§ 46. Mr. CAMPBELL KER
asked the Secretary for Mines whether he has any information to give regarding the recent accident at Polmaise Colliery, Fallin; and what inquiries are being made to ascertain the cause of the accident?
§ 49. Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM
asked the Secretary for Mines if he can make any statement regarding the serious cage accident at Polmaise Colliery, Stirling; will he state whether the accident happened on a Sunday morning; whether the men who had already gone down the pit or were involved in the accident were expected to work as miners at the coal face or repairers; whether his attention has been called to the suggestions made at the annual conference of the National Union of Scottish Mine Workers on 30th June on the subject of cage accidents; and whether any consideration will now be given to such suggestions as a means of avoiding such accidents in future?
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)
I very much regret that a serious overwind took place at Polmaise No. 3 Pit on the afternoon of Sunday, 1st July. The shifts were changing at the time and 13 men were involved, six in the ascending cage and seven in the descending cage. All of them were injured, and two, I am sorry to say, have since died. The House will, I am sure, join with me in sympathy with the relatives and friends of the deceased. With regard to the detailed points, I am informed that the day shift, which was ascending, had been engaged in the full work of the mine, including coal-getting, but that the afternoon shift was to do preparation and repair work only, and that no coal-getting or coal winding was intended to be done on that shift. Inquiries by the Divisional Inspector into the cause of the accident are still proceeding. I have seen a Press report of the proceedings at the recent conference referred to, but I have not yet received any communication on the subject. I would point out, however, that the subject of precautions against overwinding is already being thoroughly investigated by a Departmental Committee which has nearly completed its inquiries.
§ Mr. GRAHAM
Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether these men had been working from 7 o'clock on the Sunday morning until 3 o'clock in the afternoon?
§ Mr. T. SMITH
Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to expedite the report of the Departmental Committee which has now been sitting for 14 months?
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is only two months since the hon. Member for Bothwell (Mrs. Shaw) raised this question in connection with a case in her division of a miner who was killed where there had been work on Sunday; and that a week before I raised the matter of excessive overtime being worked in the mines outside Glasgow on Sunday, and that nothing is being done, and here we are raising another question—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must not use the opportunity of putting a Supplementary Question for the purpose of making a speech.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
There are others who make their questions far longer, with all due respect to you, Mr. Speaker.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
I want to ask the Minister himself if he is aware that it is quite impossible for the mines to be looked after in the manner they ought to be when they are being worked every 2066 day in the week; and what is he going to do to see that the machinery about the mines is looked after in the way it was looked after before they worked so much on Sundays?
§ Mr. LAWSON
May I ask when the hon. Gentleman is going to go into this matter of regular Sunday working?
§ 47. Mr. TINKER
asked the Secretary for Mines whether his attention has been drawn to the inquest held at Haydock, near St. Helens, on Thursday, 28th June, on a man who was killed at Old Boston Colliery on 25th June, when the evidence given proved that the deceased and his workmate had commenced work at 7 a.m. and the accident happened at 6 p.m., 11 hours underground; and will he say what steps he will take in the case as this was a breach of the 7½-hours Act?
§ Mr. E. BROWN
It appears from the evidence available that there was a breach of the provisions of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908, in this case, and I am considering the question of taking proceedings.
§ Mr. TINKER
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is the second accident in a short period when overtime has been proved, and will he ask his inspectors to pay close attention to this matter?
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Is the hon. Gentleman not aware that the coroner who conducted the inquest on this man intimated that he was staggered to know that men were working 12 hours at the coal face, with only half-an-hour break, and that this man was killed as a result also of working on a Sunday? What is the hon. Gentleman going to do about it?