HL Deb 12 June 1934 vol 92 cc1036-40

Amendments reported (according to Order).

Clause 1:

Insurance of owners of coal mines against liability to their workmen.

(2) The exception allowed by paragraph (a) of the foregoing subsection is as follows, that is to say, that the indemnity afforded by the contract of insurance need not, in the case of any injury by accident or disease resulting in incapacity for work, extend to payments of compensation in respect of the incapacity which become payable before the expiration of a period of twenty-six weeks from the date on which the incapacity begins, other than payments which are due at the time of, or become payable after the happening of any of the following events, that is to say,—

LORD ROCKLEY moved, in subsection (2), to leave out "payments of compensation in respect of the incapacity which become payable before the expiration of a period of twenty-six weeks from the date on which the incapacity begins, other than payments which are due at the time of, or become," and to insert "any such payment of compensation in respect. of the incapacity resulting from that injury as becomes payable at a time when the incapacity has continued for not more than twenty-six weeks (whether consecutive or not.), other than a payment which is due at the time of, or becomes."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is in effect the acceptance of Lord Gainford's manuscript Amendment, which he moved on the Committee stage, and upon which the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkin, expressed the opinion that, owing to its technicality, it would be better if it were put in writing and brought up on the Report stage. The Bill, as it stands, permits the owner to pay the first twenty-six weeks compensation himself, with the proviso that if he goes bankrupt the insurer will assume responsibility for this period as well as for all subsequent payments. This Amendment substitutes what might be described as "incapacity weeks" for calendar weeks, in other words, it allows for those cases where a man returns to work after some weeks of incapacity and then, after an interval, is again forced to stop working because the original injury or disease recurs.

Under this Amendment the owner will be allowed to pay the first twenty-six weekly compensation payments whether the actual weeks are consecutive or not. This is, I understand, the generally accepted practice, and there seems to be no objection to incorporating it in the Bill. I may mention by way of explanation that the object of allowing the owner to carry the first twenty-six weeks payments is to permit of reduced insurance premium being obtained. I should like also to call special attention to the fact that in the event of the owner's bankruptcy the insurer (that is, the insurance company, or the mutual indemnity association) immediately assumes responsibility for all compensation payments, including the first twenty-six weeks.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 11, leave out from ("to") to ("payable") in line 16 and insert the said new words.—(Lord Rockley.)


My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord and to those who are interested in the Bill for having accepted what was, after all, only a manuscript Amendment on the Committee stage. It carries out the wishes of the mutual benefit associations, it will save a great deal of expense and trouble, and it will carry on the existing practice.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6 [Interpretation]:

LORD ROCKLEY moved to add to the clause: (2) For the purposes of this Act, a workman shall be deemed to be employed for the purposes of the undertaking carried on at a coal mine, if, and only if,—

  1. (a) he is employed at the mine; or
  2. (b) being a person normally employed at the mine, he is temporarily employed elsewhere by the owner of the mine; or
  3. (c) he is employed elsewhere than at the mine by the owner either in repairing the mining plant or in any such other work as is commonly done at a coal mine."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in accordance with a promise given on the Committee stage I beg to move this Amendment. It defines quite definitely the workmen who will come under the Bill, and carries out the promise for further consideration which I gave on the Committee stage. Perhaps I may add that I felt some surprise that Lord Gainford thought it necessary to press the matter to a Division. The difficulty is to find some words which will define not only the actual whereabouts of an accident but the nature of the employment of the man who suffers in it.

The words of my Amendment make it clear beyond question that the following categories of employees must be insured by the owner: By paragraph (a) all men must be insured who are employed at the mine, by whomsoever employed, whether by the owner or by a contractor. The words "at the mine" have a precedent in the Coal Mines Act, 1911. This provision now includes the clerical staff employed in any office at the mine, but not elsewhere, for instance, not in London, or Newcastle, or Leeds, or York, or elsewhere. In paragraph (b), "a person normally employed at the mine" refers to employees if they are employed on an off day and sent out to do some work like repairing colliery houses. Paragraph (c) relates to men employed at some central depot maintained by a colliery company which owns several pits, for the purpose of carrying out the work, such as machinery repairing, which would in the ordinary course of events be carried out at the pit itself. I believe these to be perfectly comprehensive definitions for the object aimed at. The words have, in fact, been accepted by the Mining Association. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 10, line 12, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Rockley.)


My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Rockley, that I had no intention whatever of not accepting his undertaking that he would consider this matter on the Report stage when I spoke on the Committee stage, but what I did feel then, and what I do feel now, is that I was justified in making a protest on the Committee stage against words being left in the Bill which, if unamended on Report, might have led to a great deal of confusion and possibly litigation and friction. The Bill as it passed through Committee left it quite open as to who the men would be "for the purposes of the undertaking." These words were very vague, and I divided the House on the question of whether the words should be inserted which were in the Mines Act of 1911, and which for twenty-three years have been interpreted always to mean the men on the colliery pay bill. The Home Office, the noble Lord, and those responsible for the Bill have now inserted the words which appear on the Order Paper and which define who the people are employed at the colliery "for the purposes of the undertaking." These words, although they appear to my legal advisers to be somewhat cumbersome, yet meet the point I had in view when I divided the House, and I thank the noble Lord for having inserted them. At the same time I should like to be allowed to congratulate the noble Lord on his success in having carried the Bill through this House with so many necessary Amendments to its present stage.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.