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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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standing of the rules by the men ? — I do.

31882. Do you think that there is a chance of the men
objecting to a rule at any time which may be proposed
by tile owners in the interests of safety or for the better
carrying out of the work of the mine ? — I do not suppose
it is probable that the men wiU object to any Special Rule
in the interests of safety or for the better working of the
mine.

31883. You do not think so 7—1 do not think so.



4 Deo. 1907.



31884. Do you think that the men in your distriot Mr.J.QueaU
would have agreed to the Timbering Rules, supposing they
had been discussed by the men and the owners in toe
first instance, as they are at present — as they were proposed
by the Home Oifice ? — We did not discuss the Ruks at
the time.

31885. Do you think that they would, supposing then
what you suggest had taken place, that the men and the
owners in that case had met together and discussed the
thing — do you think then the mey would have agreed
to those rules ? — I think after the rides were in force they
would have been carried out without any difficulty.

31886. I am asking about before they were in force.
I am taking as my point the position you want to see
obtain ? — The Special Rules for that purpose were put
in force without our approval, we will put it in that way.
We were not consulted about that so far as the men were
concerned. If we had been consulted the position would
have been created.

31887. I do not understand what you mean : what
position would have been created ? It may be a matter
of opinion, but I am asking you your opinion. Supposing
the owners and you talked over that particular existing
rule before it was established, do you think the men
would have agreed to it then ? — I do.

31888. You do ?— I do.

31889. What was your objection afterwards ? — Because
the difficulties with reference to misunderstanding on the
contract question would have been discussed and an
understanding arrived at.

31890. You say it would have been discussed and an
arrangement woidd have been arrived at, but here is the
rule existing at present. The men after it was established
objected to it. Would they not have equally objected
to it before it was established if there was a meeting
between them and the owners ? — If there had been a
meeting and the matter discussed — it had to be discussed
ultimately, it was after approval, but if that had been
done before that difficulty and trouble would have been
avoided.

{Chairman.) Do you suggest the draft might have been
put in a different form, and they might have had this
oiscussion before ? Do you think the drafting of the
rule would probably have been altered to make it clear
as to what exactly it was going to be.

{Mr. Ratcliffe JEUis.) What would the alteration have
been ?

31891. {Chairman.) You suggest that the rule was
drafted in such a way that the men did not understand
what they had or had not to do ? — There was a difference
with reference to the term '* working place " to begin with.

31892. {Mr. Raidiffe Ellis.) The question was as to who
should take the timber to the working place, whether
the workman should or the management t — There was a
misunderstanding as to what was the working plaoe
within the meaning of the Special Rules.

3189S That was the question ? — That was one question.

31894. That was a question of wages ? — The first ques-
tion was what was the meaning of " working place *'
within the meaning of the Special Rules. It said, " It
shall be taken within 30 yards of a man's working place,"
and it was a question of what was a man's working place
— is it the face or the bottom of the gate ?

31895. {Chairman.) It would have been clear if there
was an understanding with the men before the rule was
promulgated. You would have had a talk and made it
clear what the management meant by the term ** working
place " ? — Yea.

{Mr. Enoch Edwards.) There is an explanation of that
difficulty, but we cannot go into it here.

{Mr. F. L. Davis.) That was a question of wages, and I
will not go into it

{Witness.) One question was a luestion ot wages, and
another question was the question of definition.

31896. {Mr. Smillie.) The question of definition is a
question of safety, because the supply of timber is one
of the most important things. The workmen say " Under
this rule we do not require to take it 50 yards from our
face," and the employers say, ** You must."' The rule
says 30 yards from your working place, and that is down
to your gate-end. It may mean 50 yards from the working
place ? — Or it may mean 100.

{Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) The substantial question was who
should take it there.



{Mr. Smillie.) Take it where T



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MINUTES OP EVIDENCE :



Mr. J. Quest 31897. (Chairman,) The oontention seemB to be that

'— 1_ ' under these rules there was a difficulty in working which

4 Deo. 1907. mighl have been avoided, either by a conference between

■ the owners and the men or in some other way, and

possibly that the conference might have resulted in the
rule being varied in such a way that it would be
impossible to put two interpretations upon it.

(Mr, RcUcliffe Ellis.) There was that conference in
Yorkshire if I am n^t mistaken. There was in most of
the counties, and I think there was in Yorkshire.

31898. (Mr, Cunynghame,) I want to understand the
improvement you suggest. That was a rule proposed
by the Home Office ?— Yes.

31899. How could the Home Office have consulted the
men before proposing the rule ? What procedure would
you have us carry out ? What would you have us do ?
It came into our mind that it was a good thing to have some
form of systematic timbering, and we wanted to carry that
out. What would you have us do ? — My suggestion
with reference to that is that the men should be consulted.
It could have been sent down to our Society asking them
to put it before their respective lodges and ask for sug-
gestions.

31900. Before we proposed it to the owners ? — You
might take it from both sides at the same time.

31901. Before we could send it to you we must draw
it up ?— Yee.

31902. As a fact it was drawn up. It was proposed to
the owners and also copies were sent to the inspectors
with instructions to send it round and let it be known
to the representatives of the men. Was that not so ? —
I was not an official at the time, and I am not prepared
to answer that question.

31903. We will not deal with that particular case. In
general, all the Home Office can do, as soon as they have
drawn up what they imagine to be a good outline of a rule,
is to let it be thoroughly known to the owners and men ?
That is all you could desire ? — Yes.

31904. Take the Electricity Rules that were brought into
force the other day. Are you aware that rules have been
brought into force with regard to electricity in mines ? —
I have not seen those up to the present.

31905. I will tell you, because I should like to have your
opinion as it has been referred to. Do you know how those
rules were first designed and drawn up and arranged ? —
No, I do not.

31906. Then I will tell you. A Committee sat for a
whole year and examined every witness they could get
hold of — engineers, owners and men — and ultimately
it resulted in recommending a set of rules which they ap-
pended to their report to the Secretary of State. That
was published as a Parliamentary Paper, and issued to
Parliament. The next step that was taken was to send
a copy of those rules to the owners privately asking them
what they thought of them, and at the same time a copy
of those rules was sent to the Miners' Federation of Great
Britain, as Mr. Edwards will know, and various unions,
and made available in every way possible. Ultimately
the rules were promulgated by the Secretary of State as
required by the Act, and no objections having been raised,
they passed into law and became rules. Can you suggest
any improvement on that procedure, and, if so, what is
it ? — Suppose we deal with the question of these rules,
which I am more familiar with than the question of the
Electricity Rules. It may affect every man in a coal
mine.

31907. You would be more likely to know about the
timbering T — Yes, electricity will only affect a certain
proportion of the men.

31908. Supposing these rules, instead of being Electri-
city Rules, had been about timbering, what else do you
suggest the Home Office could have done other than it,
dioTwith regard to those rules, namely, to draw up the
best set of rules they could make after the fullest inquiry
they could have, and submit them to the owners and men
for the favour of their opinion ?

(Mr. Enoch Edwards.) That was not done with the Tim-
bering Rules.

(Witmzss.) With reference to these Timbering Rules,
if they had been put before

31909. (Mr. Cunynghame.) Supposing those Electricity
Rules had been with regard to timbering instead of with
regard to electricity, can you suggest anything that could
have been done by the Home Office, and if so, what is it ?



— First drawn up and then Submitted to the owners and
men for their opinion. If that had been done, I do not
suppose we should have any objection.

31910. There is nothing you could suggest ? — No.

31911. If that was done with regard to the late Elec-
tricity Rules, that would afford a procedure you approve
of, or at least upon which you cannot suggest an improve-
ment ? — ^That is speaking of rules put forward from the
Home Office ?

31912. Yes 7 — I understand that a manager can suggest
a Special Rule.

31913. You are aware that the Timbering Rules were not
suggested by the managers ; they were suggested by the
Home Office ? — I suggest if it had been submitted to the
men and a conference called, it would have removed the
difficulty.

31914. At what period could the Home Office have con-
sulted the men ? They could not consult them before
putting the rules upon paper ? — No.

31915. They must put them on paper before they con-
sult the men ? — Yes.

31916. If, after putting them on paper, they consulted
the men, what more could you want ? — Did they send them
to our officials and the Federation and ask them to call
meetings and discuss the matter 7

31917-8. I will read this letter. This was written on the
7th January, 1903 : ' ' Sir, — I am directed by the Secretary
of State to transmit to you herewith a notice of proposal
under Section 64 of the Coal Mines Act, 1887, of new Special
Rules and amendments of existing Special Rules in regard
to timbering and other matters. The Timbering Rules
are based upon a model code which has been agreed upon
between the Secretary of State and the Mining Association
of Great Britain, and the rules generally, in the form now
proposed to you, have been settled at a conference between
Mr. Hall, H.M. Inspector of Mines, the North Wales Coal
Owners* Association, and the representatives of the miners.
If you do not object in writing to the rules within twenty-
days after the receipt of the rules by you, the rules will
become established at your mine." That was directed to
the owner. This letter stated that these rules were settled
at a conference between Mr. Hall, the Inspector of Mines,
the North Wales Coal Owners' Association, and the repre-
sentatives of the miners. If this letter is true — assume for
the moment that letter correctly states what had. taken
place — that would satisfy you 7 — The representatives of
the men had agreed to it apparently.

31919. If it had been settled in that way, would th&t be
enough for you 7 — Decidedly.

31920. If that is true in regard to this district, and this
is a circular letter sent to all the miners, that would content
you 7 — Yes.

31921. (Mr. Ratcliffe Ellis.) After all that in Yorkshire
there was a difficulty about carrying it out 7 — That did
not apply to Yorkshire.

31922. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) With regard to the third class
of inspector that you suggest, I do not quite know what
is in your mind. Do you suggest that that third-class
inspector might in time become a second-class inspector
and then a chief inspector 7 — If he qualified for the work
entirely.

31923. At the present time, as I understand it, any sub-
inspector may in time become a chief inspector 7 — Under
the present system, I suppose.

31924. Under.your proposal of three classes of inspectors*
would you suggest that this class should be a separate
class and should not be eligible for an assistant inspectot*
ship or a chief inspectorship 7 — No.

31925. How would you do it 7 because bo far as I under-
stand you, the qualification would be a second-class
certificate or some examination similar to a second-class
certificate 7 — I do not see that any limit should be put
upon the man's possibility in any way. At present, if
he is in any mode of life, he has the opportunity of qualify-
ing for any position he shows himself to be able to qualify
for, and I do not see why any restriction should be put
there.

31926. (Chairman.) He would have to go through the
examinations for a chief inspector before he could become
one 7 — Yes.

31927. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) If he has served the time, you
would give him an opportunity of passing an exeunination
which would put him up a grade to the grade of the assistant
inspector, and after that to the chief inspectorship 7 —
I see no reason why the man should be restricted. I would



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let him go as f ar aa hiB abilitleB will allow him to go. The
question aa to how he would be moved up would be for the
Home Office to arrange in aooordanoe witii the examination
they devised.

81928. This third class is new to us, and I want to see
what you mean? — ^They would not appoint him in the
first instance unless he was fit for the work.

31029. That is the difference between your suggestion
and the present state of affairs ; at the present time they
are all qualified, but yon are suggesting starting a class
which is not as qualified as the other two ; that is why I
asked you whether you intended these men to remain in
the particular third grade or not ? — ^Are they all qualified
lor chief inspectors f

31930. Yes.

{Mr, Batcliffe EUis.) There is no such thing as a chief
inspector and an assistant inspector in qualification ?

{Witness,) Ton have chief inspectors and assistant
inspectors.

31931. {Mr, F. L. Davis,) They are equally qualified T—
In some directions, of course, naturally. A chief inspector
will be expected to know more than an assistant inspector.

31932. One man has had 10 years' experience and another
man has only had two years' experience. You naturally
would not put him to be a chief inspector with two years'
experience, even if his qualification is the same ? — ^His
experience qualifies him for the position of chief inspector
over and above examination.

31933. Your men would not be so well qualified as the
present inspectors, to start with.

{Mr, Enoch Edtoards.) He could not prevent him
qualifying in time, he says.

(WUness,) I do not admit for the purpose of inspection
that he would be. less qualified. He might be in some
of what I should term the theoretical work.

31934. (Mr. F. L, Davis.) From what class would you
draw these third-class inspectors to start with ? — From
the miners. They recruit very largely the under-managers
and the deputies from the miners at the present time.

31935. So that any man who took a second-class certifi-
cate, or passed an examination equivalent to it, whatever
it is determined to be, would be eligible for the post of a
third-class inspector ? — ^A second-class examination ?

31936. Yes. — ^I did not suggest that I suggested that
the Home Office should propose the examination which
these men should qualify under.

81937. First of all you said a second-class certificate, or
some similar examination you thought sufficient, whatever
the Home Office decides mat any man should pass ; if he
passes that he would be eligible for it ? — We have workmen
working at the face with first-class certificates. So far as
I am concerned I should not object to them. They would
qualify first, and it would then rest with the Home Office
to choose the best men.

31938. Whatever this examination is settled to be by the
Home Office, any man who passes that would be eligible
for this post of third-class inspector ? — Provided he had
experience as a practical miner.

31939. In answer to Mr. Smillie you made a rather
sweeping statement that when the inspector is known to be
coming to examine a place where an accident has occurred,
that there are preparations made for his visit. He sug-
gested brattice -cloths were sent down, and other things.
You stated that is a general rule in your district. I think
that your answer was something like that. Where is it
the custom 7 How do you mean to say it is general by
the rule that these preparations are made when it is known
an inspector is coming ? — ^It is a matter of common know-
ledge throughout the county so far as the men are con-
cerned.

31940. If it LB a matter of common knowledge, will you
te]l us some place where it has occurred ? — I do not know
any place where it has not occurred.

31941. You do not know of any place where it does not
ooour ? — ^No, I do not.

31942. It is one thing to tell us that it is general know-
ledge^ and it is another thing to give us an instance. Will

fou give us an instance ? — ^There are so many of them,
quote Yorkshire as a whole ; so far aa my experience
goes I do not know an instance where it does not occur.

31943-4. Will you give me ani nstance in Yorkshire where
it is done. You say this is done at every colliery, or
rather, you do not know a colliery where it is not done ?
It must be a very simple thing to give an instance. Will



4 Dec. 1907



you give us a case where you can tell us that before the Mr. J. Chust.

inspector came these preparations were made ? — It is so

simple I am not prepared to take that step. * I say it is

generally done, and it is a matter of common knowledge

among our men. In fact, I do not know of a colliery there

that does not do it ; but I am not prepared to quote any

colliery. I put them all in one, because so far as this is

concerned when an inspector is coming preparation is

made.

31945. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) That does not impress me
much if you cannot tell me cases where these preparations
were made. Do you tell me it is done in every colliery ? —
What do you want me to do — to name this colliery and
that colliery ?

31943. Yes, and tell us what preparations were
made on a particular occasion ? — Preparations were mckde
to put the place, so far as the inspector is likely to travel,
in a thorough state of repair and condition so far as the
Coal Mines Regalation Act is concerned, so that what he
sees will be as it should be.

31947. The inference from that is in all the collieries in
Yorkshire the places are not as they should be 1 — You can
take it that way.

31948. When they know the inspector is coming, then
they put it right. That is the only inference I can draw
from what you say ? — Draw what inference you choose.*
I make that statement, and I believe it to be true.

31949. With reference to inspection under Rule 38 by
the men, you have told us that you want an alteration
in the rule allowing men who are now practical working
miners, or who have been, to make the inspection. I am
not sure whether you said that you wished the rule to apply
to men from other collieries ; that a man should be
appointed to make workmen's inspections under that rule
not in the particular colliery in which he worked, but a
man from another colliery should be appointed ? — I see no
objection to it being made so that a man from another
coUiery should be appointed ; in fact, we render it at the
present time that a man from another colliery can.

319i;0. There is some doubt as to the reading in some
places. You would like to see that ? — I should like to see
the clause " who is or has been a practical working miner."

31951. Supposing you have men from other districts
coming to examine a certain colHery, do you think that
they should be put under certain restrictions as to keeping
the information to themselves, in fairness to the colUery
manager and the colliery owners ? — ^What information 7

31952. You get an outsider, not one of a particular
owner's workmen, but somebody quite outside his own
property, to inspect his property. The man might make
use of any information he may get to the detriment of
the manager or the owner. Do you think he ought to be
under the same restriction as the mines inspector is at
the present time ? — ^Not with reference to making no
statements about the nvine that are Ukely to be detri-
mental, but I suppose you mean, with regard to the area
of the workings and the class of workings, apart from
mines inspection. Is that the point ?

31953. Yes, a man gets information he otherwise would
not get It may apply to conditions of working, wages,
and all sorts of things outside the inspection 7 — Apart
from the question of inspection and the question of
danger, I see no objection to the man being restricted*
that is, with reference to any information outside the
report. He ought at all events to be in a position to
make a fair report as to the state of ^e mine.

31954 (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) His report may be to the
detriment of the manager ? — Yes.

31955. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) Do you not think it is only
fair that an outsider who examines a colliery should do it
under the same restrictions as a mines inspector at the
present time 7 — I think that his work should be confined f
to attention to the question of the safety of the men, and . ■'
up to that point he should be privileged to make a reports ;
Over and above that, and with reference to other matters, .
for instance we will say as to what direction the workings j
are going, or anything else, he should be under i'estriction« ,' '
just as the mines inspector.

31956. I am not suggesting any kind of restrictions, or
any unfair restrictions, but something similar to the minea
inspector 7 — I have no objection to that. * '

' 31957. I did not understand one thing in connection
with fines. You are against the system of fining alto-
gether 7 — ^Yes.



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Mr. J Quest.
4 Deo. 1907.



31058. You said that where fining is in operation it
tends to make disoipline slack ? — ^In my opinion it does.

31959. Because if it is known that fines are infiicted a
man will not be bo carefuL If he is not going to be prose-
cuted but is going to be fined, he possibly is more careless.
I do not understeucid that ; when we had here the statistics,
they shewed that the prosecutions in your district were
very heavy ? — Yes ; the discipline may be good.

31960. Fines do not take the place of prosecutions
altogether 7 — In our district, so far as we possibly can, we
fight the fines. We never encourage our men to accept
the fin^, and that may accoimt for the increase of prosecu-
tion. As a Society we set our face against it

31961. In your district do you say fining is done very
little ? — ^I do not say so, but you say we have a lot of
prosecutions. It is possible we get more prosecutions
because we set our faces in such a determined manner
against fining.

31962. I understood you to say where fining is in opera-
tion you do not get nearly so many prosecutions. That is
what you did say earUer in the day. After that we found
out in your district there were a very large number of
prosecutions, so that your statement did not seem to be
consistent ? — ^I do not see anything inconsistent in it.

31963. You objected to fines because, when men knew
they were fined instead of being prosecuted, it made
them more careless, and if they did anything wrong
they knew they were not going to be prosecuted but were
going to be fined, and they did not mind ? — You are putting
something I did not exactly state. In my opinion, we
oppose fining, and we believe if a man commits an offence
against the Coal Mines Regulation Act he should be
treated as the management is treated by the inspector ;
he should be reprimanded, and if a reprimand is not
sufficient he should be prosecuted. We hold that the Act
apphes equally to the manager as well as to the men, and
that there should be no middle course as to fining. If a



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 113 of 177)