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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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other without an interval, should be deemed to be separate
shifts 7— Yes.

33526u And a report should be made specifying the
condition of the mine or district during every inspection 7
—Yes.

33527. You are of opinion that the reports of the
inspections before the commencement of the shift should
be immediately recorded in a book kept at the station
for the purpose, and that the reports of the intermediate
inspections should be recorded at the end of each shift 7 —
Yes.

33528. That is a very importent matter under Rule 4.
You first of all say that the interval ought to be only
two hours instead of three hours, and that the shifte
even when following each other should be deemed to be
separate shif te 7 — ^Yes.

(Mr, Wm, Abraham,) That would give an extra exam^
inatiorL

(Chairman,) What is the rule now about separate shifts 7

(Mr. Batdiffe EUia,) There is one examination during
the shift and one preceding it. It is suggested that there
should be two during the shift. The time before the
shift in Special Rules is ** Not exceeding three hours."

33529. (Chairman,) Then you say that a report should
be made specifying the condition of the mine or district
during every inspection 7 — Yes.

33530. (Mr. Baidiffe Ellis.) I suppose you would not
allow the last inspection of No. 1 shift to count for the
first inspection of No. 2 7 — No, I would not allow that
unless made within two hours.

33531. You suggest that there must be an inspection
before the shift 7 — ^That is so.



2. And you think two hours is quite long enough 7*
— I think two hours is quite long enough.

33533. Then do you suggest one or more inspections
during the shift 7 — I suggest two inspections during the
shift.

33534. Then as to the next shift, would you take the
last inspection of the first shift for the inspection within
two hours at the begiiming of the second shift 7 — I think
if there were continuous shifte and the last inspection
were made within two hours before the other shift followed
on I would take that as good.

33535. (ChairmanJ) Then you say that a report should
be made specifying the condition of the mine or district
during every inspection. It is not necessary for th»



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-second inspection to be reported, is it ? — ^No ; the inter-
m^ate inspection is .not reported at present. It is in
«ome places, but it is not compulsory, and I think it ought
to be compulsory.

33536. Yes, that is my point. You go on to say that the
reports of the inspections before the commencement of
the shift should be immediately recorded in a book kept
at the station for the purpose. You say, "immediately
recorded." They are recorded, are they not^ but they
are not recorded at once ; is that your point ? — ^Well
that is a little vague. I think as a rule they are recorded
at once, but I would have the man make his report as soon
as he has finished his inspection.

33537. But that is not always so ? — ^No. At most places
it is 80.

133538. {Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) What you mean is that
the report should be available for the people who are going
to work ; is that it ? — ^Yes, exactly.

33539. (Chairman.) So that the people before they go
to work may see it ? — So that they may if they wish see
the report of the fireman.

33540. The reports of the intermediate inspection should
be recorded at the end of each shift. They are not recorded
at all now ? — ^They are in lots of cases, but it is not com-
pulsory and is not always done.

. . 33541. Then you go on to deal with another important
J I natter, and you say that firemen's or deputies districts
I are often too large ? — ^Yes.

33542. You say " often "—not " always " ?— No, not
always by any means.

33543. You say that much depends upon local con-
ditions, and it would be difficult to frame a rule restricting
the size of the districts ? — ^Yes.

33544. Then you make a suggestion that when a fireman
cannot comfortably travel and thoroughly examine his
district in less than two hours, you consider it is too large ?
— 1 do.

33545 Would that be often the case in your district ?
— ^It would at some places, but at others it would not.
At some of the large places they examine within the two
hours and they make an examination twice during the
shift by their deputies.

33546. But if you altered the rule to make it compulsory
that this examination should not be held more than two
hours before the shift, it would follow that any district
must be too large which a deputy could not go through
in two hours ? — ^That is so.

33547. {Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) That is quite so, but from
the fact that he must make an examination within two
hours of course it must be assumed that the district which
he has to examine is not too large for him to make it within
two hours ? — ^That is so.

r 33548. {Chairman.) Yes, that would foUow. Then you

'^ go on to the question of the inspection of mines by work-
men under General Rule 38, and you say that in a few
instances in Yorkshire the workmen take advantage of
the powers given under this rule. What do you mean by
" a few instances ? " — ^I should rather modify that. At a
good many of the large mines they do ; I should think
with regard to probably a third of the people employed
the mines are inspected by the workmen.

I 33549. Then you say you have found the reports received
' of such examinations most useful and informing, and you
would be glad if the inspections were universal. Do you
think from your knowledge of the mines in your district
that these reports are fair, or do you ihink that they err
on the side of giving too rosy a view of the mines ? — ^I
I think they are very fair. They often point out dangers
>or occasionally point out dangers. But I do not get all
; the reports ; I only get those which report danger. The
. Act does not require that they should be sent if there
us nothing reported.

33550. So that you only get the class of reports in which
there is some fault found with the management or some
danger dealt with ? — ^In some cases they forward them
even where there is no fault foimd, but that is not univer-
sally so, because the Act does not require it, and the
people do not go beyond the Act.

33551. Should you say from your knowledge of the
mines and of these reports of inspections which ai'e put
before you that the men feel they are at Hberty to give
an absolutely truthful report even although it is unfavour-
able to the management of the mine ? — ^I think so. They
report what they see in Yorkshire. I am sure of it.



33552. And do you not think they are afraid of the Mr. W. H»
management objecting ? — ^No ; tliere is no reason why Pickering,
they should be. If a manager discharged a man he could —
get a job anywhere in Yorkshire — ^ttit is, a good man. 12 Deo., 1907

They are very short of good men iheie j- good colliers are

not too plentiful.

33553. So that you do not think it woukl be against
a man if a manacer was to let it be generally known in the
neighbourhood tiiat a man was in the habit of making
objectionable reports with regard to the management of
a mine ? — ^I do not think so ; it might be so— I cannot
enter into the men's minds.

33554. But it has not occurred to you as being a thing
that is likely to happen ? — ^I do not think it is a thing
that is likely to happen at all

33555. Then you say that copies of reports of exami-
nations made imder this rule should be forwarded to the
inspector even where nothing of which to complain hsa been
noticed ? — Yes.

33556. An inspector should have an opportunity of
sampling the whole of these reports ? — ^Yes, I think so.
He would then be in a better position to answer the
question which you ask, as to whether they reported
all they saw.

33557. What proportion of reports do you suppose comes
before you ? — I do not suppose half, but I do not know,
I have no means of telling, and I have really scarcely had
time since I came back to go into questions of that sort.

33558. Then with regard to discipline and supervision,
you say discipline or the want of it begins at the top, with
the chief in command, and that if a manager is a thoroughly
qualified man and a tactful disciplinarian and is given
proper power by the owner or agent, it will be found that
the subordinate officials and workmen are, as a rule, atten-
tive to their duties, and that those who are guilty of neglect
do not escape punishment ? — ^Yes.

33559. Then you object to a man being able to be
appointed manager of any number of mines ; you say
that the Act permits a manager to undertake the manage-
ment of any number of mines, and that this leads to cases
where a manager takes so much work that he exercises
very little imderground supervision ? — Yes.

33560. You say that he relieves himself of responsibility
by the appointment of under-managers, and thus the
actual general supervisdon is done by men with qualifica-
tions presumably inferior to those intended by me Act ?
—Yes.

33561. {Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) I suppose you mean the
certificated manager ? — The certificated manager.

33562-5. You would limit the number of mines that the
certificate shouki apply to ? — ^No, I would not liniit it
if they could show that they had a proper subordinate
supervising staff.

33566. {Chairman,) But do you say that in many oases
an under-manager with only a second-class certificate
will frequently have charge of a mine ? — That is so. The
manager will not go down ; he has got other things to do.
of course, those are only exceptional cases ; but it can be
abused in that way.

33567. {Mr. Wm, Abraham.) Do you know of certain
cases where that abuse takes place ? — I have a case rather
in point in hand now.

33568-9. So that there are occasional abuses on that
side ? — Yes, on that side there are.

33570. {Chairman.) Then you say there are other cases
where the owner or agent, without mining knowledge,
unduly limits the power of the manager, but gives hun
more work than he can properly do, without an adequate
subordinate supervising staff ? — ^Yes.

33571. You say this also leads to the employment of
inferior men, for no self-respecting man with good market-
able qualifications will take service under such conditions 7
—Yes.

33572. Then you say that to provide against these evils \
the following rules are included in the rules relating to ^
managers and their certificates, which recently ccune into /
force under the Indian Mines Act: regulations giving '
effect to the same principle might be embodied in the t
English Coal Mines Regulation Act ? — Yes.

33573. Then you quote from the Indian Mines Act,
Rule 27 ? — Those are the rules relating to management.

33574. " For the purpose of Rules 28 to 54, every system
of underground workings interconnected in such a manner
that communication is practicable from any one part of the



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MINUTES OF EVIDENCE 1



Mr. W. H.
Pickering,

12Dec.,1907<



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Bystem to any other part by means of underground
channels shall be deemed to constitute a mine. If access
from one system of underground workings to another
system is not practicable without coming to the surface of
the ground, each system shall be deemed to constitute a
separate mine ? " — Yea.

33575. Then Rule 51 : " Save as provided in Rule 52,
no person shall act as manager of more than one mine ? "
—Yes.

33576. That is, there must always be a separate manager
where there is separate commimication ? — ^Yes, except
a9 provided afterwards, which is a very imx)ortant proviso.

33577. The proviso is in Rule 52 : " Managers holding
first or second-class certificates may, at the discretion of

j the chief inspector of mines, be allowed to manage more
than one mine, if the chief inspector is of opinion that the
mines supervised by them are near enough to one another
to permit of effective supervision being exercised, and that
an adequate subordinate supervising staff is maintained
at such mines." That would be your idea of what ought
to be the law in England ? — I would not put it in those
words, but I should embody that principle. It would
require very serious discussion from all points of view. I
should embody that principle so as to prevent these
abuses. It is only what is carried out in practice at the
best-managed places at present. The Government have
no power to stop a man managing any number of mines at
present.

33578. (Mr, Wm, Abraham.) Notwithstanding that
there may be 100 miles between them ? — That is so.

33579. (Chairman.) Then you say that at many of the
lai^ mines in Yorkshire the following system of manage-
ment is adopted: An agent or managing director is
appointed for the mine or group of mines. He is a highly-
qualified mining engineer in all branches of the profession.
He appoints the managers and gives them reasonable
latitude and power, and allots them under-managers and
other officials. At such mines the discipline and super-
vision are generally satisfactory, the only weak point being
that at some of them the deputies appear to have too large
districts ? — ^Yes.

33580. But that we have already discussed. Then you
consider on the whole that the system adopted in the best
of the large mines in Yorkshire is a satisfactory system ? —
I think so, distinctly satisfactory.

33581. And you wish that that system was general all
over the district ? — ^I do.

33582. You think there are some parts of your district
where there are not sufficient managers, and where the
owner interferes too much, and where the managers are
not given a sufficient number of under-officials ? — I think
that is so.

133583. Then as regards the Special Rules, you say that
the present methods of establishing Special Rules are
clumsy and confusing, and give imnecessary trouble ? —
xes.

33584. You say : " For the purpose of drawing up the
Special Rules, a Mining Board might be constituted for
each of the seven districts into which in my previous
evidence I have suggested the kingdom should be divided.
Each Board might consist of: (1) The chief inspector in
charge of the district (ex officio chairman); (2) three
representatives of the Coal Owners* Association ; (3) three
representatives of the Miners* Union ? " — Yes.

33585. You add that when new rules are necessaiy they
should be drafted by the Director of the Mines Depart-
ment in consultation with the chief inspector in charge of
the district to which they were intended to apply ; this
draft, put into a debatable form, should be sent to the
Coal Owners' Association, to the Miners* Union, and to the
owners of all the collieries in the district concerned, with
the intimation that the rules would be considered by the
Mining Board on or after a specified date, and that any
objections or suggested amendments would be considered
by the Board if received before that date ? — Yes.

33586. Then you go on to say that when the rules were
approved by the Board, the code should be forwarded to
the Director of the Mines Department for submission to
the Secretary of State for approval, and that when rules
were approved bv the Secretary of State, they should be
published under his signature in the Official Gazette, and
an official copy forwarded by the Director of the Mines
Department to all the parties concerned ? — Yes.



33587. You say the co<ie should then have effect for f .
the particular area or class of mines for which it was v
framed. All new mines commencing in the area should 1l
automatically fall under the rules ? — Yes. |l

33588. You add that this method of establishing the
Special Rules should take the place of both the present
methods of establishment. What does that mean ? —
There are two ways of establishment : one on a propo-
sition by the owner, and the other from the Home Office.



33589. You say that many of the present Special Rules
could be included in the General Rules of the Coal Mines
Regulation Act, which would be revised and simplified I
so as to make the present jumble of Rules, Orders and \
Amending Acts intelligible ? — Yes.

33590. You add a rather important opinion. You say
that provisions regarding arbitration, in case the parties
establishing Special Rules disagreed, might be retained.
Is not the dilatoriness of arbitration one of the principal^
objections taken to the present mode of establishment
of the General Rules ? — I think perhaps I have not clearly
expressed what I mean on that point. I mean the prin-
ciple of arbitration. There ought to be some means of
settling it. I think I go on to say in my statement that
it should be made simple, if it is possible in legal matters
to make a thing simple. I believe there is a system now
that is working rather well under the Factory Acts.

33591. Yes, you go on to say that the conditions re-
garding arbitration in case the parties establishing Special
Rules disagreed, might be retained ; but if such a thing
is possible in legal matters, the procedure might be made
simple and less costly ? — Yes.

33592. WTiat is your suggestion as to making the pro-
cedure more simple and less costly ? — I think as a rule
there would not be arbitration in a case of that sort. If
you get seven practical men sitting round a table, I think
they would settle what rules were necessary. At present
I think we have far too many rules. If we could get the
present rules properly carried out we should do very well,,
and they ought to be simplified. I believe that under
the Factory Act when objections are mode an inquiry
is held. I have not read up the point, as I have not had
time, but I believe it is working rather well, and that
might be embodied in this.

33593. The Factory Act procedure is practically that
a competent person is appointed by the Secretary of State
to look into the matter, and to hear all the objections and
all that can be said on both sides with regard to the rules r
and when that competent person reports to the Seoretaiy
of State, the Secretary of State, without any arbitration
at all, at his own will and pleasure, can decide what rules,
ought or ought not to be established ? — Yes. I think
probably the Secretary of State could decide as to a rule
in that case where the Mining Board disagreed, but it
would have to be a very serious disagreement. I think
as a rule they would come to an agreement. Supposing
you had from a district three members of the Goal Owners''
Association and three of the Miners' Union men, and they
talked the matter out with the inspector as chairman,.
I think they would come to an agreement on a question
of Special Rules. At all events, it would let the fresh air
of publicity blow over the matter.

33594. Then you are not prepared to say whether you
would stand by vonr opinion that in case of difference
arbitration should be resorted to ? — No.

33595. Or whether the procedure under the Factory
Act should be adopted ? — There must be some means of
deciding when they disagree, and that means ought to be
as simjSe as possible.

33596. You would not leave it to the Secretary of State
to decide ? — I should be rather inclined to do so,

33597. (Mr,Wm. Abraham.) After it had been thoroughly
ventilated by the Mining Board ? — After it had been
thoroughly ventilated by the Mining Board.

33598. With an independent chairman sitting there ?
— That is so.

33599. (Chairman.) The independent chairman would
be the chief inspector of the district 7 — The chief inspector
of the district.

33600. You now go on to the investigation of accidentia.
You say that in some districts practically all the reported
accidents appear to be investigated by Government in-
spectors. This is impossible in districts where the num-
ber of inspectors is small and the number of accidents-
great ? — Yes.

33601. You add that you are of opinion that all acci-
dents which are not obviously trivial diould be so investi-
gated?— Yes.



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33602. Tou say that the public inquiry into fatal acoi-
dents takes place in the coroners' oouribs. These are often
held where the accommodation is unsatisfactory, and the
short notice required by the Act is an inconvenience so
far as the inspectors are concerned. If the inquest is
delayed, the relatives of the deceased are pained and
cannot complete the funeral arrangements ? — That is so.

33603. Then do vou, or do you not, suggest that the
notices where possible should be longer ?— -I think if the
bodies could either be viewed and the case adjourned,
or the viewing of the bodies could be done away with al-
together and an order for burial given, then the coroner's
inquiry might be made more deliberate and more latitude
might be given for asking questions.

33604. You do not see any reason why the inquiry
should necessarily take place before the funeral at all ?
— I do not. It is very distressing sometimes where the
funeral is delayed.

33605. Then you say that in that case, supposing there
was more notice, the proceedinfl;s could be made more
deliberate and formal, and probably a hint from the Secre-
tary of State would be sufficient to induce the coroners
to make a complete inquiry ? — That is my opinion.

33606. That is a suggestion that the coroners do not
make a complete inquiry at the present time ? — That is
so. In some cases they take very wide views and do make
a complete inquiry, and they allow any question to be
asked with the object of preventing a repetition of the
accident, for instance. But there are other coroners who
take a different view. They say they are there to find
out whether anyone is to blame, and what was the cause
of death ; and having found that out, they leave it to the
inspector to go into Uie other questions. That is not the
case with most coroners in Yorkshire. They are very
good. They allow us every latitude, most of them.

33607. So that you are satisfied with what takes place
in Yorkshire ? — In some cases — not in all.

33608. Then you know of some cases where you con-
sider the proceedings at the coroner's inquest have not
brought out all the facts of the case which you consider
ought to have been brought out ? — That is so, from our

Soint of view — not all we would like to see discussed and
ecided.

33609. Then you say that Section 45 of the Coal Mines
Act, which provides for the formal investigation of acci-
dents, is, for practical purposes, a dead letter ? — Yes.

33610. During your 2i years' service as an inspector
of mines you have taken part in only one such inquiry ? —
Yes.

3361-1. Then do you suggest that the provisions of Sec-
tion 45 for a second inquiry should be made use of more
than they are at present ? — If you could have tlie matter
properly threshed out before the coroner, I am satisfied
with one inquiry ; but I think that those provisions might
be retained for cases where there has been no death, for
instance. Serious cases in which there has been no death
ought to be inquired into formally.

33612. Would you suggest that the Secretary of State
should remain, as at present, the sole authority to order
such an inquiry, or do you think that persons, for instance,
who are damnified by the report of the inquest should be
entitled to ask as of right for a second inquiry, or do you
think that the realtives of the person who is dead oi^t
to have the right ? — I think I should leave it to the Secre-
tary of State.

33613. You would leave it to the Secretary of State
entirely, as at present ? — Yes.

33614. Do vou know of any case where a second inquiry
has been asked for, and, in your opinion improperly
refused ? — ^None have come under my immediate notice.

33615. Then you go on to deal with the Board of
Examination ? — Yes.

33616. You say that first and second-class certificates
for managers and imder-managers of mines are freely
granted at present and that some of the successful can-
didates have no thorough practical knowledge and others
are deficient in the scientific part of their profession 7 —
That is so.

33617. Do you think that the examination is unduly
lax 7 — I think in some cases it is, both from the practical
and scientific point of view.

33618. Then you add that owners of mines for the
most part select good men, but there is a distinct tendency
in some quarters to be pennywise and to appoint inferior
mea» who, though they fulfil the requiromeDts of the



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 127 of 177)