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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 103 of 177)
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workman would not speak ?— There would be generally
the foreman or the overman imd manager with the Inspeotor
at that time : that is the difficulty.

30825. They can communicate by letter. Do not the
ooUiers communicate with the Inspeotor by anonymous
letters sometimes ?— It may be the case, but they gene-
rally come to us, the Miner's Agents.

30826. You are the go-between ?— Yes.

30827. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) What are the reasons
you give now.? — You think some of the reason is that the
great bulk of the workmen are not brought into touch
with the Inspectors at all, and do not see them T — Yes ;
they do not see them.

30828. And of course the District Inspector, or any In-
spector at all, is very rarely at the colliery ? — ^Very seldom.

30829. I should like to put it to you further, are there
any other reasons why the workmen are anxious that this
new class of Inspectors should be practical men in the
pit T — ^I have said in answer to Mr. Ellis that I think one
other reason which is given is that there is very much too
much importance attached to the theoretical part of it,
and that more attention should be paid to the practical part,
and the Inspectors who are appointed already even dointf
their best will have a leaning towards the employers, and
naturally so, because they have been brought up in that
groove themselves: and the men think that someone
ought to be appointed on the other side who will have some
sympathy with the workmen.

30830. Does it not arise largely among a number of
men from an impression which they have that the mines

will be more thoroughly and exhaustively examined by
the practical workmen ? — ^Yes. The mine under this
system will be examined as I said, every nook of it ; the
examination will be started at one end, and they will
go right through the whole of the mine and inspect it
from top to bottom.

30831. I noted your answer to Mr. Ellis as to the inspec-
tors leaning towards employers. Hie inspectors are sup-
posed to discharge their duties as between employers and
workmen generafiy ? — That is so.

30832. Of course the workmen you referred to were
workmen who inspected under General Rule 38 ? — ^Yes.

30833. That is rather a different thing ?— Yes.

30834. With reference to your complaint about timber,
I understood you to say that workmen had set timber
in a roadway and that the officials had knocked it out
again ? — Yes.

30835. Why was that done 7— The officials held the
opinion that it was not required, and in order to prove
that they knocked this timber out.

30836. The officials were of opinion that it was not a
dangerous place ? — Yes, and that the timber should not
have been put up.

30837. That would be in the main roadway ?~Yes.

30838. Then you do not timber all the main roadways :
there are portions that are not timbered ? — There is no
portion that is not timbered at all with timbering of some
description. In some cases we only put a road post on
the side of the road, and in other cases we put up a post
and bar across. I have two instances in my mind wnere
a fall has occurred immediately after the timber has been
struck out.

30839. Of course you are not now dealing with timber
at the face ? — I am dealing with timber in the roadway.

30840. You do not suggest that this has reference to
the face and the workman setting his timber there, but
it is in the roadway ? — The roadway.

30841. How far back would that be from the face ? —
It would be within four or five yards from the face, some-
times quite at the face.

30842. Would it be such timber as the contractor i/B
called upon to do in his contract ? — No ; that timber
would be timber that would be paid for, and it is for that
reason, that it was to be paid for, that there was this
action on the part of the official in knocking out the timber.

30843. So that it is not so much a question of safety or
otherwise as a question of having to pay Is. or 2s. or
2s. 6d. for setting and repairing timber ? — That is so.

30844. (Chairman.) The man would demand to be paid
for the timber, and then he would be told that it was not
necessary, and that they would not pay him, and to prove
that it was not necessary they would knock out the timber T
— That is so.

30845. Then supposing a faU occurred, showing that
the timber was necessary instead of being unnecessary,
I suppose in that case the man would get paid. In the
case of a fall having occurred, which fairly proved that
the timber ought to have been put up, the man would
be paid even although he was not paid beforehand T —
Yes ; in that case the company would pay for the repairing
of the fall, and also for the timbering.

30846. They would also pay for the first setting of the
timber because it was proved by the fall that there was
need to set timber ? — Yes, but he would not be paid
until we were called in to deal with the dispute, probably.

30847. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) What you mean by
systematic timbering is that there should be one general
rule ? — ^Yes, and that timber should be put up as a pre-
caution, whether it appears that it is realfy wanted or not,
at stated intervals. \

30848. Then you think the collier would clearly under-
stand his duty ? — Yes.

30849. And it could not arise afterwards that he would
be blamed for setting timber where he should not, or
blamed for not setting timber where the Manager said
he should not ? — He would have no doubt at aU in his

30850. I think the difficulty now is that in the absence
of any precise rule, somebody in the mine must decide
whether timber ought to be set or not ? — ^Yes.

30851. It would be the duty of the collier, in order to
keep himself safe, under the Rules to set his timber ?-^



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30862. If it 18 not so set he is liable to be hauled up
before the magistrateB ? — Tea.

30853. Do you suggest that while that is the ease he
may set timber in the belief that he has discharged his
du^ and that the official will come and knock out the
timoer again ? — That is the case with us now ; that has
happened. Perhaps I should explain also that we haye
another case in which the men were out two days from
ihe pit and refused to work. One of the causes, as we
found, was — I must say that it was quite unknown when
we investigated the matter, and quite outside the know-
ledge or instructions of the Head Manager of the collieries —
that the under-officials were going round and doing this
kind of thing and preventing the men standing timber
on the roadways because there was payment for it, and
thereby causing a gneat amount of danger to the men
where they were filling their coal. They were refusing to
allow them to put the double timber on the flats up on
the coed just immediately in front of the tram, ana the
men kicked against it and objected to work under the
changed method of working. When we investigated the
matter we found that their timber had been knocked out,
and they had been refused payment for it. I may say
to the credit of the General Memager that he at once strongly
reprimanded this man for it having been done, and said
it must not be done again.

30854. Tou suggest that if there were one general system
adopted for the whole district, it would be evident then
i^t these men would get the timbering done, and this
difBculty would not arise ? — ^Yes, that would be done
away with. It could be settled so far as each seam or
each colliery is concerned ; and I should also like the man
to have power, if he thought it necessary, and if the place
required that, to add to whatever timber had been put
up by regulation.

30855. Of course he is supposed now to set timber to
keep himself safe — that is the rule ? — ^Yes, but there is
a continual dispute arising as to who is to determine and
decide as to when a place is safe or not.

30856. Then the practice, as you say, in Wales is that
If a collier considers nis place is unsafe, and that it requires
timbering, if the manager or the owner, or whoever he
may be, comes in and diJSers from him, he is liable to have
his timber knocked out again ? — Yes.

30857. When you were asked the question yesterday
afternoon as to the fireman's duties, you said he would have
to travel haU a mile to three-quarters of a mile before he
got in his district proper ? — Yes.

30858. That would be along the main haulage road,
I presume ? — Yes.

30859. Whose business would it be to examine that road ?
— ^Perhaps that would be allotted to some fireman who
would be quite close. In some cases it would be done by
one of the men who have to travel to the innermost places
that I have mentioned.

30860. Have you any reason to think that they ever do
examine that part ? — ^How can they ? It is a matter of
impossibility. I want to be quite fair in this. They
travel over the roadway, and if there is anything there
which forces itself upon their notice, they no doubt see it
and report it then ; but as to making a detailed examina-
tion of the roadway, I do not think it can be done.

30861. With reference to fines inflicted at the coUiery,

Sou have not much of that in Glamorganshire, I take it ? —
fot in the Bhondda.

30862. But there is a considerable amount of fining in
Monmouthshire, I think ?— So I understand.

30863. When you said in answer to Mr. Kllis that you
objected, does that reflect the opinion generally of the men
in the Bhondda — that they object to fines at collieries ? —
Yes, they strongly object to it, because they feel it is very
unfair that the manager should set himself up as the judge,
jury and everything else, and that he should decide the
degree of offence and also the amount of fine that a man
has to pay.

30864. Of course the fine may not necessarily be for
any breach of the General Rules or Special Rules, but it
may be a fine which has somewhat to do with the man's
work, and deductions for dirt, slack, or something of that
sort ? — Yes, quite so. W^e have had some instances where
they have been trying to introduce the practice of fining
the men for so much small coal sent out, or so much dirt.

30865. With reference to the suggestion which was put
to you by Mr. Cunynghame, that a key should be kept
for the Ismips, that is the case where the men are sending
out their lamps, and where the lamps have gone out ? —

30866. The man sends his lamp out to get another ? — Mr.
Yes, to get another or for it to be re-lighted. ^* W* Morgan

30867. It is a case of his lamp having gone out by reason 31 Nov. 11K>7
of some accident, or for some reason ? — ^Yes.

30868. And he must, of course, send it to some place,
some lamp station ? — ^Yes — ^at the pit bottom.

30869. That lamp stotion would be at a place which
is considered a plsu^e of safety. Of course, if the man could
not send it there by someone else, he would have to tramp
to the place himself in the dark ? — ^Yes.

30870. He is >only given one lamp ?— That is alL

30871. When you said that the men complained about
this, and it was suggested that there should be a key which
should be kept by someone, do the men complain not be-
cause there, is a key, but because there is no one there to
light the lamps for them ? — ^The complaint is that there
is no one there to attend to this work, and also there is
the danger more especially to which I was referring, of
the electric batteries, that boys or lads may play with them
in^such a way, and that in manipulating the battery they
may have a flame — they may light anything wim the
electric flame which would be brought from the battery.

30872. So that the complaint is not that the man
cannot get his lamp lit, but the complaint is that the place
is left unattended, and that there is risk ?— There is
that danger of the lads playing with it.

30873. {Mr. SmilUe,) Do the miners in any part of
South Wales pay for the use of the lamps or the oil ? —

30874. They are supplied by the owners free ?— They
are supplied by the owners.

30875. Each miner who is employed at the colliery at
the working face has pins or tokens to indicate which are
hia tubs coming to the surface ? — Generally they use
chalk-marks with us.

30876. It would be quite possible for each man to
have a number and for each lamp to have a number, so
that each person could get his own lamp. There is no
difficulty really with regard to that part of it ? — None
whatever. There is a large colliery where unfortunately
we had an accident two years ago, as you know, in which
there is the lamp of the same number given out to the men
and the numbers correspond. I mean numbers are kept
for each man in that way, as you indicate.

30877. That'ia really done in many parts of the coimtry ?

30878. Do you think that the Managers of a colliery
and the workmen should be the same in the eye of the law
so far as offences are concerned ? — I should think they
ought to be : I should think the workmen ought to have,
the same right to initiate an action in the Police Court
for some breach of the regulations under the Act as the

30879. Did you ever hear it seriously suggested that it
should be left to the Mines Inspector to initiate fines
against colliery Managers for breaches of the Act T — No.
It is most d&cult to get prosecutions initiated at all
against coUieiy Managers.

30880. Do you think the Home Office would be m
favour of such a course as putting it into the hands of the
Inspector to fine a Manager instead of prosecuting him
for a breach of the Act ? — ^I do not think they would.

30881. Would it be a wise course to take ?— No, I do
not think so at alL

30882. If that is applicable to the Manager, you say
you think the same thing should be applicable to the
workmen ? — ^That is so. I am in total agreement with
this, that whatever conditions are to be observed by the
workmen, the same should be observed by the employer,
and whatever conditions are observed by the employer
the same should be observed by the workmen.

30883. I suppose we might say that 75 per cent, of the
lads in your district will in all probability find their way
into the pit ? — Yes, I put it at more than that.

30884. A rather higher percentage than that ? — Yea
— ^nine out of every ten.

30885. Mining being the staple industry there, you
advocate that boys should be taught the Special Rules
in the last year or two before leaving school ? — Yes, and
the nature and psrils of gases, and other things.

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Mr. 30886. I was going to add that : would you also be

2>. W. Morgan prepared to go to the length of teaching them something

_, __ — ,_^,„ of the nature of mine gases and the dangers of them ? —

21 Nov. 19()7 Yes.

30887. You think it might tend to greater safety under-
ground if in all mining districts that was part of the lads*
education ? — ^I do. I am very glad to think that the
Glamorgan County Council are taking some slight steps
towards trying to improve matters in that direction, in
holding evening classes, and so forth.

30888. You think that even where a lad did not go into
a pit, if that instruction were made part of his education,
it would broaden his mind, and so on ? — ^Yes, it would be
useful to him.

30889. With regard to inspection by workmen, there
is not much of that done in your own district ?— Very
little ; it is almost a dead letter.

30890. But where workmen are inspecting a colliery,
is it not in the power of the Manager to close up certain
parts of it during the time an inspection is going to be
made, or just when an inspection is going to be made,
which parts he does not want the inspectors to visit ? —
That may be possible, but I could not say that I have
known any instance of that.

30891. You have never known of it being done ? —
No, I have not known of it being done : but I do know
that when such inspection is being carried out there is a
hurrying and scurrying on the part of the under officials
and the day wagemen with brattice-cloths and that kind
of thing, to put up temporary doors, and so on.

30892. General Rule 38 says that they shall be entitled
to inspect every part of the mine, but in the event of any
portion being closed and a danger signal being on it, they
would not be entitled to go beyond that? — That, no doubt,
would be the oonstrnotion placed upon it by the manage-

30893. You say that the general conditions of a mine
are safer for some time after an inspection is made either
by a Government Inspector or a workman inspector
because of the preparations that are made for complying
with the provisions of the Act ? — Undoubtedly.

30894. And if you had more extensive insx>eotioQ you
think that would be the normal state of the mine instead
of the abnormal state of the mine 7 — Quite so.

30895. That is recklly what you aim at ? — Yes, if we could
continue what we look upon as the exceptional condition
of the mine during the examination, and if that could be
eontinued for all tune we should be much more satisfied.

30896. Mr. Ellis put it to you that you have no fault
to find with the qualifications of the present inspectors,
and you said you had not. But would you add to tiiat
that had they been practical miners with their present
quatifioation they would be better even than they are
now T — ^Ye8» undoubtedly that would be the case.

30897. You think that no P^^n really can inspect
the face of the workings so well as a miner who has spent
some years of his life working at the coal face ? — ^That is so.

30898. The question was put to you, I think, whether
you coi:dd not object to Special Rules proposed by the
employers when they are posted and you said "Yea.**
But could you really object ? Have you any standing^? —
No, none whatever. ^-i

30899. What you really meant was that the workmen
employed at the particular colliery might object ? — ^Yeg,
they might object to them.

30900. Is it not the most difficult thing to get a workman
who is daily employed in a mine to object to Special
Rules ? — ^It is. If they take a permanent part in that
work there is always the same fear as I pointed out in the
other case where the inspection is made, that the man
may be dismissed.

30901. I suppose one of the chief reasons why persons
claim the franchise in this country is that they want to
have a voice in the making of the laws which they have
to obey ? — ^That is so.

30902. — Special Rules, when they are posted, have all
the powers of an Act of Parliament ? — ^Yes ; if they are in
any way broken men can be proceeded against.

30903. Most of the Special Rules are made in order to
ensure greater safety ? — Yes.

30904. Greater safety to whom : is it to the owner or
to the Manager ? — ^To the workmen.

30905. Is it to the workmen employed underground ? —

30906. Consequently it is to the workmen that Special
Rules for their safety are of the greatest importance ? —
Yes ; and I should say that they should have some voice
in the proper drafting of those rules, inasmuch as they
have to live by them, and to carry them out Then they
ought to be framed in such a way that they can be carried
out practically and not be a dead letter.

30907. I should like to put this point very plainly :
it is not as to the individual workman in the colliery, but
what you mean really is that the workmen through their
organisations might be consulted in the drafting of
Special Rules ? — Yes.

30908. And that those men having practical knowledge,
and knowing what the workmen want, might assist we
employers in drafting rules for greater safety T — ^Yes ;
and it would be with greater advantage that the power
could be used so as to bring about and create an inducement
for the rules to be properly observed.

30909. You think that if the workmen through their
leaders or advisers were consulted, and had a voice praoti*
caUy equal with the employers in the drafting of the rules,
there would be a greater likelihood of those rules being
observed ? — ^Yes. Fewer breaches would take place than
take place at present, I am convinced. j

Mr. John Daiobl Mobo an, called and examined.

^' 30910. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Do you agree with a

/. D. Jfgrygyy^yeat many of the points which have been laid before the
Oommission by Mr. Watte Morgan T— Yes.

, 30911. There are some points which concerned
^ district which he has not dealt with 7 — That is so.



30912. With regard to the question of bar-hook or
V trailer, you wish the use of them to be made compulsory f


30913. You think that runaway or safety points should
be used below the heaviest gradients in these slants or
drifts?— Yes.

*S0914. Do you agree with Mr. Watts Morgan that
sufficient room to walk should be provided alongside the
roads ?— Yes.

/' 30915. Do you wish it to be made compulsory that
v no person should be appointed to ride on a journey of
tramv drawn by mechanical power T — Yes.

30916. Have you any special reason for that ? — Yes :
we have had a good many accidents arising out of riding
on trams underground.

30917. Would the work be equally facilitated if that
was done away with T — ^Yes ; they have done away with
them in some collieries now in our district.

30918. You say that in lowering and raising men in
pit shafts, doors should be fixed on the cages so as to pre*
vent the men falling out ?^ — ^Yes.

30919. Do you agree generally with Mr. Watts Morgan
with regard to firemen Y — ^Yes.

30920. Have you any particular instances where incom-
petent men have been engaged T — ^Yes.

30921. You had two accidents in one coUieiy lately
where men were killed 7 — Yes.

30922. Are you now of the opinion, since 3rou have
known of it from the inquest, and so forth, that the first
of those accidents could not have happened if a practical
man had been fireman there 7 — ^Yes.

30923. Perhaps you will explain to us the accident at
Coegnant 7 — ^There was an accumulation of gas in a certain
place and the fireman took four men on wiUi him in order,
in the first place, to raise a tram there, and in the second
place in oraer to remove the gas. They had only two
safety lamps between them, and one safety lamp was put
behind the four men. The fireman was putting i:^ canvas
in order to remove the gas from the place, and it had to
pass over the men and to the lamp that was behind them,
and in some way or another an explosion of the gas took
place, and three of the men were killed. A competent

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fireman would not remoTO ihe gas when the men were
behind itb

30924. (Chairman,) I do not understand how the ex-
ploeion took place, because as I understand, there were
only safety lamps used there. Was it owing to a defect
in the lamps ? — We cannot say whether it was through
a defective lamp or not.

30925. But you say that was a dangerous operation
which a skilled workman would not have undertaken 7 —

30926. (Mr. Wm, Abraham,) In the first instance the
naked light was left behind at the pit ? — Yes.

30927. The colliery was worked with naked lights, to
start with ?— Yes.

30928. The accident took place on a Sunday night, did
it not ?— Yes.

30929. On that Sunday night this fireman had three or
four labourers with him down the shaft ? — ^Yes.

80930. A tram was off the rails in the heading 7 — Yes.

30931. And he said that he took the men there to help
him raise the tram ? — Yes.

30932. The fact is that he suggested they should leave
their naked lights at the bottom of the shaft and he took
in with him the two lamps 7 — Yes.

30933. The chief witness, who was the only man saved,
said on his oath at the inquiry that they were put there
to brush the gas out 7 — ^Yes, that is so.

30934. He himself went beyond them to put up a piece
of brattice ? — Yes.

30935. And the effect of the brattice he put up was
that the gas oama back towards these men and passed
them 7 — ^Yes.

(Chairman.) Did the gas travel as far as the naked
light : is that what happened 7

(Mr, Wm. AhraJiam.) No : we do not know exactly :
it is not explained yet : but an explosion took place. It
was an old type of lamp, was it not 7

(Witness.) Yes.

30936. The inspector had recommended that safety
lamps should be used some time prior to that 7 — Yes.

30937. And they were not put there 7 — No.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 103 of 177)