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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 110 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 110 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

in fact pretty well all the time of the inspectors is taken
up in enquiring into cases of fatal and serious accidents,
and in attending inquests, and that at the present time
there is little or no, what we should term surprise insi)ection.

31548. You have no complaint about the inspectors,
but you think that the work is more than they can do ?—
That is so.

31549. In dealing with that class of inspection by the
workmen I am not sure whether the Chairman understood
exactly what was the practice now. What you said was,
I think, that there was no rule laid down, or law, as to how
these men should be paid ?— I made that statement.

31550. The workmen may appoint men to inspect on .
their behalf, but there is no provision made for payment \\
of their expenses ?— No, it says " at their own cost," but I
it makes no provision for that cost being collected in any | \

31551. Usually they are paid out of the checkweigh
fund ?— Yes.

Digitized by





31552. You suggest that there should be some machineiy
whereby the men should be paid ? — Yes.

31553. Do you think seriously after all that that has
prevented men from examining collieries ? — ^No ; the chief
factor in preventing the men examining the colHeries has
been the fact that no man has been available except the
man who has been employed at the coal face in actual
employment — a practical miner.

31554. It is not an unusual thing for a man or two men
to examine a colliery or a number of pits under the same
firm ?— No.

31555. The employers do not raise objections ? — ^No,
not that I am aware of.

31556. You suggest that the men should have a rather
wider choice, including l^e checkweighmen, if they thought
fit ? — ^Yes, that the men should have the right to choose
the checkweighman where the checkweighman has been
a practical working miner.

31557. You say your checkweighmen are, as a rule, taken
from the colliers in the pit ? — ^Very few, I should say, but
are men who have originally worked at the coal face.

31558. If you had a checkweighman who had no ex-
perience in the pit, you would not suggest that he was
a competent person ? — Not at all.

31559. I understood you to say with reference to fines
that your county is opposed to the imposition of fines for
offences in the coal face ? — Yes.

31560. Your people would prefer that instead of the
enforcement of fines, breaches of the rules or disobedience
should be carried to the court T— Yes. We object to the
colliery owner having the right to fine : it does not confine
itself to breach of rede entirely.

31561. You have had considerable experience yourself
in the pit 7~I have worked in it all my life.

31562. With regard to what you have to say about
manholes and haulage roads, in your experience is there
an amount of carelessness in the roads, coal and debris
being allowed to lie about and block it up ? — Yes.

31563. Is that what you mean by the haulage road
being kept clean ? — It is what I mean by ** kept free from
incumbrance." These different obstructions should be
kept clear of the haulage road. Hiere are collieries where
coal is hauled a good distance, and a certain amount of
coal falls from time to time.

31564. They are expected to clear it away. It is not
allowed to lie about ?^No.

31565. You think that a double road should be made,
but it might not be possible in a haulage road to make a
road for travelling because of the roof ?— I think it would
be practically impossible in aU oases to provide a double
road and a travelung road.

31566. They usually make a road wide at the start ?^
At the start.

31567. If the roof will stand the pressure you are all
right ? — Yes. * 4

31568. It may be the conditions are such that they
could not have it because of that ?-^Yes. Where the roof
was brittle they could not get that result.

31569. Haveyou any complaint about the manholes in
Yorkshire ? — We complain tnat the manholes, especially
on the roads where the drivers are, and on some of the
jinny roads, are not as frequent as we should like them
to be.

31570. Do you mean the manholes ?— Yes.

31571. They are placed now according to rule and law T
— Yes, but there are exceptional circumstances. You get
a jinny (with a rope swinging in it) that the men have to

I travel It is difficult. A manhole may be thtU side and
anotiier manhole on this side, but we beueve that the man-
holes should be £J1 on the one side. There are the ropes
to contend with, and a man does not know on which side
the manhole may be, and the rope may be swinging a yard
high in the jinny road, which makes it difficult to get to
the manhole, and makes it more important tiiat the
manholes should be at frequent intervals.

31572. You consider that according to the present law
manholes are placdd too far apart. Is that what you
mean ? — Yes. We do not complain, so far as I under-
stand, that l^e present law is not carried out with reference
to manholes, but we tiiink it is desirable that there should
be more — tiiat it should be stricter.

31573. You were asked a number of quegtionfl about
a formal investigation under Section 45, but evidently
you had not given sufficient thought to it to enable you

to give a complete reply to the Chairman and the other j^^ j^ Quest

Commissioners. You have been connected with the ' -1

Yorkshire Miners' Association for many years ?— Yes, 4 Deo. 1907,

ever since I started work,

31574. You were asked by Mr. Cunynghame as to
whether you had ever had a cass in Yortshire where you
applied for this special inquiry, and were refused. You
did not know that you had ?^I said that I could not
state the case.

31575. He asked you whether you had had a case and
had been refused, and you said *« Not to my knowledge " ?
— I could not quote a case.

31576. You have heard discussed that the Miners'
Federation hava applied and been refused ? — Yes.

31577. That would be what was operating your mind ?
— Yes.

31578. Although it had not happened in Yorkshire, it
had happened in the Federation ? — It had happened in
the Federation of which I was a member.

31579. {Mr. BaUHiffe EUis,) Upon the subject of in-
spection have you formed any opinion — I did not gather
that you had — as to the number of workmen who should
be comprised in an inspector's district ? — We should say
roughly 10,000, but I take it in connection with forming
an inspector's district that the size of the respective
collieries would have to be taken into consideration.

31580. Yes, and their situation ? — Yes.

31581. You think something like 10,000 men should be
in one inspector's district, not more than that ? — Yes,
as an average.

31582. In that inspector's district your scheme is that
you would have a chief inspector ?— Within the 10,000.

31583. In that district. That an inspector's district
should not exceed more than 10,000 men, and in that
district you would have a chief inspector, to b?gin with.
I want to see if I understand your scheme ? — No.

{Mr, Enoch Edwards,) He rather suggested Yorkshire
should cover three districts.

31584. {Mr. RcUcUffe EUis.) I will tak? Yorkshire.
I want you to explain your scheme. You suggest some
area aU under a chief inspector, three assistant inspectors
and six sub-insx>ectors : that would be 10 inspectors ? —

31585. What number of men should that inspection
extend over ? — At the present time we have three in-
spectors for Yorkshire. If I were to outline a scheme
I should say we divide it into three sections, with a chief

31586. In each section ? — A chief inspector over idl.

31587. How many men have you in Yorkshire, East and
West. You are dealing with East and West, are you not ?

31588. How many men have you in Yorkshire, roughly
speakmg ?— From 90,000 to 100,000, underground. I
suppose the inspector supervises those above groimd too.

31589. He supervises above ground and undergjound. —
The quarries as well. Do they not those ?

31590. Yes. You would have one head inspector,
GOB chief inspector, in Yorkshire ? — Yes.

31591. You would have three assistant inspectors, and
six sub-inspectors, as you term them, and divide the
county into three divisions. Is that your scheme ? —
Yes ; I think it would be a practical scheme.

31592. Will you take number one division. Is that
immediately under the charge of one of the assistant
inspectors 7 There are to be three assistant inspectors,
I understand. Do you follow ? Take No. 1 division :
is that in charge of one of the assistant inspectors ? —
He would be at the head of his district.

31593. That is what I am asking you ? — Under the
supervision of the chief insx>ector.

31594. The chief inspector is at the head of all. Take
No. 1 district. That is under the immediate supervision
of an assistant inspector ? — Yes. .

31595. His duties are confined to that particular district
I suppose, that division, the No. 1 division ?— I take it
it would be his division.

31596. I am asking if his duties would be confined
within the limits of No. 1 division. Do you follow ? I
am asking you that ? — Well, I should see no objection
to his acting under the discretion of the chief inspector.

31597. But I want to know what your view is. Is
he to inspect the collieries all over Yorkshire, or confine

42 A

Digitized by




Mr. J, Quest ^ inspection to the collieries in the division No. 1 to

— ^ — which he was allocated ? — I should say that his duties

4 Dto. 1907. should be allocated to division No. 1 unless he went to
another colliery under the direction of the chief inspector.

31598. He is to go where the chief inspector sends
him 1 — Yes. but his primary duty would belong to his
own district.

31599. His primary duty is No. 1, but he is subject to
be sent by the chief inspector elsewhere ? — ^Yes.

31600. With regard to those two sub-inspectors (there
are six altogether) would they be also allocated to a par-
ticular district ? — I should not object to three.

31601. You have not got enough then ; there are
only six in Yorkshire. Would you have nine sub-inspec-
tors ?

{Chairman,) He says he would not object to nine.

31602. {Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis,) He said six, and that is
why I took six. Do you think six are enough ? Would
two be enough for each of these divisions, or do you think
that there ought to be three in each division ? — I should
say two or three, as circumstances might require. One
district might require stricter supervision than the other.

31603. What is your view of the object of inspection 7
— Safety of life and limb.

' 31604. At the present time the Coal Mines Act puts the
responsibility on the management ? Is that so ? — Yes.

31605. Do you want to remove that responsibility from
the management, or leave it ^wdth the management ? —
We do not want to remove it from the management.

31606. Why not ? — Because we believe that the man-
agement are responsible for the colliery.

31607. I want to know why you do not want to relieve
them from that responsibility? — I will give you my reason :
because they are the people appointed, and they should
be responsible.

31608. Do you believe it is the safest system that the
management should be responsible ? — I believe the safest
system is for the management to be responsible, and for
the Government inspection to be so provided for that the
inspector can visit from time to time, and pay what we
should term surprise visits, to see that the rules are being
carried out, and that the management are doing their

31609. You think safety is best secured by placing
upon the management the responsibility for the safety ?
— ^That is the first position, I take it.

31610. Do you agree with me that safety is best secured
by placing upon the management the responsibility for
safety ? — The first responsibihty ; put it in that way.

31611. Who else is responsible ? — I take it the work-
man. You place a certain amount of responsibihty upon
the workman ; he is responsible for his own working place.
The management is responsible for the general safety of
the mine, and the inspector, I should say, above him would
be responsible for seeing that the manager did his duty.

31612. Do you propose to place the responsibihty —
when I say * * responsibihty " I me€m a responsibihty for
which a man may be punished — upon the inspectors ?
— I do not hardly follow you there.

31613. You say that there are three persons responsible
in your view : the management, the workmen, and the
inspectors. If the management fail, they are responsible
now and can be punished for f aihng ; if the workman fails
he is responsible and can be punished for failing. Do you
say if the inspector fails that he should be responsible and
should be punished ? — I should say that the inspector
should be there to see that the workmen and the managers
carry out the Ck)al Mines Regulation Act.

31614. This is an important question. Do you go so
far as to say you would place on the inspector a respon-
sibihty for which he should be answerable in the case of
an accident, and that he should be liable to be punished,
just as the manager and the workmen are if an3rthing goes
wrong ?— I do not hardly follow you in that question.
I do not want to evade* the question, but I take it that
the inspector would be there and would be inspecting those
colheries periodically, and paying surprise visits to those
collieries. 1 do not see how he could be answerable very
well for circumstances that occurred when he was not there.

31615. The manager would not be answerable unless
he is found to have neglected his duty, and the workman
would not be answerable unless he is found to have neg-
lected his duty. Supposing the inspector is found to have
neglected his duty, would you make him responsible just

as the manager and the ^^''kman are responsible now ?
— If the inspector neglected his duty, I suppose he would
be responsible.

31616. He is not in that way. Would you make him
liable to be prosecuted, just as a manager ? — If he neglected
his duty he should be prosecuted.

31617. That is your view. Your view is this principle,
whether it is right or wrong, ought to be altered, and there
ought to be a responsibihty put on the inspector for the
proper management of the mine as well as on the employer
and the workmen ? — I do not say that.

31618. What do you say ? — I say that the inspector
should be appointed, but he could not be made responsible
for the management of the mine.

31619. The responsibihty is still to rest with the owner
and with the workmen ? — That is so.

31620. You should give him a fair chance, if he is to be
responsible. If you have these inspectors going there
and inspection constantly taking place, do you not think
it would rather lessen the feeling of responsibUity upon
the management ? — No.

31621. If a man goes there constantly would it rather
not tend to lessen the responsibihty of the firemen, for
instance, or officials of that sort, who are responsible for
the mine now ? — There is no suggestion on our part that
an inspector should be there constantly.

31622. Very well. I will go by steps. I daresay we
agree. Do you agree with me if they were there too fre-
quently that it might have that tendency ? — ^No, I do not.
Of course it is all a matter of what you mean by '*too

31623. They might be there so often, and the very fre-
quency of their visits might tend not to safety but to
danger ? — The work of the inspectors, to my mind, tends
to safety.

31624. Supposing they are there finding fault here and
finding fault there, do you not think that might lessen
the responsibility of the management ? — I do not see it.
Of course it is a matter of what you mean by * ' too fre-

31625. Do you think that there would be an objection
to an inspector going down every day ? I want to put
an extreme case to you ? — Do you mean continuously
throughout the year ?

31626. Yes ? — I should say it would be an extreme case
if it was necessary for an inspection of that kind. We
do not seek for an inspection of that kind.

31627. You do not seek for it because it is not necessary.
That is so : it is not necessary ? — ^We seek for an adequate
inspection and we do not seek for an inspector to be going
down a colliery every day, because we reaUse that the
number ot inspectors we suggest would not allow them to
go down every month.

31628. Do you think it would be necessary ? Would it
conduce to safety if an inspector could be down every day 7
— ^We are not seeking for an inspection every day.

31629. You would r^ither not answer that question.
What is to be the qualification of a sub-inspector ? — I
should say, first of all, that he should have practical
experience as a miner. I prefer that he should be at the
coal face when he qualifies by his examination.

31630. He is to qualify by an examination ? — ^He should,
in my opinion.

31631. Which the Home Office should prescribe. Do
you think he ouffht to have a first-class certificate ? — ^I
think that he should have quahfications equal to the present
under-manager, who is very often responsible for the
safety of the mine.

31632. He has a second-class certificate ? — Yes.

31633. Do you think that the men who have second-
class certificates are suitable for discharging the duties of
a mines inspector ? — ^You first of all qualify them.

31634. The second-class certificate should qualify them ?
— I said equal to a second-class certificate. I did not say
a second-class certificate. I take it in an examination
by the Home Office you could put out a syllabus for an
examination that would prove whether a man was
quahfied for the work or not

31635. Do you seriously think a man only equal tn
passing a second-class certificate examination or its
equivalent is suitable to dischcuge the duties of an
inspector of mines 7 — ^The present second-class men are
quaUfied to tako charge of them.

Digitized by




31636. You think an inspeotor of mines would be
sufficiently qualified if he could pass an examination for
a second-class certificate, or its equivalent What wonid
those sub-inspectors have to do ? — ^He would have to
inspect the mines, I take it.

31637. For what?— For danger.

31638. What are the various sources of danger he would
have to look for 7 — ^And for the carrying out decidedly of
the provisions of the Coal Mines Regulation Act

31639. The whole Act of Parliament Really he would
have to do the same duties as the chief inspector would
have to do, so far as inspection goes. He would have to
understand ventilation, gases, aind all the other sources
of danger in connection with the working of mines ? — ^Yes.

31640. He would have to see if the management was
carrying out the Act and to call the management's atten-
tion to defec\^. Do you think a man would be of any use
doing that work who was not equal to doing more than
pass a second-class certificate such as an under-manager 7
— ^At the present time you have the manager.

31641 . Will you answer my question first, and give any
explanation you like afterwards 7 — I think a man that
passed the examination of tiie Home Office would be
qualified for the work.

31642. If you give the Home Office the right to prepare
the examination sufficient to qualify a man. I want to
see what is the qualification you suggest Do you con-
sider a man equal to discharging the duty of an inspector
of mines would be a man whose limit of qualification is
being able to pass an examination for a second-class
certificate ? — As a sub-inspector within the district under
the control of the assistant inspector 7

31643. Call him what you like. His duties must be
those of a chief inispector qua examination. Very well :
I will not press you 7 — I do not wish to evade the question.
These questions come, and you do not want to give an
answer without due thought As a sub-inspector under the
direction of the assistant and chief inspector, I consider
that a man who could pass an examination put forward
by the Home Office on lines similar to the examination
for a second-class certificate would be efficient

31644. You say under the direction of the chief. How
is the chief inspector to direct him 7 — ^Is he to teach him
what to do 7 — ^No.

31645. All the chief inspector could say would be " You
go and make an inspection of a certain colliery." Would
you expect the chief inspector to mention certain dangers
and tell him how to find them out ? — ^What is the present
system of management 7 Do you mind nvy asking you
that 7

31646. I am talking of inspectors. You say you think
a man of that sort would be efficient under the direction
of the chief inspector. I want your view as to the directions
the chief inspector would give him to assist his defective
qualification 7 — ^I do not admit his defective qualification
tor the work he has to do.

31647. I thought we were agreed that he is qualified
to do ever3rthing a chief inspector has to do below by way
of inspection. There is only one examination, whether it
is done by a chief inspector or a sub-inspector 7 — ^He would
have to inspect the workmen, the firemen, and the

31648. Do you say he would have to inspect to see the
whole of the Coal Mnes Regulation Act was carried out 7

31649. That involves more than a knowledge of getting
coal 7 — ^What is the present system of management ?

31650. I want you to toll me this. I gather from you
that these sub-inspectors would be less qualified than the
chief inspectors. Is that so, or should they be equally as
qualified as the chief inspectors 7 — What is the present
position 7

31651. Will you answer my question 7 — You said I
might make a statement

31652. Will you answer my question first Is your
view that these sub-inspectors should be less qualified
or equally qualified with the chief inspector for the work
of inspection 7 — ^My idea with reference to these inspectors
is that they should be fully qualified for the work they
have to do.

31653. The work they have to do is, as jwu say, to see
that the Coal Mines Regulation Act is being carried out.
Can they see that if they are less qualified than a chief
inspector. If you say they ought to be equally qualified
with the chief inspector I have not another word to say

4 Pec. 1907.

to you about it — ^They should be qualified in the details Mr. J. Quest
of the working of the mine and have me working exi)erienoe.
I do not say that it is necessary they should be so well
qualified in the theoretical mining axkd in some» perhaps,
of the technical pointe 'm oonneotion with the wtMrk

31654. Will you give me an instance of what you mean
by ** theoretical mining " 7 — ^I will give you an instance
of what we find in mining at the present time, so far as
the management is concerned.

31655. I would rather you gave me an instance of what
you call the technical qualifications 7 — ^That will help me
to explain my position.

31656. Very well: go on. — ^At the' present time you
have a manager with a first-class certificate in charge of
the mine ^d eveivthing in connection with tiie mine.
You may, so far as the supervision of the mine undeiground
is concerned, have an under-manager with a second-class
certificate responsible for the worUng and safety of that
mine. Then underneath him, and taking his separate
district you have a man without a certificate at all, going
round that district and reporting on the safety of that mine
and on the work of those men, and taking his district under
his own charge. I take it there are working miners who
could pass an examination and qualify th^uselves to
examine the work of these men.

31657. (Chairman,) May I clear up, at all events, my
notions in regard to this matter. I understand the witness
to say that these sub-inspectors should have the same rela-
tion to the inspectors very much as the under-manager
has to the manager 7 — That is so.

31658. The under-manager may have to perform all
the duties of a manager, and therefore, according to your
suggestion, the under-manager ought to have a first-class
certificate cus well as the manager. He says that is not
the case with regard to under-managers, neitiier is it neces-
sary to be the case in the case of sub-inspectors. Is that

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 110 of 177)