HC Deb 22 February 1938 vol 332 cc157-8
1. Mr. Tinker

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that Newtown Colliery, Manchester Collieries, Limited, Pendlebury, have applied for a relaxation of the provisions of Clause 7 (c) of the Explosives in Coal Mines Order, and that His Majesty's Divisional Inspector of Mines proposes to grant a certificate to allow this; that the mine workers at that colliery and the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation object to such certificate being granted; and, in view of this protest, will he instruct the inspector not to grant it?

The Secretary for Mines (Captain Crookshank)

I am aware of the facts stated. This is one of the cases where, as I told the hon. Member on 2nd November last, His Majesty's Chief Inspector of Mines is satisfied that it is impracticable for the management to comply fully with the requirements of the clause in question, without detriment to safety in other important respects. The Chief Inspector has accordingly granted partial relaxation, subject to the observance of proper precaution. Before the issue of a certificate, the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federation were twice given the opportunity to make suggestions as to how the difficulties could otherwise be met, but they have not done so. I endorse the action which the Chief Inspector has taken.

Mr. Tinker

Is the Minister aware of the deep concern of the men employed, who look upon this proposal as a gamble with their lives, and are satisfied that the rule is sufficient without any relaxation; and will he not reconsider the matter? I can assure him that the men are very much upset to think that the employers' voice is being heard before their own.

Captain Crookshank

I do not think I can accept what the hon. Gentleman says. The men were twice given the opportunity of making suggestions, and they did not do so. In the greater interests of safety the Chief Inspector is satisfied, and so am I, that the relaxation is necessary.

Mr. George Griffiths

Does the Minister suggest that shot-firing while the men are in bye is for the greater safety of the miners themselves? We are not only killing men abroad but killing them at home.

Mr. Parkinson

How do the alterations to this Order affect miners' safety in general? In view of the fact that the Section was passed in the interests of the safety of miners, how does the Minister hope to reduce the number of accidents if he connives at and agrees with the contravention of the rule?

Captain Crookshank

There is no connivance at all. A special order was made on 18th November which gave the Chief Inspector power in certain circumstances to deal with these difficult problems, in the interests of safety and of safety alone.

Mr. Tinker

I beg to give notice, not being satisfied with the answer, that I shall raise the question upon the Adjournment, probably to-night, if I get the chance.