HC Deb 14 July 1936 vol 314 cc1854-5
25. Mr. T. SMITH

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is in a position to make a statement with regard to his consultations with the coalowners concerning the use of automatic gas detectors in certain mining districts?


This question affords a suitable opportunity for me to make a short statement on the general position with regard to the provision of firedamp detectors for use by workmen. The regulations made last year for an experimental period of two years have been in force for nine months. Until recently only two types of detector have been approved for this purpose, namely, the flame safety lamp and the "Ring-rose" automatic detector, but a new non-automatic type was approved on 9th June; tests of a second automatic type have been completed and its approval is under consideration; and experiments with other types are proceeding. Further, the Mining Association has offered a prize of £500 for the best combined automatic detector and safety lamp and, at their invitation, the Committee which is to deal with the matter includes representatives nominated by the Mines Department and the Mineworkers' Federation respectively. Progress is therefore being made towards widening the choice of detector, but in the meantime I am still not satisfied with the measures taken by mine owners in certain of the coalfields towards getting practical experience of the working of the regulations, using the automatic detector already available. I am pressing the Mining Association to deal more effectively with this side of the matter without further delay as the time is approaching for me to set up the committee which is to review the working of the regulations.


Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman indicate the kind of difficulty in the way of a more general use of automatic gas detectors?


No, Sir, not generally.


Has the hon. and gallant Gentleman consulted the owners to ascertain whether or not an automatic gas detector is too efficient for it to be applied generally?


No, Sir, I did not ask any question of that kind, because everybody wishes to do all he can for the safety of the men.


Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that the coal-owners have been pleaded with for nine months to utilise an automatic gas detector to save human lives and that so far they have failed to respond?


No one is more aware of that than I am, because I have done the pleading.