HC Deb 22 November 1927 vol 210 cc1594-6
40. Mr. GRUNDY

asked the Secretary for Mines, in view of the increase of fatal and non-fatal accidents in the mines, if he proposes to revise the legislation that has produced this result or introduce new legislation to deal with the matter?

44. Mr. PALING

asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware of the increase in the number of fatal and serious accidents in mines since the introduction of the Eight Hours Act last year; and whether he proposes to take any steps to deal with the serious position now existing?


asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that the number of fatal accidents per thousand persons employed in the mines of Great Britain increased in 1927 by 11 per cent as compared with 1925; that the number of serious accidents increased by 16 per cent.; and, if so, what steps does he intend to take to deal with the situation?

The SECRETARY FOR MINES (Colonel Lane Fox)

The increase in the actual number of deaths is from 923 in 1925 to 943 in 1927, or just over 2 per cent. The actual increase in serious injuries is from 3,607 in 1925 to 3,889 in 1927, or nearly 8 per cent. I deeply regret these increases, but mining ,accidents have always fluctuated considerably in number from month to month and from year to year. The increases this year do not exceed previous limits of fluctuation. A period of only 10 months, and especially a period of such irregular work following a long stoppage, is too short to enable any reliable inference to be drawn as to the possible effect of longer hours. If the increases were attributable solely to this cause one would expect to find them more or less evenly distributed among the different classes of workers. But the statistics do not show this. They show increases in some respects and decreases in others. For instance, deaths from falls of ground have increased while deaths due to haulage accidents and on the surface have decreased.


Has the Department fixed any percentage of non-fatal accidents to the mine workers before they intend to revise that legislation and to take some steps to stop this slaughter of workers?

Colonel LANE FOX

I hope that the number will come down and that with improved conditions and more steady and regular work accidents will become fewer.


Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that in giving the percentage he is comparing deaths and serious accidents alone and leaving out the decrease in the number of men? Further, in his answer last week where this percentage was asked for and the decrease of men has been taken into account, the increase in deaths amounted to 11 per cent. and the increase in serious accidents to nearly 16 per cent. Is he further aware that if he takes into account also the decrease in the number of shifts worked per week as against 1925 the increase will be more than 11 and 17 per cent. respectively, and what is he going to do about it?

Colonel LANE FOX

The hon. Member is, I think, correct in comparing the percentages when he says that there has been an 11 per cent. increase, but that is a misleading statement by itself. If that went out without contradiction it would certainly be interpreted that there had been actually an 11 per cent. increase in the number of deaths. I have given the corresponding figure to correct it.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that there are only approximately 80 per cent. of the miners working now as compared with 1925, and, apart altogether from fluctuations in the normal number of deaths, compared with the normal number of workers, the death rate would have been down by at least 150 this year instead of being up 11 and 16 per cent. respectively, and are we to understand that the only contribution the Government can make to the unemployment problem is to murder more men?


That is not a proper way of putting a supplementary question.


Are we to understand from the reply that there has been an increase and that the Government are indifferent to the increase of fatal and non-fatal accidents and does not intend to do anything to remedy it?

Colonel LANE FOX

The hon. Member is to understand nothing of the kind. If he had listened to my answer he would have heard that these fluctuations do not necessarily convey the imputation that is suggested. There have been previous fluctuations of at least as great a character,