HC Deb 08 October 1940 vol 365 cc221-2
1. Mr. R. J. Taylor

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that, in the Northumberland coalfield, schemes for working the mines during air-raid warnings are being held up because the owners are only prepared to bring men to the surface at their own risk; whether this is common to other coal-producing areas; and, in any areas where there are agreements, can such agreements be made available?

The Secretary for Mines (Mr. David Grenfell)

Schemes for continuing work at mines after the alert signal must necessarily be framed in relation to the widely varying conditions to be met in different coalfields and at different mines, and I have, therefore, asked that these schemes shall be worked out locally by discussion between owners and workmen's representatives with the assistance, if required, of the Inspectors of Mines. While these discussions are proceeding, I should prefer to refrain from comment or action on particular points that may arise. I am, of course, aware that the point referred to by my hon. Friend has been raised and I would must prefer that the parties in negotiation should with the assistance of their legal advisers, consider whether it is necessary to invoke any legislation other than the Workmen's Compensation Act in these circumstances.

Mr. Taylor

In the event of failure to reach agreement, will the Minister keep in mind the fact that there may be injured men, certainly hungry and probably wet men, and will he take steps to deal with such a situation?

Mr. Grenfell

I hope that as a result of these negotiations it will be found unnecessary to detain unduly any men who have finished their work underground, whether they are injured or not.