HC Deb 16 March 1937 vol 321 cc1846-7
41. Mr. J. Griffiths

asked the Secretary for Mines whether, in view of the responsibility placed upon coalcutter-machine men and the necessity the work involves of continuous concentration, he will take steps to issue regulations prohibiting the working of overtime by this class of workman?

Captain Crookshank

The hon. Member will be aware that the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1908, prohibits the working of overtime by any workman below-ground in coal mines subject to exceptions for emergency work. Whilst I appreciate the responsible nature of the work done by coalcutter-machine men, I do not see what further is required.

Mr. Griffiths

In view of the case that was called to the Minister's attention last week, does he not think that the time has come when he should instruct colliery companies that in no possible emergency should a man in this responsible position have to work overtime?

Captain Crookshank

The answer is that the law allows exceptions for emergency work, and I am not in a position to override the law. I certainly agree it is very desirable that it should not be abused, and my constant endeavour is to use such influence as I have to that end.

Mr. Griffiths

I appreciate that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not in a position to override the law, but surely he is in a position to interpret it, and will his Department instruct colliery companies how this law should be carried out?

Mr. T. Smith

Does the Minister appreciate that when the emergency Clause was put into the Mines Act it was never contemplated the ordinary machine man's work as being emergency work within that law?

Mr. Austin Hopkinson

Is it not a fact that it occasionally happens that if these men did not work overtime on coal-cutting machines a large number of men would lose a shift?