HC Deb 13 February 1934 vol 285 cc1738-40
10. Mr. MAXTON

asked the Secretary for Mines what was the nature of the emergency that necessitated the working of the Broomfield Pit, Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, on two successive Sundays, 28th January and 4th February?


I am not quite clear as to the hon. Member's meaning. There is nothing in the Coal Mines Acts to render Sunday working illegal, and I have no powers in the matter. I understand on inquiry that some coal is drawn at this pit every Sunday and that some extra coal winding was carried out on the two Sundays in question for special reasons connected with machine working, but I am not aware of any contravention of the Coal Mines Acts. I should like to take this opportunity of saying, as I have said before, that I strongly disapprove of any coal winding on Sundays.


Has the Minister of Mines sent one of his inspectors to that particular pit to see whether there is any regular evasion of the Mines Act taking place, not merely in connection with Sunday labour, but in connection with other operations as well?


Inspection has been made, and, as my Hon. Friend knows, his question was down for written reply up till yesterday, and my latest information had to be obtained by telephone this morning, so I am not aware of the latest developments, but he will understand that the problem here, in times of emergency, is in terms of a contravention of the Act of 1908, with regard to overtime working, and it would apply equally whether the working was on Monday or any other day of the week.


Is the Minister aware that coal getting on Sunday is not the custom of the mining industry, and when introducing legislation, will he make provision to make it illegal to draw coal on Sunday?


I should want to consider that, but I would point out that under the Lord's Day Observance Act of 1667, which is the only Act under which proceedings can be taken, they must be taken by way of the common informer.


Can the hon. Member say whether there was any coal getting on Sunday, apart from the winding?


Yes, I understand there was coal winding carried out on Sunday there.