HC Deb 25 July 1933 vol 280 cc2385-7
4 and 5. Mr. G. MACDONALD

asked the Secretary for Mines (1) whether he will consider taking a national survey of the registers kept at the collieries containing the particulars of times of descent and ascent for the purpose of ascertaining the amount of overtime being worked and the nature of the work done;

(2) whether, in view of the great changes in coal production during recent years, he will consider the advisability of appointing a committee of inquiry to ascertain what alteration, if any, is necessary to the Coal Mines Regulation Acts, with especial reference to the working of overtime?


I have at present no adequate reason to think that the circumstances call for action along the two courses suggested in the hon. Member's questions. If the proposal to survey the registers were supported by the Miners' Federation of Great Britain and by evidence which satisfied me that such action could be justified, I would consider the proposal sympathetically.


When is the hon. Gentleman going to tackle this vexed question of overtime?


As the hon. Member knows, I am giving the matter my serious attention. Perhaps he will put a question down after the Recess.


asked the Secretary for Mines whether in future he will always consult with the official representatives of the district association of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain prior to deciding whether legal proceedings ought to be taken in a case of alleged illegal overture at a colliery?


No, Sir. I should consider any such action on my part most improper, and I think on reflection the hon. Member will agree.


As this matter arose last week, would it not have been wiser for the hon. Member to have consulted the district association of the Miners' Federation involved?


The Secretary for Mines has already adequate powers to get a full and impartial statement of the facts. The responsibility as to whether any legal action is necessary rests with the Government.


Is he satisfied that in the case dealt with last week he got an impartial statement of the facts?


Yes, I think so.


May I ask whether the Coal Mines Act enables the hon. Member to take proceedings in any reasonable case against a colliery company?


I should like to see that question on the Paper.


asked the Secretary for Mines how many cases have -been reported to his Department during 1932 and the latest figures for 1933 of overtime being worked when such overtime has meant the person or persons concerned returning to the mine before the statutory period stated in the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908, has elapsed between the finishing of the shift and the commencing of the next?


No case was reported during 1932 where a workman was alleged to have been required to commence a shift before the expiry of twenty-four hours from the commencement of the previous shift. One such case has been reported during 1933 to date.


asked the Secretary for Mines how many cases of alleged illegal overtime have been reported to his Department in 1933; in how many of them has it been decided to prosecute in the law courts; and in how many has it been decided to warn the colliery owners against continuing the practice


Seven complaints alleging illegal overtime at individual collieries have been received during 1933 to date. In no case has it been decided to take legal proceedings. I am not quite clear what the hon. Member means by "warning" colliery owners. If something is discovered which, while not a breach of the law, is considered undesirable or contrary to the spirit of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, the attention of the manager is called to it. In the case of a complaint of illegal overtime or of a routine inspection of the register, even if no breach of the law is found, the investigation itself serves to direct the attention of the management to the subject. There is, however, no practice of issuing official "warnings."

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