HC Deb 15 November 1932 vol 270 cc934-6

asked the Secretary for Mines what percentage of firedamp will be indicated by the Ringrose gas detector during the experiments that are now being undertaken under the supervision of his Department?


The setting of the Ringrose Firedamp Alarms at present undergoing trial is such that a red light should appear if the amount of firedamp in the surrounding atmosphere exceeds approximately 2½ per cent.

Mr. PIKE (by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the disastrous explosion of firedamp which took place on the 12th instant at the No. 9 Pit of the Garswood Hall Colliery, he will instruct the Pit Committee appointed to report upon the working results of the Ringrose Firedamp Alarm to do so immediately; and whether he will assure the House that everything humanly possible is being done to expedite the adoption of an approved gas detector?


In my view the general adoption of this apparatus before it has been exhaustively tried under pit conditions of use and ordinary lamp-room conditions of maintenance would create conditions that might be a source of additional danger. The trials are in the charge of joint committees on which both owners and employés are represented, and I am not prepared to interfere with their discretion unduly. In my opinion, the trials have not yet been carried on long enough to allow a competent conclusion to be reached. I can assure the House that nothing is left undone by my Department which is conducive to greater safety.


While thanking the hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask him if it is not a fact that during the past three months these lamps have been subjected to a test covering over 5,000 working shifts and approximately 40,000 hours; and whether he does not think that that in itself is sufficiently exhaustive to enable a decision to be arrived at as to future use?


I have on previous occasions informed the House that I intend to call for an interim report after the working of this apparatus for six months. I may point out to my hon. Friend that the working did not begin in the Lancashire pit until the 15th August, in the Yorkshire pit until the 1st September, and in the South Wales pit until early in October.


In view of the recent terrible disaster, will not the hon. Gentleman now call for an interim report from the three selected collieries, so that the Miners' Federation of Great Britain and the coalowners may be examining the interim report on the results of the first three months?


I have already said that I am calling for an interim report, but I would call the attention of the hon. Member to this phrase in the answer: before it has been exhaustively tried under pit conditions of use and ordinary lamp-room conditions of maintenance. The hon. Member will appreciate that that is the issue—whether the detector will operate under these conditions, and not under special conditions; and my advice is that six months is about the period for which it should be tried out.


Could not the hon. Gentleman see his way to reduce the period to three months for an interim report? Is it not the case that such detectors have already been tried for a period of four years, and that this same detector was accepted and registered as being fit for use in mines, after extensive trials, by the Secretary for Mines in 1927?


It was because there were differences of opinion about the very point that the hon. Member has raised that these exhaustive trials in three differing pits in different parts of the country were undertaken, and I could not take the responsibility of interfering with the full working out of these trials.

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