Great Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on Mines.

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 102 of 177)
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of it ?— Yes. V.WMcffon

30707. I suppose men are not so perfect m South Wales 21 Nov. 1907
as to make it unnecessary to punish for breaches of tho "^
Mines Act. It is necessary that there should be some
punishment in order to secure discipline and to secure

safety ? — ^Yes.

30708. If a prosecution has to be taken in every case, I
Bupnose the first step would be that some of the officials
of tae mine have to go down to the magistrate's clerk's
office and take out a smnmons ? — ^That is so.

30709. They are taken away from their work and their
duties probably for a day ; I do not know how far away
from the pit the magistrates' clerk's office may be, but
probably for a day the official would be away from his
duties getting the summons. That is the first step ; do
you agree ? — Yes.

30710. Then the case has to be heard before the magis-
trates, and again the official has to be away from his duties ?
—I agree.

30711. It happens in some districts — and perhaps it is
so in South Wales — that there is not a magistrate sitting on
the Bench who could try the case ; they may be all either
colliery proprietors or their brothers, or minors' agents,
and so on. Do you find that is so ? — ^No, we do not find
that very often in our district.

30712. You are free from that. Then at any rate it
takes another day there ; and then the question of cost
in connection with the prosecution is considerable to the
owner ? — No doubt it is.

30713. You wish discipline to be maintained, I suppose T
— Yes.

30714. Do you not think that if a prosecution had to be
taken in every case a good many breaches of the rules
would remain unpimishcd altogether ? — I do not think so.

30715. If they did remain unpunished it would be pre*
judicial to discipline ? — If they did, yes.

30716. Therefore you do not think that if you say to
an employer, *' Now the only way in which you can pimish
an offence against discipline is by going to this great
expense, and taking your official away from his work,"
there is a chance that he will leave the offence unpunished
altogether ? — I do not think so ; at any rate, speaking for
our own district, I do not think that would be the case.

30717. Do you think that in the numberless cases of
small breaches of the Act they would go to the expense
of prosecuting in each case ? — I think so. At any rate
they ought to.

30718. Supposing they did not choose to do that ; then,
in your opinion, would discipline suffer T — ^No, I do not
think it would if the plan which I advocate were adopted,
of taking aU these cases to Court, because there would be
so many less offences against the Act if that were done.

30719. Then you think force is a remedy in that case ? —
You know the fear of the police court held over the men
in that way would have a very salutary effect upon their
discipline in the mine, - ' ' " '^' ""

30720. How long do you think it would take in South
Wales to bring that salutary effect into operation ? — ^I
think we are decidedly improving now. We have had
in some cases a system creeping in of finding men at the
colliery office, but not to a very large extent ; but since
it has been done away with entirely the men are taken
to Court, and it has had an appreoiable effect upon the
conduct of the men.

30721. Now I will ask you about the Special Rules*
You know that under the Act now there is an obligation
put upon the employer to propose Special Rules when he
commences working a pit?^>That is so.

30722. You propose to alter that ?— To the extent of
inviting the parties who have to live under those rules
to be a party to the framing of them.

30723. Supposing your view was carried out, and that
before an owner could propose a rule he should have to
invite the men, would you entitle him, whether the men
agree or not, to go on and propose a rule, or would you say,
" You shall not propose the rule imless the men agree that
you shall propose it " ? — I do not know that I would
prevent the owner from carrying out what is provided
in the regulati<m at present erf going to arbitration with
regard to the matter in dispute.

30724. But he goes to arbitration at a later stage ;
first of all the rule has to be proposed to the Home Office ?
— Yes.

Digitized by




Mr. 30725. Then if the Home Office and the employer do

D. W.Morgan not agree, the matter goes to arbitration. But you want

' — to say that before the owner shall propose the rule he

21 Nov. 1907 must invite the men to discuss it with him ? — Yes.

30726. What I want to know is this : at that invitation
are the men to have a veto, or are they merely to be
allowed to say what they like, and then the owner is to
go on and propose a rule, whether the men like it or not ? —
In case they may fail to agree I do not know that I would
veto the right of the employer to still propose the rule,
provided that the workmen had an opportimity upon the
same footing exactly as the employer before the Secretary
of State, or before any arbitration occurs.

30727. What I suggest to you is that, instead of having
the men intervening before the rule is proposed, before
the rule is established it should be advertised by the
Home Office, and that the men should then have an
opportunity of stating any objections they have to the
rule and having those objections decided by arbitration ?
— In my opinion that would be rather a cumbrous way of
getting at the matter, and once the rule had been framed
it would be much more difficult to get the owner to agree
to change that.

30728. But do you not see the owner is absolute ; he
can say, " The Act of Parliament may allow you to come
here, but now I am going to propose this rule." The
owner is absolute even on your own scheme, and what I
suggest is that the coming in of the men should take place
when the rule is proposed ? — I do not agree with you. I
want the men to come in at the first going off, when there
is an inducement to the owner to frame the rule in such
a way that the men will have no objection to it.

30729. You quite agree that, whatever the result of
that conference may be, the owner can propose a Rule
as he thinks fit ? — I would not veto his right to do so.

30730. That is to say, that he can propose the Rule ? —
That is so. After they have failed to agree, if the work-
men and owners have failed to agree.

30731. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) The probability is that
in nine cases out of ten they would agree ? — ^Yes. That
is what I suggest. That is my experience.

30732-7. {Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) With reference to safety
lamps you say there should be a standardised lamp,
and that there ought to be one safety lamp in each district.
Why should there only be one ? — ^The workmen would
become fanxiliar with it.

30738. But would not that be rather establishing a
monopoly ? — It may be so, but I would even risk 3iat
evil to get a lamp in the hands of the workmen as to
which everyone was acquainted with all its parts and
everything in connection with it.

30739. Yes, but the risk you are running is not yours :
the risk is that of the employer, and if he is compelled to
buy a particular lamp he might have to give a good deal
of money for it. It is not your risk that you are running ?
— ^That may be true : I have not looked into that.

30740. Do you seriously think that if there are a number
of lamps pronounced to be satisfactory by some official
test it would make much difference to you what lamp
the employer used ? — ^It does make a big difference in
our district, because we have a large number of unskilled
workmen brought into the district, and these lamps are
given into their hands, and the workmen, not knowing
in some cases with regard to the lamp itself, there may
be changes brought about in the colfiery so that these
people would not be able to know and would not be able
to deal with the lamp. We have also a very large num«
ber of young lads employed.

30741. I suppose any lamp would be a mystery to
them ? — ^To some extent, yes.

30742. However, your view is that you should be able
to say that there should be only one particular lamp.
With regard to shot-firing, do you usually fire shots in
the roadways when the men are in the mine ? — ^No, they
are fired between the shifts, generally speaking. Of
course we have some collieries where the shots are fired
by the men.

30743. But not many are fired in the roads, I should
think ? — ^No, not a large number.

30744. Have you any suggestion to make beyond what
is provided for in the Rules under the Act of Parliament
as to shot-firing in roadways. Is there any further pre-
caution you would suggest ? — Yes. I think the explosive
to be used ought to be under the control, and the detonator
ought to be in the charge, of a competent person who
would be employed in going through the roadways in

which shot-firing is required, 'aii<^|Vho 'would do all the
work in connection with charging the holes.

30745. We will speak about the roadways and not the
coal for the moment ? — Yes, I am speaking of the road-

30746. Is not that the case now ? — ^No.

30747. What is your practice in South Wales now as
to shot-firing upon the roadways 7 — A man would bore
the hole

30748. What man ? — ^The man in the working place.

30749. I am not talking about firing shots in coal, but
in the roadways ? — I am speaking of me roadways where
the men rip the top themselves — the men who are working
in the working places carry on and rip so much of the top.

30750. It is only at the immediate entrance to the
working place ? — ^No, almost the length of the road.

30751. How far away from the working place does the
collier, the coal getter, rip the top down ? — They would
carry this thickness of ripping down with them as far as
the tram would go.

30752. On to the main haulage road ? — Yes, from the
main haulage road up to the end of the road.

30763. What distance would that be ?— 40, 50 or 60
yards, as the case may be.

30754. (Mr. SmiUie.) The ripping is done almost at
the face — within a few yards of the face ? — Yes.

30755. Mr. Ellis is now dealing with the part back in
the road. The colliers do not bore holes out in the main
haulage ways ? — ^No, not in the main headings. I beg
your pardon.

30756. (Mr. Batdiffe EUis.) We will come to the face
afterwards. Who drills the holes in the roadways ? —
The staff of men we call the repairers.

30757. Are they competent ? — Yes.

30758. So that you have no objection to make to that
practice ? Then who charges the holes T — The men who
are employed on the job — the repairers.

30759. Are they comj^etent to do that ? — Having regard
to our experience, they are not at all times as careful as
they should be.

30760. Nobody mortal is wise at all hours 7 — No.

30761. But, generally speaking, are they competent
men who do it ? — Generally speaking, perhaps they would

30762. Who fires the shots ?— The shotsman— the shot-
firer appointed for the purpose.

30763. Then he is a competent man ? — Yes.

30764. He goes down between the shifts and fires those
shots ? — Yes, or he has done it already.

30765. Have you any arrangement by which, before
a shot is fired in the main haulage roads, it has to be brought
before somebody other than these repairers to see whether
the shot should be fired, and to deal with the conditions
under which it should be fired, and the weight of explo-
sive that should be put in — in fact, all the details with
reference to the shot ? Has that to be decided by some
official superior to the road makers 7 — Yes, generally the

30766. Then you have not any suggestion to make
beyond that ? — Do you mean with regard to shot-firing 7

30767. Yes 7 — Oh yes. I suggest that the stemming
or the charging of all the holes that are to be fired ought
to be done by the shotsman.

30768. I understood you to say that so far as the charg-
ing is concerned you had no fault to find with that. It
is charged by a competent person. I am speaking now
of in the roadways — not in the coal, or in the immediate
access to the coal 7 — ^That is what I am speaking of, too.
We find instances taking place now and again of accidents
in shot-firing.

30769. Are those accidents frequent 7 I understood
generaUy you thought those men were competent 7 — We
have had quite a large number during the last two or three

30770. You think even with reference to shot-firing
in roadways, the men who charge the shots now are not
competent men. They can drill the shots, but they ought
to be charged and fired by a specially appointed official 7
— That is so.

30771. With reference to shot-firing in the coal, is that
done during the shift 7 — I could not speak as to that. We
have no shot-firing in coal in our district : I am only deal-
ing with shot-firing in the roof.

Digitized by




30772. (Mr, SmiUie.) In the ripping ?— Yes.

30773. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUia.) So far as shots are fired in
the ripping, are they fired between the shifts or during the
work ? — Between the shifts.

30774. So that you have no shot-firing there except
between the shifts ? — That is so.

30775. What is the explosive which is generally used
i^ere ? — It varies. Gelignite or Roburite is the explosive
used in the roadways, generally speaking.

30776. Are they fired by electricity ?— Yes.

30777. The man who has the detonator is not the same
man who has the explosive, is he ? — That is part of the
system that we make some complaint with regard to it.
'the detonator is given out by the shotman, and may be
lying about for hours before it is used.

30778. That is a breach of the rule, surely ? — It is a
breach of the rule, but how can you detect it ? Supposing
the shotsman is being sent round the colliery at about
12 o'clock, he goes round at 12 o'clock in the day, and
if he has 10, 15 or 20 holes to be fired he starts at 12 o'clock
And goes round and gives a detonator to the first man,
Another to the second, and another to the third and fourth,
until he has covered the district.

30779. But do you ever find any of these detonators
in the coal ? — They have been found even sent out with
the rubbish. They have been found in the rubbish tip
on the surface at one colliery in our district.

30780. That is a very infrequent occurrence, I should
think ? — It is an infrequent occurrence, but it was rather
startling when we did find it.

30781. I suppose you think there ought to be more care
exercised in regard to this matter ? — ^Yes. We think the
explosive and Sie detonator used should be in the custody
of the man, and that the shotsman who is in charge of the
district should charge the hole himself.

30782. Have there been many accidents in consequence
of the absence of such a regulation as that ? — I could not
say that there have been many accidents in consequence
of that.

30783. But you think it would be safer to have such a
. regulation ?— *We think it would be safer. We should be

much more satisfied.

30784. With reference to the travelling roads, you pro-
pose to use the return airway for travelling ? — I think it
would be safer than the present method.

%t 30785. But is the return airway a place in which people
should be encouraged to go ? You see you cannot light
lamps in the return airway ? — ^No, but that would only
be used for travelling in and out from the mines.

30786. But is it a nice place to travel in ? — It is not nice,
but you sometimes prefer doing that when you have got
it safe.* It is quite true that the atmosphere there is not
very pleasant, but it would be much safer.

30787. You suggest that as the alternative to travelling
along the haulage roads when the machinery is in motion ?
—By all means.

30788. When the men go into the mine in the morning
is the machinery in motion ? — No, it is idle at that time.

30789. So that so far as that goes there is no great danger
in getting into the mine ? — No.

{1^30790. It is the coming out of the mine — they cannot
come along the roads when the machinery is in motion ? —
Yes, at the end of the shift.

30791. Is it generally the case that the machinery is
in motion as they are coming out ? — Yes.

30792. You think that however disagreeable the return
airway might be from an atmospheric point of view, yet
it is safer than passing along the haulage roads when the
machinery is in motion ? — Yes, and especially so during
the day, more than at the end of the shift : men require
to come out then.

30793. The only cases of men coming out are cases
where men go to fight their lamps ? — ^But there is a good
deal of trouble from that ; you find ordinarily 5 per cent, or
10 per cent of the men at least require to come out at some
time during the day to go up the pit.

30794. That is where the danger is ?— Yes.

30795. Are these haulage iroads originally constructed
wide enough tohaveatravelluigroadattheBide ? — In some
cases tihey are. I have seen cases where that system
which I have pointed out of having room at the side is

30796. But are they generally sufficiently wide, if they Mr

are kept at their original width, to make sufficient room A W. Morgan
for a travelling road alongside of them ? — If they were ^ ^ ^_
kept as wide as they were originally, then that would be ^^ J NOv. iwi/
the case. But what I should like to explain is tins : what
we complain of is that rubbish, timber, ropes, and every-
thing else are oftentimes allowed to accumulate on thQ
roadways, especially on these engine planes.

30797. (Chairman,) Is not that contrary to one of
the General Rules, which provides that the roadways
should be kept clear T — ^The roadway itself would be kept
dear ; this would only apply to the sides.

30798. But then the side is a roadway: it is a place
where people walk, ia it not ? — No, I am afraid not
within the meaning of the Act.

30799. (Mr, Wm, Abraham,) There is one question
which I should like to put to you with regard to the return
airway. Of course in nine cases out of ten, to a man who
has been working and perspiring all day, a good return
airway would be more pleasant to travel in than going
straight against the current ? — ^That is so ; it would certainly
help his temperature, if one may say so, in coming out of
the pit bottom.

30800. (Ghainnan.) In the South Wales code there is
a Rule with regard to keeping the roadways clear, but that
only refers to where there are falls ? — That is so.

30801. That is quite different, of course, Your complaint
is that all sorts of rubbish is kept at the side of the roadway
where men walk up and down, or may have to walk up
and down T— Yes.

30802. There is a Rule, Rule 156 in the Code of
Special Rules for South Wales, with regard to roadmen,
wnich says: "He shall carefully remove all obstruction
from the roads in his charge, so as to maintain them
constantly in a safe state for travelling therein " — so that
if the roadman did not do his duty he might be reported ?
— If that rule were carried out, and if all the rubbish were
removed daily we should not have much reason to complain.

30803. Are there not always such persons as roadmen ?
— ^Yea, there are roadmen, but all that they, are asked to
see to is the roadway itself, and if the roadway is itself
clear sufficient for the trams to be passing, that is all that
is thought necessary.

30804. Surely you cannot say that a roadway is clear
if ^e gangway at the side of the road is fiUed with rubbish ?
I shoidd have read this Rule as implying that it was the duty
of the roadman to remove all obstructions from every
part of the road in his charge. Surely the gangway at
the side along which the men come would be part of the
roadway ? — ^That is not so. It may be obstructed for

(Chairman, Then it seems to me that Special Rule 156
is not carried into effect, and you ought to see that it is
carried into effect.

30805. (Mr, Enoch Edtoarde,) The Inspectors you refer
to are the District Inspectors ? — ^Yes. '

30806. They have assistants, I believe ?— Yes.

30807. How many assistants has Mr. Gray ? — I believe
Mr. Gray has two.

30808. They are confined to what you call the Rhondda ?
— ^No, they have to cover more than the Rhondda : they
have the Aberdare district. It is a very vety large district
which they have to cover.

30809. How many pits are there T — ^I could only give
you approximately the number : they would have about
from 80 to 100 pits.

30810. Most of them large pits ? — ^Very large pits :
and as we grow older of course the collieries to some extent
grow older, and the distance to travel underground is
much more than was formerly the case.

30811. You have stated that you have no complaint
to make about the present Inspectors ? — ^Not with regM^tl
to the work.

30812. Not with regard either to their ability to do the
work or their disposition to do it ? — No — ^no complaint
whatever. But we do compkdn that we see them but
very seldom; and as I have already said, their time is
taken up in dealing with accidents, and they are there
only after the accident has taken place, and not before.
To show the unrest that there is amongst the men, we
have had occasion during the last two months in three or
four cases to call the attention of the Inspector to some
things going on, and he has gone there to examine and put
the matter right.


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Mr, 30813. What number of inspeotions would those three

D, W.Morgan be able to make in a year at each pit ? — It is very difficult

to say, because one has not seen them working to the best

21 Not. 1907 advantage, in consequence of their time being taken up
with the accidents. At present I do not know that they
could examine these coUieries once a year — ^that is to say,
-properly examine each colliery.

30814. You mean that they would visit the pit in the
case of an accident ? — ^Yes, mey would go and see the
locality where the accident took place, and they would
have to go back and attend the inquest. A large number
of collieries are only visited in that way.

30815. So that that would not be an inspection of a
colliery ?— No, not what we call a proper inspection.

30816. Except the place of the accident ?— Except the
place of the accident.

30817. When Mr. Ellis asked you about the appoint-
ment of further Inspectors he asked vou whether it would
be necessary that they should have the same qualifications
as the first-class Inspectors. First of all you consider
that they should be practical Inspectors ?— I do.

30818. You mean by that that they should be men
who have worked in mines and understand mines and
every part of them ? — ^Yes.

30819. You mean that although they would not be able
to pass a technical examination on the higher subjects,
like electricity, and so forth, they would thoroughly under
stand the mine ?— Yes.

30820. That is the type of man yon have in your mind ?
— ^That is the type I speak of.

30821. Now will you give the Commission the reasons
which exist in the minds of the men for their wanting this
tvpe of Inspector ?— My own way of putting it is that
the men think this class of men would be much nearer to
them and would be able to do the work, because to a certain
extent the thorough examination of a mine is very laborious
work ; and for that reason they would be more approach-
able, and they could be asked to go to those places, which
is not the case with the general body of workmen now.
We, the miner's agents, or somebody in authority at the
present moment, are perhaps only able to approach the
District Inspector : the workmen themselves would never
dream of approaching the Inspector. If a lower grade
of inspectors were appointed they w^ould be in that sense
much more open for consultation, and that kind of thing.

30822. {Chairman.) Why should not a workman ap-
proach even a District Inspector direct if he likes ? — ^Well,
there is such a distance between the two grades.

30823. Surely if a workman has something important
to say he would be able to speak to the Inspector.

{Mr. Wm, Abraham.) He may hve too far away.

30824. {Chairman.) Yes, but when the Inspector hap-
pens to be there ; supposing an Inspector is going round
a mine, and a workman wants to say something to him
about the state of the mine, do you mean that an ordinary

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 102 of 177)