HC Deb 10 June 1953 vol 516 cc225-6
Mr. Bowles

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he has any statement to make about the mining accident which occurred yesterday at Newdigate Colliery, near Nuneaton, when three miners are reported to have been killed and 59 injured.

The Minister of Fuel and Power (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

Yes, Sir. I deeply regret that an accident on an underground man-riding train at Newdigate Colliery, Nuneaton, led to the death of three men, but I am glad to say that fewer men were injured than the number first reported. Twelve men were sent to hospital but nine have since gone home.

On present information the accident appears to have been caused by the breaking of a steel rope, but H.M. Inspectors are still engaged in detailed investigation into the cause of the accident and I am awaiting their report.

I am sure the House will wish to express sympathy with the relatives of the men who have lost their lives.

Mr. Bowles

May I associate my constituents with the expression of sympathy which the right hon. Gentleman has just uttered? This gradient is about 1,000 yards long, and I understand that the man-riding train had gone up about 600 feet when this rope broke and all these trucks ran backwards. May I ask the Minister, in view of the fact that this is a one-in-six gradient and that other ropes are vertical in taking men and coal to the surface, whether he can tell us what the law is concerning the regular examination of these ropes which seem to be the chief factor involved in this matter?

Mr. Lloyd

I am told by Her Majesty's Inspectors that the gradient is one-in-eight and that the car had not proceeded up as far as appeared in the Press reports but had only gone 10 to 12 yards up the gradient. With regard to the question of examination, there is a general requirement under the Coal Mines Act, 1911, that all gear, including these steel ropes, should be examined once a week.

Mr. Bowles

May I express my gratitude to learn that the injuries were nothing like so serious as reported in the Press, which is all I had to go on for my information? But this shows how serious the accident might have been if the train had gone up to 600 feet.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether anything can be done by regulations to have a duplication of the steel ropes or some other method of avoiding such accidents?

Mr. Lloyd

As the House knows, we are in fact engaged on a new Safety in Mines Bill, and I intend to examine this point, particularly to see whether the requirements need to be strengthened.