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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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your idea of the qualifying examination which there should
' be for a third class inspector 7 — I should say such an ex-
amination as at all events would equip him for the position
of an under-manager.


A second-class certificate 7 — A second-class cer-

4 Deo. 1907.




31396. Then you would not have a special examination,
but you would make him pass an examination for a second-
class certificate the same as the under-managers have to

do 7 — I see no objection to it being a special examination, Jlfr. J, QuuL
but I should make it, as far as its character was concerned,
of the same class, so that they would have the same rate
of abihty.

31397. I am now going to ask you about the inspection
by the men under Rule 38. You would wish to alter the
rule which limits the inspection by men. You propose to
extend that rule so as to include not only persons who .
had practical experience underground, but also men who I ^
have only acted as checkweighmen. You say in your \
statement, **We desire that the rule which , at present
prohibits any but men working at the face from making
an inspection should be amended so that other men work-
ing in the mine, or men who have practical experience,
such as checkweighmen, should be appointed " 7 — Yes.

31398. So that you consider that practical experience
of a man as checkweighman, without having been under-
ground at all, would be sufficient 7 — ^No.

31399. Then I should like to know your views 7 — My ,
idea with reference to that is that men who have had
practical experience, and who may be checkweighmen,
should be eligible for the appointment, not that check-
weighmen should be appointed who have had no experi-
ence. But I may say that in that connection we have
very few checkweighmen in Yorkshire who have not
been practical miners.

31400. You would not consider that a checkweighman
was ehgible for such an appointment unless he had in
point of fact either worked at the face or had gained
experience underground in some other manner 7 — No.

31401. Then you do not consider it necessary that a
man should actually work at the face. Supposing he
has been engaged in other operations underground, in
looking after the haulage, and that sort of thing, do you
consider that he would be eligible 7 — I consider that he
should have had practical experience as a working miner.

31402. You mean working at the face 7 — ^Working at
the face.

31403. The general objection that has been taken
hitherto by the men to Rule 38, is that it limits the em-
plo3mient of persons to men who are at present practical
miners working at the face, and does not allow the ap-
pointment of persons who may have left the mine for
some years, but who have had very large experience of
working at the face previous to their having left for some
other occupation, we will say 7 — Yes.

31404. Do you think that the rule might very well be
amended in that way, so that not only men should be
eligible for this inspection who are at present working at
the face, but also men who have at any time gained suffi-
cient experience at the face to make them experts in mining
matters 7 — I think that the rule should be amended so .
as to say ** who are or who have been practical working 1 J
miners." '

31405. That has been suggested before. You would be
satisfied with that emendation 7 — ^Yes.

31406. With regard to the question of cost, I understand .
you say thdt some provision should be made for payment. I
What sort of provision do you suggest should be made ;
who should pay 7 — I consider it desirable that some
provision should be made for this money being collected. ;
At the present time the rule says that it should be done (
at the cost of the miners, but it makes no provision for
that cost being collected in any way.

31407. How do you mean " collected " ; do you suggest
that there should be a sort of levy on all the workmen
in the mine, and that it should be collected in that way,
or what do you mean by " collected " 7 — I suggest that
it should be obtained in the same manner as the check-
weigh money.

(Mr, Eatdiffe Ellis,) That is by a levy; the check-
weighman is appointed by ballot, and then he can levy
upon the whole of the men employed, for his wage.

31408. (Chairman.) If there is no levy, how are they
paid now 7 — At the present time they are paid from the
funds which may be in hand at the colliery for local pur-
poses. They arc paid from local funds at the colliery,
but there is no compulsion on any man to contribute,
I take it.

31409. So that you think they should be put in the
same position as regards pa3rment as the checkweighmen 7
— Yes.

31410. You do not suggest that this sort of inspection
should be paid for either by the Government or by the
owners; what you suggest is that there should be a
levy made upon the men for payment 7 — Provided the

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Mr. J. (TtK.

4 Bea



Govennnent go in for woiking-men inspecton^, to make
what we should term an adequate inspection of the mine
I ^otAd not suggest that this charge be a further charge
upon the Government. But under the present system
'if the tnen*8 fnspectiion is to some extent to take the place
6i the Government inspection, of course the Government
dtight to pay for it

31411. Supposing ydu Lad your way, and tha;t all these
ihird-class inspectors were appointed, would you think
it desirable to have any further inspection at all under
Eule 38, or would you be content with the inspection
that you would get by the Government inspectors in that
case ? — ^1 take it that, provided the men were satisfied
fhat the mine was thoroughly inspected, they would not
desire to appoint men to further inspect.

31^12. I understand that in Ydrlwlhite you inspect
more under Rule 38 than in any other part of the kingdom ;
about a third of your mines are periodically inspected
in this "t^ay T— Possibly.

31413. We have had that stated in evidence by one of
fhe inspectors, Mr. Walker ? — I could not state any given

31414. Then you would, as I understand it, not lay
fltny very great stress upon the retention of this power
by the men to inspect under Rule 38 if you had a number
of working-men inspectors, sufficient to thoroughly inspect
the mine twice a year or more, appointed by the Govern-
ment. You would be very fairly contetit to leave it to the
Government inspection in that case ? — I do not see any
objection on our part to the rule being retained even then.
The men would not take advantage of it if they were satis-
fied with the examination of the Government

3l'415. In that case, of course, you would not suggest
^at the Government should pay these men — you suggest
that they should be paid by a levy on the miners ? —
That is so, provided the additional woi*king-men inspectors
were aj't^oi^^^*

31416. Would you suggest that no man should be
allowed to inspect a mine who was not working in it or
Who had not been working in it ; that no man should be
transferred, say, from one pit to another for inspection
purposes ? At present, I beUeve the general rule is that
you i^noint two men 'who are working in the very pit
rtedf Whioh they are to inspect 7 — Yes.

?1417. Do you think that is a good plan, or do you not
think that the men should be allowed to appoint anybody
they please, wl^ether he is working in a given pit or whether
he ib working anywhere else, to go down any pit in the
district ? — We have had cases in our own district where
men have been appointed from other collieries already.

31418. Do you object to that or not ? — 1 think that
't>laii m desirable.

31419. That the men should not be restricted in their
^^ohoice ? — That is so.

31420. With regard to inspection by officials, you say
1^ that the deputies who have the oversight of the various

districts, have often too large a district, or h«kve so many
other duties imposed upon them that they have not oppor-
tunity to make that strict examination which is always
desiral)le. Do you think as a general rule the districts of
the deputies are too large, or is it only in certain isolated
cases that you complain ? — My opinion is that the districts,
speaking in a general sense, are too large for the men
to thoroughly examine the gates and roadways during
the time at tneir disposal

31421. They quite understand that that is part of their
duties — that they ought not only to examine the working
places, but they ought to examine all the gates and road-
ways'lf they have got time to do it. Every deputy imder-
stands that is part of his duty, I suppose ? — I suppose so.

31422. But you think that in many cases it is physically
impossible for them to do that ? — I think that in many
cases it is physically impossible for them to exercise super-
Vision over the districts under their control

31423. Another complaint which you have is that they
have other duties to perform which are not concerned with
the safety of the men, that is to say, in looking after the
haulage, seeing how the tubs are filled, and that kind of
thing ?-7- Yes, and they are responsible for them in their
own district.

31424. That you think is a wrong system 7 — ^I do.

31425. Supposing all those duties Vere takeh away from
ihein, and they omy had to perform duties appertaining .
to the safety of the men, do you think that then their
dfetridts Would be too large ? — I would not say that, if


they were confined strictly to the safety of the men, and
the examination of the district. Of course districts V6ttld
vary in character as to the necessity for examination.

31426. But the great thing that you complain of, I
understand, is that they have other duties to perform, and
if those other duties were taken away from them, and
p«>rformed by someone else, probably the number of
deputies at present engaged in looking after the safety
of the men would be fairly sufficient to enable them to do
their duty Y — Possibly so, except in the case of a tnan
who is examining for the morning shift, who is running his
district prior to the morning shift commencing work ;
in our district, say, he may be hmited to three hours to
supervise his district and get in to make his report

31427. That is not enough 7 — If he has a large district
he cannot properly do it

31428. Then you say that even if the deputies were
only called upon to do the duties whicji you think ih&j
ought to be called upon to periorm, still, in many cases,
the districts would m too large 7 — In some cases.

31429. Or at all events that some arrangem^t ought to
be made to enable them to get through those di0triot» T
— Yes.

31430. Then you say that you are totally opposed to the
enforcemei^^ of discipline by fines, which you think is a
most pernicious isystem, and one which does not produce
the result aimed at, its being rather a caude of laxity than
a remedy for it Why should fines be a cause of laxity 7
What do you mean by saying that they are a cause of
laxity 7 — In my opinion, if a man knows that if he is
caught in a certain offence he may be fined half a crown
or five shillings, there is not the same discipline over
him as if he kaew that if he was caught in lui offence he
would be taken to court.

31431. Supposing there were no fines at all, and no
prosecutions or anything done, then things would be
worse, would they not 7 You do not mean to say that
the fines would make things worse than if there were no
fines 7-— No.

31432. Supposing a man was simply had up and repri-
tiianded, that would not be as good as a fine, would it 7
A fine does some good, I imagine, in promoting discipline 7
— Not in my opinion. I take it that if a man was prose-

31433. I am not supposing that, but I am taking anothe;:
point altogether. You seem to think that the system of
fining is a bad system in itself, and that even if there were
no prosecutions it would be no use to have fines. I should
have thought that a fine, although it might not be as g6od
£bs a prosecution, was at all events of some use in preserving
discipline 7 — ^I look upon it in this way ; if a man breaks
a rule he may be fined at the discretion of the colliery
owner, or he may be taken to court. The practice of fining
men for breaches of discipline, to my mind, is a Weakening
of the rule. If a man's case is one that will be niet by a i
reprimand, he should be reprimanded ; if it is not one I 7
that will be met by a reprimand, he should be prosecuted, I
and that prosecuti(xi will have more effect on the discipline (

of the coUiery than, say, a score of fines.

31434. I was only objecting to your statement that ^e
fining was rather a cause of laxity than a remedy for it.
Fining is a better remedy than nothing at all, I suppose ;
but the best remedy in your opinion is that the men
should be always prosecuted. That is what I understand
you mean 7 — I mean what I say there : there is no question
about it that in collieries where fining is in vogue, it is no
use in enforcing discipline, because there is the general
knowledge that if anything is found out it will be
met with a fine. If the men knew that there would be a
prosecution, it would have a better effect

31435. Looking over the number of prosecutions in all
the districts, I see that your district is very much at the
head of the list As to prosecutions of workmen the
Yorkshire district had, during five yean, 785 prosecutions
and 768 convictions 7 — Yes.

31436. However, you think they ate not numerous
enough ; you would like to see more prosecutions 7—
I object to the system of finhig ; if the cases demand proee-
oution they should be prosecuted.

31437. You do not think that even for minor offences
fines should be inflicted 7—1 do not

31438. Not even for offences that have very little to do
with the safety of miners 7—1 think that it ought ndt to
be left to the discretion of ah owner when a man is to be
fined or wheU he is to be prodecuted.

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31439. You are pretty certain that your Aasooiatioii
agree witk yoa in tnat opinion ? — Yes ; 1 feel oonvinced
on that point.

31440. With regard to setting up Special Rules, you
say that the workmen should be consulted when any
Special Rules are being prepared, or when alterations are
suggested^ and that this would create more interest
in the rule and would prevent misunderstanding. I
understand that when the rule has been promulgated, any
workman is perfectly at liberty to state any objection to
it that he pleases, either straight to the management
or to the mines inspector, or your Association would pro-
bably take up the matter, would it not ? — I suppose it is
the Uw that notice shall be put up with reference to these

' Special Rules ; but our point is that if our Association and
our men were consulted directly, and our opinion taken,
the matter would be discussed and interest would be
created, and the rules would be better understood when

^ they were brought out.

31441. Yon mean you are not consulted at a sufficiently
early period ; these rules are promulgated and then you
are told that you may make any objections you Uke 7 —
That is so.

3144^ But what you want is to have a voice in the
ficaming o| the ruke before they are promulgated ? —
Yes. We had a large amount of trouble in our county
^th reference to the Specitd Rules re timbering. I believe
we had one or two cases of stoppage arising through
misunderstanding, and I do not know that prior to those
rules being put out they had ever been discussed in our

31443b They were so badly expressed that there was
difficulty in understanding their meaning ; is that what
you mean ? — I mean to say that there was a misunder-
standing as to the meaning of certain words in the rule.

31444. So that you think the rule might be more clearly
expressed, and that if you had had the drafting of the
rule it would have been more clearly expressed. Is that
what you mean t — I think that ii our officials had been
discussing this role with the other side and then had
explained its meaning to the men, it would have helped
the men to understcuid the real meaning and object of
the rule, and would have facilitated its working.

31445. But if you thought tiie rules were ambigupus,
or you did not know what they meant, or you thought
there would be any difference of opinion as to them, you
might, I suppose, have alwa3rs gone to the owners and
asked them what they meant ; your Association, or
someone on behalf of your Association, I suppose, might
havegone to the owners. I understand you would go to
the ^me Office or to the inspector, and from the Home
Office or the inspector you would find out what the rule
intended to do, and then if you thought that the wording
was not sufficiently clear you could always suggest other
wording, I suppose ? — Yes. We would prefer to be con-
sulted before the rules are drafted and put out.

31446. With regard to accidents, you say a strictor
supervision of the gates and roadways by the deputies
is desirable, and that they might also be oa&ed upon to
make periodical special reports as to the stato of the gates
in their districts. What do they do now ; they m&.e a
mark, do they not, to show that they have been through
a roadway at a particular time ? — Yes, say in each working

31447. And you consider that it should be their duty
to go throush all the roadways to look at the condition
of &0m9 and every now and then to report not only upon
the state of the working faces* which is the onlv report
they are bound to give, but that they should alao be called
uppn to make special reports as to the state of the gates ?

{Mr. RatdWe EUis.) It depends upon the Special Rule.
There is a rule in Lancashire that " the manager, under-
manager or fireman shall travel all airways once a week,
and the result of his examination shall be recorded without
delay in a book to be kept at the mine for the purpose,
in the same manner as provided for with regard to the
inspection required by General Rule 4."

31448. (Chairman.) So that under that Special Rule
a man would be obliged to make a report once a week,
I suppose, as to all the gateways and roadways ? — Yes,
but what I had in mv mind was a special examination of
these gates and roaaways, apart from his normal duty,
and a special report.

31449. {Mr. Ratdiffe MUis.) Under General Rule 4 he
has to make an examination and then he has to report,
but now we have this additional rule in Lancashire, which

I have, mentioned^ putting upon him the obligatioa once . jf^, j. Quest

a week to make a special examination oi aU airvayB that '

he ha0 to travel ?— Yes. 4 Dec. 1907.

31450. {Chairman.) Do you think that that Special
Rule would be sufficient to meet your objection 1 — No.

3145L {Mr. BaicUffe EUia.) You wish to have that
extended to all roadways — not merely to airways I
suppose 7— Yes. The point that I have in my mind mor^
pajtticularly is in connection witb the gates: of course
it applies to all, but to the gates partioulai^ly — where the
drivers or the trammers are travelling.

31452. You mean the roadway immediately adjacent
to the working face ? — I mean the total roadway should
be examined by the men, but particularly the gates.
What we term the " gates " are tne roads adjoining the
face. We think that a special report as to the stato of
those gates should be made from time to time ovejr and
above the present method of inspection.

31453. (Chairman.) Then you think that that Speoia,l
Rule ought to be strengthened by adding an inspection of
the gates, as you call them, to an inspection of the airways :
you would say " aU airways .and gates " ? — Yes, and roadu
where the men are travelling, decidedly — or where tipuey
may be drivkig along the level

31454. Would about once a week be the proper interval
of time ? — Yes, I think it would be desirable.

31455. Then with regard to haulage, you say that
separate travelling roads where practicable should be
provided ? — I suppose in some old collieries that could not
be done very welL I suppose there are such collieries.

31456. At least, it would be very expensive and almost
prohibitive ? — I take it it would be possible, although,
as you say, it might be very expensive.

31457. Then where you do not have the separate
travelling roads, I suppose you would say there ought
to be a gangway on one side of the road wide enoi^
for a man to pass while the tubs are runniog t — Yes ;
I think it is desirable that in the haulage roads generally
it should be as wide as ia praotics^ble, having regard to tl^
nature of the roof.

31458. Then you say that manholes ahouH be kept
w^ whitewashed. Do you think that they are sufficiently
numerous, or do you suggest that they should be put up
at less intervals than is now the case T — I should say that,,
particularly with reference to where it is 50 yaxds, the
interval is too large.

31459. In those cases where there are 50. yards allowed
by the Act of Parliament would Tou suggest that it should j
be 30 yards or what 1—1 should say that 20 ya^ is far f «/
enough for a manhole at any time. '

3146a But 50 yards is only as I understand wher^
there is animal haulage ?■— Yes, but you may have some
quick haulage with a horscu

31461. Then you say that in aU cases there should be a
not greater interval than 20 yards between the manholes ?
—I do.

31462. What do you say about the number of aocklents
in horse haulage T Do you know of many accidents that
occur in horse haulage T — I have no figures of any with
reference to that matter.

31463. Do you know of your own experience of several
accidente that have happened in horse haulage which
might have been avoided by a manhole being only 10 yards
off as you say ?— I have known the ^vera get hurt, but
I have no record with me. We had a case not long ago—
of course it was not on a horse haulage road — where a
man was killed in a jenny road.

31464. And you think he might have been saved if
there had been a manhole dose by T— Yes, il the^ had
been a more adequate provision of manholes, oi if thec^
h^d been a separate travelling road.

31465. The haulage road, you say, shouki be as vide
as is compatible with safety f You n^ean t^t it 4?^Quld
be as wide as possible, I suppose X

(Mr. Ratdiffe ElKs.) No, I think not : there is a dang^
in having it tpo wide.

31466. (Chairman.) Is there a danger m having the \/
haulage roads too wide 7—1 take it that the nature of \he
roof would have to be consider^KL

31467. That is to say, taking into consideration the
nature of the roof, you must make them ss reasonably
wide as you can without causing a greater tendency on
the part of the roof to fall T— Yes.

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4 Dec. 1907.

Mr. J. QuMt 31468. And you Bay that they ahould be kept free
from incumbrance. The rule at present is only that every
manhole and every place of refuge shall be constantly kept
clear : there is nothing about rcmds. Rule 16 seems to be
of very narrow application. It provides ** Every manhole
and every place of refuge shall be constantly kept clear,
and no person shall place anything in any such manhole
or place of refuge." That would seem merely to indicate
that the entrance to the manhole must be kept clear,
and it does not seem necessary under the rule that the
place between the two manholes should be kept clear,
BO that the men shall always have a clear roadway to run
along to get into the manhole. That is, I suppose, what
you understand by the rule ? — ^That is so.

31469. It seems that in the case of Yorkshire there are
no Special Bules to keep the roadway Clear, but that in
some districts there are ? — ^Yes.

31470. However, you say that there should be some
rule either in an Act of Parliament or Special Rule, to say
that the haulage roads should be kept quite clear from
incumbrance ? — ^Yes.

31471-3. So that any man walking along the side should
be able to run along until he gets to a manhole so that he
can then go in without obstruction ? — Yes.

31474. Would you be satisfied with such a General
Rule as is in force in the Scottish district, Rule 47 : " The
roadsmen, in their different divisions and shifts, if more
than one, shall, at least daily, make careful inspection of
the whole roadways from the pit-bottom throughout the

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 108 of 177)