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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 114 of 177)
Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 114 of 177)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

man is fined he may accept the fine and nothing is known,
and if another man is fined he may accept the fine and
nothing is known, and so the system goes on, but if a man
is prosecuted the case is known, and it has, in our opinion,
a better deterring effect than fining. Not only that, but
the very fact that the owner has to prosecute a man for
not having sufficient timber set, or for not spragging, is
bound to make him keep timber and spraggd sufficient for
proper working. It is bound to have a better effect than

31964. I do not think I disagree with that. There are
many cases where a man prefers to be fined rather than
being prosecuted ? — ^There may be cases.

31965. I daresay you will agree if the management
prosecute in every case they would be taking their officials
away from the coUiery, the people who are responsible for
the safety of the mine, and constantly taking them down
to the Ck)urt ? — ^I do not think so.

31966. It surely is so in Yorkshire. Where there is a
prosecution you have to take your fireman, and the under-
manager or the manager, in order to go to the Court to
give evidence ? — Yes.

J? 31967. If you are constantly doing that you will often
take the men responsible for the safety of the miners away
from their duties ? — ^We are not seeking to be constantly
doing that. Our opinion is that the system will tend to
better observance of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, and
that there will not be the necessity for prosecution.

31968. You think that there will not be so many
breaches ? — ^I think so.

31969. You said that a stricter supervision of the gates
and roadways by the deputy is desirable. Do you not
think something more might be done by the men them-
selves to obviate accidents ? — Do you suggest that the
men should take the responsibiUty of the deputies.

31970. They are responsible for the safety of their own
places ? — ^Yee.

'■ 31971. Do you not think something more might be done
by them when there is no deputy there or no deputy could
be there. Do you not think that the men might be more
careful than they are at the present time ? — I do not see
that that affects the position of the gates. The gates are
largely under the control of the deputy.

31972. Accidents happen to men, a good many of them,
I put it to you, from their own carelessness. You are
rather suggesting if the deputies did more that there

would be fewer acoident^* i* am sugsesting that if th^
men took more care thema^^Ves, that lUiere would be lee»
accidents 7— &all we suggast it from both sides.

31973. I am trying to suggest the other side, but you
only put one side 7 — A man in the working place has as
much at stake as anyone, and I submit that our men
on the whole take every reasonable precaution so far as
the working faces are concerned.

31974. Do you do anything, or your Federation, in your
district to draw the attention of the men to the neoeesity
of carefulness 7 — We always encourage our men to obey
the rules with reference to spragging and timbering, and
to keep themselves safe.

31975. Do yon in pubUc meeting? or by lectures take
an interest in the work — we have heard wat in one or
two districts they try to rouse the men to the necessity
of being very careful of their own hvee 7 — I do not know
that we have done anything in the way of lectures at all
for that purpose, but wherever our officials go and address
a body of men they encourage them to go in for safety
to life and hmb, and to be obedient to the rules.

31976. On the question of haulage on the roads, there
are three short clauses here in the South Wales Special
Rules. I should like to read them to you and see if these
will carry out what you said you would like to see : " The
foUowing rules apply to every roadman : — 156. He shall
carefully remove all obstructions from the roads in his
charge, so as to maintain them constantly in a safe state
for travelling therein. 157. He must give the fireman
of the district immediate notice of any fall, or loose over-
hanging stones, or broken timber, or any squeeze or danger
in the top or sides of any roadway or airway, or any other
defect or danger which may come to his knowledge.
158. He shall daily remove all rubbish, and clean out and
keep clear every incline-plane and every travelling road
or heading, and every mai^ole in the district in his charge."
I gather from what you said, those rules would, if adopted
in your district, cover what you would like to see done 7 —
This appUes, so far as I see, simply to the cleaning of the
rubbish. Two of those rules, at all events, 156 and 158,
are confined to removing obstruction and keeping clear
the travelling roads. Of course that would be desirable,,
but that does not affect the question of the manholes.

31977. Yes, " and every manhole in the district in his
charge " 7 — It does not affect the question of the increased
number of manholes.

31978. My point was the keeping clear of the travelling
roads 7 — Simply the keeping clear of the travelling roads.

31979. The sides 7— Yes, I think that would do.

31980. You said you thought that there ought to be
some further rule with regard to that. Mr Ellis told you
in Lancashire that they have a rule very similar to the
South Wales Rules.

(Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) No, it is Scotland.

(Witness.) I think that, with reference to the question of
obstruction, would meet it.

31981. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) With regard to safety lamps
you suggest wherever gas has been found that safety
lamps should be compulsory 7 — Yes.

31982. Do you know that the men themselves object
very strongly to the putting in of safety lamps in many
places 7 — If it was a question of equal safety the men,
no doubt, would prefer to work with naked lights, but I
do not suppose where the men know there is gas that they
would object to working with lamps. It is a question of
danger and degree. ——

31983. Do you not know many cases where the manage-
ment are anxious to put in safety lamps where the men
prefer naked lights. That would not necessarily be a
fiery mine 7 — I know of no cases in my experience where
the men, where there is gas in the colhery, have objected
to taking in lamps. We know it is a question to some
extent of arrangement, as far as wages are concerned.
The men are naturally working, as Mr. Smillie has explained
at a certain disadvantage, and it becomes a question of
pay. There may be a difficulty in that direction but
where it is a question of safety and where gas has been
found our men generally are prepared to take in the lamp.
The only point is in taking in the lamp they hold that it is
detrimental to their working and their earning power,
and that they should have a consideration in the tonnage

31984. On this point l^r. Smillie asked you, in reference
to naked lights against safety lamps, when a man is

Digitized by




examining a place is it only by sight that he examines T —
No, he examines by sound

31986. I was going to put that to you. When he
examines he tests practically as much by sound as he does
by sight ? — Both combined.

31986. He does both always ?— Yes.

31987. (Mr. SmiUie,) Can he examine by sound where
there are conveyors working at machine walls ? — Not very

well, m fact I should say where a conveyor is working jf ^ j^ QutBt
he is deprived of the privilege of testing by sound. -J —

31988-90. (Mr. F. L. Davia.) You mean a conveyor in ^' '

the face after a cutting machine.

(JIfr. SmiUie.) Yes, the noise is deafening.

(Witr^esa.) On that point as to conveyors, the noise
deprives him of one of his best assets so far as safety is

Mr. Hbbbbbt Smith, called and examined.

31991. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) Yon are here to represent
the Yorkshire ^liners* Association T — I am.

31992. You are now the president of that, body T —

31993. It has a membership of some 70,000 or 80,000 T

31994. What is the view of Yorkshire on the question
of Government inspectors : have you any complaint
to make about the present Government inspectors ? —
Not directly, but what we say is that they cannot cope
with the work.

31996. There are not sufficient of them T — No.

31996. You have no complaint with the work they do T

31997. You have three in Yorkshire T— Yes.

31998. A chief inspector and two assistants T — ^Yes.

31999. What do you think would be a fair number of
inspectors for a County like Yorkshire T — I think we ought
to have at least another seven inspectors in Yorkshire.

32001. What distance from the mines do most of the
inspectors live ? They do not all live in one centre ? —
No : I should say they live on an average six miles from
the nearest mine, and from the furthest mine, 46.

32002. In travelling from their home to that mine, in case
of an accident, or for an inspection, a good deal of time
would be taken up in coming and going back home again 7
— Yes, it is.

32003. Have you given much thought to the question
of another ^rpe of inspector, a practical working-man
inspector T — Yes.

32004. What is the view of Yorkshiremen on that
question 7 — Our general view is that these men ought to
be qualified with five years' practical experience at the
ooal face to pass an examination similar to a first-class
manager, because we realise that if he is not up to a first-
class manager's standard he may be looked upon lightly
by the manager, who would say he is somewhat his superior.

32005-6. In your judgment, while he has practical experi-
ence as a pitman, he should have sufficient technical know-
ledge to enable him to understand questions on an equal
with the manager 7 — I think those are three things required
in an inspector — practical experience, theoretical experience
and backbone when he has got that experience.

32007. Is there much inspection done by workmen
under the present rule in Yorkshire 7 — I should say,
roughly speaking, about 30 per cent, of the mines take
advantage of Rule 38 ; more would do so, but there are
oertain reasons why they do not.

32008. That 30 per cent, of inspection by workmen,
year in and year out, would apply to the same collieries 7
— Yes, largely.

32009. You have some collieries where they do not put
this rule in force at all 7 — Yes, for certain reasons.

32010. Where the inspection is done by workmen under
Rule 38 it is done generally with the consent and approval
of the colliery managers and people 7 — Yes, largely.

30011. At any time, if there are wild rumours about the
safety of a pit it is open to the men to appoint inspectors
to go round and examine themselves ? — It is only that
the managers insist upon a certain notice being given to
them. We object to mat notice. Certain work is done so
as to take away somewhat the benefits of the inspection.

32012. Usually the under-manager accompanies these
men rotind the pit 7 — Generally ti^e manager or under-

32013. Do they manifest any unwillingness to go into
certain parts of the pit or do they show all that is to be

seen 7— My general experience is that they have given ^^^ g^ Smith
me privilege to go where I like, but the experience we get *_J —
from other people is that they want to dictate what part
they shall go into on a partioidar day.

32014. Have you yourself made these inspections as a
workman 7 — I did until 1904, when they took proceedings
against me to stop me doing it any more.

32015. In 1904 you were appointed to make an examin-
ation of the pit you worked at 7 — For 10 years prior to
that I had b^n inspecting under Rule 38, but in 1904 I
was appointed to make an inspection at the very pit I was
check^fiighing at.

32016. It was the colliery you were employed at 7 —
Yes, as a check-weighman.

32017. Bid they object to your making an examination 7
— Yes, and they took proceedings to prevent me from
doing so.

32018. They objected because you were not employed
in the pit 7 — They put in that phrase " a practical working
miner. They admitted the practical side and the mining
side, but they said I had no working side at present, being
a check-weighman.

32019. For 10 years you had made an examination of
the collieries, but after you were appointed check-weighman
they refused you 7 — For nine years during my life as a
check-weighman I examined that pit, and in the tenth
year they objected to my doing it any more.

32020-1. Wafi their objection successful 7 — Yes, the
magistrates decided that I was not a practical workiDg
miner at that particular time under Rule 38 ; although
I had done 23 years at the pit bottom prior to that and
14 years at the coal face.

32022. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) That will explain why
Yorkshire is anxious to include oheok-weighmen or that
the check-weighman should not be excluded from ex-
amining 7 — That is so.

32023. (Chairman.) Do you know whether there waa
any reason for suddenly taking this objection after allowing
you to go down for nine years 7 — I can give an explana-
tion, but I do not know whether the other side will agree
to that. I was appointed two months before to examine
Hemsworth FitzWilliam Collieries, and we charged the
manager with a breach of two rules, one was not providing
sufficient manholes, and the other allowing horses to rub
against roof, and not remedying it.

You gave a bad report of that particular mine^
and you think that report may liave had something to
do with raising the objection as to your not having qualified.
That is your suggestion at all events 7 — It proves I gave
a too truthful report.

32025. That is what I say. You gave a report which
was not favourable to the mine, and you think the reason
why the managers turned round and did not allow you to
examine any more was because you gave a truthful leport,
what they call a bad report, of the particular mine 7 —
Yes, arising out of that case. I also gave evidence against
two men for breach of rules at the same time as I charged
the manager.

32026. (Mr. SmiUie.) Two of your own members 7—
Yes, two of my own members, men who were paying my

32027. (CTiairman.) You think you not only got into
bad odour with the masters but with the men 7 — No, the
men took no objection ; they wanted a faithful report.

32028. Then why do you mention the men at all in
connection with not being allowed to go on. The facts
were that you had been as a check-weigher employed at
least nine years in making the men's inspection, and no
objection had been raised that you should be acting in

Digitized by




Mr H Smith *^*^ capacity during those nine years, and at the end of
* * that time you made a report which you considered truthful,

4 Dec. 1907. and this report was not favourable to the managers, and

after that they took objection to your being an

inspector and did not allow you to go on under Rule 38.

(Mr. Smillie.) A different mine under a different com-

( Wi(ne?a.) I should like to submit to you that the offence
was proved because the manager was convicted.

32029. {Chairman,) I am only on the question why they
should suddenly raise this objection. Mr. Smillie says it
is a different mine ? — It was not a different mine where I
was objected to. I was employed as check-weighman
at Glass Houghton, and I spent 30 per cent, of my time
working under Rule 38 inspecting mines in Yorkshire.

32030. Could there have been any reason other than
your giving this unsatisfactory report of the mine ? I
thought Mr. Smillie said another reason might be you
were employed under a different set of mine managers,
who might raise the objection without knowing anything
about your report. It seems objection was taken by a
different set of men. Is that so or not ? — No. The
manager I inspected under was John Parkin. It was
Mr. John Parkin under whom I was stopped.

32031. The same people stopped you after you had
made this report who had always allowed you to be
employed by the men under Rule 38 ? — Yes.

(Mr, Smillie.) The mine at which he gave an adverse
report was a different mine from which he was employed
at as a check-weighman. At Glass Houghton he had been
chock-weighman for nine years, and he had examined
for nine years. At the end of that time he was appointed
by the workmen to examine another mine at Hemsworth,
and this is the examination in which an adverse report was
made, and the manager at Glas) Houghton, John Parkin,
refused to allow him to make any further examination
under Rule 38.

32032. (Chairman.) I will ask you what the circum-
stances were. Is this the state of the circumstances :
after having acted in this capacity for nine years at this
particular mine, you went to another mine and made an
unfavourable report as to that mine, and when you went
back to your old mine the objection was first taken by the
officials of your old mine that you were a check-weighman
and, -consequently, not eligible for the appointment ? —

32033. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) It has cleared the point
up to everybody's satisfaction, that for a number of years
as checkweighman you acted as inspector for the work-
men and all went well until you went to the pit of another
firm. In your mind you were precluded from inspecting
at your own colliery, because of what had taken place at
the other colliery ? — Yes.

3203 i. There was nothing else which happened at your
own pit ? — Except we got convictions there, but I am under
the impression that this was an arranged thing with the
coal owners, that I should be prevented from making

32035. You did come under that class ? — Yes.

32036. For that reason your Yorkshire people think
in any new Bill or in any recommendation of this Com-
mission that checkweighers should not be debarred ? — Yes.
We think we st^nd in rather a more independent position
than the workmen who work in the particular pit ?

32037. You think the checkweighman would be less
liable to be interfered with by the management if he is
called upon to report any proceedings which may be
looked upon as unfavourable to the company ? — Yes.

32038. I have no doubt that what you did report was
a true state of things as to what you found ? — And to prove
it the people were convicted by the Court.

32039. In regard to inspection by officials under Rule 4,
what officials of the colliery do you mean ? — I mean
deputies particularly, more than anybody else, and shot-

32040. A person whose duty it is to examine the working
place ? — Yes.

32041. Do you include firemen in that definition ? —
Not largely. In some pits they do in Yorkshire. He
carries a joint position as deputy and shot-firer.

23042. Is it the deputy's business to examine the working
place ? — Yes.

32043. And the workings too ?— Yes.


32044. It is his duty to f famine the pit before the men
go in in the morning ? — y- ^.

32045. In your experience what is the position of these
deputies ? Are the districts of such a size and area that
the men can examine thoroughly within the meaning of
the Act ?— My opinion ia the districts are too big, and I J
that they have too many other duties to call them away, n
so that they cannot devote the time they ought to it. "

32046. This deputy who performs the duty acts as a
fireman ? — Not in all instances.

(Mr. SmiUie.) As a shot-firer, do you mean T

32047. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) The point is a deputy as
against a manager or an under-manager. I want to get
at what you mean by a deputy. We will take the penon
who examines in the morning. Will he be a deputy or a
fireman ? — He is a deputy.

32048. He is supposed to make an examination within
the area before the men go to work ? — Yes, within three

32049. This examinaiion means an examination of
roof, aides and travelling roads, and working places ? —
It should do, but what I find they do generally is to first
inspect the ordinary roads, the main gates and haulage
roads, and devote the latter three hours solely to the work-
ing places, running across faces.

32050. They are examining to see if the ventilation is
all right, and if the place is free from gas ? — Yes.

32051. Do they examine to see whether the faces are
timbered correctly ? — Yes.

32052. From your experience you think that the dis-
tricts are too large to be properly examined and inBX>eoted ?
— Yes, I do.

32053. That is what you mean by **deputy or fireman
in the discharge of his duties.'' If he is a fireman what
other duties has he beyond examining the roadways and
roof and sides in the working places, and seeing to venti-
lation ? — The deputy, do you mean ?

32054. Yes, the deputy ? — He is expected to give a
report as to why they have not got more coal out. He
is expected to look after the trams and help them on to
the road if they are off.

32055. When superintending the output of the coal
he is not examining ? — Yes, he is doing it between. He
runs to a gate, examines that, and then comes back to
the pass-byes to see that all is going on right, and so on.

32056. In all cases it should be somebody else's business
to see that the coal was being sent out ? — Certainly it

32057. You thmk that the fireman or deputy whose
duty it is to see to the safety of the pit should have his
duty entirely confined to safety ? — In that district. He
should not have to spend so much time in looking after
other things.

32058. WTiat is your experience with regard to falls
from roof and sides ? Is it caused because the timber is
set badly ? Do the workmen set their own timber at the
face ? — Largely they do.

32059. That will be their contract ? — That is in the
contract largely, except in some instances where they
are i)aid separately for timbering. I want to deal with
gate roads.

32060. Is that under the collier ? — No, that is under
the deputy.

32061. The collier is not responsible for the keeping
of the timbering of them ? — No, only for the working place,
up to the edge of his ripping. These places are simply
ripped, and in many instances they say, * ' This is safe^
and it needs no bar." My experience has been that you
cannot make it too safe. I say if it is safe, keep it safe
rather than let it get worse. They allow these roads to
break down and gutter, and there are continual falls,
but they do not re-timber ; they let it stop as it is for a
day or two.

32062. Is the nature of the roof such that if first tim-
bered they can constantly keep the roof up ? — No, but
you would have more notice of anything taking place,,
and then it would be a question of re-timbering again.
I think there ought to be a system of timbering in a gate
road, as in a bank. '

32063. Do many accidents occur in the gate roads t
— A fair number do occur on gate roads.

Digitized by




32064. In your Jadgment many of them wonld be
obviated if they timbered more qniokly ?— Yes, and more

32065. What about th*^ working face ? — At the working
fao3 men have largely provided for timbering, and get it
in their pricee. 'When tnat new timbering rule came about
there was no consultation to ask whether the men thought
it would be advisable. The contracts were already made
wh n that new timbering rule came into force, and that
rule meant 20 per cent, more work to our men in many
instances, and there was no consideration given to them
for that I think special men ought to be appointed to
solely attend to this timbering, and particularly with-
drawing. Withdrawing ought to be done when the
place is not turning ooaL

32066. Are the men responsible for drawing the timber
as well as setting it T — Leurgely.

32067. In some districts they have a method of separate
people setting timber. That is what you mean 7— Yes.

32068. The collier would be under an obligation to set
timber to keep himself safe? — ^Yes. The difficulty you
have even with timbering rules is this, and I have had to
write continuously to our inspector about it : it says timber
shall be suppliea within a certain distance of the working
face, and the men ^o to work, but there is nothing said,
only that the place is all right at the pit bottom. When
they get in they find they are short of timber. Then it is
the man's duty to come out ; that is what the Act says :
you must not work in danger. We think that there ought
to be more than that, because this man is losing time ; he
is not told there is no timber, but when he gets there he

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 114 of 177)