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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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the chalk mark is there? — ^He does inspect the faces and the
lips and the gate-ends, but he does not inspect the travelling

20542. How far away from the faces do you think he
does not inspect 7 — He does not inspect down the inter-
mediate gate roads.

20543. The travelling roads 7— Yes.

20544. They are inspected by somebody 7— Not in some

20545. Does not the Act of Parliament provide that the
travelling roads have to be inspected 7 — Yes.

20546. In your case the Act of Parliament is not carried
out 7— No.

20547. You do not want an alteration of the law, but an
alteration in the administration of the law ? — Yes.

20548. The evidence upon which you make the sugges-
tion is not that the men have seen it, but they think the
distance is so pe&t he cannot do it 7 — ^They are sure it is.

(CJiairman.) I understood the witness distinctly to say
they had stated in so many words that this inspection was
not carried into effect 7

(Mr. Ratcliffe Ellis.) He did say so.

20549. (Chaimuin.) It seems all you have heard from
the men was that the districts were so large that it was
impossible that it should t>e done, and not that as a matter
of fact it was not done 7— The men say it is not being done.

[Chairman.) How do they know 7

{Mr. SmiUie.) Will you put the question to him— are
there men working in the night time who do see the
firemen 7

20560. {Mr. Ratcliffe Ellis.) Are the men who give the
information the men working in the night time 7 — We have

it given to us by night men and day men too, that they do
not travel all these gates, neither shot-firer nor deputy.

20551. Because they cannot do it, or that they have seen
they do not do it 7 — In some oases they have seen that they
do not do it.

20552. You had no complaint as to this from your men
until you enquired whether it was done or not 7 — ^No.

20553. I think we have cleared up the question of fines, y
and you and I agree upon that that the system of having yy

a general contract that a man must pay a fine and advertise
it is objectionable 7 — Our men will not accept it. I do not
agree with it.

20554. I agree it is objectionable. You do not see any /
objection if the two agree together, after the offence is com- v
mitted, to a fine being paid 7 — That is done.

20555. I want to ask you about making Special Rules
What is your objection to the present method of making
Special Rules 7 — ^My only objection is that I think the
workmen could be consulted with advantage.

20556. The Act of Parliament obliges an employer to
propose Special Rules 7 — Yes.

20557. It is his duty to do it 7— Yes.

20558. It empowers the Home Office to object to these
Rules, and, failing agreement, it goes to arbitration 7 — ^Yes.

20559. The rules being once established, the owner
can propose an amendment to a rule and submit it to the
Home Office, and the same proceeding is gone through,
and if they do not agree it goes to arbitration 7 — Yes.

20560. The Home Secretary can propose a rule, and if he
and the owner do not agree, it goes to arbitration 7 — ^Yes.

20561. At what point do you say the workmen should
come in 7 — Some 10 or 12 years ago the inspectors in our
district asked the employers and the men to meet for the
purpose of considering an Order that had been issued with
regard to explosives, and talk the matter over. The
meeting took place, and I was there, and I was convinced
then, and I have been convinced ever since, that if meetings
of that kind could be held when Special Rules are about to
be suggested, it would be to the advantage of both sides.

20562. What is to prevent it being done now 7 — ^I do not
know of anything to prevent it, but it is not done.

20563. That was done by the inspectors, and both the
employers and the workmen met together, and that could
be done now if it was done then 7 — It would be an ad-
vantage if it was done.

20564. Do you want to make that compulsory 7 — So
long as that point is realised I do not know that it should
be compulsory, although, if it is compulsory, of course it
would have to be done : there would be no loophole.

20565. Do not suppose that I am objecting to these
meetings. I want to see how it is going to be carried out
by Act of Parliament. Supposing the owner wishes to
propose a Special Rule, is he to be bound to have the assent
of the men before he can propose it 7 — I would not say that
he is bound to have the assent of the men, but I would say
that the men should be consulted.

20566. With what object 7 — Because they are interested
in the Special Rules.

20567. Suppo ing you can propose the rule without the
men*s consent, what is the object of debating it at that
stage 7 — On the ground of common justice, I say the men
should be consulted.

20568. You say the men should not have a right of veto.
Whether the men like it or not he should be entitled to
propose his rule 7 — If there was some fractious or captious
opposition to a rule that was obviously necessary, then he
should have a right to enforce it.

20569. I take it that the opposition is not captious, but
that the owner says, " I do not agree with you : I am going
to propose the rule." Do you think he should have a right
to do so 7 — I think the proper thing would be to go to

20570. At this stage, when I want to propose this rule
do you say the men shall be entitled to say, " You shall not
do so " 7 You do not go so far as that 7 — No, I think we
could not.

20571. Would this meet your views: If the owner is left
at liberty, as ho is now, to propose a rule, that when it gets
to the Home Office it should be advertised, and anybody
interested should have a right to object to it, men, of Home
Office, or inspectors ; if those objections cannot be re-
moved, then that the question should go to arbitration as
to whether the rule should be established or not, and that

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persons who object should have a right to be heard ? — ^I see
no reason why the men should not be consulted before it
goes to the Home Office.

20572. If the men are not to have a right to say yon
should not propose that rule, why should they be. con-
sulted ? — ^The men would not object to anything that was

20573. Supposing the men did object, you agree that the
owner is still entitled to propose his rule ?— Provided it
was obviously necessary, I say.

20574. Whether obviously necessary or not, I under-
stood you to say that notwithstanding the men object he
should go ont — I did not say that he should have a
right to propose a vexatious and oppressive rule.

20576. How do you draw the line ? Do you say that the
owner shall not propose a rule that the men do not agree to ?
Yon cannot prevent rules being proposed that are essential
to safety. If you do not go to that extent, what is the use
of discussion with the men before the rule is proposed ? I
agree, before the rule is established, the men should have
the fullest opportunity of criticising it, and their objections
should be considered by the Arbitrator, if necessary ? —
That is just my contention.

20576. Then you agree with me ? — But I cannot say the
owner has no right to propose the rule. I say he has a right
to propose any rule he thinks necessary, and the men should
have an equal right to consider it before it goes to the Home

20577. That is where we do not agree. I want to know
why it should be so. What use would be served if the
owner can send it to the Home Office, whether the men like
it or not ? Is it not the proper time for the men to object
when the rule is sent to the Home Office and they advertise
it, and say the owners wish to establish this 7 Then the
men can object, and if they cannot agree they can go to
arbitration ? — ^The men should have the opportunity of
considering it before it goes to the Home Office.

20578. Supposing the owner is prohibited from pro-
posing a rule, many rules, which are essential for safety,
would not be proposed at all if he is bound to have the
sanction of the men to the rules ? — I do not think that
would be so.

20579. The haulage roads were referred to. You are
rather looking forwc^ to new workings where the haulage
roads can be made straight and you can have separate
travelling roads and other arrangements of that sort. That
is your view ; you are looking to the future, rather ? — I do
not know that I was.

20580. You do not think in the present collieries, the old
collieries, that they would stand the expense of making
separate travelling roads ? — I said, I think, that where they
could they should be made.

20581. Upon the question of explosives, you do not have
much shot firing in your district ? — ^No, comparatively

20582. Your view is that the workmen should not be
entrusted with the explosives ? — ^That is so.

20583. That should be in the hands of the officials ?—

20584. Do you agree that the explosives should be
supphed by the owner, that the men should not be entitled
to buy where they like ? — ^Yes.

20585. You agree that the owner should supply them ? —

20586. (Mr. Wm, Abraham.) With regard to inspection
in general, you believe in the necessity of inspection ? —

20587-8. You believe that good ' as been done by mines
being inspected in the past ? — Yes.

20589. It is your wish that that inspection should be
made more thorough and efficient ? — ^Yes.

20590. Is there not some difference between the inspec-
tion made by workmen on their own behalf and inspection
made by the inspectors on behalf of the Government ? —
Yee, there will be some difference.

20591. While it is the object of the inspectors of the
Government to see that the Mines Act is carried out, is it
not more the object of the inspection made by the workmen
to see the immediate c ndition of the work 7 — That is their
only object, I think.

20592. In your opinion, it is that kind of inspection that
is needed ? — Yes.

20593. It is for that kind of inspection that you would
have this new grade ? — Yes.

20594. They do not need, to do that effectively, the same
high quaUfication as the first-class inspector ? — ^That is so.
That i3 the reason I said I saw no necessity for it.

20595. You have told us you have not had much ex-
perience with inspection made by workmen ? — ^No.

20596. Have you noticed that the law prevents workmen
appointing examiners on their own behalf who are mining
engineers ? — Yes.

20597. All this talk about having the same qualification
is unnecessary ? — I think so.

20598. It is an unnecessary quaUfication for the men to

rssess to assist in the efficient inspection of mines ? — Yes,
do not see any necessity for them to have the chief in-
spector's qualifications for that work.

20599. Persons employed in a mine may, from time to
time, appoint two of their number or any two persons not
being mining engineers. You have not had any great
experience in your district of this, but do you know that the
reports of the inspections, made by these men, are brought
forward as proof of safety of a mine after an explosion 7 —
Not in our (^strict.

20600. You do not know that. Your district, as a rule
is rather exceptionally free from gas 7 — I do not remember
an explosion resulting in loss of life.

20601. It is free from falls of roof 7— Yes, I think so,

20602. It is exceptionally free from mining accidents
altogether 7 — ^Would you just let me qualify an answer 1
gave a second ago when I said I did not recollect an ex-
plosion from gas causing loss of life. I do recollect one.

20603. In your lifetime ? — Yes, it is only a year or two
ago. It was a deputy.

20604. Is it the practice in your district not to fill the
trams over the brim 7 — They do not fill them over-hanging
the brim, but they are filled considerably higher than the
empty tram. The coal is heaped up on the tram.

20605. How high 7— It will vary. Where they have
these thick seams and thick dirt coming on the top, they
put as much on the tram as they can. Their average
weight will be 14 cwt., or 15 cwt.

20606. We saw the trams filled in that way 7— Level

20607-8. About level full 7— In other cases they will be a
foot oris inches above the side of the empty tram : I mean,
the coal wiU.

20609. Is this coUiery we saw in Nottingham exceptional
for Nottingham itself 7 — No, I cannot say that it is. You
are speaking of Cinder Hill.

20610. You cannot say it is not exceptional 7 — Not

20611. With regard to the question of fines, what is your
own opinion with respect to them : I mean as between
fining a man and taking him before the magistrate. Does
it affect the discipline of the mine7 — I am not quite sure that
I can answer the question i i a very few words. My own
opinion is this, that all things considered the system we
have in Nottingham is a system which I do not see can be
improved. The only complaint that is made at times
is that the fine, in the case of a man, is somewhat
excessive. There are cases hero and there where the man
refuses to pay the fine, and perhaps the owner will
discharge him.

20612. With regard to this point that men do not
exercise their right to examine the collieries, is it or is it
not the fact that that kind of interference is so unpopular
that you cannot get the best of your men to do it 7 — ^They
will not do it. They will not examine.

20613. (Chairman.) The best men will not. You can-
not get any men, good, bad or indifferent, to examine 7—
Generally speaking the men will not do this.

20614. You do not mean to say the good men are
especially shy of conducting these experiments 7 — ^No.

20615. You have no more difficulty in getting good men
than bad men 7 — There is a genercd reluctance to do it.

20616. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) I will put it again : do
you not find a greater reluctance on the part of men who
have passed their certificates and who are considered to
be the more intelligent of our class to do this kind of thing 7
— I think there is.

20617. {Chairman.) The good men are more reluctant
to undertake this work than the indifferent men 7^
Generally speaking they are looking forward to a higher
position, to becoming managers themselves.

Mr. J. 0.


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Mr. J. Q.


20618. They might jeopardise that by something they
would report ?— Yes.

(Mr, Raidiffe EUis.) He has never had an instance
where that has been realised

{Mr. Wm, Abraham.) That may be so, but there it is.
X am only bringing out the fact : that is aJL

20619. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) Do the men in your district
take the responsibility of reporting dangerous conduct, oc
bieaoh of the rules on the part of their fellow -men to the
managers ? — ^To the officials.

20620. To the officials ?— The officials report.

20621. My question is, do the men. Where cases come
within the knowledge of the workmen of a man breaking
a rule, putting his fellow-men in danger, would they then
take the responsibility of reporting that ? — Yes, I think
the men would report it.

20622. I am afraid the resx>onsibility is exaggerated
very often* and they do not. There are more of them who
are interested in the safety of the mine just as managers
are ? — ^Yes, I think they realise that.

20623. I did not understand what you meant by saying
that the workmen's inspection report would tell against
them. I can understand it telling in favour of the manager
by producing that report and saying * * Here is the mine
inspected by the men themselves within the last week, and
they said everything was satisfactory " : but how can it
tell against the men? — ^I think I put it that an unfavourable
report might tell against the men : that is as a co-worker.

20624. That I understood* but I think the way in which
you put it was rather different. I can understand the
inspection telling in favour of the manager, and I do not
see any reaeon why it should not be used. Supposing an
accident did happen and he produced a report from the
men that a few days ago, a week, or whatever it was, as
far as they could see everything was satisfactory 7 — ^That
is the other point.

20625. A favourable report ? — ^Yee, that is where an
accident has occurred perhaps a month after an inspection
has been made. What I meant was this : when the men
inspected the mine, say a month prior to the accident, so
far as they knew the mine was in a satisfactory condition,
but their lack of technical knowledge is such that their
report might not be worth a great deal, I think I put it
in that way, in addition to which the conditions of the
mine may have changed considerably during the month.

20626. I do not know that I should quite take that view.
We all know, as we hear to-day from you, and we all agree,
that the conditions of the mine change day by day. It is
quite possible a report given a month before might not
have much effect upon what would happen yesterday ? —
That was my point.

20627. Do you yourself, as representing the men, or any
of your fellows, make a point of informing the inspectors
when you hear that there is anything wrong at the mines,
that the men think is wrong, the rules being broken, or the
mine being in a dangerous condition ; do you inform the
inspector of that ? — I have not informed the inspectors
yet. I have never communicated with an inspector at all
Upon matters of that kind. If any breaking of a rule was
brought to my notice I should communicate with the
manager himself at once. We have a good class of manager
in Nottingham, and we are on very good terms all round.

20628. That is very satisfactory indeed ? — I should not
go to the inspector.

20629. I think that is done very largely in our district
in Wales, but in some oases possibly where the miners'
agent is not on such good terms with the manager he would
inform the inspector. I am not complaining. The in-
spectors have told us in their evidence that they get a
number of communications from men suggesting that they
should go to such and such a colliery ? — Yes, I know.

20630. In your district you have had no occasion to do
that. You go straight to the manager if you have anything
to complain about ? — Yes ; we can approach every manager
and go into all colliery offices.

20631. (Mr, Enoch Edwards.) Your experience is of
Nottingham and Nottingham only ? — And a little of
Derbyshire. I am a Derbyshire man by birth.

20632. Your district is not considered to be dangerous
from either dust or gas ? — ^No.

20633. That may be one of the reasons why the work-
men have not had such freqtient inspections of some
districts ? — It may be.

20634. At no time in your colliery has there been any
fear that the place is going to be blown up by gas ? — ^No.

20635. So that there was really no very strong ground
for appointing workmen to make these examinations ? —

20636. Then you say you think that there should be more
inspectors, you refer to what has been accepted as some
sort of other olass of inspectors. You have in your mind a
person to inspect the mine ? — ^Yes.

20637. Frequently ?— Yea*

20638. Mr. Bibs was very anxious to get to know from
you why there should be a difference betweooi these par-
ticular inspectors and the chief inspectors 7 — ^Yes.

20639. Of course we have now in managing pits degrees
of management: we have orders from a manager, an
under-manager, an over-man, and a fireman ? — Yes.

20640. The fireman is the man who does the examination?

20641. Is that the type of inspector you mean who shall
examine ?— That is nearer the type than the principal

20642. That is to say, a principal inspector must have
a complete knowledge of electricity ? It wookl not be
necessary for the man you have in ^our n\ind to poasesB' all
these d^ees in these higher technical subjeots 7 — ^That
ia what i mean,

20643. Yon want a kind of inspection that is made in
the mines now as part of the rules by the Manager, the
under-manager, the overman and the fireman, l^y
all take part in the management of the mine 7 — Yes.

20644. The chief of it is done by the fireman ?~YeB.

20645. So far as it deals with ventilation and gas, and
so on 7 — Yes.

20646. Mr. Ellis was rather anxious to get you to admit
that there may be what is called too frequent inspection 7

20647. I think you said tiiat the mines should be
inspected twice a year 7 — Yes.

20648. Every mine 7— Yes.

20649. And when you say every mine you mean every
seam in a pit 7 — Yes.

20650. You would not think that too much inspection —
twice a year 7 — No.

20651. Of course the inspection by an inspector is hardly
the inspection of a workmcm, after all 7 — No.

20652. The workman is supposed to make a report ; I
do not know whether you have seen the form they have at
collieries 7 — Yes.

20653. He reports, and that report is kept in the colliery
office 7— Yes.

20654. You are not aware whether the inspector reports
at all 7 — I am not aware that he does.

20655. He does not leave a report behind him ? — I am
not aware that he does.

20656. On his visits he may give orders to qbxsj out
the Act under which he is appointed, and to see that
it is carried out. He would give such orders 7 — Yes, and
I have heard managers say before leaving that he has told
them he was satisfied with the mine so far as he had seen it.

20657. You think twice a year to examine these mines
would not be too frequent inspection 7 — I do.

20658. Have you any knowledge of how far the infec-
tions now in Nottingham extend through the colliery and
the seams of tlie various pits 7 Does the inspector visit
all the colliery when he visits 7 — The whole of the colliery.

20659. Yes 7— No.

20660. If he is inspecting for a sample he may talcs at
the instance of the management the best sample 7 — Yes.

20661. They usually know when he is coming 7 — ^Yes.

20662. At least it is common talk among the workmen,
at any rate 7 — Yes.

20663. So that it is possible, unless he examines the
whole of the colliery, that he sees as a sample a
particular seam, which may commend itself to him as
safe, while the other parts of the pit which he does not see
may not be so secure or certain 7 — ^That is so.

20664. As to the question of fines, I understood that what
you objected to was a sort of schedule of fines 7 — ^That is so.

20665. As if it were a table of articles for sale 7 — Gene-
rally speaking they object to it, but at half-a-dozen coliierieB
they have a schedule.

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'is0666. They object to a sohednle of fines being put up
as if you were keeping an establishment for the sale of
artieleii T — ^Yes.

20667. In the judgment of the men they could arrange
the discipline beforehand by a sort of easy method of 3d,
ot .6d. for this or that T— They have this schedule, and I
have no reason to think that discipline is better maintained
than where they have no schedules.

20668. Prom what you know of it the men object to it.
It does not affect the safety of the mine ? — I do not think
it does.

20669. In the ease of finea, who generally lays the infor-
iBfttion ? If a man has committed a breach of a rule, who
genecally ]a^ the information f — The deputy, or some
other official.

20670. They would not be cognisant of the breach unless
reported to them by somebody else T — Supposing props
are too far apart.

20671. I am talking generally. If the deputy goes in
a place and sees the props that should be set every 4 ft 6infl.,
according to arrangement, are set every 6 ft., he has a clear
kmowledge of the breach of the rule himself ? — Yes.

20672. The fireman largely would be the man who would
He in comtact with these men ; they aite more under t&e
eye of the firemMi than under the eye of the manager ? —
I say the deputy, generally speaking, would be the person
to lodge the complaint. '* Deputy'* and *' fireman " are
used in our county, but they are the same. In one case
it is the deputy, and in another case the fireman.

20673. {Chairman,) l%ey perform precisely the same

20674. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) A fine would be posted
up by the management where the case is not taken before
the Court ? — On the bank.

20675. In the colliery office ? — I cannot say that is done.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 11 of 177)