HC Deb 30 November 1953 vol 521 cc738-40
3. Mr. Janner

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power if he is now in a position to make a statement on the pit trial which has taken place with stench agents as warning of fire in British mines.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

Yes, Sir. The idea appears essentially sound, but the method proposed is distinctly novel. The idea is that overheating machinery would melt a capsule and thus release a powerful smell which would be wafted forward on the air and warn the miners of the danger. The scientists have already devised two exceedingly foul smelling chemicals; one smells overwhelmingly of garlic, the other of garlic and of skunk as well. These have both been successfully smelt by the experimenters a mile away. I am to have a detailed report in about three months, and I will send the hon. Member a copy.

Mr. Janner

Would the Minister be good enough to inquire about the experiment which has taken place in Ontario, in view of the great necessity for observing as many precautions as possible? Will he try to deal with the question in less than three months?

Mr. Lloyd

As I have said, although the methods are distinctly novel the idea of the research is very serious. As everybody knows, overheated machinery will make a slight smell—for instance, of oil—but the desire is to increase the potency of the smell and to enable it to be wafted along by the ventilation system. The unfortunate thing is that pleasant smells are apparently not so strong as unpleasant smells.

9. Dr. Stross

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what progress has been made in the use of conveyor belts in coal mines that will not give rise to explosions through the generation of excessive heat.

19. Mr. R. E. Winter bottom

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the policy of his Department in relation to implementing the recommendation of the Chief Inspector of Mines in his Report on the Cresswell Colliery disaster to the effect that only conveyor belts proved in practice which are non-inflammable and highly resistant to fire should be used.

Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd

I wish to secure the full implementation of the Creswell Report recommendation as quickly as possible. The National Coal Board has successfully tested several types of fire resistant belting and further types are still under test. Production of some of these types has begun and is gathering momentum. This is enabling the Board to issue a steadily increasing proportion of non-inflammable belting for use in the mines.

Dr. Stross

Will the Minister kindly offer to the Coal Board the congratulations of the House for the very good work it is doing in this matter?

Mr. Lloyd

I have been in recent communication with the Board on this matter, which is a very important one, as the House will realise. The Board has now told me that, subject to the question of the satisfactory nature of the belting, it is prepared to take the full output of the various companies making these conveyor belts and issue them as quickly as possible.

Mr. Winterbottom

In adding my thanks to those expressed by my hon. Friend, may I ask the Minister whether he will widen the consultation so that in the rubber industry the requisite type of conveyor belting—and that alone—will be manufactured?

Mr. Lloyd

I would hope so, but that is primarily a matter for the Board.

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