HC Deb 03 May 1934 vol 289 cc484-6
66. Mr. TINKER

asked the Secretary for Mines if he is now in a position to make a further statement on the explosion which took place on Monday morning, 30th April, at Bickershaw collieries, Plank Lane, Leigh?

Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE

I have been asked to reply. My hon. Friend has not yet received a full report on this explosion, but I am now able to say that it occurred in a small district which was being opened beyond a fault, and appears to have resulted from an ignition of firedamp during shotfiring operations at the end of the nightshift. The shotfirer and his assistant were killed, and also three men of the dayshift who had reached the district on their way to the face. There were no other casualties. Investigations are still proceeding.


Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman convey to the Secretary for Mines the information that the explosion took place on what is called the hack shift at night, and that two previous explosions in Lancashire were on the back shift; and will he ask his hon. Friend to pay close attention to that point when he inquires into the recent explosion?

Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE

I will see that my hon. Friend is made aware of those facts.

67. Mr. GRUNDY

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of explosions in mines in 1932–33 and the last available date; the number of persons fatally injured by such explosions; the number of prosecutions against the management, directors, or owners, respectively; and the result of each?

Lieut-Colonel COLVILLE

The number of fatal accidents caused by explosions of firedamp or coal dust in the year 1932 was 13 causing 69 deaths. In 1933 there were eight accidents and 35 deaths; and in the first quarter of 1934 there were four accidents and eight deaths. In one of these cases proceedings were taken against the owners, agent, manager and under-manager, who were charged with contraventions of Section 29 and Section 34 of the Coal Mines Act, 1911. The charge against the owners under Section 29 was dismissed and the other charge was withdrawn; the agent and manager were convicted on both charges and were each fined £10 with costs; and the under-manager (who pleaded guilty) was dismissed under the Probation of Offenders Act on payment of costs.


Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that if Section 29 of the Coal Mines Act of 1911 were carried out, the ventilation in the mines would render harmless the inflammable and noxious gases and that there could be no explosions, and does he not think that the time is overdue when further prosecutions should take place after all these explosions which must result from a breach of Section 29 of the Act to which I have referred?

Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE

Where there is evidence a prosecution is instituted.


Is every precaution being taken that can be taken in order to avoid the terrible disasters which are far too common in our mines?

Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE

The hon. Gentleman should address that question to the Secretary for Mines. I believe that every possible precaution is taken in the mines.

68. Mr. GRUNDY

asked the Secretary for Mines if he will bring in legislation to make it a criminal offence against the management, directors, and owners where an explosion takes place in any pit they are connected with?

Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE

No, Sir. Every explosion is investigated, and prosecution is undertaken where the investigation indicates that an offence has been committed justifying a charge and where evidence can be produced.


Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the fact that there is an explosion proves the contravention of the Act, and does he not think that the time has come when legislation should be brought in to make prosecutions compulsory against the people responsible?

Lieut.-Colonel COLVILLE

I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman's suggestion. I reiterate that where there is evidence a prosecution is instituted.


Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say how many such explosions took place under the Socialist administration?

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