HC Deb 21 January 1942 vol 377 cc365-7W
Sir R. Gower

asked the Secretary for Mines the number of horses and ponies employed below ground that are carrying electric battery lamps affixed to their collars or bridles, as recommended by his Department; and to what extent it is estimated that the general provision of such lamps would lead to greater efficiency and safety of horses and their drivers?

Mr. Grenfell

The latest figures available are for June, 1940, where the number of electric lamps specially provided for horses was approximately 600. The proportion of horses so provided with lamps is too low to enable any definite conclusions to be drawn regarding the effect upon the accident rate for horses.

Sir R. Gower

asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is satisfied that the horses and ponies employed in mines receive adequate daily supplies of nourishing country for the last three decennial periods, respectively; the accident rate, per thousand persons, engaged in the mines during those periods; the number of mines inspectors employed in 1911, 1921, 1931 and 1941, respectively; and the annual cost of that inspectorate for each of those years?

Mr. Grenfell

The figures asked for in the third and fourth part of the Question are as follow:

Year. Number of Inspectors. Cost. £
1911 63 27,359
1921 93 38,120
1931 111 64,605
1941 132 76,197

I regret that it is not possible, without longer notice and considerable research, to give the accident figures for the same decennial periods, but the following are figures for comparable decennial periods:

food, both at the underground stables and while at work during day and night shifts; whether the increased strain on the animals, owing to the drive for greater production has shown any ill-effects; and whether the total number of hours worked by them per week is being reduced in cases where signs of physical strain is observed?

Mr. Grenfell

There have been difficulties as regards supplies of animal feeding stuffs, but special priorities have been given for pit horses and ponies and while changes in their diet have been inevitable there has been no shortage of suitable food. The condition of the horses is being closely watched by the responsible mine officials and by the Inspectors of Mines and in general continues to be satisfactory: but the constant vigilance of all concerned is necessary to ensure that any signs of deterioration in individual horses are corrected by an improved or better balanced diet or by some lightening of their work.

Although every effort is being made to increase the production of coal, the tonnage dealt with by horse haulage has not increased in proportion to the tonnage similarly hauled in pre-war years.