HC Deb 03 February 1943 vol 386 cc892-3
43. Mr. Tom Brown

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of mechanical loaders now in commission in the mines of Great Britain; the increase in the number since 3rd September, 1939, and the effect of these machines upon safety and output where they have been put in commission?

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power (Mr. Tom Smith)

The development of power loading in the coalmines of this country is still in the experimental stage. About 20 such machines are now at work, but no accurate information is available as to the number working at 3rd September, 1939. The results so far achieved are encouraging. The Ministry is studying closely the safety issues involved.

Mr. Brown

While thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for the answer given, may I ask whether he is aware that the men in the pits in Lancashire view with grave apprehension the question of the safety factor in connection with the introduction of these machines, and will he make a note to warn inspectors of mines that special attention should be given to the safety question in connection with the introduction of these mechanical loaders?

Mr. Smith

In addition to making a note of it I can assure my hon. Friend that I have called the inspectorate into consultation in regard to the safety conditions involved in the introduction of this type of machinery generally, and he may take it that we are watching this question very carefully.

Mr. James Griffiths

Have these machines been introduced without the prior consent of the Department and the inspectorate?

Mr. Smith

No, I do not think so.