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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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not your view 7 You wemt to draw a comparison between
the respective positions of under-manager and manager,
and between the respective positions of chief inspector
and sub-inspl^tor 7 — Yes.

31659. (Mr. RaUliffe Ellis.) It must be remembered
that this inspector is the man who has to put right the
chief manager ; t^e Government inspector, wmtever
you may call him, is the man who is to criticise the chief
manager of the mine. That is the object of the Govern
ment inspector. Do you think it would be desirable that
the chief manager of the mine, a man of considerable
skill, and who has a first-class certificate, should be told
what he had to do by an underlooker, a man only quali-
fied to act as an under-looker 7 — I see no objection to
a man with the qualifications I' have outlined examining
the mine under the direction of his inspector, on the
same lines as the under-manager acts under the direction
of the manager.

31660. Do you know how the inspectors are appointed
now 7 — I have read it in the rules, I believe, but I am not
prepared to say at the present moment

31661. Do you know that they are appointed after
examination by the Home Office 7 — Yes.

31662. If you look at the Act of Parliament Rule 39,
you will find that the Home Secretary may appoint as
many inspectors as he likes. The only qualification is
that they must be fit persons 7 — Yes.

31663. Are you satisfied with that as it is, or do you want
to alter it and say that he must appoint a certain class
of persons, whether fit or not, or will you leave it in the
hands of the Home Secretary to say what is a fit person
for the duties of a mines inspector 7 — I am not satisfied
with the system at all as it is.

31664. Do you mean you are not satisfied to leave
with the Home Secretary th'e appointment of fit persons,
but that you must tell him the particular class he must
appoint * — I have endeavoured to outline my views in
regard to this matter.

31665. You cannot answer my question any further
than that 7 — I have endeavoured to outline my views
with reference to this matter. In my opinion it is desir-
able that we should have men as inspectors who have had
practical experience at the coal face, and who shall decidedly
satisfy the examining authority as to their qualification
for fhe position.

{3fr. SmiUie.) He has not suggested that persons should
bo appointed who are unfit

(Mr. Batcliffe Ellis.) It is a question of what fitness


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f {Mr, Stnillie.) He gives a definition of that with which
yon do not agree.

31666. {Mr. RaleUfft EUis.) With leferenoe to inspec-
tion under Rule 38, if you had these additional Govern-
ment inspectors do jrou agree that it would be less
necessary to have the inspection W the men under Rule 38 ?
That has been suggested here ?— It would be less necessary,
but at the same time I should retain the clause.

31667. You say a man can only inspect now who works
at the face ?— That is the law. That is, at all events,
as it has been rendered in court.

31668. It is * *a practical workins miner." Do you con-
sider a man who has worked at the face and gone from
Uie face to be a fireman, for instance, or a roadman, is a
practical working miner ?— Yes.

31669. Would he not be qualified ?— Yes, but he is not
qualified under the present law as it is rendered at the

31670. Why not ?— Because he la not a practical work-
ing miner.

31671. I understood you to say that he would be a
practical working miner if he had gone from the face and
was engaged on the road.

(Mr. SmiUie.) He means he is not considered under
the Act a person who can make that examination unless
he is working as a practical working miner at the time.

(Witness.) At the coal face.

31672. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) Is that the construction
put on this ? It is only a man w^orking at the coal face.
Would not such a man be much less competent to make
an examination than a man who was actually working
in the roads ? — I am under the impression — I may be
wrong in regard to that matter — that the courts in York-
shire have render^ it that he must be a man actually
working at the coal face.

31673. I may be wrong, too, but I think they rendered
it that he must be a man who is practically working in the
pit at the present time ?— What is the clause ?

31674. It is General Rule 38. You would not hold a
man who had worked at the face and had gone to work
on the roads was not a practical working miner ? — No.

31675. You want it to be extended to a man who is
or who has been a practical working miner ? — Yes.

31676. Why do you want to go beyond the class of
practical working miners, beyond the class of men who are
actually working in a pit somewhere ? — Because we feel
that it is desirable that this inspection should be made
by men who are independent of tiie colliery proprietors.

31677. You suggest the checkweighman. Of course
he would not be entitled to make an inspection now for
other reasons. He is only entitled to do what he is allowed
in the place to do ?— Of course this clause excludes him.

31678. Y^, this clause, and another clause, too. The
clause of the Act with reference to checkweighmen would
exclude him. Would you alter that and allow the check-
weighmen to have a right to make these inspections ? —
If the men thou^t fit to appoint him.

31679. You want two alterations. First of all to ex-
tend it to people who have been practical working miners,
and then to have a special exemption in favour of check-
weighmen from the general law with reference to check-
weighmen ? — Of course you submit a point with reference
to the appointment of checkweighmen. I take it if the
men appoint him also to inspect the mine

31680. Up to the present he would not be allowed ?—
But if the clause read **are or who have been practical
working miners," they would.

31681. That would not help you ?— It has never been
tested, as far as I remember, from that standpoint.

31682. I suggest to you that unless the clause under
which the checkweighman is appointed is altered — he is
appointed to do a ^urticular work, that is with reference
to the weight. Section 12 of the Act appoints him to do
certain duties — he would not be entitled to inspect the
mine ? — Not if appointed by the men.

31683. I should say not. You want it to be made that
he could inspect ?~We want it to be made so that a man
who is, or has been, a practical working miner, haa a right
t(» inspect, provided the men appoint him.

31684. Would you extend the right to make an inspection
to a man who had been a practic€il working miner, but had
kept a shop for 25 years, because r.t some time in his life
he hfiid worked in a mine ? — He would first want the
confidence of the men.

31685. Would you give a nx^ of that character the right
to inspect if the men chose to appoint him ? — I do not
suppose that the men would choose to appoint him. We
have never had a case of that kind.

31686. You wish to allow them, and let them appoint
a man of that kind if they wished to ? — We wish to appoint
those who are or have been practical working miners.
First of all they would require the confidence of the men
to appoint them for that duty.

31687. Take the question of deputies' districts. As a
general rule do you think that the districts are too
kkrge ? — Yes.

31688. Is it possible to suggest a rule defining what the
maximum size of the districts should be ? — I should say
to define it strictly in a rule would be difficultw It would
be possible, I take it, for the inspector or the manager,
acting along with someone, to define a reaso^ble amount
for a man to inspect

31689. You take it that it is impossible to make it a
rule. Is it generally the case in Yorkshire that the districts
are too large ? — Yes, in my opinion.

31690. Can you give me any particular collieries where
you think the districts are too hurge ? — I am not prepared
to do that.

31691. Is it possible to get them ? — I am not prepared to
give you them.

31692. Will you give them to the Secretary ? Do you
not think when you say that there are collieries where
the districts are too large, and it is a source of danger,
that it is due to those collieries that you should give the
name, so that inquiry could be made to see what size the
districts are, or whether there are more accidents there ?
Does it not occur to you that your evidence would be
more useful if you could give names so that inquiries
could be made as to the size of the districts ? — Would not
that rather be the work of the inspectors 7

31693. WiU you tell the inspectors that ?— I take it as a
matter of information the inspectors would be prepared
to communicate with you.

31694. Would you give the inspector the names of
collieries where you think the districts are too large ; that
wiQ be quite satisfactory to us. WiU you do that ? — I am
not prepared to take that responsibility.

31695. WiU you bring it before your Association and
ask them if they wiU communicate with the inspector
the names of collieries where they think the districts are
too large. Do it confidentially, so that the inspector may
inquire about it and bring the information here if he finds
it so. Will you do that ?

(Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Are you not asking this man more
than you should do ?

{Mr. BaicUffe EUis.) No, I do not think so. He makes
a statementr

(WUness.) May I submit a point in connection with
that. You have already had the inspectors here. They
have already made, I believe, pretty much the same state-
ment. They were never asked to supply the names or tlie
collieries where this state of things exists.

31696. You make a statement The Commission has to
inquire into any regulations that can be made to secure
greater safety. You say in Yorkshire, which is a very
important district, that generally the districts are too large,
and that the firemen cannot do their work. I want to ask
you if you wiQ follow that up by communicating with
the inspectors and giving them the names of the collieries
where that state of things exists, so that they may inquire
into it and communicate the information to tiie Com-
mission ? — In reply to that I say our inspector has already
made the same statement to this Commission.

31697. Will you say that you prefer not to do it, or that
you will do it 7 — I prefer to leave that with the inspectors.

31698. I want you to give the inspector the information 7
— He has already made the statement

31699. May I take it that you prefer not to make that
communication to the inspector 7 — The inspector has
already made the statement to this Commission.

31700. That is as far as you will go 7— Yes.

(Chairman.) Mr. Walker did say this at Q. 3978 : He is
asked " Generally do you think their districts are too large
for them to fulfil their duties 7 " — {A.) '* I think in many
cases they are, and that they should be reduced so as to
allow them to make two inspections during the shift"

(Mr. SmiUie.) It was never put to him to name the

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(WUnesa,) He was not asked to name the oollieries.
31701. (Mr. Batcliffe Ellis.) Yon agree that it is im-

portant to maintain discipline ? — Decidedly.
31702. Yon think that there should be no fines ?-

-I do.

31703. I think you said that it should not be at the
option of the manager to impose a fine ; I understood you
to say that ? — Yes, I do say that.

31704. Are you under the impression that according
to law a man can be made to pay a fine, whether he likes
it or not, by the manager ? — I am under the impression
that under the law the men are given the option either of
being fined or having proceedings taken against them.

31705. He can please himself whether he pays the fine
or not ? — There ia no option, because he may be prosecuted.

31706. Or he may be discharged. A man can please
himself whether he is fiined or not. Do you not know that
these fines are almost invariably inflicted at the request of
the man ? The man desires to be fined rather than be
prosecuted ? — I do not. Our men object to fining very

31707. They do not agree to be fined, although every
time a fine is imposed upon them it is done by their own
consent. It may be that they consent rather than be
prosecuted or discharged, but although every fine that is
inflicted can only be inflicted upon the men agreeing, stfll
they say they prefer to have no fines ? — You say they
cannot be fined without agreeing to it.

31708. Yes. — They cannot be fined without agreeing
to that or to some other punishment. That may be the
position for the moment.

31709. Notwithstanding that they can accept the fine
rather than the other pun^hment, they instruct you to say
that they wish the fine to be abolished altogether, and
the other punishment to be inflicted. Is that what they
instruct you to say ? — That is my position with reference
to fining, but with reference to tiie option of the men in
connection with fining I do not suppose that it exists to the
extent you suppose it does. I had a case within my own
experience not very long ago where a man was fined 5s.
He was never asked whether he would be fined 5s., but
he was fiined 58., and it was really on account of not doing
suflicient work.

31710. Was it a case of a fine being unjustly in-
flicted? Did he report that to you as the miners'
agent ? — Yes, the case came within my personal know-

31711. Did he report that to you as the miners' agent,
that he had been fined 5s. ? — ^He did not pay the fine.
The fine was kept back. There is no paying ; it is taken

31712. It was deducted. Did he report this to you as
the miners* agent ? — He complained about it.

31713. What did you do ? — ^We got the man's money

31714. There was no great harm there, was there ?
When it was reported to you you got the money bewsk ? —
Supposing that man had not taken the opportunity to
report, the system of fining goes on without being generally

31715. That is your objection to fining 7— There is a
matter with reference to tliese fines. I t^e it in a case
of prosecution not only the men would be braced up to
keep the law, but it would have a certain effect on the
manager. In prosecutmg the men he would at all events
be kept up to the mark himself, and I see a beneficial effect
in that.

31716. You are entitled to give your view of it Now
with regard to the Special Rules, your suggestion is that
belore a Special Rule is proposed by the employer, if he
wishes to propose a rule he should invite somebody, say
the men at the pit, to talk it over with him ? — Yes. In
my opinion it would be conducive to the carrying out of
the rule if the men were consulted when the rule was being

31717. Would you go so far as to sav that if the men did
not approve of the rule the employer should not be allowed
to propose it ? — ^No, I would not take the responsibility
of saying that he should not be allowed to propose it, but
tdo thitik that a conference between the two parties would
brins out both sides of the question and bring the men in
touim with the rule.

31718. It would be useless in this case* If the employer
proposed a rule he could do it whether the men liked it or
not. You think it would prevent friction ?^Yes:

3J1719. Supposing the employer wished to propose a j^^^ j q^^^^
rule^ would it be lu^ely to prevent or encourage fricUon if '— —
he wfus obliged to send for the men in the firat instance 4 Dec. IWJ,

to say what the proposed rule was, and whet^ier the men

like it or not he goes on proposing his rule. Would that
be encouraging friction, or preventing friction, do you
think ? — ^In my opinion if he consulted the men it would
prevent misunderstanding.

31720. Would it meet your views that the owner, having
proposed a rule to the Home Office, it should be advertised,
and the men should be entitled to object to it and be heard,
and, if need be, go to arbitration before the rule is estab-
lished ? — ^That is ^e present position, is it not ?

31721. Not quite. The inspector can object to it ;
the Home Office can object to it, but you should have an
express position given to you to object to this rule. Any
person interested might object to it, and before it is
established you shouki be heard, and if need be the matter
should go to arbitration ? — ^In the first place I take it
if the men were consulted it would prevent misunder-
standing. After that, if the owner intended to carry out
the Special Rule, the present law makes provision for
objection. Is not that so 7

31722. Yes. You say that no rule should be proposed
without in the first instance the owner being compelled
to invite — ^who must he invite, the men at the colliery —
I do not quite gather — to discuss it with him. Whom do
you say he must invite ? — ^His workmen, I take it.

31723. He must invite his workmen to discuss it with him,
and whatever they may say he can propose his rule. Do
you think that would prevent friction ?— Yes. We had a
case in our Society where we had a considerable amount
of trouble with reference to the enforcement of the Special
Timbering Rules.

31724. I was going to ask you about that Those rules
were proposed by the Home Office ?— I believe so.

31725. They did not invite the men to discuss them 7 —

31726. Where is the difficulty about the carrying out
of the rule 7— l^e difficulty was with reference to Clause B.

31727. What was that ?— We had a difficulty with
reference to the meaning of " working place."

31728. What is Clause B 7 Will you read it 7— " Where
the timbering of the working place is done by the workmen
employed therein the miners shall have a sufficient supply
of suitable timber such as is ordinarily used at or within
30 yards of every working place where mineral is being
gotten, and the deputy s^U see such supply is so kept

31729. That rule was proposed by the Home Office. You
can answer that question 7 — ^Yes.

31730. When was the first you heard of it 7— How long
is it since those rules were proposed 7

31731. After it was proposed by the Government did
you hear of it before it was established 7—1 am not prepared
to say that I should take it that is a matter of seven
or eight years ago.

31732. I want to see exactly what your objection is.
You represent liie miners in your particular district 7 —

31733. When was the first you heard of this rule after
it was proposed 7 Did you hear of it before it was estab-
lished, or your Society 7—1 am not prepared to say that
I take it no doubt our officials would hear about it, but
I am not prepared to answer that question.

31734. Did not your officials meet the inspectors and
the coal owners in Yorkshire when it came from the Home
Office, and did they not have a full discussion upon it
before it was established, at the Home Office. Was that
not so 7 — ^I am not prepared to say that

{Mr. Enoch Edwards.) He was not an official at the time.

31735. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) He says there was a
difficulty in carrying out the Timbering Rules because the
men were not consulted. I want to show that the men
were consulted, at any rate the officials. The Home
Office proposed these rules, they were commented upon
by the inspectors, the men and the officials, and established,
and Uien tiie men would not carry them out. That is
what I understood you to say 7 — Who would not carry
them out 7

31736. You say that there was a difficulty in getting the
men to carry them out

{Mr. Enoch Edwards.) It was a matter of contract
{WUness.) I said there wag a misunderstanding.

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31737* {Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) What was the difficulty in
oarrying out the Timbering Rules ?— The first part of the
question was with referenoe to what was, meant by
" working place," and the second part of the question was
with referenoe to contract.

31738. That was after the rules were established? —
That was after the rules were established.

31739. The men had some difficulty from that point.
Howeyer, they did ultimately cany fliem out? — Yes.


31740. Or you made some arrangement.

{Mr, Enoch Eduntrds,) They got some stoppages.

{WHnees,) We had a six weeks* strike.

31741. {Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) It has been suggested where
a travelling road is not wide enough the men could travel .
in ttie reti^n airway. Do you approve of that ? — ^I
approve of them travelling in the return airway before
travelling in the haulage road.

31742. Bather than travel in the haulage road with
machinery in motion, you think they had better go along
the airway ?~I prefer a separate travelling road in-
dependent of the return airway.

31743. You say "practicable," but when you say
" practicable " I suppose you mean commercially practic-
able. You would not impose on a coUiery the cost of
making wider roadways if it would mean that the place
could not be worked at a profit ? You said " practicable "
in your statement ? — I was alluding there, of course, to
the difficulties of mines that are already set out, and where
the difficulty might be in an old mine which was practically
coming to the end of its tether.

31744. When you say •' practicable " you mean com-
mercially practicable, and not physically practicable ?
— I would not agree to put commercially entirely in the
scale. I would rather say physically practicable.

31745. If you mean commercially practicable, I do not
know that I should disagree with you ? — The thing I had
in my mind with reference to " practicable " was this :
there may be in old collieries just about to close extreme
difficulties that make it pretty well impracticable, but
to put it " commercially practicable " I am not prepared
to agree with that.

31746. With reference to engine-winders' certificates,
why do you want them to have certificates ? — As a proof
of their competency.

31747. In your experience do these accidents happen
because the engine-winder is not competent, or because
he is for the moment careless, that is to say, where there
is any blame to the engine- winder at p^U ? — The only thing
that 1 have more particularly in my mind is this

31748. Would you mind answering my question ?
Where the engine-winder is blamable, do tke accidents
happen because he is incompetent, or because he is for
the moment careless ? — I should say both.

31749. Will you give me a case where an accident
happened from the incompetency of the engine-winder ?
— Would not carelessness prove incompetency ?

31760. Certificates would not guarantee a careful man.
Can you give me a case where an accident has happened
from incompetency ? — We generally take it an accident
in that sense is a proof of incompetency. If a man is
careless it is a proof he is incompetent.

31751. Do you agree that these accidents which happen
where the engine-winder is blamable happen because
he is careless and not because he does not know better ?
— I should say they happen from both sources.

31752. Will you give me a single case in which it happens
through a man not being able to look after his engines ?
— ^We have many accidents occurring from time to time.

31753. Will you give me a single case in which a man
did not understand his engine, or anything which could
be ascertained by examination ? — I could simply give it
as a matter of opinion. In our district we have a large
number of accidents and it would be advisable for the men
to pass an examination to prove their competency, and if
subject, as men may be, to sudden illness or carelessness
that would be a thing that could not be avoided, but first
of all they should be proved competent.

31754. You cannot guarantee carefulness by examina-
tion or certificate ? — But you can prove ability.

31755. Can you give me a single instance where a lading
accident has happened through want of ability on the
part of the engiue-winder ? — Is not the accident proof of
want of ability ?

31756. You agree wfth m« that carelessness, cr rather
carefulness, will not be secured by certificate, but that
ability wiU. Will you sive me a case where a winding
accident has happened through want of ability on the part
of the engine-winder ? — I take it that where the accident
occurs it is a proof of want of ability.

31767. Will you give me a single case ? — We have

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 111 of 177)