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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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properly set — do you know what I mean by the word
* * sprag " ? — Yes, I have set a good many.

32590. Whenever one of those is not properly set and
the man not prosecuted forthwith, down comes the in-
spector and prosecutes the owner ? — I think you are
stretching it a bit.

32591. I only want to know how far you are going, that
is all. It is for you I am cutting the coat. I want to see
what you say. Do you not think there would be dismay
in many mines in your district if the inspector were to
say, *' There are 45 cmcs that have come to my knowledge
of men not setting sprags and you have not prosecut^
any one of them ; I shall prosecute you. Take care in
the next six months you prosecute 45 men." Do you not
think that that position would be created ? — ^No, an ounce
of fact is worth a ton of theory, and I will tell you what
has happened. The inspectors have gone through the
place, or the manager has gone through the place with the
inspector, and has found a man with a sprag not properly
set and the inspector has said, *' If you do not prosecute
that man, I wiU prosecute you." That is what actually

32592. Very proper ? — Yes, very proper.

32593. You would have that happen not once, but
going on every day all through England ? — I think if more
rigorous discipline were maintained and if we were to do
that rather than fine

32594. You are representing that is what the men would
like to see come in. That is the system they would like
to see come in ? — I was going to say that Uie necessity
for either fines or prosecution would be diminished by
ceasing to fine, in my judgment. Our men, the more
thoughtful of them, the Executive, I consider would prefer
a man was taken before the magistrates as an example,
rather than be fined.

32595. That system has no terrors for them ? — Fining
has not.

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32596. Prosecution has no terrors for them ? — Oh dear
no. May I say this : if a man is prosecuted for a breach
of the law after having been warned, our Society does not
defend him, or have an3rthing to do with him : our Trades
Union does not defend him.

32597. And consequently there would be this large
number of men prosecuted and your Society refusing to
defend, alternated with a great many suspensions, and you
come here to say that is what the men you represent desire
as a mode of putting an end to fines. I only want to know
what you want ? — My Society would prefer that proseou-
tiqps for breaches of disciplme should take the place of

3259B. Even though those prosecutions ? — That is

my answer.

32599. I want to go on : even though those prosecutions
had to be pretty numerous ? — Those are your words, not

32600. Do you agree with them ? — I do not think they
would be numerous.

32601. I think we have as much as we can get out of
that. I should like to ask you about these rules which
were altered two years ago T — Yes.

32602. After they were in print your men had every
opportunity of discussing them and makipg their wishes
known witii regard to them ? — ^We had opportunities of
discussing them.

32603. You wanted to see them apparently before they
were in print ? — We wanted to help make them.

32604. I thought thev were only a consolidation of the
rules that existed alreaay ? — They were materially altered
in the consolidation.

32605. They were probably partly in print before, and
some alterations were made ? — Yes.

32606. Mr. Martin, the inspector, started the whole
thing ? — Yes.

32607. He got those rules out and I suppose printed
some alterations in the rules ? — Yes.

32608. And marked the places where the alterations
were proposed ? — Yes.

32609. Do you think that ought to have been done in
pen and ink instead of in print ? — No, that is not my

32610. What is the complaint ? — ^The alterations which
affected the discipline and the safety of the men were
discussed and settled so far as the inspector and the owners
were concerned before we heard of them.

32611. Your complaint is that he yrent to the owners
first instead of coming to you first ? — No, coming to us
at the same time.

32612. When he was thinking of what proposals he should
make, do you mean he ought to have no right to consult
privately with one or other to see what they think ? —
ThsX is not what I mean. I mean when he called meetings
of the owners in the districts, in order to give the workmen
an equal opportunity, he should have called meetings
of the workmen at the same time.

32613. Do you mean when rules are being negotiated
between the owners, the workmen, and the Home Office,
the owners on the one side and the workmen on the other,
that there should never be any verbal communication
between the Home Office and one party without at the
same time the other being present ? Is that not rather
awkward for the men occasionally ? — I do not mean that.

32614. I want to know what you mean ? — I will try
and tell you. Let me state what really happened. The
inspector, Mr. Martin, no doubt saw and corresponded,
verbally and otherwise, with individual managers. To
that I have no objection. When they had got so far
as to have individual suggestions a meeting of the owners
of the district was called. There were several meeting,
a number of meetings, and the owners and the inspector
came to an agreement as to what should go in the rules.

32615. I see your point. — It was not until then, when
all the amendments, suggestions and discussions and
meetings had taken place that we came in and we had to
object to what was done.

32616. Your objection was that Mr. Martin came to the
agreement and bound himself so far as he could before he
heard your side ? — Exactly.

32617. I have these rules here. You say there are
several important ones in consequence of this, which
were not as good for safety as they ought to be. Have
you a copy helore you ? — Yes.

32618-22. Will you give me an instance: I do not
want you to go through them all ? — ^No. 20.

(Mr. Raidiffe Ellis.) Rule 20 is : " They shall see that
there is a sufficient supply of suitable timber provided and
kept at each man's working place where mineral is ordinarily
being loaded into the tram or tub for the pit shaft, or at
the nearest point thereto that is reasonably practicable."

32623. (Mr. Cunynghame.) What are the words you
would have liked put in this rule that are not here ? rut
that in first. — We wanted to insert if a maia had to with-
draw in consequence of the neglect of the employer to
provide timber that they should pay him for his with-

32624. If there is not suitable timber at the working
place the workman should withdraw, and you wanted the
words put in " and the owner should pay him compen-
sation " ? — Pay him his wages. *

32625. Pay him his wages as if he had not witlidiawn T
— ^Yes.

326SS6. Do you think that would have been possible under
rules that are only made for safety. That would have
been a rule affecting wages. Are you sure there is power
to make such a rule ? — Is it not provided that the owner
shall see that the timber is at the working place ?

32627. There is provision that the owner shall see, and
shall be prosecuted if he does not do it. The punishment
as I understand it, is to be prosecution ; it is not to be
paying you wages when you withdraw ? — He neglects his
duty, and as a consequence the workman who has a wife
and family to keep loses his wages.

Mr. 8. B.

5 Deo., 1907.

3. There may be hardship in it. If those words
had been proposed to be put in I am inclined to think
they would have been useless and ultra vires. I think we
should have had to take them out again. Do vou not see
the difficulty. You may have statutes to provide anything,
but at present the rules can only be made for procuring
safety. There is no provision so far as I know, in a rule
if the owner does not do something he has to pay the
workman. — I see the objection.

9. You see the difficulty ? — Yes, I quite see the

32630. You brought that forward at the conference and
it was decided against you 7 — Yes.

32631. Did you appeal to the Home Office in any way T
— ^No.

% 32632. Why not ? It would have been very nifitural,
would it not 7 I am sure vou would have a sympathetic
office to deal with 7 — I thinL so.

32633. You had that remedy, but you did not take it 7
— ^We did not.

32634. There is not much to complain of in this case 7 —
I do not think there is.

32635-6. I do not think so either. Now I come to Section
45, under which inquiries can be held 7 — ^Yes.

32637. You are aware that has been very rarely put in
force, and complaints have been made on that score 7 —

32638. No complaint of that kin4 exists in your district 7
— ^No, when we have had serious accidents, we have had
no trouble in having special inquiries. We had the
Timsbury explosion and the Camerton explosion.

32639. You have not had a special inquiry, but counsel
to attend the coroner's inquest and a report from him 7 —

32640. In those cases it was apparently satisfactory 7 —
Quite satisfactory.

32641. Now as to the question of inspection by the men.
I have been rather under the impression that the object
of the inspection by the men granted by the statute was
to re-assure the minds of the miners working in the pit
more than anything else 7 — ^That is the intention.

32642. You would not be giving them a power of inspec-
tion to render them responsible for the due working of the
mine in any way 7 — I think you are right.

32643. And that they did it or not as thev liked, and
if they did not do it you could say that they had been guilty
of dereliction of duty. That is my feeling about it 7 —

32644. If that is the case, does that not point to an
inspection by the men in the particular pit, because the
object is to re-assure their minds and to see that things

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Mr. 8. H. are going on to their satisfaction, rather than they are
WkUelwiiae, to undertake the work that is thrown properly on tiie

State ? — ^The difficulty is this, when men know there is a

C Deo.» 1907. deficient airway, or something going wrong in the pit,
^i- — ■ they fear, if they state baldly and plainly in the report-
book, that they will suffer.

32645. Again, they have the power of anonymously
writing without revealing their names to the inspector ? —
That I discountenance always. If I were an inspector I
would not act upon an anonymous letter.

32646. They belong to a Union ; a large number of them
at all events ? — ^Yes.

32647. Could not they go to the Union and complain,
and would not the Union be strong enough to protect them
from being wrongfully treated or dismissed? — Given a
strong Union anxious to protect the men I should like
to know the procedure that I should take. I get frequent
complaints from men. Any course I take means giving
up the name of my informant, does it not ?

32648. With regard to that your own view is it ought
to be so. You do not like it to be anonymous T — ExacUy ;
I do not like it to be anonymous. I am pointing out how
weak this provision is. It cannot be put in force without
the men being punished. I get frequent complaints, and
I never hesitate to have a conversation with the inspector
when I see him, and there are a good many upon which
he has acted.

32649. Supposing a certain number of inspectors
were appointed of a practical character, and of less
theoretical knowledge than those existing already — I do
not like to use the phrase working-men inspectors, because
everybody in the mine is a working man, reaUy, but I
mean men who did not pass an examination of such a high
standard as that of the present inspectors, practical miners
with a lower degree of examination, would that meet your
approval ? — I differ with my colleagues on that point. I
do not think there ought to be more than one class of
Government inspector.


(Mr, Cunynghame,) I wiU not ask you any more upon
tiiat, because I understcuid it has already been dealt witii.

32650. {Mr, Batdiffe Mis,) You suggest there should be
only one class of inspectors, all equiSy qualified, and all
qualified up to the highest point ? — Yes.

32651. That their qualifications should be ascertained
by a Board of Examiners ? — Yes.

32652. Who would appoint that Board ?— The Home
Office, of course.

32653. Have you any suggestion to make as to its com
stitution ? — Yes. I think it Miould be a small Board.
I think it should be a BoaiV consisting of somebody
nominated by the Home Office, an expert mining engineer,
and a workman who holds a first-class certificate.

32654. Two men ? — No, three men — a Board of three.

32655. An expert mining engineer, a representative of
the Home Office and a certificated manager ? — Certificated
miner, a working miner who holds a first-class certificate.

32656. A man working in the mine who has a first-class
certificate ? — Yes, that is my suggestion.

32657. I understood you to say that any person could
offor himself for examination ? — If he had the qualification,
10 years' experience.

32658. A man must have had 10 years' experience as
a workman in a mine. Is that so T — I did not say that.

32659. Will you teU me your view about the qualifica-
tion to sit for the examination ? — Say, 10 years or five
years. If you do not mind, say five years.

32660. You have no option ? — I have no objection to
five ; five years' practical knowledge of the working of

32661. Not a workman, necessarily ? — No.

32662. Not necessarily a workman, but a person who
has had five years' practical knowledge of the working of
mines ? — In the district to which he is appointed.

32663. A person cannot sit for a certificate unless he
has had five years' practical experience in a mine or a
diploma and tiiree years ? — I would abolish a diploma.
I do not thmk it is worth anything.

32664. He must have had five years' practical experience
in a mine, and you would leave it to the Board of
Examinees to say upon examination whether he had had
that experience or not ? — Yes.

32665. This is the next point, that the Board of
Examiners having then qualified a number of people as


eligible for the appoi^^ent of inspectors, should go
further and nominate ^tle of those qualified persons
to be appointed to any Vacancy and we Home Office
should be bound to appoint their nominee ? — Yes.

32666. From amongst the persons qualified the Home
Office would appoint an inspector nominated by the Board ?

32667. Upon that Board you have nobody representing
the owners. I do not know whether you think it worth
while ? — Yes, the expert mining engineer.

32668. Is he to be nominated by the owners ? — Cer-

32669. You propose this Board should have the
nomination ? — Yes.

32670. That is the way the inspector should be ap-
pointed ? — I think so.

32671. You suggest that this examination should take
place in each district, that there should be a Board of
Examiners for each inspector's district T — Yes.

32672. Would it be the same Board or a Board for
every district ? — A separate Board for every district.

32673. I suppose they would be paid for their services
by the Government ? — Yes.

32674. How frequently would they sit to hold these
examinations ? — Once or twice a year ; not more.

32675. It would be no use whatever for a man to pass
the examination unless he was also nominated by the
Board ? — I do not think so.

(Chairman.) He would have to take his chance of being
nominated by the Board if he had become eligible.

32676. (Mr. RatcUffe EUia.) Supposing the Board found
a number of persons very well qualified indeed, the Home
Office are not to have the choice to pick whom they think
to be the best man ? — It is the same now. The Home
Office has a list of persons qualified and they have to decide
on one when there is a vacancy. I propose the Board

32677. You propose to take the power from the Home
Office and place in the Board the power of appointing
inspectors ? — I think if the Board is fit to certify that
any man is qualified, that they ought to be able to say
which are the most qualified, which would be the first
of the lot.

32678. Your view is to take away from the Home Office
the power to appoint inspectors ana place the appointment
in this Board ? — The nomination is practicaJly the

32679. Not merely the nomination, but the appoint-
ment ? — Yes.

32680. That is your scheme ?— Yes.

32681. You have thought that carefully over ? - Yes.

32682. Do you bring that as the view of your district t
— I am on the executive.

32683. Of the miners in your district You think that
would be more conducive to safety than the present system ?
— X do.

32684. The next point you suggest is that these gentle-
men when appointed inspectors must submit to an
examination every seven years ? — Every 10 years.

32685. By this Board, to see if they continue qualified ?

32686. If found to be disqualified they should retire
on a pension ? — With or without a pension.

32687. I understood you to say with a pension T — I
should not object to it being with a pension.

32688. You think a good many would do their best
to pass a second time ? — I do, and I think it would do
them good.

32689. That is the way you deal with them, every seven
years ? — Every 10 years.

32690. If there is any complaint against the inspector's
capacity, is the same Board to deal with that or another
Board ?— No.

32691. Then you want another Board ? — I do not say
necessarily a Board, but some authority.

32692. What is the authority ? First of all let us see
what will happen. There must be some authority to
which a workman can complain if he thinks the inspector
is unfair or incompetent ? — Yes.

32693. Any workman amongst the 800,000 ?— He
would complain to the Boai'd.

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32694. And then the Board must examine into this
oomplaint and deal with the inspector ? — Yes.

32695. Either retire him with or without a pension
or prosecute him, it may be ? — Yes.

32696. It depends upon what the oomplaint is ? — Yes.

32697. What is this authority to be ?— They first of all
complain to the Board.

32698. What Board ?^The Board that appointed the

32699. The Examining Board ?— Yes. Probably the
Examining Board would not feel competent to do more
than inquire into this thing and want somebody else to
decide for it Who that is to be I have not thought out.

32700. Perhaps you would think it out and formulate
this scheme properly, if you think it important ? — I do
not mind.

32701. I understood you to say you wanted a further
alteration with reference to Government inspection, and
that is if an inspector found a dangerous practice in a mine
that he was to call in two other inspectors from other
districts, and if the three agreed that the practice was
dangerous that then they might forthwith apply in the
ordinary course of law for an injunction to stop that
practice ? — Yes.

32702. You think that is preferable to the provision
under Section 42 which authorises the inspector to prohibit
the practice and leaving the owner to dispute the
prohibition if he thinks fit, by going to arbitration 7 —
Much preferable.

32703. I suppose you know when applications are made
for injunctions to the courts of law, the tribunal you favour,
that it is a very usual thing to say that if the injunction
is granted and it turns out not to be justified after, com-
pensation must be paid to the person who suffers by the
injunction ? — Yes.

32704. Would you also make that so ? — Yes, on con-
dition that if the injunction was granted and it turned out
to be right, the owners paid.

32705. What are the owners to pay ? — All the costs.

32706. Supposing the judge said : '* Very well, I w£Q
at an injunction," but this means stopping this pit ? —

32707. If it turns out that this is an unreasonable
requirement on your part when the matter is further
inquired into, you must pay compensation to the owner
for what he has lost by this stoppage ? — Yes.

32708. Who is to pay that ? — The authority who
appointed the inspector.

32709. The Board ?— The State, of course.

32710. The Government ?— Yes.

32711. The Government are to pay that compensation ?

32712. Do you seriously put that forward T — I have
thought it out, and I will tell you why. I am very strong
upon the use of safety lamps in a mine where there is any
gas. Supposing the inspector says to an owner, ** You
should put lamps in that mine, because it is dangerous,"
and the owner says, *^ I will not put lamps in the mine " —
that does happen sometimes — in that case the inspector
would go to this court, whichever was the court he had
to go to for an injunction, to stop that mine until the
lamps were put in.

32713. Stop the working of the mine ?-<Until the
owner agreed to put lamps in. If the inspector could not
justify that position he ought not to be an inspector.

32714. But the mischief has been done when the place
is stopped whilst the arbitration is going on as to whether the

owner is bound to put lamps, and ? — My objection to

the present system is its slowness. If an inspector of
mines sees that the pit is dangerous and that the men's
lives are in danger, he ought to be able to order safety
lamps to be put in at once. The owner may, if he thinks
proper, dally that about for six months while the men are
in danger. I propose in my system to settle that at

32715. I want to know who is to x>ay this compensation ?
— The Government, of course.

32716. The damage done to the employer by having the
pit stopped the Government must pay compensation for ?
— If the inspector is wrong and it does not want lamps,
and the owner is right, the Government pay compensation
and deal with the inspector. If the owner is wrong and
the inspector is right, the owner pays all the costs.

32717. To whom ?— All the costs of the proceedings. Mr, 8. H,

32718. The Government would also have to pay, if the ^*^«^
inspector was wrong, the men's wages during the time ^ j^ .g^.
of enforced absence from work during tlie stoppage ?— i^«o^W7.
Not necessarily. "

32719. Who is to pay them ? — They give the men the
ordinary notice to terminate.

32720. I understood there was to be an instanter
injunction to stop work ? — ^I know sufficient to know if
you were threatened with an injunction you would give
notice, to protect yourself.

32721. He is to have notice, and be deprived of all
compensation because his employment is terminated by
an ordinary notice ? — You are taking me into a region
into which I cannot follow, you.

32722. If you make these suggestions you must see
where they take you to ? — I would say even if the Govern-
ment had to x>&y the men their wages in consequence of
this stoppage, it ought to be done in the interests of

32723. {Chairman,) Would it do to make the judge's
decision on the injunction final ? — Yes, that would meet

{Mr. Ratcliffe EUis,) No court would undertake to make
a final injunction without hearing the evidence on both
sides. You think it should give an interim injunction
under terms that the Government should pay all the
expenses. If the Government were willing to provide
that, there would be no harm done, because the owner
would be paid compensation if he succeeded. There would
be no loss. How far the Goverment would fall in with a
scheme of that kind I do not know.

{Mr, CunyngJiame.) It would be a wage dispute.

{Witness,) I think I am misunderstood. There is no
wages question in this.

{Chairman.) It is a question of safety. On a question
of safety it ought to be decided at once, in order to protect
the safety of the men.

32724. {Mr, Raidiffe Ellis,) With reference to inspection
under General Rule 4, have you any suggestions to make
upon that except as to the competency of the inspector ?
X wiU deal with that directly. — Nothing, except that a man
appointed to be a fireman or examiner should perform that
duty alone.

32725. A competent man I will come to. Tliere is an
inspection before the shift, and one inspection .during the
shift ?— Yes.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 119 of 177)