HL Deb 25 July 1910 vol 6 cc414-5


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a Bill which comes to us from another place with, I am glad to say, the general approval of everybody interested in the matter. The object of the Bill is to enable the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, by Order, to require that provision shall be made at all mines for the supply and maintenance of appliances for use in rescue work and the formation and training of rescue brigades, and also for the supply and maintenance of ambulance appliances and the training of men in ambulance work. The first remark that I ought to make is, perhaps, that His Majesty's Government are very anxious not to interfere with the work which has already been done, and very well clone indeed, by a number of mine owners in different parts of the country; but one practical result of this Bill will be to compel provision for rescue and aid in case of accidents to be made wherever, in the opinion of the Home Office, it may be thought desirable to do so. There is legislation of this kind in various countries abroad, and in this matter we arc following the example of Austria, France, Belgium, and most of the coal-mining states of Germany. The whole of this question was considered by the Royal Commission on Mines which was appointed in 1906. A good deal of attention was drawn to it by a dreadful catastrophe which happened at the Courrieres Mines in 1903, when a large number of men lost their lives. Interest was awakened afresh in the matter by a second disaster which happened at the Whitehaven Colliery this year, which resulted in the loss of over one hundred lives, and it was felt by the Home Office that if this organisation had been available at the time some of those lives might have been saved. The Home Office thought the matter could no longer be left to voluntary effort, and that legislation was necessary in order to bring those who lagged behind the general standard up to that which had been already reached by the more generous owners. In this matter the Home Secretary was strongly supported by those who spoke on behalf of colliery proprietors both on the Second Reading and on the introduction of the Bill. The method of the Bill follows the precedent in the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1896, by which the Secretary of State is empowered to make Orders as to the use of explosives. Exception was taken to some clauses in the Bill as originally introduced, and accordingly Amendments were agreed to by the Home Secretary which provided that if any objection is made to a draft Order, the Order shall not be made by the Secretary of State until that objection has been referred to a referee agreed upon between the Secretary of State and the objectors, or, in default of agreement, appointed by the Lord Chief justice. As this Bill has passed through the other House with the general approval of all parties, I venture to hope that it will meet with an easy and a safe passage in your Lordships' House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Earl Beauchamp.)

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House Tomorrow.