HC Deb 07 May 1962 vol 659 cc2-3
1. Mr. Pentland

asked the Minister of Power what action is being taken by his Department, by way of research and practical application, to reduce to a minimum the danger of coal gas explosions in British coal mines.

The Minister of Power (Mr. Richard Wood)

The Safety in Mines Research Establishment is investigating all aspects of explosions in mines and the means of avoiding or suppressing them. Her Majesty's Inspectors also keep in close touch with current research. They co-operate with the mining industry in order to see that full advantage is taken both of the latest developments and also of the extensive knowledge of proper precautions built up by mining experience and past research.

Mr. Pentland

While thanking the Minister for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that we would all pay tribute to the efforts entered into by the Ministry and by the National Coal Board towards safety in our pits; but is he further aware that nothing causes greater apprehension among the mining community than the succession of explosions such as we have had in recent times both in the British coalfield and on the Continent? In view of this, will he endeavour to promote more intensified research into the causes of coal gas explosions, particularly by way of wider extension of scientific research and investigation?

Mr. Wood

I will certainly pay great attention to what the hon. Member says. Indeed, I see substantial reasons for the anxieties which he has expressed. As he knows, I have asked for a public inquiry into the recent explosion at Hapton Valley, and I am going to have a special report on the Tower explosion. I will certainly bear in mind the general remarks the hon. Member has made to see whether there is anything further which can be done.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider, when he studies these reports, following the example of some of his predecessors, who called, in the areas concerned, conferences of managements and representatives of the workmen, so that the lessons to be learned and the problems thrown up by these explosions can be fully considered and certain steps taken to try to prevent them?

Mr. Wood

I will certainly consider what the right hon. Gentleman says.

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