HC Deb 18 April 1935 vol 300 cc1998-9
25. Mr. TINKER

asked the Secretary for Mines whether returns are made to his Department of the number of persons who work underground on Sundays; and can he state how many collieries wind coal on Sundays, giving separate figures for Lancashire and Scotland?

The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Ernest Brown)

The hon. Member will be aware that there is no provision in the Coal Mines Acts to make Sunday working illegal, and for that reason my Department does not collect statistics of such working. I have no information as regards Lancashire, but as the result of some special inquiries which I have had made recently in Scotland, I am very surprised to learn that 52 mines there are regularly winding coal on Sundays and 31 are doing it intermittently, while at another 57 mines coal is being gotten on Sundays, but not actually wound. I will say again, as I have said before, that I strongly disapprove of the practice of working coal on Sundays, and I have no reason to believe that it is carried on to any appreciable extent, except in Scotland.


While I appreciate the feelings of the Secretary for Mines, may I ask him to urge coalowners to be more alive to the fact that there is a vast number of unemployed—160,000, I believe—in the industry? Will he suggest to them that it is not fair to be working mines on Sunday while so many are unemployed, and that it would be a valuable help in dealing with unemployment if they ceased to work coal on Sundays?


I have bad special inquiry made, and I have just got the facts, which I will consider in all their bearings.


Could not the hon. Gentleman take legal steps in this respect, because to be working seven days a week in mines at the present time, when efficient mines are lying idle, is a perfect disgrace?


I have already said that I will consider the facts in all their bearings.


How many mines are there in Scotland?


In 1934 there were 370 actually working.