HC Deb 19 March 1951 vol 485 cc2087-9
39. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he will make a statement on the Report of the accident at Knockshinnoch Castle Colliery, Ayrshire.

Mr. P. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir, I have given the Report most careful consideration and action has already been taken on some of its recommendations. The National Coal Board have taken steps to carry out the first four recommendations made. Research into geophysical and other methods of rapid and accurate surveying is being dealt with by the chief scientist of my Department. The development of a more resistant telephone cable for use underground is being discussed with the manufacturers.

Research and experiments with lightweight self-contained breathing apparatus have been going on for some months. The National Coal Board have procured a number of sets from the United States; they have been allocated to certain central rescue stations, so that they can be easily and quickly distributed to any part of the country where they may be required. Samples of a type of British manufacture are undergoing test.

Mr. Hughes

Is any legal action contemplated as a result of this Report?

Mr. Noel-Baker

I am considering that matter in consultation with the Lord Advocate.

Mr. Tom Brown

Will my right hon. Friend's Department give active and urgent consideration to recommendation No. 11 in His Majesty's Chief Inspector's Report, which is of paramount importance in preventing a disaster of this, kind happening again?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir.

Colonel Ropner

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that there ought to be an early issue of respirators even if they are not 100 per cent. perfect? Is it not better to have something rather than nothing at all?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir. I have said that the Coal Board have secured a number of respirators from the United States which have been distributed to the central rescue stations so that they can be issued when urgently required.