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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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but still it s ems with all these men in the shaft there is
a very serious danger.

33423. As Mr. Ellis says, it is a question. You have
to put the same number of men down, and you can put
them down in double the number of windings by letting
fewer down at a time, but it is a question whether there is

more danger in the number of windings, than from having
a large number of men on the cage at the same time ? —

33424. (Mr. SmiUie.) 38 men you say ?— 32 on a cage,
and 32 coming up.

33425. That is 64 may be in the ^aft at the same time ?

33426. If anything went wrong with the engine- winder,
if he were suddenly taken ill, your fear is that those 64
men might be killed ? — Yes.

33427. That is one of your fears ?— Yes.

33428. The other fear with regard to the double-deck
cages and men going on at both decks, is because of the
method of loading. You have to raise or lower, as the
case may be ? — Yes.

33429. On one occasion you were put into the sump
with Qther men because of lowering down ? — I was picked
up myself, and thrown up the inset. I can show you my
elbow where it was smashed. Three had got off, and I
was the fourth, we were up on this landing.

33430. The top landing ?— Yes. It picked me straight
up and threw me, and I can show you my elbow, if you
like. There was a difficulty with the engine-winder
and that is why he put us in the sump. He saidhe thought
it was the top deck, and he put us right down.

33431. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) You were waiting to get on,
waiting for the thing to be lifted, and the thing knocked
you ? — Yes. We were waiting to go. Instead of that
he put us down in the sump.

33432. (Mr. SmiUie.) You have the two objections,
at least ? — Yes.

33433. (Chairmin.) I understood you to take two objec-
tions to unskilled workmen — first, that every now and then
you got thoroughly unskilled persons into the pit, and
secondly, that you had persons in responsible positions,
such as head of a stall, who were not absolutely incompe-
tent, but who were incompetnet to fill that particular
position to look after the timbers, and so on ? — We say
it works better, I could not say well at all, if you have three
or four men — as we have explained there are eight or nine
in a working place — capital fellows, and they have the best
they can get, skilled or unskilled, then there is somebody
aU the wMle calling attention to them, and making them
careful , but when you have the whole batch unskilled,
you have a veiy serious conditions of things.

33434. I wanted to know whether I understood you.
I understood you to say that there was not only a danger
from employing thoroughly unskilled persons uncw-
ground, but diat there was also a danger that in some work-
ing places you had no man sufficiently skilled to look to
the timber properly. Do you say that, too ? Sometimes
in a working place you may have 9 or 10 men fairly com-
petent miners, stiU, at the same time, you have no one
of those 10 sufficiently competent to be head of a stall or
a working place and look after the timber ? — Yes, and
the employers will find it so if they will inquire into it,
and those are the stalls where they have to he contmuaDy
finding them wages. If they had a place as good as gold
and good men could get a living, and you put them in,
you would find the whole thing broken down.

33435. You do not understand the question. There
are two wayB in which unskilled laboui may be detrimental
to the safety of the miner. One where you have an abso-
lutely unskilled man working at the face at all, whether
with other people or not. "Hiat is dangerous if he is very
unskilled. Another source of danger was, in eveiy wori^-
ing place you ought to have one or two men thoroughly
conversant with systematic timbering, and consequently
able to advise those working with them as to how they ought
to put up props and sprags ? — I say it miticates the
danger, and is not so apparent as if all were unskilled.

33436. My point is that there may be 9 or 10 men work-
ing at a particular place, aU of them fairly skilled, but
none particularly skilled — that is to say, no man among
the 10 who will be capable of giving expert advice to the
other 9 to set up timber, and that is a danger ? — Yes.

33437. You ought to have one man, at all events, in
every working place more expert than an average miner,
to teach the otiers what they have to do with regard to
putting up timber. I understood you to say it was a
source of danger because that was not always the case.
Sometimes you find 9 or 10 men, and not one specially
billed, .as it were ? — Yes.

48 A

Mr. W

5 Deo., 1907.

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Mr. W, 33438. {Mr, EaicUffe EUis.) A collier witli two years'

Latham, experience at the face — do you think he is not a skilled

timberer ? Does he not know how to keep himself safe ?

5 Dec, 1907. — I should not say a man who had bean on a farm .

33439. A collier ? — If he had been working up at least

33440 A man who has been working two years at a face
to qualify as a coal-getter, according to the Act of Parlia-
ment — do you find many men of t^t sort not able to do
their timber ?

{Mr. SmiUie,) He says unskilled.

{Mr. RcUcUffe EUia.) What is that ?

{Mr, SmiUie,) An unskilled person coming from a farm
and getting two years at the face he would say is not a

skilled person, but if working in the pit with two years
experience in the face, he would be a skilled person.

{WUness.) Yes.

33441. {Mr. Batdiffe Ellis.) There is no man working
as a collier skilled enough to put up his timber unless he
has worked in the pit before the age of 21. It comes to
that, really ? — Yes. You could not find a man who has
come from agricultural work and had two years in a pit,
and is what I would call a full-fledged collier and could take
his turn at anything in the pit — coal-cutting, blasting, or
anything of that kind. I should say two years is insuffi-

{Chairman.) In time he would become as skilled as
other people who have begun early in life. It would take
longer to do it.

33442. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) Does it not depend upon
the intelligence of the particular man ? — Yea.


Thursday^ 12th December^ 1907.


H. H. S. CuwYNGHAME, Esq., c.b.
Wm. Abbahah, Esq., m.p. (Rhondda).
F. L. Davis, Esq.
THoiiAS Ratoleffe Elus, Esq.

LoBD MoNKSWELL {Chairman).

JosN SooTT Haldane, Esq., p.b.9.
RoBEBT Smilue, Esq.

S. W. Habbw, Esq. {Secretary).

Mr. WiUJAM HsNBY PiCKEBiKQ, called and examined.

Mr. W. H.

12 Dec, 1907

33443. {Chairman.) You are the Inspector of Mines for
the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire district 7 — ^Yes.

33444 I understand you have lately returned from
India ? — Yes, I have been back about three months.

33445. With regard to inspection, you put in certain
diagrams ? — ^Yes. They are diskgrams showing irregu-
larities in the present system, showing that the inspection
staff is not in proportion to the size of the districts.
{Diagrams handed in.)

33446. Then you give instances, and you say that there
Me three inspectors in the Yorkshire district, where
125,407 persons are employed, so tiiat there would be only
one inspector for 41,800 persons ?— Yes.

33447. Then you say that in the two neighbouring
districts there are seven inspectors for 137,102 persons,
or one inspector for 19,586 persons ? — Yes.

33448. You go on to say that if seven inspectors are
neoessazy in Lancashire, it may be assumed that Yorkshire
should have the same number also, instead of only three
as at present. But I do not know that that quite follows,
does it, because the districts may be different ; some kinds
of mines require more inspection than others, do they not ?
— Thatis so ; but the Yorkshire and the Lancashire mines
are not essentially different. I should say that the Lanca-
shire mines are periiapa more difficult to travel, taking
them all round, than the Yorkshire mines. But this
diagram shows that in the Lancashire district a large
number of persons are employed in the metalliferous mines
and quarries. If you take the persons in the coal mines
the difference is s^ more striking.

33449. Do you say that not so much inspection is
desirable in metalliferous mines ? — ^No, I do not say that.

The difference in the number of people employed in coal
mines is even more striking ; there are 115,000 employed
in Yorkshire, in round figures, and 60,000 odd employed
in Lancashire in coal mines.

33450. So that on the whole you say that if anything
you would require rather more inspectors in proportion to
the number of men employed than you would in Lanca-
shire ? — I should take it sil round about the same, if we
take everything into consideration.

33451. You say that if seven inspectors are necessary ia
Lancashire, it may be assumed that Yorkshire should have
the same number also, instead of only three as at present ?

33452. Then you go on to say that it does not appear ^
at there is a redundancy of inspectors in any of the V
stricts ? — I think that is so.

33453. You say that the irregularities can be remedied, ^
if the present system is retained, by the appointment of ▼

additional assistants ? — Yes.

33454. But you are of opinion that greater efficiency of
inspection would be obtained by a drastic reorganisation ?
— ^That is my opinion.

33455. Then you give certain objections to the present
system. The first objection you take is that inspectors
occupying high official positions of great responsibility
are jaded and worried by details of clerical work, which
could be much more efficiently performed by clerks ? —

33456. To what extent do you think they should be
relieved of their clerical work ? — I think the recording,
keeping of all the papers, drafting the letters, and keeping
all the records up to date, might be done by an office staff.

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S3457. They have an allowance, I think of £25 a year
iPor clerical assistance ? — ^That is so.

j 33458. But that is not sufficient ? — It is not sufficient.
^ You must have a man giving his full time to the work.

3345SL And even so you consider that there ought to be
more inspectors or assistant inspectors ? — Even so I think
Hiere ought to be more assistant inspectors.

33460. Then the next objection you take is to' the
artificial division of coalfields to form inspection districts.
What have you to say upon that ? — At present some of
the coalfields are divided between two inspectors, and the
counties also. Lancashire, for instance, is in three inspec-
tion districts, the parish boundaries forming the boundaries
between some of the districts. I think that complicates
the statistics, and also complicates the administration of
the Act.

33461. Do you suggest that instead of the present system
there should be seven what you call natural districts ? —
That is my view ; and I have prepared a map. Further
on in my evidence I have gone on to point out the remedies.

33462. Yes, and I was going to deal with that, and I was
going to take you to your second remedy by wav of
explaining the objection that you take to the artificial
division of coalfields. Your remedy for the artificial
division of coalfields is that you should have seven natural
districts, as you call them ? — ^That is so.

33463. Those natural districts you think should be :
-(1) Scotland (Glasgow centre) ; (2) North of England
{Newcastle centre); (3) Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Notting-
hamshire, &;c. (Sheffield centre) ; (4) Lancashire, Cheshire,
North Wales (Manchester centre) ; (5) Midland (Birming-
ham centre) ; (6) South Wales (Cardiff centre) ; and,
<7) Southern (London centre) ? — Yes.

33464. You think that an inspector should be placed
in charge of one district, that he should have an office
and an adequate clerical staff in the town selected as
the centre or headquarters of his district, and that his
official title might be " Chief Lispector of Mines of
a District " ? — ^Yes.

33465. Then you would only have, instead of the present
12 chief inspectors of mines, seven ? — I would have seven,
-and deputy chiefs.

33466. You would also have deputy chief inspectors ? —

33467. Therefore you would only have seven of the
£rst class instead of 12, as at present ? — Yes.

33468. You would have, first of all, an inspector at the
head of each of these seven districts, and then you would
have a deputy chief inspector, and then you would have a
third class of assistant inspectors ? — That is so. Li some
of the large districts which I have mapped out I should
have two deputy chief inspectors.

133469. How many assistants would you have ? Do
you go into detail as to the number of assistants ? — I have a
statement here which I have drafted ; of course it is only a
rough draft. I estimate seven chief inspectors, 10 deputy
chief inspectors, and 37 assistants.

33470. (Mr. F. L, Davis,) How many more would
that be than at present ? — About 14 more.

I 33471. (Chairman,) What sort of men would you have
■ as the third-class inspectors ? — I should have them quite
I of the same class as at present.

33472. The same class as the assistants ? — I would have
men who could rise to the very top.

33473. And I suppose pay them a fair commencing
salary ? — I should pay them a salary quite equivalent
to what they get now.

33474. Equivalent to what the assistants get now ? —
Yes ; I should pay the lowest grade that salary at least.

33475. Then you would pay the intermediate grade
something which would be between the amount paid to
the assistants and that paid to the chief inspectors now ?
— ^That is so. I have not reaUy gone into the question
of salaries. I think personally the salaries are too low all
round to get in the future the best class of men. Wages
and salaries have gone up enormously in the last few years.

33476. So that, although at present you think that
the chief inspectors and assistant inspectors are good
men and quite capable of doing the work properly, still.

at the same time you are rather apprehensive that if
salaries are not raised an inferior class of men may come
in in the f uture ? — ^That is my fear. I will hand in a state-
ment of the districts. It is a statistical statement showing
the number of persons employed in the different counties,
and the number of persons in each district.

33477-80. Then you draw attention to the want of uni-
formity in th9 policy of the administration of the Acts
in the various inspection districts ; and you say that the
remedy for that would be the constitution of a Mines
Department as a branch of the Home Office, under
official entitled * * The Director of the Mines Department

Mr, W. H.

12 Dec, 1907

les I J
an ly

33481. What you now wish to do is to suggest that the
want of uniformity in the mining policy throughout
the country ought to be dealt with by the constitution
of a Mines Department, at the head of which should be a
director of the Mines Department ? — ^Yes.

33482. Then you say that you object to there being no
central office where records can be kept, and where coal
owners, managers and miners can go for information ?
— ^Yes.

33483. That would be rectified by the establishment of
a Mines Department where all these documents could be
got at ? — ^That is so. There was a great difficulty found,
I believe, in the last Commission on Coal Supplies in find-
ing records and getting information ; and l^ere are other

33484. You say now that the issue of 12 administrative
reports of inspectors, and the complication and confusion
of mineral statistics which that entails, is objectionable ?
— ^Yes. I think there are too many administrative reports
and too many statistics, and they are too complicated.
The statistics are artificially ^vided and artificially
split up. I think that would be avoided by having natural

33485-8. You would still have your seven administrative
reports ? — ^Yes ; 1 think that is very important. I would
not lower it in any way, I would raise the standard of

33489-92. You say it is not desbable, in your opinion, u
that mines should be frequently inspected in detail by Tl
Government officials. Such a practice would, you think,
relieve managers and owners of their legitimate responsi-
bility and tliow it upon the Government. Why do you
say that ? — ^I think If you have a Government official
constantly going to the mines, the managers and owners
will at once not take so much responsibility on themselves,
they think that the supervision as regards safety is coming
from the Government, and they will more concern them-
selves with the economical questions. At present we try
to make the managers and owners as responsible as we

33493. Then you say that it is sufficient if Government
inspection ensures a uniform observance of the regulations
and the punishment of officials who neglect their duty.
That is rather a vague statement, because there is much
virtue in an " if " there. When jom say that it is sufficient
if Government ensures a uniform observance of the regu-
lations and the punishment of officials who neglect their
duty, I suppose that is all that could be desiml of any
sort of inspection, whether it was twice a week or whether
it was once a year ? — That is so.

33494. How often do you consider the mine ought to A
be inspected, and what kind of inspection do you consider \
sufficient ? — I think every year is enough.

33495. You think that a mine should be thoroughly \
inspected once a year ? — Yes.

33496. Do you mean that all the working places and the
whole mine should be gone through once a year or only ]
that the mines should be sampled ? — I am afraid it would [
have to be only sampled to a great extent

33497. As it is at present ?— Yes.

33498. You consider on the whole that in some inspec-
tion districts, at all events, the inspection is sufficiently
carried into effect — that in some of these 12 districts
present at existing the mines are sufficiently weU inspected?
— They are fairly well inspected.

33499. And you do not think it is desirable that they )
should be more inspected ? — No, I do not at present. *

33500. Then as regards the qualification and appoint-
ment of inspectors and assistant inspectors, you say it


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iff. W. E, ]g essential tlxat the inspectors and assistant inspectors
Pkhetivkg, should have the hi^est possible practical and scientific

mining knowledge and should be men of all-round general

13 Dec., 1907 education ?— Yes.

33501. Tou think that where zeal is equal a good class
man will do more effective work than two with second-
class qualifications ? — ^Yes.

33502. You say that no person should be eligible for
the appointment of inspector or assistant inspector of
mines unless he held a first-class certificate under the Act
and had held charge as a manager or under-manager of
a mine ? — ^Yes.

33503. Therefore, you would not leave it as at present
with the Home Oi£ce to decide what the qualifications
of a mining inspector should be ; you would have it laid
down in the Act of Parliament that he must hold, at all
events, the equivalent of a first-class certificate ? — I

33504. And not only must he be a thoroughly qualified
and experienced person but he must have held charge
of a mine as manager or under-manager of a mine ? — I
think so. He gets a better practical experience if he has
to go through the whole m^

33505. How long should he be the manager of a mine
and qualified, do you think ? — A comparatively short
time. A year would be sufficient, if he was a thoroughly
practical man to begin with and had a good training or
had trained himself.

33506. Then you go on to say that this would inflict
no hardship upon anyone, for if a man wishes to fill a high
official position, he should qualify for it by climbing
through the lower grades ? — Yes.

33507. He would begin in every case as one of these
assistant inspectors at the third grade ? — ^No ; I would not
appoint him an inspector of the third grade unless he was
qualified by a first-class certificate.

33508. He would first of all have to be a manager or an
under-manager, and besides that he must pass a certain
examination at least equivalent to a first^dras certificate ?
— He would have to hold a first-class certificate and then
he would have to pass the Government examination for
on inspectorship.

33509. You say that the area of selection should be made
as wide as possible and the system designed to cover the
men of all classes of training ? — Yes.

33510. Then you say that working miners who have
supplemented their practical knowledge by self-education
and attendance at the excellent mining and scientific
classes held in the colliery districts, should be given equal
opportunities as University men who have put the pitman's
hall mark on their degrees by thorough practical work in
the mines ? — ^Yes.

33511. You add that candidates might be nominated
by the Secretary of State as at present, but not less than
10 for each appointment ? — Yes.

33512. Why do you think it should be necessary that as
many as 10 should be appointed ? — I think it would be
as well if a number were fixed so that you would have
a competition and get the best men. I tiiink they ought
to be nominated so as to make sure that you are getting
the right class of man, to begin with — ^not simply com-
petition men who can pass the examinations ; you want
them sound, practical pitmen as well as theorists.

33513. The Secretary of State would have the nomina-
tion, I understand ? — ^The Secretary of State would have
the nomination.

33514. But it would be rather difficult for the Secre-
tary of State to refuse to nominate a man who had
qualified as a manager and under-manager, and who had
passed all the requisite tests under the Government
examination ? — He refuses at present : he does not
nominate everyone who applies.

33515. He now refuses to allow some persons who are
qualified to stand for this examination for an inspector ?
— All who apply are not nominated ; I know that.

33516. Then that only carries into effect the present
procedure 7 — Except that you have a number nominated.

33517. You say at least 10 for every appointment ?—
Yes ; I would have a number nominated.

33518. You say that the candidates should be examined
and the viva voce examination should be very searching 7

33519. And you say tli^^ marks should be given for
experience and alertness, mental and physical 7 — Yes.

33520. And that the theoretical and soientifio know-
ledge of the candidates should be tested by ordinary
written examination, but a thesis on a mining subject
and a plui of a mine on which to show a system of ven-
tilation should be included 7 — Yes.

33521. Is there anything you would like to add to>
your statement with regard to the examinations 7 — No ;
I think you have a^ked me all the questions which are

33522. I will go to the next question, which is inspec-
tion by officials under General Rule 4. You say that
General Rule 4 is in Yorkshire supplemented by Special
Rule 13, which reads as follows : The under-manager
or deputies, or other competent persons duly appointed
for the purpose, within three hours immediately before
the commencement of each shift, shall make the inspec-
tions and reports required by the first part of General
Rule 4. The persons making such inspections shall leave
a mark at each working place, showing the date of such
inspection. The undermanager or deputies, or such other
competent person, shall make the inspection during shifts
required by the second part of General Rule 4.'* — Yes.

33523. With regard to that x>oint, you say that these>
rules are not satisfactory: the interval of three hours
is too long ; the rules should be altered to provide for the
inspection before the commencement of tibe shift to be
made within two hours of the time at which the men
should arrive at their working places, and for at least
two inspections during the shift 7 — Yes.

33524. I believe there are Special Rules to that effect
in other parts of the country 7 — ^That is so.

33525. You add that shifts, even when following each

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 126 of 177)