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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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that this could be done ? — ^Yes, I think if you made a
rule that the districts must be examined within two
hours of the men beginning work and that there must be
two examinations during the shift, you would get it, or
as near as may be.

33847. With regard to timbering, I think Mr. Cunyng-
hame put a question to you. What is your opinion with
regard to systematic timbering. Is it necessary for safe
working of our mines or not ? — I think sjmtematic timbering
is necessary and desirable and I always have Uiought so.
It has been carried out for dO years in some mines.

33848. You would be favourable to have rules directing
how timber is to be put and the distance it should be put
on the roads to the working places and roads of the same
character, and not the same length ? — ^I think that the
roads ought to be systematically and properly timbered.

33849. All roads ?— Yes. Where the road is in rock
and wiU stand it would be foolish to put timber up.

338d0. You would put timber on all roads where it is
necessary 7 — Yes, and I think it ought to be systematically
and properly set, but do not take it from me as a practical
man that I advocate timber in every place.

33851. I agree with you ; I do not want it in every
place. In weak cases it would be advisable ?— Yes,
It would be most desirable.

33852. (Mr, F. L. Davis.) You say you would like to
see this state of things, that one manager shall not have
charge of more than on? mine, with exceptions ? — Yes,
with exceptions.

33853. 1 did not understand how you meant to put that
into force. Do you suggest that should be stated in the
Coal Mines Regulation Act ?~I think there should be some
power given to the inspector to object to a man having
that sort of management

33854. You would leave things as they are at present 7
—Yes, it is satisfactory in most cases, but I would give
the inspector power to intervene where it is not satis-
lactory.

33855. Where he found it was not satisfactory to be
able to stop it ? — Yes.

33856. Do you consider that you have not got that
power now ? — No, I do not think we have got it now.

33857. What about rule 42 ?->! do not think that would
come under Section 42.

33858. Notsuflicientlydefinitely?— Yes. I do not think
you would get a case under that. *

33859. You would like to have the power to do that, but
generally speaking where there are a number of mines
onder one manager he is generally capable of taking charge



of them ? — ^Generally sp3aking, he appoints an efficient
man to carry out the proper management of them.

33860. With regard to the Special Rules and the new
Conciliation Boaid, you suggest — ^I am not quite clear
about this — everybody who wants a Special Rule estab-
lished would have to propose it to that Board 1 — ^He would
have to communicate with the inspector of the district,
who would then take steps to bring it before the Board.

33861. If the Home Office want to propose any rule
they would have to propose it to that Board ? — ^I think
they ought to be discussed by that Board.

-Owners



Mr. W. H.
Pickering.

12 Dec., 1907



Fo



And the owners and the men all alike ?-
and men and everyone who knows about it.

33863. With r^ard to the examination question, you
gave us the constitution of the Board of Examiners. It
is to consist of a director of mining as chairman, three
owners, three men» one manager and one engineer, I think
you said ? — One representative of the Institution of
Mining Engineers.

33864. Who are the others?— One member of the Colliery
Managers* Association.

33866. And a professor T— Yes, a ProfessOT of Mining.

33866. Do you suggest that that. Board should set the
papers for the examinations 7 — I think they first of all
would have to consider that. That is a question that
they would consider in making the regulations, but I
think in practice the best thing would oe for them to
appoint examiners who would submit the pipers they

>rop3sed to set to the Board for approval. In appointing
ooal examiners for each centre one of the principal duties

of that Board would be to see that the standard was equal

throughout the Kingdom.

33867. Theae examinations would be held in different
districts 7 — ^Yes.

33868. You do not propose in that case that all the
papers should be the same 7 — Praotioally the same.

33869. The local examiners who set the papsrs might
ask the approval of the other Board of the questions 7 —
That is so.

33870. Your reason for that is you wish to take into
consideration the differences that may obtain in different
districts 7 — ^For the purposes of examination the differences
are very slight. A man ought to have a thorough know>
ledge of mining. The certificate applies to the whole of
l^e Kingdom, and I think he ought to be qualified t>take
the management of any mine in the Kingdom.

33871. You suggest that the differences are so slight
that uniformity would be attained 7 — I think so. I think
it could be attained. I would appoint the examinations
in local districts really for the convenience of the candidates,
or you might have a central examination so far as that
goes.

33872. Who would mark the papers, the local men 7 —
I think the examiners would mark the papers and report
to the Board of Examination, who would grant the
certificates.

33873. What is your vmw on the question of marks
generally. Would you have a proportion or a maximum 7
— ^I would have a proportion. We formed the Board in
India during the time I was there and I went out to
organise the thing, and we had proportionate marks.

33S74. In every subject 7 — In every subject. That is
the schedule of marks on the right-hand page (producing
book). There are regulations there drawn up.

33875. These are the necessary marks to pass 7 — ^Yes,
those are in the regulations which we drew up for the
Board of Examination.

33876. Is your view that you would carry out that in
this country 7 — ^I would carry out that principle in Uiis
country.

33877. In every subject the candidates ought to pass,
and not necessarily pass on the whole amount of marks,
but they must pass in each subject 7 — ^The candidate must
pass in each subject — ^in essential subjects. The two
excepted are handwriting and arithmetic. In mining and
engineering they ought to pose or they ought not to pass
at all.

33878. If you had different sets of examiners marking
in the different districts do you not think that they might
mark rather differently 7 — ^It would be for the Board
of Examination to consider that. There would be oniv
seven districts where they were examined, and I think
that the Board of Examination would be strong enough



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MINUTES OF BVIDENOE 1



Pickering,
12 Deo., 1907



to ensure that there was unifonnity in that respeot. You
oannot allow for every human variation, I agree.

33879. Your opinion at any rate is that you would not
have one paper set by this Board of ibcamination to
operate in every district, but you think that the differences
are so slight, I mean the different kinds of questions, that
uniformity would be attained ? — ^I think it could be
attained, and I Uiink it would be the duty of Uie Board of
Examination to see that it was attained.

33880. {Mr. Batclifft EUis.) Would it be possible to
have one examiner on each Board nominated by the
Central Board T — Yes, it would be. The examiners ought
all to be appointed by the controlling Board.

33881. Each Board should have one examiner ? — On the
controlling Board.

33882. Yes, that would be possible ?— That would be
possible.

33883. {Mr. F. L. Davis.) The same man going round
each district ? — ^Yes, that would be a good thing.

33884. Two in the district and one central ? — One
outsider.

33885-^. That would do something to secure uniformity ?
—Yes.

33889. {Mr. SmtUie.') Do you think that the district
inspectors have sufficient power at the present time
to enforce what they believe are conditions of safety for
underground workmen ? — I think in a great many cases
itty have, but not as regards the management always. I
thmk their powers generally are sufficient.

33890. They have not power at the present time to
enforee the introduction of safety lamps if the management
refuses to put them in T — Yes, they can go to arbitration.

33891. They have no power without going to arbitra-
tion ? — ^If it is a place where they have gas I should
prosecute if they would not put safety lamps in.

33892. Would you succeed ?— I think so. I might not.
It all depends how it went. I think where there n a serious
amount of gas that safety lamps ought to be used. I have
no sympathy with naked lights.

33893. Supposing vou were working under the s ?a and
the iiispector, from the nature and appearance of the roof
and sides, was of opinion that it was oangerous, would he
have power to stop a mine ? — ^He could give notice under
the section.

33894. You require to go to arbitration ? — ^Yes.

33895. A prosecution would be of no service in a
case of that xind ? — ^He could not prosecute in that case
because it is not provided for in the Act. He could give
notice and go to arbitration.

33896. Do you think that it would be advantageous to
give the chief inspectors more power than they possess at
the present time ? — ^No, I think their general powers
are quite enough.

33897. You think they are strong enough? — ^Yes. It
depends a great deal how they are exeroised.

33898. You propose reducing the number of districts
from 12 to 7 ?— Yes.

33899. Is it the case that a very large part of the time
of tiie inspectors is taken up with travelling ? — ^That is
so, and that is why I want to reduce the number of the
districts.

33900. Would not you increase the travelling if you
reduced the districts ? — ^No, I would station in the scheme
I suggest the assistant inspectors and the deputy chief
inspectors at suitable places in the districts to avoid the
unprofitable time spent in travelling.

33901. You would so arrange your chiefs, sub-chiefs
and assistants as to give them the least possible travelling ?
— Yes, and if possible have them in t^ephonic communi-
cation with each other so that you could get at a man at
a minute's notice and cut out your work much better,
niere is often a difficulty when you have sent a man to
a certain part of a district and another man probably has
to cross him, because you have not been able to cut out
your work better. Of course you can telegraph, but I
think that telephones are more convenient.

33902. In answer to Mr. Abraham, you said in the
event of an explosion taking place during the time that an
inspects was waiting for the result of an arbitration
where he had advised that lamps should be put in, the
manager would find himself in a serious position ? — Yes,
I think he would.



33903. In what way ?— Wb^t (he inspector prophesied
would have happened, and he would be liable to prose-
cution in any case for not using lamps where there was
danger from gas. In a case where an explosion happena
through the use of naked lights the manager is liable
to prosecution because he has not used safety lamps,
prima facie.

33904. Supposing an explosion hapjwned because of
insufficient ventilation, and it could be proved and waa
proved at the inquest that the attention of the manacer
had been called repeatedlv bv the inspector to the conditioa
of matters, do you think the manager in a case of that
kind would find himself in a very serious position ? — Yes.

33905. Do you think a prosecution would follow ? — ^Yes.
33908. Have you read the Report of the inqury into the

McLaren explosion ? — Yes ; but I have not the facts
quite in my mind at the present moment.

33907. Do you remember that the assistant inspector
of mines had on two occasions visited that mine and found
a cap on the safety lamp for 500 yards in a return air-
way ? — ^I believe that was so.

33908. Are you aware that the inspector wrote on
two occasions to the general manager calling attention,
to the dangerous state of the mine ? — I remember that
was so.

33909. Do you remember that the assistant inspector
found a cap on the lamp in several of the working pkoee T
— ^I believe that was so, too.

33910. Taking it for granted that an inspector of mineff
had called the attention of the manager to the state of
the ventilation, and pointed out that it was dangerous,
and an explosion of gas took place, would you expect the
manager would find himself in a serious position ?— I
certainly think he would.

33911. Would vou expect a prosecution to follow in
a case of that kind ?— Yes, I would as a rule, but it depends
upon cireumstanoes. I should judge each indi^ual
case on its own merits.

33912. You certainly had it in your mind, when you
answered Mr. Abraham, that in a case of that kind you
would expect a prosecution to follow ? — Yes, it would
be a very likely case. There might be cireumstances
connected with it that prevented it being desirable to
prosecute.

33913. Would you be in favour of a manager or an
inspector of mines being appointed to his position who
did not hold a certificate of competency ? — I do not quite
gather what you mean.

33914. Are you in favour of managers or mines inspectors
being appointed who do not hold certificates of com-
petency ? — ^No. I think they ought to have certificates.

33915. There is no necessity at present^ in the Coal
Mines Regulation Act, for a nxines inspector to hold a
certificate ?— No, but as a matter of fact they all do.

33916. Why should they hold certificates ?— Because
we want to have men who are equally qualified. If it is
necessary for a manager of a mine to be a certificated
man I say it is necessary for an inspector, who is pre-
sumably over him.

33917. Is it really necessary— it is according to law—
that a manager of a mine should hold a certificate of
competency ? — I think it has had a very good effect in
practice.

33918. Supposing he was quite competent to hokl a
certificate, would you say it was unnecessary T-^It makes
no difference to a man's qualifications, except it finds
out his qualification in examining him for it

33919. The Home Secretary at the present time has
power under the Mines Act to appoint fit persons, which
may be taken to mean competent for the position of
inspectors of mines ? — Yes.

33920. You think that should be strengthened by
saying that they must hold certificates 7—1 do.

33921. And have passed a certain examination in addi-
tion to that ? — I do.

33922. Why hold a certificate ?— Because the only
object of examination is to weed out the weaklings.

33923. Why hoki a certificate ? Is it because it is a
proof of competency ?— That is a proof that he has certain
qualifications, at all events.

33924. If it is necessary, and you think it is highly
necessary, that colliery managers and inspectors should
hold a certificate proving their competency so far as
examination can prove it t — ^Yes, I do.



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Would you say the same thing should apply
to a oolliery fireman ? — ^No, I would not go to a lower
grade than that.

33926. Is the collieiy fireman, so far as safety is con-
oemed, not the most important man in the mine ? — ^No ;
the manager is the most important man.

33927. The man who examines the places in the mines
who is responsible for the safety of perhaps 60 or 60 men
by his examination, is he not more important than the
manager ? — No ; the manager is like the general ; he is
responsible for the strategy. The fireman is for the minor
tactios.

33928. It is necessary, however, that the fireman
should be a competent person T — ^Yes.

33929. What do you mean by a competent person in
the case of a fireman? — ^A man who has good practical
knowledge of mining, who can arrange for detail of ven-
tilation, and who knows all about timbering and getting
coal and so forth.



He should have a knowledge of explosive gases 7
— Yes, and he ought to be able to examine for gases.

33931. Is there an3rthing to prove that the persons
who are appointed by managers have that knowledge
to-day ? — ^There is nothing to prove it, except that the
manager is held responsible by law for the appointment
— ^that the man is competent.

33932. Where is the manager held by law responsible ?
Have you ever known a case where a manager was held by
law responsible for having appointed a person who was not
competent ? — ^Not directly. It would be a difficult thing
to prove. There are cases where a man is prosecuted
because a district is not in a fit condition.

33933. Is not the fireman responsible for his own acts ?
—Yes.

33934. {Mr. Ratcliffe EUts.) And the manager, too ?—
Yes, and the manager is responsible for the fireman's
acts.

{Mr. SmiUie) A manager is responsible under the law
to appoint a competent person.

33936. {Mr. Raldiffe EUis,) More than that, he is
responsible for the acts of the fireman imless he can show
that he has taken proper steps to carry out the regulations ?
—That is so.

33936. {Mr. SmiUie.) The real point is, he has put it
plainly, he does not think it necessary that firemen should
hold a certificate of competency T — ^No, I do not.

33937. You have expressed the opinion that inspection
by workmen under Rule 38 is good ? — ^Yes.

33938. And has assisted probably in preventing acci-
dents ?— I think it has.

33939. You think really it should be more largely
taken advantage of 7 — ^Yes, I should like to see that.

33940. You would not think that a monthly examination
in some mines would be too often ? — ^No.

33941. Does the examination by a workman under
Rule 38 not lead to laxity in the management ? — ^I do
not think it does.

33942. If that does not lead to laxity in the management,
why do you hazard the opinion that more inspection by
Government officials would lead to laxity 7 — Because the
inspection by inspectors is under Government authority,
and ou^t to be more thorough. A man is appointed by
the workmen and there is nothing to show what his
qualifications are and whether he is able to give a general
opinion. It may be very valuable for certain details,
but not what I call inspMstion of anticipation of what
may happen in the future in the particular district.

33943. Government inspection is more required in
badly-managed collieries than in the best governed
collieries 7— -Yes.

33944. There are many mines in which there is very
little occasion for visits of the Government inspector 7—
Yes : you can rely on the management to bring anything
to your notice that is happening at the colliery which is
a serious matter.

33946. It is really to endeavour to keep the worst up
to pretty near the position of the beet 7 — I would like to
see the worst raised to the best standard.

33946. Do you think it possible for the present staff
of inspectors, or the number you propose, to thoroughly
•inspect the mines 7 — I think that a re-arrangement of
districts and a relief from the clerical work wouM keep up
a pretty good standard.



33947. You define what a sample inspection of a mine is. Mr. W. H.
Would you define thorough examination by a mines Pickering.

inspector in a mine 7 — That would be examining all the

faces and all the airways, and all the machinery, and i 2 Dec, 1907
everything connected with the mine.

33948. It would be to arrange that the examination
which is provided for now must be made daily by the
firemen and the other officials about the colliery 7 —
Which is distributed amongst a largo body of officials.

33949. Do you think four times the present staff of
inspectors could make a thorough examination of the
mines in this country once a year 7 — No, they could not
do it.

33960. As a matter of fact there is not one mine in
20 at the present time which is thoroughly examined
by a mines inspector each year 7 — ^No, not thoroughly
examined.

33961. I suppose we may take it you would not think
that a fair sample of the examination of a mine was that
a mines inspector should go down to the pit bottom and
measure the air and ask the manager, '* Is all the rest of
the mine in the same condition as this 7 " Hiat would not
be a fair method of sampling 7 — It would depend upon
the extent of the mine. Li a large mine it would not be.

33962. Take a mine employing 300 men, and extending
two miles : you do not think it would be a fair method
of sampling a mine of that kind 7 — ^You could not sample

from the bottom. <

33063. Supposing you were told that a mines inspector
had sampled from the bottom 7 — He might be there for
a special purpose or duty. I myself have gone to several
collieries in a day to measure the air for a special purpose.-

33964. If you were told that it went into his report
as one of his examinations of the mine for the year, and
that th) Government had had that report, do you think
that is a fair method of sampling 7 — It would dejwnd so
much on the circumstances. I do not think that I ought
to answer that question.

33966. Would that be your method of sampling a mine 7
— It would depend what I was going for. If I was going
to see how much air was going into that mine, I would
have sampled the volume of ventilation, but if I were going
to see what the workings were like, it would not be.

33966. Do you think that the workmen should be as
deeply interested in Special Rules for their safety as the
management 7 — ^I would like to see them interested in it.

33967. Do you think, in view of the fact that they have
to risk their lives every dav, that it should be of much
interest to them 7 — ^Yes, I think so.

33968. Would you be prepared to give them the same
rights 7 I think that you suggest that they should be
there, or rather that they should have the same rights to
a voice in the making of Special Rules 7 — To object when
making them.

33969. It is really a question of objecting. I think
that Mr. Ellis rather endeavoured to change your own view
upon that matter. You sketched out a plan by which
new rules for safety should be mutually agreed to 7 —
Yes, if possible. I sketched out a scheme which I thought
might be done. I am not particularly enamoured of that
scheme if you can get a better one, but I would rather see
the people agree on a rule. That is my view.

33960. Your opinion is that if the workmen were jointly
consulted in the framing and drawing up and adopting
of the Special Rules for safety they would be more likely
to carry them out 7 — ^Yos, I daresay they would. At all
events there would not be so much friction. There would
be no friction in the first putting into force of the rules.

33961. Mr. Ellis suggested you would not take away
the right of the employer to suggest a rule and send it
on to the Home Office 7 — No.

33962. Would you give the workmen the same right 7 —
Yes. I do not see any objection to them proposing a rule.

33963. If the employers have that right you would give
the workmen the same right 7 — ^No. If it is a good rule

it should go on. ^^^

{Mr. Raldiffe EUis.) We have no objection to the \ ^^^^^
workmen proposing rules. '

33964. {Mr. SmiUie.) Mr. Ellis put it an employer
might suggest a rule and send it to the Home Office, but
that before it was established any person interested might
have the right to object 7 — Yes.

33966. And instead of going to arbitration you would
be willing that it should go l^fore a judge of the High
Court 7— Yea.

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Mr, W, ff, 33966. Could you conoeiye it poasible for a working miner
Pickering, to go to the High Court in a case of that kind if he objected

to the rule ? — ^He would have to be represented : my view

12 Dec, 1901 is that before anything of that sort takes place it ought to

be considered by this Mining Board consisting of three

men represButing th*) coiUowners, three the miners, and a
chief inspector.

33967. Mr, Ellis put it that you would not object, aside
from that altogether, to an owner suggesting a rule and
sending it to the Home Office, but that before it was
(\stabHshed you should give every person who had a right
the right to object ? — Before it was established or went to
arbitration I would like to see it considered by the Board
I suggested,

33968. We will take it your own course 3rou think is the
best ? — ^I think so at the present moment, but I have not



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 130 of 177)