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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 105 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 105 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

31066. What you want is an accurate plan, and that is
quite right 7 — Yes — something rehable.

31067. If the law is that the owner is bound to keep an
accurate plan and that the inspector has power to keep
him up to his work, is that or is that not sufficient 7 If
not sufficient, I want to understand why 7 — According to
the Act, it is all right — if they would carry out its provisicHis.
In the case I mentioned they had bsen ^ orkiag for nine
years, and the plans were inaccurate.

31068. If nobody knows whether the plan is accurate
or not how is the matter to be put right. What would
you suggest 7 — By giving power to the inspector to send
a surveyor occasionally to these collieries, and colliery
owners then would be on the alert,

31069. That is what I want to come to. Do you mean
that you would have every single colliery plaimed from
time to time to see whether the plans were .accurate or
not 7— Yes.

31070. Or do you mean that you would only have that
done where there was a suspicion that the plim was inac-
curate. Which of the two 7 — For the inspector to act
according to his own discretion ; for him to have power,
if he thinks that it is necessary, to send a surveyor to
make a survey.

31071. That is what I want to understand. You do
not propose, as I understand, a re-making of plans by the
Government, of every colliery in the ELingdom 7 — No,
nothing of the kind.

31072. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) You say further in your
statement that there is defective ventilation in shallow
mines 7 — Yes.

31073. What is the meaning of that 7 — Our district is
differently situated to other districts ; we are working
shallow seams, and shallow mines are worked ; it is not
the same as in the Rhondda. In those shallow mines
there is no gas found, and owing to that the ventilation
is neglected.

31074. You know General Rule 1 7— Yes.

31075. That rule not only obliges ventilation to be
complete where there is gas, but where there is any
noxious vapour. It provides : "An adequate amount
of ventilation shall be constantly produced in every mine
to dilute and render harmless noxious gases to such an
extent that the working places of the shafts, levels, stables,
and workings of the mine, and the travelling roads to and
from those working places shall be in a fit state for working
and passing therein.*' — Ye .

31076. It is because that General Rule is not carried out
that there is defective ventilation ? — Yes. There is too
much work for the inspectors ; they cannot go to these

31077. Is that the case in all the mines in your district 7
— Not in all of them.

31078. Who is the inspector of the district 7— Mr. Dyer

31079. You think that he does not see sufficiently that
General Rule 1 is carried out 7 — As I have said, they can-
not go to all these collieries ; they have too much work.

31030. (Chairman.) Can you mention any p:urticular
oases of shallow mines in which you say that occurs. I
do not wish yon to mention them to us now so that the
names should be taken down, but will you mention oases
to the secretary afterwards 7 — ^There are mines in our dis-
trict that dep3nd upon natural ventilation, and it depends
entirely how the wild blows. I have been in those mines
myself, and the candle could not bum in them.

31081. We should like to know where that takes place.
Will you give some names to the secretary in confidence 7
— I will mention one name now : Cwm Gelly Colliery.

31082. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) Your complaint is that the
General Rule is not being observed in some collieries 7 —

31083. (CThairman.) You say there are certain shallow
collieries where Rule 1 as to ventilation is not observed 7
— Yes, a. large niunber.

(Chairman,) You can either give the names of those
collieries to the Commission to be published, or if you like
you can give them privately to the secretary — ^whichever
you prefer.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) He has named one.

31084. (Chairman.) Do you object to that name being
taken down and put in your evidence 7 — ^No, I have no
objection. It is Cwm Gelly Colliery.

31085. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) How many men are em-
ployed at that colliery 7 — About 20.

31086. Does that state of things apply generally in
your district 7 — No, it is not general.

31087. Are there other collieries besides the one you have
named in which that state of things exists 7 — Yes.

31088. Perhaps you had better give the names to the
secretary 7 — Some of them have been abandoned^

31089. Will you give the names to the secretary 7 —

31090. Yon say that the inspdctor should analyse the V^
air 7— Yes.

31091. You do not mean that he should measure it 7— V/
Measure and analyse it.

31092. But why the inspector 7 — I only suggested the . j
inspector. I have no objection to another person analys- \y
ing it, but I think the air ought to be as pure as possible.

31093. You think it should be analysed 7— Yes, in order
to ascertain its quality.

31094. How often would you provide that the air should
be analysed 7—1 think once in' 12 months at a colliery
would be sufficient, because the management would take
more care after the custom is established.

31095. When you sp3ak of the inspector, you mean that
somebody should analyse the air 7— Yes, somebody with
authority to deal with the matter.

31096. You think once in 12 months would be sufficient 7

31097. You say in your statement, with regard to
safetv lamps, '* I would not advise the use of safety lamps I
at all collieries, only where the roof is brittle better venti-
lation and more thorough supervision is neoessary. Lamps j
would be a source of danger where bells are numerous in \
the top, Ac." What ar« " bells " P— " Pans " in the roof ;
with smooth surface. :

31098. Crevices from which big stone might come down 7 \
— Yes. You cannot easily detect them with safety lamps.

31099. Is your objection to the use of safety lamps in
that case that you caimot examine the roof because the
light is not sufficiently good to examine it by 7 — Yes.

31100. And that a torch would give you a better light P
— Yes, especially if the roof is good. We have now a
ca^e in point.

Digitized by




31101. Do you think there cannot be an examination
made sufficiently with a safety lamp ? — No, not so
thoroughly as with naked lights. Another thing is this :
at a certain colliery there was a slight explosion recently,
20 years have elapsed since the last slight explosion
happened. The men went out on strike for a month ; they
preferred to risk the gas than risk the '* bells."

31102. Do you encourage that view ? — Yes.

31103. You say they found gas and they put safety
lamps in one colliery, and the men went on strike for a
month ? — Yes, owing to the "bells" in the roof. They
thought that the ' * bells " were a greater source of danger
to the m3n than the gas.

31104. And that met with your approval ?— Yes, I
have had experience of ** bells." They are very treacherous.

31105. What was the end of it ?— In the end a deputa-
tion waited upon the inspectors, and the inspectors went
and examined the place themselves, and they upheld the
view of the m3n.

31103. Then lamps were not introduced there ?— That
is so.

31107. (Mr, Wm» Abraham.) In your district you have
had two or three instances wherebv you are convinced
that if correct plans had been available accidents would
have been avoided ? — Quite right.

3110S. Let us com 3 back to Glenavon. That is a case
of re-op2ning an old colliery ? — ^Yes, driving towards an
abandoned colliery.

31109. Where no plans were available at all ?— No-

31110. And water cam^ in from an unexpected place T —
Yes, it broke down through the roof.

31111. I want you to prove this case. Do you remember
the investigation that we had there T— Yes.

31112. No fault was found or could be found with those
managing it at the time ? — No.

31113. When we asked for the old plans they were not
to be found at all ? — ^No.

31114. Hence that is one of the reasons why you think
a correct copy of the plans of abandoned mines should
always be kept available ? — ^Yes.

31115. That was Glenavon T — If you remember rightly,
there was an overlap. They were following the coal,
and where t^ey struck the water they were under the old
workings ; and they were boring, and the water broke down
from the roof.

31116. That was dislincUv because no plan of the old
workings was available. That was the opinion at the
time T — ^Yes. I should like to suggest this, not only plans
but there ought to be something to indicate the nature of
the strata at the time when they are stopping the colliery.

31117. That is a question of detail. It is important
to agree on a principle. I daresay the Home Office will
look after the question of detail as much as is necessary.
How many lives were lost in Glenavon ? — Five.

31118. You understood that was distinctly because
there was no plan available of the old colliery, and not-
withstanding tnat the men did all that they were expected
to do, this accident happ3ned and five lives were lost.
Take Caradog Vale Colliery : what happened there T —
They struck the water in old workings.

31119. That, again, because there were no plans avail-
able ?— Yes.

31120. No recent plans. That was so ?— Yes.

31121. Three or four of the men present can testify to
that if it is nicessaxy.

31122. (Dr. Haldanc) Were they working with bore-
holes in advance ? — Yes. I drew a rough sketch. It is
possible to strike into the water and comply with the
law, from my own experience.

I 31123-4. (Mr, Cunynghame.) What was the date of those
abandoned plans that were impsrfeot ? There has been
a great improvement of late years in abandoned mine
plans. It may be a very old case, and that is important ?

' — I am not able to say.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Mr. David Morgan would be able
to tell us the last case.

(Mr. D. Watt8 Morgan.) It would be within 12 years
in the case of Caradog Vale.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) It would be well within 20 in the
Glenavon case.

Witness.) Yes.

(Mr. Oivnynghame.) Something has been done to amend
the law since those bad plans were delivered. That is the
point In the Act of 1896 there is considerable improve-
ment, possibly not enough ; the rules as to abandoned
mines have been made much stricter, and these old plans,
of which complaint is justly made, were before the Act
of 1896.

31125. (CJuiirman.) Since the Act of 1896 the law with
regard to the plans of abandoned mines has been much
more stringent, I understand ? — ^Yes.

31126. You are aware of that ?— Yes.

31127. Have you any fault to find with the law as it
stands in 1896 ? Do you know the provisions of the Act
of 1896 ? — ^No, I do not remember them at present, but I
have a suggestion to make when working towards the
boundaries. My suggestion is to bore sufficient holes in
the barriers when these workings are abandoned, especially
when they are working to the dip.

31128. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) I think you are also in
your district strongly in favour of a second enquiry after
these accidents have happened ? — ^Yes. Second enquiries
would be appreciated.

31129. The putting in force of what is in the Act already
would meet the requirements, you think ? — ^I believe so.

31130. In the case of Caradog Vale there was a prosecu-
tion ? — ^Yes.

31131. Did it fail ? — ^I believe ther<3 was a verdict of
manslaughter against the manager.

31132. The coroner's jury brought in a verdict of man-
slaughter ?

(Mr. D. WaU3 Morgan.) That is so.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) These are points essential to be
brought out I did not like to keep Mr. David Morgan
too long. The Home Office undertook a pro83Cution
against these m?n ?

(WUness.) Yes.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) And the prosecution failed.

(Mr. D. Waits Morgan.) For the reason that the same
evidence was not tendered at the Assizes at Swansea that
we had at the inquest before the coroner.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) The fact was this, that even the
manager was not compelled to stand to the evidence that
he gave before the coroner, and other witnesses.

(Mr. D. Watts Morgan.) Yes, and other witnesses as

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) So that the intention of the Act
of Parliament to correct these evils failed ?

(Mr. D. Watts Morgan.) That was so.

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Whereas had the coroner's
inquest power to order a prosecution, or indeed to call
a second enquiry from the Home Office, it would be an
easy case to prove negligence on the part of the officials,
the manager and the pa^owner.

(Mr. D. Waits Morgan.) Yes : in that case I believe the
prosecution would have be«n successfuL

(Mr. Cunynghame.) I have not followed that properly.
What is the complaint ?

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) The point is that the coroner's
inquest brought a verdict of manslaughter against the
manager and the owner.

(Mr, Cunynghame.) No, they found them guilty of
culpable negligence, and the coroner sa3ring that amounted
to a verdict of manslaughter, the jury asRented. What
was the next thing ?

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) You ordered a prosecution.

(Mr. Cunynghame.) No, the Director of Public Prose-
cutions ; Kingdon and Quinton were committed for trial
and tried for manslaughter before Mr. Justice Jelf at the
ensuing Assizes, and they were acquitted. Wliat is the
complaint ? Is it that the jury acquitted them, or Mr.
Justice Jelf, or who ?

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) The complaint is this : I think
it is as well to have it down.

(Cliairman.) Somebody will tell us what it is they com-
plain of. It is better not to come from you, but from one
of the witnesses.

(Mr, Wm, Abranam.) The case is this, that on the evi-
dence given before the coroner's jury these men were
found guilty of manslaughter.

(Witness.) Yea.



21 No^lQOf

Digitized by




21 Nov. 1907

^'- Mr. 31133. (Mr Wm. Abraham,) When prosecuted at the

W,E, Morgan Assizes in Swansea the case against them broke down ?
— Yes, they were acquitted.

31134. Other evidence was also allowed to come in.

{Mr, Cunynghame,) How on earth could you have
prevented it ?

31135. (Mr, Wm, Abraham,) In your opinion if the
coroner and his jury had power to order a prosecution
they would have done it ? — ^Yes.

(Mr, Cunynghame,) But they did. You can indict
when a coroner's jury finds a verdict of manslaughter.
You indict on that straight away. It is equivalent to the
finding of the Grand Jury, and the indictment takes
place with the Director of Public Prosecutions. The
coroner's jury could do no more, and do no less. What
is the complaint 7

(Mr, Wm, Abraham,) What we try to suggest to you
is this : if they had the power of punishing they could say
what punishment was due to these men. lliey would
evidently have done it there and then. Or if we had
power to demand a second investigation under the Act.

(Mr, Cunynghame,) You could not punish a man.
That would be out of the question. You could only
enquire. You can do no more than prosecute.

(Mr, D, WaiU Morgan,) May I explain that they were
not tried in any way to this evidence at the Assizes at
Swansea, and the man was not compelled to give evidence
against himself : therefore the prosecution fell through
on that ground. That is what we complain of.

(Mr. Cunynghame,) Your complaint is this, that in the
case of a mining prosecution a man is not compelled to give
evidence against himself. Is that your complaint ? Do
you want a change in the law ?

(Mr, D. Watta Morgan,) We cannot put the evidence
in before the Court as against him.

(Mr, Cunynghame,) Do you complain that the man is
not compelled to give evidence against himself 7

[Mr, D, Watta Morgan,) Yes.

{Mr, Cunynghame,) Is that the complaint 7

{Mr, D, Watts Morgan,) That is one form of the com-

(Mr, Cunynghame,) I will investigate that form of
complaint. I suppose you know as a principle of English
law that no man is compelled to give evidence against
himself on a criminal matter.

(Mr, D, Watta Morgan,) I quite follow that.

(Mr, Cunynghame,) You propose an exception should
be made to that rule in the case of mining prosecutions 7

(Mr. D. Watts Morgan.) We ask that unless the coroner's


(Mr. Cunynghame.) Do you or do you not ?

(Mr, D, Watts Morgan,) Unless the coroner has power
to inflict pimishment on the man.

(Mr, Cunynghame.) Would it not be better to answer
the question first. Do you propose a man should be
compelled to give evidence against himself — I do not
think you do : I should think it unlikely, but still, do
you 7

{Mr, D, Watts Morgan,) No.

(Mr, Cunynghame,) What is the other complaint on
this prosecution 7

(Mr, D. Watts Morgan.) The complaint is that there
ought to be some further enquiry with regard to this
matter, and as the result of that enquiry, if he was found
guilty, he should be punished.

(Mr, Cunynghame.) Do you mean that after a prose-
cution and an acquittal by a jury there should be a second

{Mr. D. Watta Morgan.) Before that.

(Mr. Cunynghame.) Do you mean a man should be
punished except by a jury of his own countrymen — tried
at Assizes without a jury 7

(Mr. D, WaUa Morgan.) No, in the form of enquiry we
suggest that would not be so.

(Mr. Cunynghame,) If you had the enquiry you suggest
it would not be able to punish him. He could not be
punished by the persons conducting that enquiry. Do
you suggest that he should 7

(Mr. D, WaUa Morgan.) ff^ may not be punished in
the sense you look upon it, but something would be done
in order to correct the offence that had been committed,
which is not the case now.

(Mr. Cunynghame,) How would you correct it by
punishing him 7 You use the word " correct."

(Mr. D. Watta Morgan.) The publicity given to it would
be the means of preventing another occurrence of the
same kind.

(Mr. Wm, Abraham.) You should have power to take
his certificate from him.

{Mr. Cunynghame.) There is that power if he has the

(Mr. Wm. Abraham,) It is not a question of sending a
man to gaol. It is a question of preventing a negligent
man managing men again.

{Mr. D. WaUa Morgan.) That is one point. So far as
Mr. Kingdon is concerned now there is nothing on hia
certificate to prevent him managing a colliery if an owner
cares to give him an appointment.

(Witneaa.) Could there not be an enquiry when serious
accidents happen 7 Could not the Government step in
and hold an enquiry 7

31136. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Is it not our complaint
in South Wales on several occasions that we have failed
to move the Home Office to put in force the power that they
have under the present Act to investigate the conduct
of these men whose negligence has been the cause of the
loss of life 7 — ^Yes, that is the complaint.

31137. That is our point. It is not a question of
punishing these men in the sense of criminal punishment,
but a question of preventing a negligent man managing
again until he has given proof of his ability to become a
manager of our men 7 — Yes, and when the inspectors take
a case into Court they lose very often.

31138. Are you of opinion than an inspector loses a
great deal of influence in the district when he is not able
to enforce his orders 7 — Yes, and in other districts as well.

31139. It is the opinion of South Wales miners and the
opinion of South Wales leaders that the failure of these
prosecutions reduces the power and the influence of the
Government inspectors in that part of the country 7 —
Yes, it has a tendency to discourage them from taking
cases into Court. I could cite another case.

31140. I am just going to give another case. Take
Gowerton, the Elba Colliery case. Is not that a similar
case, where the coroner's jury found the manager in fault
and the cause of the death of the men under him 7 — ^There
was an error of judgment on the part of the officiaL The
under-manager, I believe, it was, if I remember rightly,

31141. That would be a very mild way of putting it 7 —

31142. Misplacement of a pipe instead of effecting a
cure created evil 7 — Yes.^

31143. The inspector took the matter up 7 — ^Yes.

31144. And a prosecution was entered against 'him 7 —


31145. It was lost 7 — It was the opinion of the insx>ector
that he had a clear case against the management.

31146. You were laughed at in Court 7— Yes.

31147. Have you any opinion of your own or your fellow
officials there as to why that prosecution failed ? — Other
evidence was given at the Conxt than what was given at
the enquiry, and I believe it happened that they had a
sympathetic Bench. That is the opinion of all the miners,
and the public.

31148. One of the magistrates was an old colliery
proprietor 7 — Yes, there was a colliery proprietor on the
Bench at the time.

31149. (Chairman.) A colliery proprietor was one of
the magistrates 7 There were some colliery proprietors
on the Bench 7 — Yes, on the Bench at the time.

(Chairman.) Ought they to be on the Bench 7

(iff. Cunynghame.) What were their names 7

(Mr. Wm. Abraham.) They were retired from business.

31150. (Chairman.) They were people whom, in your
opinion, were likely to be biassed 7 — Yes.

31151. As having been once colliery proprietors 7 —
There would be an inclination, of course, on their part to
agree with their own side. That is human nature.

Digitized by





31152. (Mr, Cunynghame,) I should like to take those
two points ap. Take the first case : that was an inunda-
tion of water at the Caradog Vale Colliery, the one you
first spoke of ? — ^BCr. Watte Morgan is more versed in ^at
ease tnan I am.

{Mr. Cunynghame.) We will not ask you anything
about that.

{Chairman.) Would you like to ask the other Mr.
Morgan ?

{Mr. Cuntfnghame.) Yes. What, and against whom, is
the complamt with regard to this Caradog Vale case T
Is it against the law or against anyone ?

{Mr, D. Watts Morgan.) In the first place, perhaps we
should have to deal with the manager. Sometning ought
to be done in respect of his certificate. He holds his
certificate to-day, and there is nothing to prevent him
getting another post The only thing is if the owner does
not care to employ him because of his connection with
that place. In the eye of the law he is as comp3tent to
manage a colliery as at any time.

{Mr, Cunynghame.) Supposing application were made,
as can be made under the Act, to te^e away his certificate,
I suppose he would plead the acquittal of the jury, that
they had hetkrd the case and acquitted him ?

{Mr. D. Watts Morgan.) 1 daresay he would.
{Mr. Cunynghame.) Still, the matter can be enquired
into, I presume ?

(iff. D. Watts Morgan.) Yes. That is one of the reasons
why we are seeking for this court of enquiry. That court
of enquiry would be a competent authority to enquire into
all the circumstances, and better than the jury at an Assize
Court, because it would be able to understand the value of
the offence committed.

{Mr. Cunynghame.) I agree, but at the same time there
is no punishment you would propose to inflict where he
has been acquitted, other than taking his certificate away 7

{Mr. D. Watts Morgan.) No.

(iff. Cunynghame.) What is your complaint in this
case f You do not complain of the law 7

{Mr. D. Watts Morgan.) I think proceedings should
have been taken against him with regard to the cancella-
tion of his certificate.

{Mr. Cunynghame.) I will take the second case — ^the
Elba Colliery at Gowerton. They were prosecuted, were
they not ?

{Witness.) Yes.

31153. (iff. Cunynghame) What more do you say ought
to be done in that case 7 How ought the law, or the ad-
ministration of it, to be strengthened, or anything else 7
— ^I do not know. We are oidy stating facts. I had a
conversation with Mr. Robson, and he was of opinion that
a conviction ought to have been made in that case.

31154. That is not an answer — ^what conversation you
had. I am asking what could be done. We are here to
see what can be (tone in these cases. What more do you
say could be done, or could be done in that case 7 It is
for you to make suggestions 7 — An independent Court.
I think when something happans on the sea, a shipwreck,
or something of that sort, there is a Court of Enquiry.
Could we not have something in connection with the mines
indep3ndent of magistrates 7

31155. You are aware under Section 45 an enquiry can

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 105 of 177)