HC Deb 30 October 1934 vol 293 cc32-3

(by Private Notice) asked the Secretary for Mines whether he will state the course he is taking in the inquiry into the cause of the disaster at Gresford Colliery; whether evidence has been invited from men employed in the area of the explosion previous to the occurrence; and whether any steps are being taken to make the workings accessible for the purpose of the inquiry and for recovering the bodies lying in the mine?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)

The inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the explosion at Gresford Colliery is being held under Section 83 of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, by a court, the constitution of which was settled after consultation with and in accordance with the wishes of the Mineworkers' Federation of Great Britain. I understand that evidence is to be taken from a large number of witnesses and, subject to the directions of the court, the North Wales Miners' Association is at liberty to bring forward as witnesses any workmen whose evidence it thinks likely to advance the progress of the inquiry.

As regards the last part of the question, I cannot say more at present than that the changing conditions as regards the gases present in the shafts are being studied and that the subsequent question of recovery operations must be the subject of consultation between the representatives of all those concerned.

In this connection, I would invite the hon. Member's attention to the Commissioner's statement at the opening of the court on 25th October. He said: "it would appear that the course which for the time being this inquiry can best follow is:

  1. (1) To take evidence as to the condition of the mine and the operations connected with its working prior to the explosion;
  2. (2) Take evidence of the occurrence of the explosion, and the events following thereafter;
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  4. (3) Take such evidence as to the cause as is now available.
It may be that having completed the first and second parts we may have to consider whether the inquiry should stand adjourned until such time as further evidence as to the cause is available."