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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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Acts, have very poor qualifications. You have known
that to be the fact in your district 7 — I have known that
to be the fact

33619. Consequently you think it extremely detirable
that the qualifications for passing this examination should
be somewhat screwed up 7 — ^Yes, by the formation of a
Central Board of Examination.



Mr. W. H.
Pickering.

t2 Dec, 1907



You say that the time has now arrived when the
scheme for the examination for Managers' certificates should
be thoroughly revised with the object of establishing
uniformity and the better testing of the practical as well
as the theoretical knowledge ot the candidates 7 — Yes.

33621. Then you suggest a Board of Examination which
should be constituted for the whole of the United Kingdom
and appointed by the Secretary of State, and which should
consist of " (a) The Director of the Mines Department (ex
officio President). (6) Three persons nominated by the
Coal Owners' AJssociation. (c) Three persons nominated
by the Miners' Union, (d) One person nominated by the
Institution of Mining Engineers, (o) One person nom\
nated by the Colliery Managers' Association. (/) One
University Professor of Mining." That is ten persons 7 —
Ten persons.



y



Then you say that the Board should be a
controlling rather than an examining body : they would
draw up Qie regalations for the conduct of the examina-
tions, and appoint the examiners 7 — Yes.

33623. They should not be examiners themselves 7 —
No, I would not let them be examiners themselves.

33624. And they should take steps to insure that the
standard of examination was the same in each district 7 —
Yes.

33625. They would consider the examiners' reports and
grant certificates to such candidates as had, in their
opinion, qualified 7 — ^Yes.

33623. You add that the examinations might be held
at Glasgow, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Sheffield, Birmingham,
Manchester, Cardiff and London once a year, at times
convenient for each centre 7 — Ye«.

33627. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUia.) You have had considerable
experience in England as an inspector, and you have also
been out to India 7— That is so.



8. So that you have the advantage not only of
knowing the condition of things in Ekiglaiid, but in the
Indian coal-field 7 — ^That is so.

33629. With reference to Government inspection, what
do you consider is the object which should be sought for
by Government inspection 7 — ^I think first of all that there
ought to be enough to ensure that the Act is fairly uni-
fonuly observed, and that any serious irregularities will
be detected. I also think that an inspector ought to
have at least as good qualifications as a manager.

33630. I want to understand what the object is : it is
to see that the Act is carried out 7 — Yee, and that the
mines are properly managed.

33631. In your view for the inspector to do that, it is
not necessaiy that he should be at the mine every week 7
— I do not think it is desirable.



Do you think that by a sample inspection of
a mine you can form an opinion as to how the Mines Act
is being carried out generally throughout that mine 7 —
I think by repeated samples you can. I would not say
that by going and just seeing a' district to-day I could
pass an opinion upon a mine, but I should have a very
good idea of what was going on even then.

33633. But by repeated sampling of a mine you would
have sufficient idea as to whether the Mines Act was being
carried out or not 7 — You would have a very good idea
after two or three visits. Then probably if you were not
thoroughly satisfied you would have a more extensive
inspection made of the mine. That has been my practice.

33631. That is, to see that tlie Mines Act is being carried
out. But is there not another duty of an inspector
namely, that if he finds any dangerous practice to which
there is no specific provision of the Mines Act applicable
his duty is to call attention to that and take means to have
it stopped 7 — ^Yes. He has power of giving notice if the
manager will not remedy it. In practice as a rule the
managers remedy it.

33635. In order to carry out this inspection, your view
is that the man who is to do it must be a hi^y-qualified
man 7 — I think it is essential.

33636. What assistance do you expect to get from
assistant inspectors 7—1 expect that the iospeetion which

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MINUTES OF EVIDENCE I



Mr. W. H.
Pickering.



they would make should be in all lespeots as good as I
should make myself.



12 Deo.» 1907 33637. And you think that to be of use they ought to
be as qualified lor the work (except with regard to ex-
perience, which they would not have immediately upon
emplojnment) as the chief inspector? — I think so.

33638. In the suggestion which you make for the future
you would have these additional inspectors 7 — ^Deputy
chief inspectorH.

33639. That is all: would the assistant inspector do
the same work as the inspector ? — ^Yes, the same that the
assistant inspectors do now.

33640. Therefore it would not be merely some man who
could examine to see whether a place was free from gas,
or whether the timbering was right, but it would be some
man who was sufficientl} competent to pronounce an
opinion as to the general condition of the mine ? — Yes,
or who would go and investigate an accident and be able
at an inquest to answer any mining engineering questions
which might be put to him, which crop up at inquests.

33641. And also to afford any advice which might be
necessary to the management ? — ^Yes.

33642. Also that he should be able to notice whether
there was any dangerous practice, which, although not
expressly provided for in the Act of Parliament, ought to
be stopped ? — Yes, or indications of danger.

33643. That he ought to be qualified to do all that ?—
I tbink so.

33644. If he is not qualified to do that, do you think
inspection would be of any use ?— From my point of view
it would not be. I would not say that it would be of no
use but it would not be so valuable.

33645. With reference to the persons who should be
appointed inspectors, do you see any objection to the
appointments being open to anybody having a first-class
certificate and passing the Home Office examination ? —
The only objection I see to that is in regard to difficulty
as to character and physique ; you may get a man who
is not strong enough either in character or body for the
position. There are also other qualifications that occur
to one, if a man was coming into a public service, which
are desirable. I think I should not throw the thing
absolutely open and give it to a man who came out with
the top marks, because he may not be the best candidate.
He may be a man who can pass an examination and
nothing else.

33646. But, of course, so far as the physique is con-
cerned, that might be ascertained by medical examination ?
— ^Yes, that can be ascertained by medical examination to
a large extent.

33647. What I want to see is whether it is possible to
get rid of the nomination altogether, and to have an
examination open to every person who should have the
necessary qualifioations 7 — ^The only objection that I see
to that is mat you might not get the best man if you took
the man who comes out top and is good at examinations.

33648. That is your view 7 — That is my view.

33649. Subject to that, you would see no objection
to it being thrown open 7 — ^I would not, subject to that.

33650. Then, of course, it would relieve somebody
from the difficulty of making a selection 7 — ^That is so.

33651. I suppose a man to be an inspector must have
had some practical experience 7 — ^I think that is essential.

33652. Then what is your view as to that practical
experience 7 — It is a little difficult to give a definition
on the spur of the moment, but I should say he ought to
have had experience in some form or another of most of
the work in a pit ; for instance, he ought to know all
about the work in the face, but it ought not to end there ;
he ought also to know how to arrange brattice to keep gas
off ; he ought to know how to build dams to keep fire
back, and he ought to know how to timber very difficult
ground, as through a heavy fall in a road ; in fact, he
ought to know how to do, and to do with his own hands,
when necessary, any operation of that sort.

33653. You must not consider me rude in putting this
question to you : in what way did you acquire that
experience 7 — I began by being down the pit all day and
doing all sorts of uungs — working about the pits. I used
tt> go down at two o*ok>ok in the morning when I firat
started.

33654. And you saw all that was going on 7 — ^I saw
all that was ^mg on, and did a good deal of it too. _



33655. Is it necessary, in your view, tliat a man should
qualify himself by actually working as a collier at the coal
face 7 — I do not think it is absolutely essential. I may
give you a case where I had three inspectors acting as stone-
masons about six months ago ; one of them had been a
working man, but the others had not. They were building
dams with their own hands.

33656. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) But how is the inspector to
possess the experience which you think necessary unless
he is to have the opportunity of working with his own
hands 7 — ^He can work with his own hancu if he likes in
a pit. You will find that the more energetic young men
do help ; tiiey help in digging gob-fires out, and they help
in building, and they ^e up the pick when they are
going round.

33657. Then what vou mean is this : it is not necessary
for him to be engaged as a collier, but it is necessary that
he should have an opportunity of practising that land of
work 7 — I think so.

33658. Would a man who has never done anything
of that kind, but who has simply done the work of measur-
ing the air as a surveyor, be qualified 7 — I do not think
as a rule he would be, but he may be. If he had simply
gone round measuring the air I do not think he would be
qualified.

33659. (Mr. RatcHffe ElUs.) 1 do not suggest that he
would be. It is suggested here that before a man is quali-
fied he should have five or six years actual working as a
collier at the face 7 — I beg your pardon, is that for all
appointments 7

33660. For under -manager, inspector, fireman or any
other person connected with the management or super-
vision of a mine. Supposing that was the case, you see a
man begins in the mine, and it is a considerable time
before he begins to work at the face. He cannot work at
the face until he is 20 or 21 7 — That is so.

33661. Then five or six years working at the face would
bring him to the age of 26 or 27, 1 suppose 7— Yes.

33662. When is this man to learn the measurement
of the air and other duties which are necessary to be
discharged by a manager or to be supervised bv an inspector
in a mine 7 — I think if a man, say, had only begun as a
driver and then worked as a loader, and then in a stall,
he would not be what I should call a practical pitman
altogether. He would have a knowledge of the working
of the face and of his own place, but he might be in that
place for years and never see another place.

33663. Do you think a man with a qualification of that
sort is a man to whom the lives of the men in the mine
ought to be entrusted 7— Not unless he has other qualifi-
cations as well.

33664. And other qualifioations probably of more
importance than that 7 — Yes — of equal importance, at
all events.

33665. Therefore, in your view, the training which you
yourself had down the pit, although you never worked as
a collier, is sufficient to give you that practical experience
to enable you to supervise the management of the mine 7 —
I think so.

(Mr. Wm. Abn^iom.) And it is necessary 7

33666. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) That is to say, you think
that is the experience which would be necessary to qualify,
and sufficient to qualify a man for that post 7 — Yes ; it
would not disqualify a man who had worked at the face.
A lot of our best managers have been colliers and they
come on later in life. I would not for a moment say any-
thing against the experience which a man gets at the face ;
I think it is very valuable.

33667. I would not say anything against it for a moment,
but although it would not disqualify him, it would not
necessarily be the only qualification 7— No ; it would
not necessarily be the only qualification.



3. You say you would have all the inspectors

equally qualified 7 — That is so.

33669. You suggested that there should be a Mines
Department at the Home Office 7— Yes. I think that is
practically decided from what I see in the papers.

33670. Th^ would the head of that department be the
chief inspector, or would he be a different official 7 — I
think that would have to be left to the Secretary of Stale.
I do not know that I have any right to pass an opinion
upon that. I do not think he ou^t to do anything that
would interfere with the authority of the district inspectors.

33671. Do you think that that official, whoever he is
snould Interfere with the work of the present ehief
inspeotora 7— Not except as xegardi iinifoimi^ and proper



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disoharge-of dutiee. I do not see how you oould prevent
him interfering to « ^lertain extent, but I would not lessen
the authority of a chief inspeetor in charge of a district.

33672. Do you think that if there were anything done
which lessened the authority or interfered with the position
of the chief inspector that would be undesirable ? — I
think that would be a great mistake. I would raise his
status rather than lower it.

33673. With regard to remuneration, in your view every-
thing has risen except the faispector's remuneration, which
has stopped veiy much where it was years ago ? — That
is so.

33674. In your opinion there ought to be such remunera-
tion as would attract the best men 7 — Yes, I think that is
desirable.

33675. And that should go through all the classes of
inspectors ? — Yes, alL

33676. You think their work might be relieved to a
certain extent by the clerical work being taken away ? —
Yes.

33677. But do you not think it is very desirable that
all the statistics of the district should pass through the
hands of the chief inspector ? — Yes. In India I had them
all compiled by clerks, but I checked all the figures ; I went
through them myself.

33678. Although he should be responsible for them, and
they should pass through his hands, because it gives him
a very important view as to the condition of the district ?

33679. Yet he should be relieved from part of that
duly ? — Yes ; for instance, he might be relieved from
writing all the names in the book and writing the figures
after l£em. He can check them afterwards and go through
them, but with regard to all the detailed clerical work, I
do not see that a man with those qualifications should
have to do it. No other man in such a position has to do
such work.

33680. With reference to the establishment of Special
Rules, would you disestablish the existing rules ? — I think
the best plan would be to make a clean sweep and revise
them altogether. It strikes one now that we have a
tremendous jumble of Special Rules and Orders, so that a
good many of the managers cannot understand where
they are.

33681. But of course the men and the managers know
these rules pretty well ? — Yes.

f 33682. And that might cause rather a danger ; if you
j were to disestablish these and start afresh it would take
I some time to learn the new ones ? — A good many of the
rules are in a sense superfluous, I think; they are not
observed. You find most of the prosecutions for breaches
of the rules are under two heads ; one is that ihe men shall
not do an act which is calculated to endanger life or
property, and the other is for not obeying orders.

33683. You say the Board should be three representa-
tives of the ooal-owners — the employers — and three
representatives of the Miners' Uniou : that is six. Then
the Chief Inspector of Mines : that is seven ? — Yee.

33684. And who else 7— That is all for the Mining Board
which is to frame rules.

33685. What is to bacome of the men who may not be
in the Union ? — I have provided for the rules being sent
round and published.

33686. But so far as the Board is concerned, who is to
represent the men who have no representative on the
Board ? — ^They are not represented.

33687. They would have no locus standi on this Board ?
— No. The same would apply to the coal-owners, too ; but
the inspector, who is an independent man, would listen
to any representations.

33688. I see that in your rules in Yorkshire you have
rules applying to the under-managers and deputies, under-
hewer, engkiewright, enginemen, banksmen and hangers-on,
brakesinen, incline-men and a number of others ; and then
you come to a limited number of rules for miners, workmen
and others ? — ^That is so.

33689. Is there to be anybody on the Board representing
the various classes of employment, managers and men,
who are not usuaUy in the Miners* Federation ? — I think
the Coal Owners' Association and the Miners' Union are
so strong now that they represent everyone, and those
they do not represent, the inspector would represent I
have considered it from that point of view, but there are
so few now outside either the Union or the Association



that I think they would be represented by the inspector, Mr. W. H.
who would listen to any representation they made. Pickering,

33690. Supposing that on this Board which establishes ^2 Deo. 1907

S pecial Rules there should be a difference of opin ion between ^

the three representatives of the owners and the Uunee
representatives of the workmen, then would you X'lace the

sole decision in the hands of the inspector T — I would give
the other side the right to appeal to the Secretary of State
or to an arbitrator.

33691. Then if the inspector decides either on one side
or the other, you would give the dissenting party the right
of appeal ? — I would.

33692. With regard to that appeal, you say you have
not quite thought out the authority yet ? — No.

38693-5. But you rather favour the provisions of the
Factory Act ? — Yes, I rather favour them ; I believe they
are working welL I should like to know more about the
working of it, first of all.

33696. Here you have got representatives of the owners,
who are supposed to be competent men and who understand
mining as well as the inspector ?— That is so.

33697. At any rate, they think so ? — Yes, they do.

33698. And then you have the three representatives
of the workmen, and you have the inspector. Now,
supposing there is a division of opinion, and the matter
comes before the Secretary of State ? — Yes.

33699. Of course, he would be helpless, in all proba-
bility ?— Yes.

33700. Then he is to be guided by the advice given to
him by the officials at the Home Office ? — ^That is so.

33701. So that really you do place in their handi the
fixing of those rules ? — It is putting rather into form
what is now the practice, except that you make it more
definite, and you have a little more publicity. As a rule,
if we are establishing Special Rules, we let the owners
and the miners know. Supposing they want to revise a
Special Rule, they have a meeting ; but it is not quite so
formal as what I propose they should have.

33702. This suggestion of yours is to simplify the present
procedure ? — ^That is so.

33703. Now I want to suggest to you another scheme,
and that is this : that it should be lett as it is at preseut,
that the owners may propose a rule, or the Home Office
may propose a rule ? — Yes.

33704. But that if it is proposed by the owner, then,
before it is established it should be advertised, as in the
Factory Rules ?— Yes.

33705. And everybody interested, whether it is a collier
or the Minors' Federation, or some owner who is not in
the Coalowners' Association, sh)uld be able to object to
it ?— Yes.

33703. And if that objection is not ren^oved, that he
should be entitled to go to arbitration* but instead of having
two arbitrators and an umpire as now proposed, it should
be an arbitrator appointed by a judge of the High Court,
who should decide the question finally. You see what
I suggest is this, that there is no harm in proposing a rule ?
—No.

33707. But before it is established as a rule to bind
anybody, anyone interested should have an opportunity
of expressing their objection to it? — I quite agree.

33708. Then you think a S3r8tem of that sort would
n^eet your views ? — ^It depends upon how it worked.
I have not really considered that carefully enough.

33709. But I want to draw the distinction between
these: it is suggested that before the rule is even pro-
posed, the coal-owner, if he wishes to propose a rule,
must invite the men to discuss it with Imn ? — ^Yes.

33710. I do not quite know what men he is to invite,
but )ie is to invite some of the n^en — ^I suppose the men
at his colliery — to discuss that rule wilji him. But
whether they agree to it or not he may propose the rule 7
—Yes.

33711. I suggest that that is an unnecessary and oseleBs
formality : that he should be allowed to propose his rule,
and that before it is established anybody interested should
have a right to object, and that if there is a division of
opinion amongst them which cannot be removed by
meetings, if l^ey choose to meet together afterwards,
then it tdiould go to an arbitrator appointed, in case ot
difference, by a judge of the High Court ? — I think the
men ought to ^ow that a mle is to be proposed, and
what the natmre of it is.

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Mr. W. H.

Pickering,

13 Dec.» 1907



33712. Why ?— Because I think they ought to have an
idea of what is expected, and they may have views on
the subject.

33713. They have an opportunity before it is established.
Take the case of the Home Office. Suppose they wish to
propose a rule, are they not to be allowed to propose the
rule until they have communicated with the men and
said " We want to propose this rule ? *' Is it not sufficient
if they propose the rule, that anyone interested, owner or
employee, shall have a right to object to it ?— So long as
everybody concerned in the rule knows 'that it is going
to come on and be discussed, I am satisfied : but I want
to make Uie process afterwards as simple as possible. I
want everyone to know that a certain rule is going to be
proposed and put into force.

33714. That a certain rule is going to be established ?—
Yes.

33716. I agree, and I go further and say that it should
not be established imtil everybody has had an opportunity
of having their say about it ? — Yes, I agree.

33716. Then the only thing upon which we differ is the
way in which any differences should be settled afterwards ?
— That is so. I thought this would be a sort of Conciliation
Board of men and owners who should agree on what the
rule should be.

' 33717. You know, and it is a fact, is it not, that from
the men's point of view many questions that arise upon
these rules are not questions of safety, but questions of
wages ? — ^It would often arise.

33718. If that should be the question to be discussed
by this Boaid, it would not be likely that the Board should
come to any conclusion about it ?— If they discussed the
wages question, I think you might rely upon it that they
would not agree.

33719. If the rule which is going to be proposed was a
rule which might affect wages, I suppose it vraxAd be a
mere formality having this Board to consider it ?— No, I
do not think it would. The rules would be put in a de-
batable form.

33720. It is a new Conciliation Board, really ?— Yes.

33721. However, you would agree with me that if the
men, or rather, if anyone interested — ^I do not wish to
talk about the men as apart from the emplovers — have a
full opportunity, before wie rule is established, of knowing
what it is, you are satisfied ?— Yes.

33722. The only thing is that you want the method of
dealing with differences to be simplified ? — ^Yes.

I 33723. {Chairman,) But are you satisfied ? I ask you
that^ because Mr. Ellis puts it to you that you are satisfied
if, before the rule is established, everybody has an oppor-
tunity of having their say. I put it to you, is it not
desirable that everybody should have an opportunity of.



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 128 of 177)