HL Deb 19 July 1881 vol 263 cc1250-1

asked, Whether the attention of the Home Office has been directed to that portion of the Report of the Inspector of Metalliferous Mines for Devon and Cornwall in which he says— On looking down the list of fines, one cannot help being struck by the fact that most of them are absurdly small. It almost seems that some magistrates think more of the life of a pheasant than they do that of a man, for I believe that if a similar number of convictions for poaching cases were taken at random, the average fine would be greater; the fact is, a very large number of the magistrates are interested directly or indirectly in mining. Many of them are owners of mining property, and have been troubled by repeated notices to fence dangerous abandoned shafts, and have thereby been put to considerable expense, some indeed have been prosecuted for neglecting to attend to these notices, others are shareholders in mines in the district, and, as such, are not disposed to look favourably upon Government restrictions which they think may interfere with their profits. As a natural consequence fines have on the whole been light, and the inspector's labours have been increased considerably; if the offences had been punished with greater severity, mine agents would have attended to the provisions of the Act with much more diligence. I am convinced that this mistaken leniency on the part of the magistrates leads to a delay in carrying out all the provisions of the Act, and thereby tends to keep up the death-rate from accidents; and whether the Department will call upon the Inspector for a categorical statement of the circumstances which have led him to make this most serious charge against the magistrates of Cornwall?


, in reply, said, that the attention of the Government had already been called to the matter from more than one quarter, and the Inspector of Mines had been requested to make a further Report on the matter.

House adjourned at Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, Eleven o'clock.