HC Deb 02 December 1930 vol 245 cc1957-8

asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the fact that one-fourth of the boys under 16 years employed in mines were killed and injured in 1929, he will consider the suggestions put forward in the Northern Mines Report for 1927 dealing with haulage accidents to boys under 16; whether he can offer any explanation of the high rate of fatal and non-fatal accidents to such boys from falls of ground in the South Wales coalfield; and whether he will consider adopting the example of Germany, mentioned in the 1927 Northern Mines Report, in regard to the prohibition of boys under 16 from working underground and the systematic training till that age on the surface and over that age till they are 18 below ground?


The suggestions contained in the Report of His Majesty's Divisional Inspector of Mines for the Northern Division for 1927 relating to accidents to boys are engaging my serious attention and while I cannot hold out any prospect of legislation under the present conditions of the mining industry, I shall do everything I can to bring to the notice of the industry the necessity for special measures to deal with the problem. With regard to the second part of the question, the high rate of accidents from falls of ground to boys in South Wales is due to the long-established custom in that district whereby boys start work at the coal face as colliers' helpers. Their initial employment on haulage work, as in other districts, is not practicable owing to the size of the horses and trams in use.


Is the Secretary for Mines aware that two out of every five boys in Northumberland and Durham were either killed or injured last year and that Sir Henry Walker, Chief Inspector of Mines, says that considerable amount of safety could be obtained by improvement of the haulage roads?


I am fully aware of the high rate of accidents among boys in Northumberland and Durham and elsewhere throughout the coalfields, and that is precisely why I am so much concerned.