HC Deb 23 November 1931 vol 260 cc47-8

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary for Mines if he can make any statement on the disaster at the Bentley Colliery, Doncaster?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Isaac Foot)

It is with deep sorrow that I have to inform the House that the casualties from this terrible explosion are now 42 dead, including five who are missing, and five seriously injured. In addition, two of the rescue workers were injured by a further explosion while they were engaged on their noble work. The original explosion occurred in the northeast district of the Barnsley seam. It swept the coal face for a distance of some 330 yards; and almost all the workers who were killed outright or fatally injured were engaged at this face. After a third explosion it was decided, owing to fire and the imminent danger of still further explosions, that the district should be completely sealed off by stoppings. It is not possible yet for me to make any statement as to the cause of the explosion. A full public inquiry will be held as soon as circumstances permit. The whole House will join with me in expressing our deep sympathy with all those on whom this disaster has brought such terrible grief end suffering; and our tribute to those brave men who went to the rescue in face of grave and imminent danger.


Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to expedite the holding of the inquiry so as to avoid prolongation of the mental agony of those who have unfortunately lost relatives?


As I have stated, the inquiry will be held as soon as circumstances permit. We have to have regard to the availability of the evidence. Some evidence will be forthcoming from the injured men, for whose recovery we have expressed a hope, and there will also be evidence with regard to the condition of the mine.


When such an inquiry is held, in view of the grave public interest involved, will the hon. Gentleman con- sider making representations to secure the services of one of His Majesty's judges to preside over the inquiry?


Such a course would be entirely unusual and would not serve the purpose of eliciting information.