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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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saying their say, not only before the rule is established,
but before the mine owners have gone to the length of
putting it forward ? Is it not desirable that the men
should be consulted at a' previous stage of the pro-
ceedings, because when once the mine-owners have met
together and consulted among themselves and con-
sulted no one else and have put forward a rule, is it not
rather a matter of pride with them that they should stick
t to the rule in the form in which they put it forward, and
i would it not be desirable, before they have absolutely
I bedded to ask for the establishment of a particular rule,
that the drafting of it should be considered both by nxasters
I and men ?— That is my view. I rather understood Mr.
I EDis to say that

(Chairman,) That is exactly what Mr. Ellis does not
I understand, and does not wiah.

33724. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) In all your experience
where employers and their workmen have been engaged
in discussing these matters, has a wages question been
allowed to be raised ?— No, it has not been raised.

33725. (Mr. Batdiffe Ellis.) With regard to the duties
of firemen and inspection under General Rule 4, do you
think that the districts are too large ?— I think in some
cases they are. I think a man is hard pressed.

33726. You have suggested that where a man cannot
get round in two hours that that should be taken as a
measure of his district ?— I think that is a rough way of
measuring it.

33727. It would depend upon the man a good deal ?—
Yes, and the local conditions.

33728. Is there any way by which it could be put into
a rule. Can you suggest any woidn to provide for his

district not being too large t — }fo, it is very difficult to
put it into a rule.

33729. It would have to be left to the management ? —

33730. Have you had any reason to suppose that where
the districts are not too large the firemen have had to do
other work than examining ? — I think that there are
cases where they have to do.

33731. That should not be aUowed you think 7— No.

33732. Is there any rule you can suggest to secure better
supervision ? — I do not think so, e^tcept making the
management itself of a higher clais. I think it has to
be largely brought about by public opinion*

33733. You think that the districts should not be too j^
large and that the men should have nothing to do but
the work of inspection ? — I think they ought to confine
themselves to that work.

33734. Do you think in your district it is the case that
the firemen have other duties to perform than mere
inspection ? — ^No, not very largely ; only in a few cases.

33735. In the best managed collieries? — They do
nothing else but examine.

33736. Your suggestion would be merely bringing up
collieries to the standard of the best ? — ^Yes, that is so.

33737. With reference to General Rule 38 and the
examination do you think that is a useful provision 7 —
Yes, I think it is a useful provision.

33738. What is the object of that examination* May
I suggest that it is the same as that of the Goverzmient
inspection, but it is to assure the men working in the
mine that they are working under conditions that are
safe ? — ^Yes.

33739. That is the object of it. I put it to you whether
that object would not be more likely to be better attained
by the examination being made by some of their own
number under the same conditions than by outsiders 7 —
I think as a rule it would be better attained.

33740. Do you think that there is anything in the
suggestion that the men do not examine for fear of the
consequences 7 — I think there is certainly not in York-

33741. The Miners' Federation exists in Yorkshire and
other parts of the country 7 — Yes.

33742. I daresay you have heard that they have taken
up cases where a man is said to have been victimised or
where he has been unjustly discharged 7 — I have heard
of cases of that sort

33743. They would be interested in a case where a man
was discharged in consequence of making a bad report 7 —

33744. You do not think in Yorkshire that there is any
reasonable ground for such a fear 7 — ^No.

33745. It is suggested that this right of examination of ^
coal owners* premises should be extended not only to men
who are employed in his mine, as is the case now, but to
anybody who has been a practical miner at any time in
his life. Do you think that is a desirable alteration 7 —
No, I do not think that is very desirable,

33746. You would not do that 7— No.

33747. It is suggested that check weighers should be
eligible for this worit of examining 7— In Yorkshire most
of the check weighers are not practical miners.

33748. (Mr. SmiUie.) Do you say that from your own
knowledge 7— Not by asking the men but it is a sort of
general impression I have.

33749. We know that it is not the case 7—1 think it has
been said in evidence by the miners' representatives that
most of them are not I give that for what it is worth.
At all events a number of them are not

33750. 80 percent of them 7— In Yorkshire.
33761. Yes.— I did not know that

33752. (Mr. Ratdiffe Mis.) Theyalue of this inspection
to you would be quite as much if made by men who have
to work under the same conditions, they report upon as
if made by check weighers 7 — ^Yes.

33753. With reference to the supervision by the manage-
ment, you think that a manager should have rather fewer
duties : that is, that the area of his supervision should be
restricted 7— Not in all cases— in fact not in most cases.
In some cases it is satisfactory.



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33764. Yoa saggesi for oonaideTatioa someUsing on the
indiaii met^d ? — Yes, I suggest for ooDBideration some-
thing on that method.

33755. Yoa think in some of the best collieries in York-
shire the practice does not differ very much from that 7 —
No, the practice is very satwfactoiy.

33756. {Mr, Cunynghame,) You are aware, of course,
that a ver^ large proportion of the accidents in mines are
due to falk of roof and sides ? — Yes.

33757. You are also aware that Special Rules were
made for timbering at stated distances, the distances to
be named by the manager of the mine ? — Yes, that is so.

33758. What is your opinion as to the cause of this
number of accidents emd how it could be prevented ? —
I think stricter supervision would help.

33759. It comes to this, there is a certain amount of
-carelessness in the men at work ? — Both in the supervision
sad the men at work.

33700. There should be greater supervision, and you
think greater care, too, iif the setting of timber ? — ^There
sie a k)t of cases of accident that ou^t not to happen
from drawing timber.

33761. How can that greater care be brought about:
how can people be made to take greater care ? Would it
be necessaxy to have prosecutions or fines, or anything
-else 7 — I am more in favour of prosecutions than fmes.

33762. Would it mean a large number of prosecutions
to get rid of this carelessness T — I think you can only get
xid of it by educating public opinion against bad method.

33763. You do not think that prosecutions would do
much ? — ^I think they would help very much.

33764. Do you mean that there should be more of
^em ? — ^I think in lots of cases that there should be more,

but the practice varies enormously in my district. Some
managers always prosecute : oUiers never do. lliey fine a
man or take some other means of punishing him, or none.

33765. {Chairman,) Do you find that there is much
•difference in ihe maintenance of discipline in those mines

where they prosecute and where they fine ? — ^I think the
•discipline as a rule is stronger where tiiey prosecute.

33766. You have gone into that ?— Yes. It is not
■always stronger.

33767. You have gone into that question carefully ? —

33768. You do not think that is so always, that there
is a difference always in favour of prosecutions ? — ^I am in
favour in a serious case of having a prosecution.

769. {Mr, Cunynghame,) Are you in favour of the
abolition of fines altogether ? — ^No, I do not think I would
go quite that far, but I would restrict tiiem.

33770. In the future do you look forward to a con-
siderable reduction of loss of life from tiiose falls of roof ?

— I think we may hope for that.

33771. For the last 8 or 10 years the reduction has not
gone on fast enough really to content you T— No, not at
all. The industry has been expanding so enormously.
I do not think you will get any great reduction until it

^settles down again.

33772. This great expansion is due to the opening of
a number of new mines ? — ^Yes, the extraordinary influx
of men into the mines is due to that.

33773. Will that expansion go on or not ? — I think it
will go on for some time. It certainly will in Yorkshire.

33774. I should not like to forecast, because it is
dangerous, but can you give us an idea of the output in
10 years time ? — For the whole Ejngdom 7

33775. Yes. — ^I would not like to prophecy that.

33776. Do you think there will be a considerable
•extensim 7^1 think there will be quite 26,000,000.

33777. Of extension 7— Yes.

33778. That is extended by one-eighth more in 10 years 7

33779. That very extension itself will be a cause, to a
•certain extent, of more accidents from falls 7 — I think
it will, owing to the influx of new men into the pits. My
•own view is that it takes two generations to make a really

first-class miner. Although a man may enter the mine
as a boy, if he is not of a mining family and mining people,
he seldom becomes as skilled and as careful a miner as
those who are really brought up in it and whose fathers
are miners.

33780. Your view with regard to accidents from falls
is to a large extent in the circumstances that they are

inevitable. Is that so or not 7—1 think that is so. I am
afraid it is.

33781. But you suggest more prosecutions and more
supervision 7 — I have suggested more supervision in my

Frevious evidence by reducing the hours of the deputies,
tiiink that would help largely.

33782. {Mr, Wm. Abrtiham,) I think, without basins
your opinion upon your knowledge of employers and
workmen, you are stiU of opinion t^t it would be better,
as the Chairman put it, for the employers and workmen
to meet in the first instance to discuss new rules 7 —
That is my view.

33783. It would do away with any unnecessary loss
of time 7 — ^It takes a long time to get through necessary
rules now.

33784. I think you told us you would have the same
qualifications for each class of inspector 7 — ^I would.

33785. Do you think that to be essential 7—1 think
that ought to be essential, for one reason you would widen
the number of men from whom you would choose the
chief inspectors.

33786. You are of opinion that in each case a man should
have a practical knowledge and experience of work in a
mine 7 — ^I think he ought to have a thorough practical
knowledge and be a good practical pitman.

33787. A good practical pitman 7 — Yes, I do think so.

33788. Are you aware that some of our present assistant
inspectors have never done any practical work in the
mine 7 — ^I have not gone into the question of the qualifica-
tions of my colleagues, and I think it is a question I would
rather not answer if you do not mind, if the Chairman
will allow me, I will not answer that question. I do not
think it is a question I ought to answer even if I have the
knowledge oif it. I should be obliged if Mr. Abraham
would not press it.

33789. No, I will not. You have given your own view 7
— Yes. I would rather not express any opinion on my

33790. Your view is that men of high technical know-
ledge have a great advantage in partakmg in examinations
over the practical men who have not that technical
knowledge 7 — ^Yes, that would be so.

33791. You would not be surprised to find that some
of those men, because of their hish technical knowledge,
in the absence of practical knowledge, have been selected 7
— It is quite possible a man might get selected.

33792. You have stated that a sample inspection once
a year is satisfactory 7 — A large mine, of course, would be
visited in the ordinary course of things a great deal of tener
than once a year, but I think every mine ought to be
visited at least once a year.

33793. That is a different view from what I understood
you to say. A sample examination of all mines once a
year is not satisfactory 7 — ^No, because you are visiting
the mine for the purpose of investigating accidents as well.
Nothing may happen at the mine during the year to call
the inspector there, and then I think it ought to be visited
during the year.

33794. I have not in my mind visiting or examining in
case of accidents, but the real examination. Assume Qiat
no accident has happened, I think, in answer to Mr. Ellis,
you modified that opinion and said that repeated sampling
would be necessary 7 — ^Yes.

33795. In what kind of collieries do you consider
repeated sampling necessary 7 — ^A larse dan^rous colliery
where there wjere several seams working. You ought to
have a knowledge of each seam.

33796. Do you know that in several collieries the
character of certain sections has changed during 12 months 7
— Yes, that is so.

33797. So that the sample of one part of that mine
could not be satisfactorily taken to represent tlie condition
of the whole mine 7 — ^It is quite possible there might be

33798. If the general character hid thoroughly changed,
of course that would be so 7 — ^Yes, but it would not alter
the character of the management. That is my most
important point of view. How are these mines being
sujwrvised and managed 7 That is the most impartant
duty of the inspector, to see that is carried out properly.

33799. If his duties are reduced down to that, is it
sufficient to see he does his duties once a year 7 — ^No.
He does not know when that mine may be inspected.
It may be inspected at any moment. If you went to a
mine and found a district not prop3riy ventilated, the

Mr. W. H.

12 Deo., 1907

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Mr, W, H, manager would be absolutely responsible, and if he knew
Pickering, tiiat titie inspector was coming the day before, he oould not

make that right — he conld not make a drastic alteration

«12 Deo, 1906 of his ventilation.

33800. That is doing away with the idea created in my
mind that visiting these mines o^oe a year would be
satisfactory ? — Yes. If you are not satisfied with your
sample then you go further into the matter.

33801. You would not put it down as a rule that once
I a year is sufficient ? — "So ; I would make no rule.

33802. Do you know any reason why so few of the
workmen's examinations are made in Yorkshire ? —
There are about one-third made. I think there are as
many as in other districts. I think it is about one-third.
I should say that collieries empk>3dng 40,000 people are
inspected by the workm^i. I do not know the reason for
not expandOng it.

33803. Do you know that they are not putting that
rule into force as a fact ? — ^It is not put into universal
force. That is a fact.

33804. Have you seen workmen's reports brought as
evidence of the cnaracter of mines at the coroner's inquests ?
— ^No, I do not remember that being done ; not in York-
shire or in Staffordshire.

33805. Do you think, holding the view you do about
the character of inspection, that anything turns upon the
opinion of those men when an explosion takes place ? —
I think it is valuable to hare all the evidence you can,
when an explosion takes place, from anyone.

33806. The evidence of these men would be valuable ?
— ^Yes, they would be valuable witnesses.

33807. Because they have made a thorough inspection ?
— That is so.

33808. And because they are capable of doing it ? —

33809. Do you not think it is in that direction, real
examination of the working places, that we mostly require
additional inspection ? — ^No. I think you require luidi-
tional supervision in the working places, which I have
stated witli regard to the firemen's dislxicts ; but I do
not think that the Government ought to be responsible
for inspection by men who are not as qualified as the
managers. A man inspects under Rule 38 and he is
responsible to the men, but the Government take no
responsibility for his inspection as to whether it is thorough
or not, or whether he makes a true report, but if a man is
under the Government he has to make his leport and
examination, and he is officially re6i)onsible to the Govern-
ment, and the Government are morally responsible for
his appointment.

33810. Supposing a practical miner by examination
possessed a certificate of competency, would that not be
a qualification hifh enough for this grade of inspector ?
— ^No ; I think he ought also to go through another
examination before he comes into the Government service.

33811. What for T — ^To see that he is thoroughly com-
petent to discharge those duties.

33812. Of simply seeing that the law is carried out T
— ^No, simply seeing you are getting the best men into the
service. I do not mind how it is done.

33813. You add to his duties, you are to have the best
men ? — ^I want to see the best men in the service.

33814. Not to see simply, as Mr. Ellis puts it, that the
law is earned out ? — I think that is one of his duties.

33815. No doubt ?— His principle duty.

(Mr, Eatdiffe Ellis.) I put another duty which he has
to perform: to call attention to any dangerous practice
which may not be provided for in the Coal Mines Regu-
lation Act.

33816. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Has he a power of advising ?
— ^No, the Act gives him no power, but in practice he
talks things over.

33817. If he did advise, he has no power to order his
advice to be carried out ? — ^No ; but if there is a really
serious danger that the manager will not remedy, and the
inspector tmnks he has power to give notice for that danger
to be remedied, there is a section which provides for that.

33818. Supposing that in the interim, between his asking
or advising or recommending the manager to take a certain
course— improve the ventilation or change the lamps,
put in safety-lamps instead of naked light — an explosion
takes place ? — ^Then the manager is in a very serious
[.oeition, but in a case of that sort it would be probably
a violation of the Ooal Mines Act, to b^n with — insufficient

yentilation. It woukl not, perhaps, be strong enough
in the first instance to justify a prosecution, but the
inspector would write and draw the managers attention
to this defect. He follows that up by a second visit, and
if not put right then, he prosecutes.

33819. Supposing that second letter goes and nothing
is done and an explosion takes place ? — ^Then the manager
is in a very serious position.

33820. Do you think that a manager ought to be placed
on his trial in any way ? — ^He would probably be prose-
cuted, but every case would have to be judged on its
merits. I would not lay down a definite axiom.

33821. I think you give it as your opinion that all the
coroner's examinations haye not proved to be satisfactory
to you ?^That is so.

33822. And that in some oases within your knowledge
some other kind, or a more direct inquiry, would be
advisable ? — ^Yes, that is so.

33823. What in your opinion would be the circumstances
justifying the Home Secretary putting in force Rule 45
that provides for a second inquiry ? — ^I think if you had
the coroner's inquests made more efficient than they are
now, it would be very seldom necessary to put it into
force. I do not see the object of having more than one
inquiry if you can avoid it, and, as a rule, the coroner's
court is satisfactory if the coroner takes enlightened views
of things, b^^ause the jury are usuaUy men of all kinds»
practical miners and different classes of men. There would
be two or three practical miners on the jury or, perhaps^
four or five practical miners, and there would be different
men as well.

33824. (Chairman.) We were told the other day by a
representative of the miners that there was the greatest
possible difficulty in getting practical miners on to the
jury ? — ^We often have practical miners on in Yorkshire,
or men who have been practical miners.

33825. (Mr. Ratdiffe Ellis.) Men who have been at
work in the pit ? — Yes, very often men who have retired
come on the jury and make very good jurymen as a rule.
It depends where the inquest is held. It is sometimes
held where the police can only get shopkeepers. We
usually have one or two miners, at all events, on our
juries, and often more.

33826. (Chairman,) You are satisfied with the com-
position of the jury ? — As a rule I am satisfied with the
composition of the jury.

33827. (Mr, Wm, Abraham,) You know of some cases
that have not been satisfactory ? — Yes, where the coroner
does not allow what I consider proper latitude. From
his point of view he allows plenty ; I suppose he thinks

33828. Where all the facts from your point of view were
not ascertained ? — ^They do not become public. We
ascertain them of course ourselves, but they do not become
public and it leads to rumours and misunderstandings
even where there is no serious matter.

33829. Would you lay down as a rule that where one
shift is worked three examinations should be made, two
hours between each ? — In my scheme they examine for
that one shift within two hours at the beginning and two
other examinations would be made during the shift

33830. At different intervals ?— Yes.

33831. The new point you have given us to-day, which
I think is veiy valuable, is that these examinations should
be made witnin two hours of each other ? — ^Within two
hours of the men beginning work, that is the first thing,
and my next point was that the man should be able to
get round his district in two hours.

33832. That would be the second ? — Yes, the second

33833. Then another examination ? — Yes, another ex-
amination stilL I would not put the interval between
those two second examinations ; I would not lay it down
definitely. A man goes through his district, begins again,
and would make his examination of some places within
less ihaxk the time, but I want every man to be seen twice
when at work by the deputy, in aadition to the manager
or under-manager coming round.

33834. That, according to your opinion, could be easily
done in a shift of eight hours ? — It is done in some very
Im^ collieries.

33835. It is done 7 — Yes, in Yorkshire in very large
collieries, although the rule does not require it.


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33836. Where it is not done how many hours are there
where the men are working before the end of their shift
without that kind of examination taking place ? — ^He may
be there seven hours.

33837. That you object to T—Yes.

33838. That you think dangerous ? — I think it is

33839. Highly dangerous ?— Yes.

33840. Where two shifts are being worked you want
an examination to be made the l£»t two hours of the first
shift to do for the morning examination of the first shift ?
— Yes, I think that would be satisfactory.

33841. And then to follow on? — ^Then you come on
with two examinations again.

33842. So that in two shifts of eight hours you would
have six examinations ? — ^Yes, two intermediates. One
examination of course would fill two purposes.

33843. (Chairman.) There would not be six examinations,
but there would be five. — Yes, but one examination would
fill two purposes.

33844. Would that not give you too large a number of
hours in the closing of the second shift T — No, it would be
the same as the first shift. Suppose the first shift began
at 6 o'clock and the man examined from 4 to 6, and then
the shift — say it was an eight-hour shift — ^finished at 2,
between 6 and 2 there would have been two inspections by
the deputy, but from 12 to 2 one of these inspectors would
have been doing duty for the examination before the other
men came in. There would be five examinations.

33845. Five examinations would carry out your view ?
— Five examinations would carry it out

33846. You would have it laid down as a rule of some
kind that the fireman's district would be of such a size

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 129 of 177)