§ 88. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware of the poor physical condition of many ponies on their removal from coalmines; what examination takes place to ascertain whether they are fit to continue working down mines; and what provision is made for them after they leave the pits.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
The physical condition of pit ponies during the whole of their working life in the mines is safeguarded by the provisions of the Coal Mines Act, 1911, which requires that all ponies must be in the care of properly appointed horse-keepers, who must see that no pony is allowed to work unless it is in a fit condition. It is thus part of the horse-keepers' duties to see that, when any pony, because of age, physical infirmity or other reason, is unfit to carry out its work underground, it should be sent out of the mine. I am satisfied that these requirements are being properly observed and enforced and that ponies are not leaving the mines suffering from the effects of ill-treatment or over-work.
With regard to the second part of the Question, it is the practice at most of the larger pits to assist the horse-keeper by means of a regular system of periodical examinations of each pony under his charge by a veterinary surgeon. The last part of the question is a matter for the National Coal Board and I am asking the Board to write to my hon. Friend.