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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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with a naked light

20431. You think that in some pits where safety lamps
are compulsory that the ventilation might be so much im-



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25

proved that they might, with safety, use naked lights 7 — Mr, J, O.
Yes. Hancock,

20432. You have in your mind cases 7 — I have in my 30 May 1907.

mind cases now of collieries near to where I live. The L.

manager has given evidence before this C!ommi8sion. I do

not think lamps were really necessary in his pits.

20433. Even without further ventilation 7 — I do not
think the manager himself, really believes they were
necessary.

20434. Even without further ventilation they might be
very well disused 7 — Yes, I think they could. I am not
here to say his pits are badly ventilated. They are not
badly ventilated, they are well ventilated.

20435. In some parts where the ventilation is not, perhaps*
so good as it might be, it may be necessary, at present, until
the ventilation is better to have safety lamps, but it might
be improved so much that they would no longer be necess-
ary 7 — Yes, I think that is possible in some cases.

(Chairman,) I think we all agree that they should be
securely locked and thoroughly tested.

20436. (Mr, Cunynghame,) I should like to ask you about
two points : the first point that I admit is puzzling me a
good deal is the fine question. Of course, we must all con-
cede that there must be discipline in mines where the safety
of everybody is concerned. That is even more necessary
than it would be in factories and places of that sort 7 — Yes.

20437. In mines it is particularly necessary 7 — Yes.

20438. I should imagine that the chief objection of the
men to being finc^ was that the fine was inflicted by some-
hody belonging to the management and who is, as it were,
judge in his own cause. Is that the real root objection of
it 7 — Perhaps I did not make myself understood upon this
point. My only point was this : the men do not object to
being fined when an oflFence has been committed that will
justly a fine, and I do not say that they should not be
prosecuted if the offence merits a prosecution, but the men
object to entering into an agreement with their employers
whereby a system, or scale of fines is adopted. There is
only one set of collieries in our county, mat I know of,
where that has been done, but fines are inflicted at every
colliery.

20439. I do not think I have followed you thoroughly.
Do not think I am asking you this antagonistically, because
I only want to bring out all the facts as well as I can. li
one does not object to a syistem I do not see why you should
object to agreeing to the system. If the system is to exist,
it is better that the men should have the option of agreeing
than have it made against their will Do you see my point
at present 7 — Yes.

20440. If you do not object to the fines being levied I do
not see much objection to making the men agree to them.
I have not quite caught the meaning of that point 7 — The
men would rather the matter remain as it does at most of
the collieries in this way : there has been no agreement
arrived at between the employers and the men concerning
any fines that shall be inflicted in any case, but if a man
does wrong a suggestion is made that he should be fined.
Perhaps the manager makes it, and the men and managers
are left very much to themselves to agree what the fine shall
be.

20441. (Mr, Rafcliffe EUis.) I think he means that it
should be no part of the contract between the employer
and the workman that he should be fined for certain
offences. If ho does commit an offence, both parties should
agree to a fine for that particular offence. Y'm see do
objection to that 7 That is your view 7 — Yes, I see no
objection to that.

20442. (Mr, Cunynghame.) The system you would ad-
vocate would be this : that it should be left to the two
parties, always optional to the man to pay a fine instead
of being prosecuted 7 — To some extent it is.

20443. Without a previous agreement that it should be
open to the man who was about to be prosecuted to go to
the manager and say that he would rather be fined instead
of being prosecuted 7 — Yes, in some caees the offence can
be met by a fine. If a man is in a good place, doing well,
and is a good workman, and has committed a trivial
offence, he may not have done it intentionally — that is
a case we think a fine would meet.

20444. I was not endeavouring to get any admission
that the men did not want to make. I wanted to know
their real view, whether they object to the system of
fines, or whethdr there is any system they would think
reasonable and good 7 — The men \iave no general objection

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26



MINUTES OP EVIDENCE :



Mr, J. O.
Hancock,



30May,1907



that I know of to being fined where they have done wrong,
bat they have a very strong objeotion to an agreement
being made with their employers.

20446. You mean a previous agreement? — Yes. the
same ae we have at the collieries I previonsly referred to,
where a list ol fines has been agreed to by owners and
workmen.

20446. They do not like a code of fines 7~No.

20447. They acquiesce in and prefer the option of paying
a fine rather than being prosecuted in any particular case
which arises 7 — Yes. Then the men sign a document to
the effect that they axe willing to pay this fine.

20448. (CJiairman,) Each case is decided on its own
merits ? — Yes. If an offence has been committed and the
owner and the man agree that it can be met by a fine, and
the man is willing lo pay a fine, say 2s. 6d., he 8iin])ly
signs a document saying that he is willing to pay this
fine.

20449. (Mr. Wm, Abraham.) Is there not a poster hung
up at the top of the pit explaining all that, before anything
of this kind is done 7 — I do not think there is.

20450. (Mr, Cvnynfjhame.) At all events, that sjrstem,
you think, does act well upon the whole ? — It does act well
upon the whole in the opinion of our men in Nottingham-
shire, and they do not desire any alteration. I am not
authoris^Hl to say that they do.

20461. I suppose the complaint you were telling us abou^^
that the men get by iieorking in mines, is miners' nystagmus?
—Yes.

20452. They get that with naked lights as well as with
lamps sometimes 7 — I do not know of any case where they
work in naked- light pits.

20453. It is mostly lamps, I think everybody admits, but
I think there are some with naked lights. You do not
know, perhaps, about those 7 — Nystagmus may arise from
more than one cause. There is no getting away from this
fact : our men suffer from it a great deal more where there

' are lamps than where there are not.

20454. I think that is conceded. I have heard a good
deal of evidence upon that. I see a little difficulty from an
administrative point of view in giving a secona cnquirv
where there has been a coroner's inquest, which I will
suppose in the opinion of all reasonable persons had
thoroughly done the )ob of finding out everything. It
seems to me a little injudicious to give to another person
whose relative might have been injured a right of having
what would be a somewhat extensive and expensive en-
quiry. Does it not seem to you that the object of the
second enquiry is not so much to go into the details of
that accident aa to provide how such accidents can be
avoided in future? Does that not seem to you to be
the ease 7



20455. {Chairman.) The work of a coroner and a jury
is to fix the blame on particular x)eople, and after all the
chief object of an enquiry afterwards is that you go into
some general question of engineering which is of a widei
character than the mere detail of that particular case ? —
I am not aware that I went so far as to say every person,
but if I didt what I had in my mind was this : I am not
anticipating that anybody would ask for an enquiry of this
kind who had not some standing, in a manner of speaking,
or some authority, and I said the employer might ask for
it, or I think some of you said the employer, or the widow
of the deceased, or an organisation of which the deceased
was a member.

20456. (Mr. Cunynghame,) For instance^ where the
coroner's jury had found a verdict of blame against the
manager, I do not know that necessarily he ought to be
able to domaud an appeal as a right. Take a case of that
kind. The jury have heard the case, and I do not know
why it should be given as a right without convincing
anyone that it was reasonable. In every case he would
have a shot at a second enquiry to see whether it was better
for him, but I do not see that he ought necessarily to have
a right. It does not appear clear that you ought to give
him an appeal in every case, whether reasonable or not? —
All I have in mind is this : where any good purpose can be
served by a second enquiry being given,it should bo granted,
hut it is a difficult matter to say when the good purpose
exists.

20457. Perhaps your real point is (it is my impression,
rightly or wrongly) that the powers of giving subsequent
enquiries to coroners' inquests might have been more
liberally exercised in the past 7 — I cannot call to mind any
case where it has not been exercised when it might have
been with advantage, but I think that the power ought
not to be narrowed down at all.



20J58. Do you not thtak, alter all, that a Secretary of
State,reepon8ible to Parliament,iB to be trusted with saying
whether an enquiry should take place or not 7 I suppose
you must trust somebody? — Yes.

20459. I want to put it candidly and fairly to you. After
all, you cannot call to mind that he has done very great
wrongs in the past apparently 7 — No, it is difficult to say
that a Secretary of State should not be trusted, but on
the other hand I can quite understand a Secretary of State
'refusing to instruct the holdmg of an enquiry of this kind
when it would perhaps be best for it to be held.

20460. He might mak:e a mistake 7 — Yes.

20461. But you are going to give in 1,000 cases in a
year a right to relatives to put him right, and it seems to
me that is a big order. You are going to give it to the
owner, to the relative or anybody interested, and it seems
to me a big order. That is what I mean. Have you an
idea, if that was exercised to any large ertent^ what that
would cost in money 7 — I do not know. I did not int^id
to suggest that there should be more done than has beea
done in the past m that respect.

(ilfr. Cunynjhame.) Then it must be for the Commission
to think how the question should be met. I do not want
to press it.

20462. (Mr. Raidiffe ISUis.) With reference to inspection
do you agree with the view that was put before the Com-
mission by Mr. Richards yesterday, that the olqect of the
inspection by the inspectors is to see that the Mines
Act is being caniod out 7 — Yes.

20463. It is not to manage the colliery 7 — No.

20464. You think that each pit should be inspected
twice a year at least 7 — Yes.

20465. And that every part of the pit should be in-
spected 7 — Yes.

20466. I suppose you mean every part at work 7 — Yes.

20467. And accessible 7 — Excuse me, every part at
work and accessible. Some would be accessible and not
at work. I think every part in which it is x)os8ibIe for a
danger to lurk should be inspected.

20468. Would you inspect the goaf if you could get into

it 7— No.

20469. You would inspect the working parte of the mine 7
— Yes.

20470. And places oontiguous thereto 7 — Yes,

20471. You know the conditions down a pit vary very
considerably 7 — Yes.

20472. And vaiy at mudi nhcnrter intervals than six
months 7 — Yes.

20473. Every week probably 7 — Yes.

20474. What advantage would you expect to gain from
that inspection every six months, considering the varying
conditions of the mine day by day 7 — I do not know tiiat I
can say what advantage we should gain, but I think we
should certainly gain an advantage. I think we gain some
advantage now by inspection.

20475. I should like you to remember the varying
conditions of the pit day by day. What advantage would
you expect to gain by an inspection every six months t —
We should gain the advantage of knowing; that the mine,
had been well inspected by a disinterested person, and we
should have the advantage of his report thereon.

20476. Would the examination you suggest every six
months be by the Chief Inspector, or would you be satiifified
with one by one of the Assistant Inspectors ?• — I presume
it would be by any of the persons appointed.

20477. Any of the staff 7— Yes.

20478. You say that men think their examination —
this is with reference to the men*s examination — tends to
relieve managers of a responsibility. Do you not think
that a too frequent inspection by inspectors would have
the same effect 7 — It may have.

20479. Do you not think it would 7 Can you see any
reason why it would not have the same effect 7 If the
men think an inspection by their body reheves the manager
from responsibility, can you see any reason why it should
not also follow that too frequent inspection by the inspector
would have the same result 7 — I am not prepared to say
that it would be too frequent if twice a year.

20480. We will discuss frequency afterwards, but can
you show any reason why too frequent inspection by the
inspectors misht not have the same result, removing from
the responsible manager the feeling of responsibility 7 —




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It would vevy likely ease hi» poulioni. but he would still-
remam the mana^r of the colUery aad be reBponaible for
the man&gemeot of the ooUiery.

20481. You tbi»k it desirable ih».^ he should feel 1<hat
he is responsible ? — I do.

2048^. And that nothing should relieve him from that
feeling of responsibility ? — No.

20483. The men in your district think an inspection by
them would tend to relieve him from responsibility. You
say here in your note, ' ' Men think their examination tends
to relieve managers of a responsibility they ought not to be
relieved of and places on men a responsibility they ought
not to have " ? — That is their opinion.

204B4. Can you see any rea^son why the same should not
apply to an inspection by an inspector, and that the result
might be to relieve the manager from his responsibility ?
Yes, the tendency perhaps is that way, but the whole of
the responsibility would rest with the manager.

20485. The tendency is that way. Is it desirable ? —
It is desirable to provide more inspection*

20486. Is it desirable that the manager should be relieved
from the feeling of responsibility ? — 1 do not gather that
he would be relieve 1.

20487. Ifl it desirable that he should ?— No.

20488. You think that it is not conducive to safety that
he should feel that he is relieved from his responsibility ?
— It is not.

20489. Forget for the moment the bi-annual inspection.
That might be the result of a too frequent inspection bj
the inspectors ? — I cannot see that it would relieve him of
any responsibility.

' 20490. Might not the result be if the manager know the
inspector had been round and said it was all safe, that it
might relieve him from the responsibility if the inspection
was too frequent ? — He might feci safer in his mind, but I
do not know that there would bo any deduction of respon-
sibility.

20491 -2. You say that the men think if they inspect the
mine it will relieve the manager from his responsibility.
Why should not the manager also feel relieved from his
responsibility if the inspector inspects the mines too fre-
quently ?— I cannot say more upon that point : I simply
gjve you the men's view of it — the way they look at it.

I 20493. Do you consider that it is the inspectors' duty
to do more than ascertain that the Mines Act has been
carried out ? — No, I do not know that his duty is more
than thati

20494. If you go down a pit yourself and do not inspect
anything like the whole of the pit, cannot you see from the
general way the woik is being done whether it has been
done under good management or under slovenly manage-
ment ? — It depends upon how much of the pit I examine.

20495. Examine as much as you like ; just a small
portion of it : cannot you say from what you see bj ex-
amination of a small portion whether the management is
good or bad ? — I am not prepared to admit that examining
a small portion of a pit justifies you in saying that the rest
of the pit is like that.

20496. I am taking fifst of all the general aspect of the
pit as it comes along. If you go round a section and find
that all is in very good order, does that not give you some
indication as to what the condition of the whole pit may
be ? — It may give some ; undoubtedly it does do.

20497. Supposing an inspector goes down a certain
distance and there is every evidence of the management
being satisfactory, does that not give a good indication as
to the whole of the mine ? — I do not dispute that for the
moment: but my point is this, that we need more than
indications ; we ought to have more than indications.

20498. You think, although it gives what you call a
prima facie case in favour of good management, that is
not conclusive ? — No.

20499. And you think by inspection twice a year you
would get that ? — Yes.

20500-1. Although you agree that the conditions of the
collieries are changing day by day ? — There must be changes,
of course. I do not know that I said '* day by day.

20502. I understand that you suggest that there should
be a- third grade of inspectors ? — No, I did not make the
suggestion : it was put to me by the Chairman, and I said
that I saw no reason why that should not be done.

20503. Do you think those inspectors of a third grade
should be ten qualified than the other inspectorb ? — !<£) not



think that there is any necessity for submitting them to
the same severe examination that a prinoipal inspeotov
has to pass.

20504. In what particular matter da you conaider
they might be lees qualified ? — I should thiiik» if they
unaerstand ventilation and gases, and that kind of thing,
that they would be qualified for thia particular work of
inspecting the mine.

20505. What other qualification do you suggest for
a chief inspector beyond understanding ventilation and
gases ? — I do not know. I do not know all that is expected
of a principal inspector.

20506. If a man understood that^ he would be pretty
competent to manage a colliery ? — He would kqow soni»>
thing.

20507. I want to see what difference yom would make
in the qualification of the third grade and the fimt and
second grades. — I cannot say what differences should
be made, but I am not prepared to say that those third-
grade men should have to ppss the same examination as
the first-class inspectors have to pass.

20.108. I want to know why not 7 — They would not
occupy the same position.

20509. They must, I suppose, be able to me«8iira
ventilation, read plana and understand gases ? — Yes.

20510. Do you see any advantage in having a maci tess
qualified than a chief inspector 7 — ^If you can haveohief
inspectors all the way round I have no objectioa to it, but
I do not see how you can.

20511. Your assistant inspectors would become chief
inspectom in time. Do you see any object in having a
lees qualified man 7 — I trunk you should have the best
qualified man for the particular work.

20512. What is he to do 7 — To inspect the mines.

20513. To inspect the mines he must understand venti-
lation and gases, how to measure the ventilation, and read
the plans. He must understand all that 7 — It has not been
made clear to me that this man should necessarily have
the same qualification as the chief inspector, but if it is
necessary for him to have tiiat

20514. I want to know what you expect to get from this
man less quaMed othor than you do from a better qualified
man. Is he to do exactly the same work as the chief
inspector or the assistant inspector 7 — He would have to
inspect the mine.

20515. Inspection is the great point we are aiming at.
Is he to be supposed to make an mspection of the mine to
the same extent as the chief inspector would be able to
do 7 — I thiiik so.

20516. Why should he not then be equally qualified :
why should he be less qualified 7 — I have no objection to
his being equally qualified.

20517. Do you see any advantage in his not being
equally qualified 7 — He should be qualified for his work,
but I am not prepared to say that he should have the same
qualification as the chief inspector.

20518. I want to know why he should not hwe it» —
Because I am not clear that it is necessary.

20519. Is it necessary that a chief inspector should be
qualified -in that way as he is now 7 — ^It is necessary for
him to be qualified for his work.

20520. I do not understand: the object of all the
inspectors is inspection, to see that the Act is carried out 7



Mr. J. G.
Hancock,

3dM^907.



20521. I cannot understand why you think one grade
should be lees qualified than another 7 — I do not say that
they should be. I simply say that it is not made clear
to me that he should have the same qualifications as the
chief inspector.

20522. Can you make it clear to me why he should not 7
That is where my difficulty is. He has to do the same work :
why should he not be equally qualified, and be able to
advance to the post of chief inspector when opportunity
offered 7 — I do not know that he would have to do the
same work all round as the chief inspector.

20523. Can you suggest what he would not have to do
in the way of inspection 7 — Not in the way of inspection.

20524i For the purpose of inspection he ought to be
qualified as well as the chief inspector 7 — Just for the
purpose of inspection.

20525. The purposes of inspection include everything
so far as safety ia concerned, do they not 7 — That may be.

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MINUTES OP EVIDENCE :



Mr. J. G.

Hancock,

30 Ma^






20526. You can give no reason why he should be less
qualified ? — ^Except the inspector may have other duties
— that is, the principal inspector.

You can give no reason incident to safety why
should be less qualified ? — ^No.

20528. Then, with reference to inspection under General
Bule 4, do you think the districts of the deputies are too
large sometimes for examination purposes ? — I think it
would be better if they were smaller in some cases.

20529. Can 3rou make any suggestion that any rule can
be made as to the size of the districts 7 — ^No, I do not know
that I can, but in some cases they have a larger district
to travel than they can travel withm the time and examine
it — ^in and out, that is.

20530. You cannot suggest any rule which could be
formulated ; that must be left to the management ? —
And to the circumstances.

20531. Left to the manager to decide in each case what
he considers a sufficient district. The deputies you have
recently heard do not examine all the stalls. What examina-
tion does ih&t refer to T — I say they do examine the faces
and lips ; it is the intermediate gates.

20532. What examination does that refer to ? — The
morning examination,

20533. Before the men go down ? — Yes.

20534. How do they know that they do not examine
these 7 — ^It is a matter of common knowledge that the
deputy enters at one gate and goes through the faces.

20535. This is an examination made before the men go
down. How do tibe men know he does this 7 I can
understand any examination during the shift they could
give information about, but I do not understand how
they can teU you what he does before they go down the
pit 7 — They know what distance he can do in the time.

20536. Is it a conclusion 7 They do not know that he
does not visit the gates 7 — They know he ccbunot travel it.

20537. Is that the reason they give you that informa-
tion ? — ^Yes.

20538. That has been in existence for a long time, I
suppose. The deputies have had the same districts to
travel for some time 7 — ^Yes.

20539. Can you account for no complaint having been
made before by the men 7 — I do not know that we are com-
plaining now particularly. I am simply stating what I
believe to be a fact.

20540. You believe it to be a fact because the men think
the distance is so great that he cannot do it. He has to put
this chalk mark on where he inspects 7 — At the gate ends.

20541. Yes. They think he does not inspect, although



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 10 of 177)