HC Deb 28 February 1934 vol 286 cc1100-1
31. Mr. BATEY

asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that the Home- side Colliery Company, county Durham, have dismissed 60 young men, 20 and 21 years of age, and replaced them by younger boys, 14 and 15 years of age; and will he take steps to prevent any general adoption of this practice?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)

I understand that the men concerned were employed originally as boys, and would normally have been absorbed in work proper to adults. Although there was no development work in prospect the company continued to employ them on work normally done by boys until they no longer considered the extra expense justifiable, when they were replaced by boys of the age usual for such work. As regards the second part of the question I have no power to intervene in the matter.


Are we to understand from that answer that there is no way in which we can remedy a condition of things like this, which makes coal-mining a blind alley occupation for young men of 21?


I would not commit myself as to that. In the short time I have had to make inquiries since Monday, I gather that the company have tried to mitigate the worst effects of a difficult situation by continuing the men for some time on work proper to boys.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, while this system has been going on in individual cases in the coalfield and in industry generally, there has been no instance of this kind in this class of colliery?


If there is any further information which the hon. Member wishes to have, perhaps he will put a question down and I will make inquiries. I had notice of this question only on Monday.


Will the hon. Gentleman consider sending down a conciliation officer as has been done on previous occasions?


I will consider that.