HL Deb 27 August 1880 vol 256 cc354-6

wished to know whether the Government would accept an Amendment which he thought ought to be made in the Bill. It was— That no owner or employer connected with mines where the men are on strike shall for a period of three months succeeding such strike be liable for any penalties for accidents in the mines, or arising from any defects in the machinery or plant other than he would be liable to before the passing of this Act. This was a most important question in the interests of mineowners, because it was well known that when men were on strike the whole of the machinery deteriorated. For some time afterwards there was great liability to accident, and that, too, at a period when the owners were less able to meet the demands made on their pockets. It would only be an act of justice to embody a clause of this nature in the Bill.


was afraid that he could not at all agree with the noble Lord. It seemed to him that the circumstances mentioned were circumstances calling for especial care and caution on the part of the mineowner. When a new pit was opened the owner was bound to see that the machinery was in proper order, and he was equally bound to take the same precaution after a suspension of working. He could hold out no hope to the noble Lord that such a clause would be accepted.


said, that any person acquainted with mines knew that after operations had for some time been suspended the pit got filled with water, and the underground machinery became out of order. There was also danger of the roof falling in here and there. He did not know whether the clause would be accepted or not; but he did know, from practical experience, that after a suspension of operations it took some weeks to get things into working order.

Amendments reported (according to Order).


moved the omission from Clause 8 of the definition of a "person who has superintendence intrusted to him," the definition being— A person whose sole or principal duty is that of superintendence, and who is not ordinarily engaged in manual labour. This omission was rendered necessary in consequence of their Lordships having agreed to the Amendment of the noble Lord (Lord Brabourne) for the elimination of the 8rd sub-section of Clause 1. Unless their Lordships wanted to send the Bill back to the Commons in a state which was manifestly inconsistent with its principle, and, indeed, the principle of the Bill introduced by the late Government, it was necessary that something should be done to include at least some sub-agents, whom this definition, standing alone, with the 3rd sub-section omitted, would exclude, and the best thing he could at present suggest was the omission of this definition.

Amendment moved, in Clause 8, page 4, line 28, to leave out from ("The expression") to ("labour") both inclusive in line 31.—(The Lord Chancellor.)


considered that the Bill as it stood was very much in conformity with the measure of the late Government. Reference had been made to the draft Report prepared by the noble Viscount (Viscount Sherbrooke), when, as Mr. Lowe, he presided over the Select Committee appointed by the House of Commons to inquire into this question. That draft Report practically accorded with the Bill in its present form. The words were— Any person exercising authority mediately or immediately derived from the owners of such undertaking, with this qualification, that the liability to indemnify shall not extend to persons who, though exercising authority, are bonâ fide employed in actual labour as distinguished from superintendence. If the clause were struck out it would be left to the Courts to decide what superintendence was, and that might lead to much confusion. He did not think it would be safe to leave out this qualifying clause.


said, that as men were bound to obey the orders which they received from the superintendents to refuse them compensation in cases of accident would be essentially unjust.


asked the noble Viscount (Viscount Cranbrook) whether he would object to the insertion of the word "any" before "superintendence" in sub-section 2 of Clause 1?


was disposed to think there would be no objection to that Amendment, provided the one now before their Lordships was not made.

Amendment negatived.


gave Notice that on the third reading he would move the insertion of the word "any" before "superintendence" in the 2nd sub-section of the 1st clause.


in pursuance of Notice, moved in Clause 10 to insert words to extend the duration of the Bill from two years to "the end of the then next Session of Parliament." His object was to allow the Act to exist for two clear years; and that object being attained, the force of some of the arguments advanced the other night by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack against the proposal to limit the duration of the Bill would be considerably modified.

Amendment moved, in Clause 10, page 4, line 41, after ("eighty-two") to insert ("and to the end of the then next Session of Parliament.")—{The Viscount Cranbrook.)

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment moved, at end of Clause 10, to insert— ("And all actions commenced under this Act before that period shall be continued as if the said Act had not expired.")—(The Viscount Cranbrook.)

Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be read 3ª on Tuesday next.