HC Deb 10 May 1938 vol 335 cc1419-20
Mr. Lee (by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary for Mines the latest information he has concerning the explosion at Markham Colliery, near Chesterfield, this morning.

Captain Crookshank

It is with very deep regret that I have to inform the House that a serious explosion occurred this morning in the South-East District of the Blackshale Seam at Markham Colliery in Derbyshire; and that, according to the latest information I have been able to obtain by telephone from the inspectors, over 70 persons have lost their lives. A number of the bodies have already been recovered and a number of injured taken to hospital, and recovery work is still in full progress. The explosion occurred in the vicinity of the coal face shortly before 6 o'clock, when the night shift men were leaving the mine by way of both the intake and the return roads. It was violent, and its force appears to have extended a long distance along the main road. The inspectors now at the mine will be joined by the Chief Inspector this afternoon, and by the Medical Inspector, who is at present in Northumberland, as soon as possible. Investigations into the cause of the disaster will proceed with all speed.

The House will wish to join me in expressing our deep sympathy with the families and friends of those who have so tragically lost their lives, and with those who are injured.

Mr. Batey

I am sure that every Member of the House will echo the regret and sympathy expressed by the Minister. But does the Minister not think that the time has arrived when some more active steps might be taken to prevent these terrible explosions? Might I suggest that when the public inquiry takes place the hon. Gentleman should consider appointing some independent person, rather than the Government inspector—I do not wish to make any reflection on the Government inspector—to preside and make this full inquiry, so that we might get the facts?

Captain Crookshank

I shall note what the hon. Gentleman has suggested.