspectors. I am not trying to say anything 965 to reflect on the Inspectors. I believe they have infinitely too much work to do, and we want to increase the Inspectorate, but I know the Chancellor of the Exchequer will at once say, "Where is the money coming from?" Where is the money coming from to send the soldiers to China? Whenever there is a war, money can be found. I am not talking about the merits or the demerits of sending soldiers to China. I am simply saying that in this country, somehow or other, whenever there is a war to be fought, whenever there is money needed in order to show our Imperial splendour, it matters not whether it is thousands or millions, the money can always be found, but whenever it is a social service, such as adding to the Inspectorate to see to the safety of the mines, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will come forward and say, "We have gone to the limit of our expenditure, and we cannot find the money to do anything of the kind."
To us, that is hypocritical and unreal. It shows that there is a lack of sympathy somewhere that ought not to exist, and that is why our men say what they do and why the incident happened to the Prime Minister the other day. It is all very well to come after the disaster has taken place. We want their sympathy beforehand, not after, and that is exactly the feeling of the men. I am trying to give it as clearly as I can, and if any hon. Member opposite will come down to my constituency and address a public meeting he will hear exactly what they think of him, and exactly what they say about the question, and they will leave no stone unturned in order to give a demonstration as to their conviction in regard to what the sympathy of the other side is worth. I hope the few remarks that I have made have not offended the susceptibilities of anyone. I should like this question to be outside party politics altogether, but the Mines Department, in order to put it outside of party politics, must give us a demonstration in the statement they will make to-night. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to show us an earnest of his desire by not abolishing the Mines Department, and the Minister of Mines must show us an earnest of his desire to prevent disasters of this kind taking place, by saying that he will do something in the nature of this Resolution and to put it into practical effect. That will give considerable satisfaction, 966 and we shall be the first in that event to take this question out of party politics altogether when we see that sincerity on the part of the Minister of Mines.
§ Mr. KIDD
Perhaps, as representing a Scottish mining county, I may be allowed to make a very brief contribution to the Debate. I do so in the hope that some representative among the many able mining representatives of Scotland on the other side of the House may offer some criticism of anything I may say. I was glad to hear from both sides of the House that in the matter of accidents in mines we can never get rid of the human factor. It has been my lot to appear in scores of mining cases. In many of the cases I have found the accident due to a failure of the human factor as represented by the management; in many other cases I have found that the accident has been due to the failure of the human factor as represented by the men, and I was therefore waiting to hear some specific suggestion as to what should be done in order to avoid accidents in mines, whether any suggestion could be made or any new system proposed which would tend to diminish the number of accidents. Any suggestion from any quarter of the House which in operation will tend to diminish accidents will, I am sure, receive the support of all Members irrespective of party.
I take the only possible comparison in the matter of accidents, namely the comparison made by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. The only real comparison I can make as to whether our present system is good or bad is to compare the accidents in this country with the number of accidents in other mining countries. I think the figures given by the hon. Member who submitted this Resolution so far from establishing the case he tried to make, proved exactly the opposite. I am speaking in the presence of many able miners' representatives from Scotland, who will no doubt correct me if my reasoning is wrong. The figures given by the hon. Member were to demonstrate the fact that the eight-hour day has increased the number of accidents. He discovered that in the first three months of 1926 there were 306 fatal accidents, while in the first three months of 1927 there were 324 fatal accidents. I take those figures and 967 I find that in a seven-hour day there are 306 fatal accidents, and in an eight-hour day—all other factors remaining the same—there are 324 fatal accidents. But that does not indicate any increase in accidents owing to an eight-hour day, because there would have to be 349 accidents if the eight-hour day is to be as bad as the seven-hour day. If any hon. Member considers this a fallacious argument, I hope he will point it out. [An HON. MEMBER: "We will if we get the opportunity."] The hon. Member should take the opportunity when it comes, and not interrupt. Therefore, the figures quoted by the hon. Member, so far from proving that the eight-hour day has occasioned more accidents, proves entirely the contrary.
§ Mr. TINKER
But there were 100,000 men less at work in the mines during the first three months of 1927.
§ 10.0 p.m.
§ Mr. KIDD
I have not got the figures of the men at work. The hon. Member who moved the Motion gave the figures of 306 and 324, and argued that there were 18 more accidents in 1927 than there were in 1926; that you have an eight-hour day in operation in 1927 and a seven-hour day in operation in 1926, therefore, the eight-hour day is responsible for the increase. I say that the conclusion is all the other way; and what is more, no miners' representative will discount the fact that as these mines were idle for seven months last year we have all the more reason to be grateful that the accidents have been as few as they have. They will no doubt agree that no matter how careful the management may have been during that period of stoppage, it was inevitable that injury was occasioned to the mines such as would be conducive to accidents, and taking all these facts into consideration it is a matter of agreeable surprise that the accidents, so far from having increased during the first three months of this year, have decreased, and have not been much more serious.
I regret that the last speaker suggested that the inspectors of mines in this country show a partiality in favour of the management as against the men. I do not know with what inspectors he is acquainted, but I have never been in a case yet in which I have not found 968 the inspector a perfectly impartial person. I have opposed inspectors in many cases involving the men and in many cases involving the management, and in some cases involving both, and I have been struck as a lawyer with the exceptional perfection of our system of securing the safety of the miners. On the one hand, you have the manager, who has to pass a stiff examination, who is a man of character and ability, initiative and resource. Over the manager you have the inspector, representing public security, a perfectly independent person, a man whom I have always found—and I have had to cross-examine many inspectors who may perhaps have complained of my methods in Court—capable, independent, beyond all challenge in regard to his impartiality, and I should like to have heard the hon. Member give the name of the inspector who he considers has failed in this respect.
§ Mr. DAVIES
I do not think that in the speech I made I challenged the inspectors, beyond stating that our men were under the impression that they were much more rigid on them than on the employers.
§ Mr. KIDD
I am very glad to have that explanation, and I rather imagine that the hon. Member, in his official position as a miners' representative, knowing that this suspicion of the men's is thoroughly unwarranted, will do his best, day in and day out, to disabuse the minds of the men of such an unfair suspicion. I am glad to notice that in no quarter of the House is there any desire to suggest that in the matter of sympathy for the home which has suffered by a mining accident, or of anxiety for the man who is engaged in a most hazardous calling, there is any room to apportion that sympathy or that anxiety on a party basis. I take it we are all agreed that, irrespective of party, we are all sympathetic. We should never dream of trading for party purposes on the horrible lot of the widows and the fatherless children; we should loathe the idea of trading on that for party purposes. We are all at one in feeling sympathy for the stricken and feeling anxiety for those who are engaged down the mine, and that being so we can discuss this matter free from all party feeling and we can be fair to everyone concerned. We can examine the comparative 969 statistics of other countries with those of our own, and discover in those figures an extraordinary tribute to the quality of our management and to the quality of our inspectors, and make a little acknowledgment of the excellence of the mining system of this country.
I know that nothing is perfect, but mining from the engineering aspect is constantly improving—there are advances in engineering and in science. All the millions we are spending on education to-day are not intended to make prigs of our people; we expect to realise value for those millions in the services of science and of engineering, and no little of that service will be given to mines. We can all agree, too, to strive to secure such conditions as will make for the greatest possible security in mining. I would join the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Amendment in appealing to the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Resolution to realise that in order to give the country the feeling that here there is no party strife, nothing but an honest desire to do the best for mining, the proper thing to do is to adopt the Amendment.
§ Mr. PALING
The last speaker was rather upset because he was interrupted, but he issued a challenge and hence the interruption. When the Eight Hours Bill was under discussion last year various Government speakers, including Ministers, were terribly anxious to prove that the increase in hours would not bring about an increase in the number of fatal accidents. The figures given them proved conclusively, in spite of the wriggling of the Ministers, that an increase in hours must result in an increase in the number of fatal accidents. Figures have been read out to-night and there has not been any attempt to disprove them, although they have been "wangled" a bit. The hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. R. Hudson) said that if we took into consideration that the stone-dusting Clause had been brought into operation, the 260 increase could be halved, at least; but even if we did that there would be an increase of 130. The stone-dusting Clause, however, does not operate in the way we tried to make out. While it is quite true that the stone-dusting Clause was not brought in until the introduction of 970 the Seven Hours Act, it remains a fact—when he was asked about it he did not dispute it—that in the great proportion of pits in this country stone dusting had been in operation for years upon years. The Act merely made compulsory something which had been adopted in the interests of safety in the big majority of mines years upon years previously. Therefore, the stone-dusting Clause of which so much has been made really does not operate in the manner which hon. Members opposite would have us believe.
The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Kidd) said we had had figures for three months only given to us. There were 18 or 20 more cases in 1927 than in the corresponding three months of 1926, but say the hon. Member for Whitehaven and the hon. Member for Linlithgow with great unction, "Subtract the number of people who have been killed in the explosions and then you will find that actually fewer people were killed under the eight-hours' system than under the seven-hours' system." Why subtract them? They were killed, were they not? What is the difference between being killed in an explosion and by a fall of roof? It is a fatal accident just the same. When the hon. Member tries to argue that this is an abnormal occurrence, he must know that nearly every year's total of accidents includes the effects of some explosions. It may be that there are more one year than another, but there are always a number of people killed in explosions; and he cannot, in order to suit his particular argument, keep out of consideration the number of people who were unfortunately killed in the Cwm accident and in the Bilsthorpe colliery accident in Notting ham three weeks ago.
§ Mr. R. HUDSON
I definitely stated that the only justification for subtracting those figures was that here we are taking the figures for a very short period of time. If we were going to take the figures for the whole year it would be different. Here we are taking three months, and it cannot be said that every year similar accidents occur in this particular three months.
§ Mr. PALING
The hon. Member in his argument said that if we subtracted the figures the number was less, and so said the hon. Member for Whitehaven. The hon. Member for Whitehaven was more concerned with the figures before the Eight Hours Act was imposed and before the stone-dusting Clause was passed. Those figures are not on a three-monthly basis. I make him a present of the three-monthly figures. We have the figures for many years to afford a direct comparison between what happened under the Eight Hours Act and under the Seven Hours Act. The hon. Member for Whitehaven was careful to point out that the number killed in 1924 was higher than it was in 1925. The number killed in 1924 was 1,218, and the number in 1925 was 1,159. Again hon. Members refuse to face the comparisons which really matter. The two hon. Members appear to forget the fact that over 100,000 men less were employed in the industry during these periods, and that the man shifts were, in proportion, much worse even than that. When the hon. Member for Whitehaven was talking about 1924–25 he forgot the much better comparison which is contained in the figures given in the Mines Inspector's Report.
§ Mr. R. HUDSON
I definitely quoted figures for the man shifts and hours worked. I said that in 1922 the actual number of fatal and non-fatal accidents was 66 and a decimal, and in 1925 it had fallen to 63. I used those very comparisons to which the hon. Member refers.
§ Mr. PALING
I quite agree, but when giving the number actually killed in two years he used the years 1924 and 1925, and if he uses those years for the one purpose, or the one comparison, surely, he ought to use them also for the next comparison, but he did not do so. He used two different years. I propose, however, to use the same years. More men were killed, he said, in 1924 than in 1925, which proves according to him that we are making progress. But take the man shifts worked in 1924 and 1925. This is the Report:The death rate per thousand persons employed above and below ground in 1925 was 1.02 per thousand and in 1924 .98 per thousand.So the figures have gone up, in relation to the number employed. Take the man 972 shifts for the same two years. The death rate per 100,000 man shifts worked in 1925 was 0.40 as compared with 0.38 in 1924. So the figures have gone up in both cases. In future when the hon. Member for Whitehaven, who professes a desire to be fair in this matter, is comparing two years in one sense perhaps he will be good enough to carry on his comparison on the basis of the same two years when going further with his argument. So much for the question of the number killed. I would like to refer also to the question of the human element of which so much has been made during this Debate. A tremendous amount is made of the fact that miners are not always careful. There may be something in that. I will make hon. Members a present of whatever there is in it. As a matter of fact I will read a paragraph from the Inspector's Report which proves it. This is in regard to haulage accidents:Many accidents could have been prevented. For example, 29 persons were killed while illegally riding on tubs or sets of tubs, and 10 when illegally travelling on haulage roads; 27 were fatally injured, either because proper stop blocks were not provided "—that is due to the management.or those provided were not used"—that is due to the men.and 10 for the want of, or non-use of, back stays.I make a present to hon. Members of that. But listen to what follows:In the northern division five persons when putting or driving were killed by being caught between tubs and the roof or the roof supports. Accidents of this character occur every year. They are due to the conditions under which pitters and drivers work under present methods the clearance between the tops of tubs and the roofs, or roof supports being only three or four inches or even less.It is a question of the expense of making decent roads on which haulage can take place properly. Again in the same Report we find:In the Cardiff and Newport Division there are more deaths due to injuries received when re-railing derailed trams than from any other cause in connection with haulage.This is what the Inspector suggests:This would appear to point to more care being necessary to provide good railways, to keep them clear of lumps of coal and debris and to see that the trams themselves are maintained in good running condition.973 Again the economic question—the question of finance—arises, and that is a question devolving upon the management alone. The Inspector also says:Many haulage accidents are the result of the keenness of the workers, and such keenness which means taking a chance' will exist for all time.I would like hon. Members to keep that in mind when they are talking about the workers' "ca'canny" policy. The Inspector of Mines himself states that workers sometimes do get killed because of their keenness, and he admits that such keenness must exist for all time. That is a good thing, not only for the men themselves, but particularly for the profits of the coalowners.The result of the chance taken depends very much upon the conditions of the road. In a road of good size there is freedom to move about, whereas in cramped conditions the risk is magnified many times.Again it is a question of finance. The question of the human element was also brought into the matter of shaft accidents mentioned by the hon. Member for Newport (Mr. Clarry). I have looked through the Inspector's report, and I cannot see the factor of the human element mentioned in connection with the shaft accidents occurring in 1925. I would ask the Secretary for Mines if the number of shaft accidents is more than it ought to be. He has been asked time after time daring the years that I have been a Member of this House, and he has been Secretary for Mines most of the time, what is being done with the number of inventions that are being sent up to the Mines Office month after month and year after year, purporting to be inventions which would prevent many overwinding accidents. We have not been able to get much of an answer. Nearly all the people who have sent in the inventions are absolutely dissatisfied with the treatment they have received from the Mines Department. Last year I asked the Secretary for Mines a question in regard to overwinding accidents. I asked how many collieries in this country had electrically-driven winding apparatus and how many had steam-driven winding apparatus. I also asked for particulars of similar apparatus in Germany. An answer was given. It was admitted that in Germany, where there is a far bigger proportion of winding 974 engines driven by electricity than in this country, the number of accidents from overwinding is very much less than it is here. I believe that the Secretary for Mines admits that. What is being done by the Department to push forward the idea of electrical winding engines?
The question of nystagmus was mentioned by one hon. Member, and appalling figures were given of the increasing number of cases, year after year. What has been done in this matter? I find from the Inspector's Report, on page 47, reference to the question of lamps. The Secretary for Mines must know from his experience at the Mines Department that at the pits where electric lamps have been adopted the illumination is much better than is obtained by the ordinary flame safety lamp. I think that is admitted. Does not the Secretary for Mines admit it? It is generally admitted by everybody who knows anything about it. It is also admitted by most of the experts, who know anything about nystagmus, that most of the nystagmus cases are caused by lack of illumination, and the evidence bears that out. It will be found from the Report that, after nearly 14 or 15 years' experience of electric lamps, although experience has brought them up to a state of perfection and safety which the ordinary flame safety can never achieve, there are in use 580,000 ordinary flame safety lamps, as against only 366,000 electric lamps.
If the Secretary for Mines wishes to rid the mining community of the dread disease of nystagmus, one of the best ways of securing that desirable end is by getting pits to adopt the electric lamp as against the old flame safety lamp. The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as we know that the main reason for not adopting the electric lamp is one of expense, because it happens to be rather expensive to put in the first installation. I suggest, in face of the evidence contained in the Inspectors Report for 1925, that the Motion which has been moved to-night is justified, and, that it can be proved from the points of view which have been mentioned, and a dozen others that could be mentioned, that the Mines Department has not followed up these things. The hon. Member for White-haven quoted the Industrial Fatigue Research Board and the Medical Research 975 Council. These are good bodies, but hardly a single suggestion which they have made have been put into operation, either by legislation, administration, or regulation. Under the circumstances, I submit that the Motion is justified, and I hope that the House, if it has any concern for the lives and the welfare of the miners, will support us in carrying the Resolution.
§ Mr. STEPHEN WALSH
I think everyone must admit the great interest and also the great importance of the Debate which has followed the putting down of the Resolution that stands in the names of my hon. Friends. It seems to me impossible for any Member of the House to disagree with the terms of the Resolution. What is the use, really, of going into these decimal figures, .01 or .004 reduction, when it is a matter of common knowledge that every year in the mines at least one out of every six is injured more or less seriously? Roughly, 200,000 people are injured every year, or one in six, by accidents necessitating absence from work for a week or more, many of them for months and years. With every year that goes over our heads, with mathematical precision, more than 1,000 are killed, and then hon. Members begin with mathematical care, working out in terms of a decade, how much by 000 the death rate or accident rate has fallen. It is 17 years since the Coal Mines (Regulation) Act was passed, and many of us who were on the Committee which considered that Act, protested against bringing a great potential danger into the mine. We believed that as much coal could be obtained by the methods then existing as this country and all the foreign countries to which we exported coal required. We raised in 1910 well on towards 300,000,000 tons of coal. In 1913, the largest amount of coal up to that time was raised; speaking entirely from memory, I think about 287,000,000 tons. We protested against an additional danger being brought into the mines, knowing as we did, having worked down in the mines, exactly what we were talking about, and the kind of danger that we ourselves had to face.
We protested against the use of electricity. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. Smillie) sat 976 in the Committee room for a very long time, and will remember the effect upon us. We were backed up in that decision by a very famous mine inspector, a very competent man, who foresaw the danger and the extreme difficulty of guarding against that kind of accident.
Electricity is like lightning. There are conditions under which it is impossible to control it, and when it is released its effects are immeasurable. I have been noticing these last few weeks the Inspectors' Reports. Of course every man in this House and outside of it feels a common human sympathy when accidents occur. There is no lack of sympathy. Take the recent disaster in Yorkshire, where three lives were lost and many men were seriously injured. There was a cable there uncovered for a great length, and it ultimately fused with the consequences that we know. Against that kind of thing the Inspectors are constantly warning the Department in their Reports. These are not matters for which the workmen are responsible. Listen to the words in the Report of Mr. Charlton, the Inspector of the Swansea Division in 1924. He says:It is a matter of astonishment to me to find how indifferent many managers and electricians are to the requirements of the general regalations governing the use of electricity. Apparatus quite unsuitable to the circumstances of use is often installed, while the workmanship is at times most slipshod, not always because the electrician is inefficient but sometimes because he has far too much to do.'In a South Yorkshire colliery, Darton Main, on the East face in the new hard seam, on the 30th of May, 1925, this is what happened:Five workmen were injured by burning as a result of an accumulation of gas being ignited at a three-phase, 430-volt, electrically-driven, coal-cutting machine.And the Inspector goes on to say:Access could not be gained to the working face after the explosion, as a new airway had not been completed and the old one was closed by a fall at the outbye edge of which gas was found. It is very difficult to appreciate why an electrically-driven machine should have been allowed to work under such conditions. There was virtually a contravention of Section 29 of the Coal Mines Act.I do not know whether any prosecutions took place. The quotation continues:The originating point of the explosion is not in doubt. Examination shows that there had been arcing in the connector box, which in the opinion of Mr. J. A. B. Horsley, 977 Electrical Inspector of Mines, was sufficient to ignite an inflammable mixture of gas and air. Had the dust raised by the explosion been of a nature to propagate an explosion the result would have been very serious.The Chief Inspector goes on to state that:Three explosions during the year (1925) were due to misuse of electrically-driven. coal-cutting machines. That at the Wallsend Edward Colliery on 9th August caused the loss of five lives and injury to 28 others. The causes and circumstances attending it are dealt with by the Divisional Inspector (Mr. T. G. Davies) and by the Electrical Inspector (Mr. J. A. B. Horsley) in their reports, and I wish to emphasise the remark made by Mr. Davies, namely, 'It is difficult to understand how longwall workings could drift into the state shown by a glance at plate 2, if proper supervision had been exercised by the management.' There was a complete absence of method, and failure to appreciate the broad lines upon which mining by machines must proceed, operations having been allowed to take a haphazard course. After the explosion the machines were withdrawn from the scene. The machines were not at fault; it was the lack of management and organisation which in due course resulted in the accident.Of course there were only five lives lost there, but these cases have been multiplied time after time during the last few years by 10, and accidents happen, the cause of which is not easily traced, but which, in the opinion of many of us, are directly traceable to electricity. Consequently, we say it is time when either a new inquiry should be set up of a competent character or a new code of legislation should be established to deal with the entirely new conditions which have arisen since 1911. We have got electrically driven coal cutters, electrical conveyances, electrical signalling and a thousand and one other sources of danger that were hardly in existence 17 years ago, and it is time legislation should be enacted to reduce this kind of accident and to provide for a more efficient administration. A good deal of this information is already in the possession of the Department. It is not a matter of the inspectors not having drawn attention to these dangers, because they have reported continuously in 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924 and 1925 that this kind of danger has continually been present, showing faulty and defective management of the mines. All this is well within the knowledge of the Mines Department, and has been during all those years. Therefore, it is most desirable that a new Act of Parliament 978 should be passed which should have as its special object the limiting of this particular kind of injury and accidents in the mines.
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Colonel Lane Fox)
The Debate we have had on this subject was started in two very temperate speeches from two hon. Members representing my own County of Yorkshire, upon which I want to congratulate them. Both of them apologised to the House in case they spoke strongly, but that was quite unnecessary, because it is evident they were speaking with great feeling upon a subject which they thoroughly understood, and their strong remarks were perfectly justified. I regret that in the Motion which has been put down that spirit is not sufficiently shown. This may be due to defective drafting, and I should like to give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they have not drafted their own Resolution. It is unfortunate that this House has not had an earlier opportunity of expressing the regret which I am sure is shared by every hon. Member at the high rate of accidents in mines, and I am sure every hon. Member is most anxious to do his utmost to try and reduce that rate. When that is coupled with the assertion that the Government have failed to carry out their pledges—and I may say that in this Debate very few details have been given of the pledges that are referred to, and very little foundation for the statement in the Resolution—when that is put at the end of the Resolution, it is obvious that the Government cannot advise their supporters to allow it to pass, and that an Amendment must be moved to put the matter on a better basis. The Amendment which has been moved does, I think, express the feeling of the vast majority of the House. We all regret the prevalence of accidents; we are all glad that they are not worse than they are; we are all anxious to see the state of affairs with regard to accidents improved. That, I am sure, is the combined sense of the House, and I only wish it had been possible for the hon. Gentlemen who moved this Motion to have drafted it in a form of that kind.
I would ask, what are the pledges which are alluded to? We have been told repeatedly that there has been no new legislation; but, as has been said by more than one speaker in this Debate, legislation 979 alone is of no use. Legislation can do a certain amount, but in my belief we have ample legislation. It is a question of administration; you can do far more by regulation; and, in the few minutes that I have left, I hope the House will allow me to explain why it is that I am prepared to say that the Mines Department has been carrying out in the most thorough manner, by inquiry, by research, by regulations, and by inspection, the duties which have been laid upon it. The House will not imagine for a moment that I am taking any credit for myself; but, when I hear speaker after speaker on the other side, without, perhaps, a full knowledge of the working of the Mines Department, suggest that there has been slacking, that officials have not done their duty, I feel bound to stand up for as devoted, loyal and hard-working a body of men as I have ever come across in the whole of my life. I take no sort of credit for that; I have no share in it myself at all; I am merely the mouthpiece of the Department in this House, and I think it is fair to say that.
The suggestion was made that the suggested reorganisation of Ministries and so on might involve decreased efficiency in safeguarding the health and safety and conditions under which miners work. I can quite safely say, on he half of the Government, that that will be far too high a price to pay for any economy. In making any economy, the House may rest perfectly assured that the full interests of the health and safety of those who work in our mines will be considered, and that no rearrangement will be allowed to interfere with that most necessary duty. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. Walsh) spoke with some scorn about people juggling with figures. I agree that far too much juggling of figures has taken place from his side. I have reason to believe that almost the main basis of this Debate is answers which have been given by me to questions at various times as to the rate of accidents occurring, and on conclusions that have been drawn from those answers. I am not going to be drawn into juggling with figures, because I think it is waste of time. I say perfectly genuinely and sincerely that you cannot possibly get any really valuable deduction from periods such as these; you can 980 only get it by considering wider periods of time than many of those which have been mentioned in this Debate.
I should like to show the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling) how unwise it is to juggle with figures. When he asked me a question about the rates of accidents at various periods and asked for a period both before and after the eight-hour day, involving a period when the average working hours were nine, then a period in which they were eight, and then a period in which they were seven, the reply he got was that the average of the men killed when the period of nine hours was being worked was conisiderably lower than the period that followed with eight hours. He will also realise that one of the principal reasons for that was that during that period of eight hours there was a large number of very serious explosions. It was a very unfortunate period and three explosions alone, involving about 1,000 deaths, occurred during that period. When he said stone dust had nothing to do with it, I should like to remind him that in the eight-hour period the average was 150 deaths due to coal dust explosions. In the seven-hour period, after regulations had been enforced on the whole mining community, instead of 150 per annum the number dropped to 20.
A comparison has been made with foreign countries. There, again, I do not want to make too much of it. I do not want to say that because we are in a far better position than any other country, except perhaps France, we ought to be satisfied. I fully agree that we must do everything we can but at the same time do net let us paint the picture too black. It is a comfort to remember that with all the conditions we are so often told about we are still ahead of all the countries in the world except perhaps France. Equally I should like to remind the House, before I come to the actual work of the Department, that if you go through periods of years you will find that the accident and death rate is slowly but steadily decreasing. It is some comfort to realise that that process is still going on and, whatever hon. Members may feel about the eight-hour question, it is very unfair to choose a period of three months in one year and a period of three months in another year in which there has been no serious explosion, and say we are 981 comparing like with like. Hon. Members had better try to face facts than to juggle with figures. Figures are very dangerous. Of course it is true that if men are employed rather longer in a risky occupation there is more risk.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
How can anyone dispute it? But to base all the calculations, which hon. Members do base on that, is another matter. But I will not spend any more time on figures, because I have something much more important to say in the short time that remains. Some hon. Gentlemen have alluded to the growing importance of what may be called the water danger, which has occupied so great a place in the unfortunate history of accidents during recent years. The hon. Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Grundy) asked with scorn, "What is the Department doing about it?" It is quite true there was a very serious accident at the Scotswood Pit last year, and there have been others as well. It is obvious that this is a danger which has come to stay, because the more old workings there are the greater chance there is of the accumulation of water and the greater risk there is from that cause. We have two things to do; first of all, to try to give as much information as we can to those working the pits in order to enable them to avoid this danger, and, secondly, to set about seeing whether the existing methods of combating the danger are sufficient or can be improved. We have set up a Water Dangers Committee, which has been travelling round the country and collecting the fullest information from all sources. I hope the Committee will shortly report; indeed, their report is in draft.
At the same time we have set up a catalogue of plans to which I alluded on the last occasion when this subject was discussed. That catalogue is very nearly completed. It has been a vast work and the Department owes great thanks to all the various members of the community who have helped to produce old plans, particularly the plans of mines abandoned before 1872, for it was only after 1872 that it became compulsory that they should be handed in. We have now collected them to the number of 12,000 and there are 12,000 others, or thereabouts, which have been 982 examined and their contents recorded. We are still getting further information, so that the catalogue is not yet complete. As soon as it is, we shall publish it, but in the meanwhile all the information we have got is available to anyone who chooses to apply to the Mines Department. If anyone thinks we have got information about old workings in the neighbourhood of their pit and will apply to us, we shall be able to tell them all we can on the matter. We cannot legislate in a hurry and perhaps make a mistake without investigating. This thing has got to be carefully approached and those hon. Members who tell us that the cost does not matter must remember that you cannot brush aside economic laws. The future of the mining industry does depend very largely on the extent to which the cost of the colliery pits can be reduced. There is no use contending that this is not the case.
Then there is a Safety in Mines Research Board which, as the House knows, is financed by the welfare fund, but which is controlled by and works hand-in-hand with the Mines Department and under their supervision. On the other hand, when shifts are shortened there is a tendency to hurry the work, and more hurried work always tends to an increase in accidents. This Committee has a number of daughter committees. We have one Committee on the Support of Workings Underground which is going round the country and dealing with the timber question. They have already reported as regards South Wales and Scotland and the Eastern area and they are going over the whole of the country and eventually will report on every coalfield in the country.
§ Colonel LANE FOX
I think so, but if the hon. Member will put down a question, I will find out. I do not see why they should not be, and as far as I know they are. Then we have a Committee dealing with the question of ventilation, the explosives question and so on, and with the very important question of wire ropes and various questions connected with that, and also dealing with the question of spontaneous combustion.
I will now deal briefly with the question of research. A new experimental 983 station has just been set up at Buxton which I hope will be a very great improvement on the former experimental station. The new station will be much more handy to get to, and will be equipped in a more up-to-date fashion, and is already carrying on very valuable experimental work. I hope it will be officially opened some time in the month of June, and that its work will be of enormous value to the mining community. At the present moment they are already carrying out coal dust experiments under various conditions, fire-damp explosions, and testing mining explosives, and they have got a chamber able to reproduce, as far as they can, the character of a gob fire so as to be able to test the various conditions that arise in connection with gob fires. In addition, there is a considerable amount of laboratory work being carried out. The main laboratory work is at present being carried on, and will be continued, in Sheffield. The questions of spontaneous combustion and the use of electricity are not being lost sight of.
I would say to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walsh), who preceded me, that I should be surprised to learn that it is really the policy of the Labour party and of the Miners' Federation to discourage the use of electricity in mines. By all means make the use of electricity safer. By all means make examinations to see how it can be more safely used, but to talk about conveyors and the recent development that electricity has brought into the mines as being a danger that ought to be avoided is, I am sure, not the considered judgment, and certainly will not be the considered judgment, of either the Miners' Federation or the Labour party. One of the complaints that the Miners' Federation made before the Royal Commission was this, that we were behind the times as
§ compared with other countries in not having sufficient electrical equipment in our mines. I leave the right hon. Gentleman to settle that difference of opinion, as well as many others, with the Miners' Federation.
§ I have not time to deal with the question of the various Regulations as to shot firing, stone testing, rescue work, and as to various Regulations which have been passed and brought into effect during recent years. The hon. Gentlemen who asked me what has been done have only to look at the various Regulatons that have been passed and the various investigations that have been made and the action taken upon them When they ask what can be done about the unfortunate accident at Wharncliffe. I would remind them that the inquest has not yet been completed. You cannot send for and hang anybody until there has been an inquiry into the whole case. The whole thing is being carefully gone into, and most careful inquiries are being made. The matter will be most seriously and thoroughly dealt with. We have by no means heard the last of that unfortunate accident. Hon. Gentlemen have brought, as far as I have heard them, no definite accusations against the Mines Department which could really prove that the Department has not carried out Regulations, or that it has not brought them into effect where necessary. I could have said a good deal more on this subject—it is a very large and very attractive one—but, at any rate, I thank hon. Gentlemen for the general tone of the Debate. I only wish they had not made it necessary to move an Amendment to their Resolution.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 114; Noes, 201.987
|Division No. 98.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Charleton, H. C.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Clowes, S.||Greenall, T.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Compton, Joseph||Grenfell, D. R.(Glamorgan)|
|Baker, Walter||Connolly, M.||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Dalton, Hugh||Groves, T.|
|Barnes, A.||Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Grundy, T. W.|
|Batey, Joseph||Day, Colonel Harry||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||Duncan, C.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvll)|
|Bromfield, William||Dunnico, H.||Hardie, George D.|
|Bromley, J.||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Harney, E. A.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Fenby, T. D.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Hayday, Arthur|
|Buchanan, G.||Gibbins, Joseph||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Cape, Thomas||Gillett, George M.||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)|
|Hirst, G. H.||Paling, W.||Sullivan, J.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Taylor, R. A.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Potts, John S.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Purcell, A. A.||Townend, A. E.|
|Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Riley, Ben||Viant, S. P.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Ritson, J.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W.Bromwich)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Kelly, W. T.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Kennedy, T.||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Sexton, James||Webb, Rt. Hon Sidney|
|Kirkwood, D||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Lansbury, George||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Westwood, J.|
|Lawrence, Susan||Sitch, Charles H.||Whiteley, W.|
|Lawson, John James||Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Lee, F.||Smillie, Robert||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Lowth, T.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lunn, William||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Mackinder, W.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Snell, Harry||Windsor, Walter|
|March, S.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wright, W.|
|Montague, Frederick||Stephen, Campbell||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Murnin, H.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Palln, John Henry||Strauss, E. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Hayes.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Fermoy, Lord||Maclntyre, Ian|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Flelden, E. B.||McLean, Major A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Finburgh, S.||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Ford, Sir P. J.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Mac Robert, Alexander M.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Apsley, Lord||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Gates, Percy||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham||Marriott, Sir J. A. R|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Goff, Sir Park||Merriman, F. B.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Gower, Sir Robert||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Mcnsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Moreing, Captain A. H.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Grotrian, H. Brent||Murchison, Sir Kenneth|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Nall, Colonel Sir Joseph|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Brocklabank, C. E. R.||Hanbury, C.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Hartington, Marquess of||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Hawke, John Anthony||Pennefather, Sir John|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Burman, J. B.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Perring, Sir William George|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Herbert, S.(York,N.R.,Scar. & Wh'by)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Campbell, E. T.||Hills, Major John Waller||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hilton, Cecil||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St.Marylebone)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Christie, J. A.||Holt, Captain H. P.||Preston, William|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Radford, E. A.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Ralne, W.|
|Cope, Major William||Hume, Sir G. H.||Ramsden, E.|
|Couper, J. B.||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Jephcott, A. R.||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H.(Lindsey, Galnsbro)||Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Cunilffe, Sir Herbert||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Roberts E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir clement||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Lamb, J. Q.||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Lister, Cunllffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Loder, J. de V.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney).|
|Duckworth, John||Looker, Herbert William||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Sanders, Sir Robert A.|
|England, Colonel A.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Lumley, L. R.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||McDonneil, Colonel Hon. Angus||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)|
|Smithers Waldron||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Tinne, J. A.||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Sprot, Sir Alexander||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden,E.)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Stanley, Lord (Fyide)||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.||Waddington, R.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wallace, Captain D. E.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Ward. Lt.-Col.A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Warrender, Sir Victor||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Tasker, R. Inlgo.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Wragg, Herbert|
|Templeton, W. P.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Thom, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)||Watts, Dr. T.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||Wells, S. R.||Mr. R. S. Hudson and Mr. Clarry.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ Mr. WESTWOOD rose—
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.