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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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an inner knowledge of how the factory system is working
from the point of view of the men and the owners.

33969. {Mr. Baidiffe EUia.) Under the Factory Act the
rule must emanate from the Home Office ? — Yes.

33970. Under the Coal Mines Act there is an obligation
put ux>on the owner that he must establish these rules ? —
Yes, that is the difference. As long as you get good rules
easily established and not too many of them, that is the
great thing.

33971. (Mr. SmSUie.) Has it been your experience that
there have been more fatal and serious accidents from falls
where the roof was considered good, than where the roof
was considered really a bad one ? — ^That is often the case.

33972. I suppose that would arise out of trusting too
much ? — Yes. That is the vsJue of systematic timbering.

33973. You pointed out in answer to Mr. Abraham
where you have a rock roof ? — ^That is in a roadway.

33974. Very often where there is a rock roof on one
seam and the seam underneath that has been worked out,
that tends to injure that rock roof 7 — ^Yes ; I would not
exempt every rock roof, but there are places in the pit
which every practical miner knows do not require timbering.
They stand for ever. I do not think any practical man
woudd advocate timbering them. In fact the miners
would be apt to smile if they saw it. You ought to put
timbering in any road that is unsafe, either from working
a seam underneath it, or any other rea<9on. It ought to be
timbered. The Act requires it at present.

33975. Have you had any experience in Yorkshire or
anywhere of the coal-cutting machinery ? — ^Yes, we have
a lot of coal-cutting machinery in Yorkshire.

33976. Electrical and compressed air ? — Yes.

33977. We may take it» I suppose, that the chief way
by which a miner looks alter his safety from falls at the
face is by sound ? — ^Yes.

33978. Either by sounding the roof or being warned
through certain noises which he hears ? — ^Yes,

33979. Where there is coal-cutting machinery and con-
veying machinery, which is largely being used now, it is
impossible for a miner to hear ? — ^That is so.

33980. The roof working, as we caU it 7— No.

33981. In a case of that kind it would be more than
ever necessary that there should be systematic timbering
to protect the workman 7 — Yes, and it is much easier in
a coal-cutting face than an ordinary face — systematic
timbering — because yon have your straight line or run.
I am speaking of a longwall face. It ought to go in a
straight line. Some places in Yorkshire have every prop
absomtely straight all the way down the face.

33982. Do you believe in the miners setting their own
timber 7 — Yes, I do, in a great many cases.

33983. Does it not become moze difficult when mp chines
are working to know who is the best person to set the
timber 7 — I think it is a matter for the decision of the
manager who is going to set the timber. It has to be
stated, and it depends on the arrangement with the
manager who is to set it. In the north of England the
deputies set the timber for the men. In Yorkshire the
men set their own, and in most other districts, That
entirely depends upon the contract of the men.

33984. With regard to Rule 38, the miners are very
anxious that '* who are working miners " should be taken
out and the words *'who are or have been practical
working miners" should be put in, and that persons
who have been practical working miners should be
allowed to make this examination. Mr. Ellis put it
would you be in favour of a person who had been a
practical working miner many years ago being entitled

to make tikai examination, aao ^oa safd no ? — ^1 profer the
man who is in active service bA the time.

33985. A practical working miner at the time of the
appointment 7 — ^Yes.

33986. Can vou give any good reason for that 7 — Yes ;
where a man has been out of the pit for some time, his
knowledge is apt to get a Kttle rusty, for one thing, and he
m not qualified, or is not so likely to be so qualSied as a
man absolutely working at that time, for inspeotioft
par|K3ses. He may be better for other purposes.

33987. Supposing a limit of 10 years was put in, vould
you be wiUing to have them then 7 — ^I think it is better
to leave it as it is. It eeems to work well I have no
fault to find with the way it has worked.

33988. A person working in a particular colliery which,
is to be examined, is best suited to make the examination*
because he is working there 7 — He knows the pit» to Ix^ia
with. He does not go to the pit without knowing what
to look for and where to look. He has a better chance.

33989. Does he not only know the part of the pit in
which he is employed 7 — ^Yes, but he has a general know-
ledge of the geography of the fHt, and he will make a good
inspection in much less time than a stranger would.

33990. As far as Yorkshire is concerned there is no difi-
culty through fear of victimization 7 — ^No^ I do not think
there is.

33991. You prefer seeing greater advantage taken of
that particular rule 7 — I do. I think it is a valuable thing.

33992. (Dr. JBcddane.) Do you think ft is desirable to
have any more definite standards ot ventth^tion than exist
at present 7 Suppose Uiere is black-damp in the air sand no-
body knows exactly how much is to be tolerated 7 — ^I think
for all practical purposes it is suffiicent to ^ay that the ven-
tilation should be adequate. I would rather not put any,
definition beyond that veitflation should be adequate^
because you would have a great difficu[tY. Supposing you
had a percentage of black-£kmp in the air, you would have
to say where : is it in the current or in a crevice, where you
often get it. I think you would have a great difficulty in
defining. In the same way with firedamp^

33993. What is your standard of adequacy going to be 7
-^I think that must be lett to the judgment oi a man.

33994. Supposing a case of that sort were to come into
court 7 — ^Then there wiU be evidence. We have constantly
cases of that sort of inadequate ventilation^ You brii^;
evidence into court, and tbe court decides whether it ia
adequate or not for that particular instance. All of us
have thought it is possible, but I cannot say how you would
frame a rulei

33990. Roughly you can frame a rule so as to exclude
such cases as crevices, fenced-up workings, or out-of-the-
way places in the mine 7 — You would have to say whether
it was in the air. You might get a bit coming in an air-
way put to clear off gas, ai^ there ww gas in that. I do
not know you can call that inadequate ventilation. II the
main current was not sufficient to enable them to dilute
it I should say it was not adequate.

33996. That is the case I am thinking ol. ForiMtanoe,
if the last working place contained a very noticeable per-
centage of gas, and the return airway from it 7 — ^I should
say that was not adequately ventilated from my point of

33997. Have you any standazd in your own miad of
what is adequate ventflation 7 When you see a oap (»
the flame, for instance 7 — If I saw a cap on a flame in
a ventilating current, and that was passing over men, I
should certainly s^y there was not enough air going to
dilute that gasw

33996. Is it not rather a frequent oeounenoe to find a
visible cap, I do not say a very large oap^ but a very visible
cap in the last working place in a split of air 7 — It ought
not to be. It is not with us. The men are withdrawn as
a rule if there is any gas in the current.

33999. You would in that case withdraw the moi if
you found it so 7 — I should withdraw the men if I were
the manager.

S4000. H you found it so on inspection you would ask
that the men should be withdrawn 7 — Yes, and I would
go again to find out what they were doing to better ven-
tilate this place. I should write to the maaager about it.
So much depends upon each individual case. I have not
been able to frame in my mind a rule which you can lay
down in an Act of Parliament to cover those things in a
pit of that kind as regards ventilation.



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34001. The difficulty is it is so vague just now, and one
would like to get sometlung more satisfactory. You aie
aware that a cap on the lamp, for instance, is a very
indefinite thing ? — ^A very indefinite thuig. Some lamps
show it easier than others.

34002. Some persons wiH see it? — Some persons will
see it idiere another does not. Some persons wiU see it
where it does not exist.

34003. {Mr. SmiHie.) Some persons fail to see it where
it does exist 1 — ^Yes.

34004. (Dr. Haldane.) That is one difficulty 7— It is
a great difficulty, I admit. You want a more exact
definition, but I do not see how you can give it.

34005. You are aware that they have a definite standard
in some places, for instance, in Westphalia, in the mining
districts ? — 1 have heard so, but, unfortunately, I have
had no experience of what they do.

34006. There it is obligatory on the management to
have the air analysed at stated intervals, the air in the
main return ? — Yes, but that does not show what is going
in the workings at all from the practical point of view.
You might have air in the return absolutely pure and
the whole of the workings foul with gas. I have known
cases. Supposing you have not the stoppings and separa-
tion doorsin proper working order, you nave a big current
df air going down one pit and up another and ventilating
very little.

34007. We have had instances of that ? — 1 would not
attach much importance to a sample of air taken in the

34008. These are not merely in the main returns, but
in the branch returns. They have to be taken according
to the German regulations ? — Even then I would not,
because there might be accumulations of gas not swept
out by the air current.

34009. Supposing you found there was habitually
3 per cent, of firedamp in a main return or a branch return,
you would know the ventilation of that district could not
be adequate ? — ^I should expect to find a lot of gas about
the place whdn I went into it.

34010. The regulation would be of some use ? — ^It
would be of service in that way.

34011. Supposing the standard were a reasonable one,

1 mean ? — Yes.

34012. There is no standard ? — ^There is no standard at
all now except what public opinion demands in the various
districts, and that varies.

34013. You are aware it does vagr. It is one of the
things that has struck me most ? — ^It varies in different
districts. In some places public opinion seems more
advanced than others.

34014. Very much, I should say. Do you not think
some attempt ought to be made to standardise public
opinion ? — I t^ink the ohfy way is by raising the standard
of education all round. That is what we are trying to do
now. What I rather advocate is a point in view of making
the managers' certificates due evidence of practical and
theoretical mining.

34015. Do you think there would be any use in, for
instance, fixing a standard of say 2 per cent, of firedamp
in the air, and saying anything more than that constitutes
a distinct cap, or that any larger proportk)n than that
would be held as an air giving a distinct cap on the flame ?
— You mean by analysis supposing you found you had

2 per cent.

34016. Yes ?-— Yes, I think you might take it.

34017. Two per cent, will gjve a cap which the blindest
man on earth could see I should say ? — ^I would not go
quite that far.

34018. 1 mean the most mentally blind person ought
to be able to see it ? — ^He ought to be able to see a cap
with 2 per cent, on a good safety lamp. He ought to see
that ; tnat would define what might constitute a gi^.

34019. Do you think it would be some use to have some
sort of standard ? — ^Yes, if you can make one suitable.
I am rather against hard and fast rules which cannot
be made a practical success. I thii^ they do more harm
than good. It becomes still more indefinite, and it gives
loophole^ for escape, too.

54020. Any rule to be good would appy to the working
places 7 — ^Yes. There are lots of oases where you cannot
avoid -getting a cap. The gas is coming out of the coal ;
you oannot stop it ; you ean onfy dilate it; by .putting

.t I

your lamp right against the coal you wiH get gas right Mr. W. H,
enough. Picking.

34021. At the roof 7 — Or even jetting out of the coal |o Dec 1907
into your lamp, coming out under pressure. *" '^

34022. I should think it was possible to frame rules
to avoid these cases 7 — Of course it might. I have no
objection to a rale, if it can be framed, to cover these
things. I have no objection to the principle, but I am not
prepared to say that I can define a rule or frame a rule
to cover such things.

84023. Have you formed any opinion as to t3ie desira
bitity of providing arrangements for washing and cleaning
men at the pit-head at the end of a shift 7 — ^I think
Would be a great comfort to the men in many cases if that
were done.

34024. Have you had any oases where you have seen
the S3rstcm carried out 7 — ^They have had it to a limited
extent in one of the Yorkshire colb'eries, and I believe it
is appreciated. I have not seen the men using them,
but I believe they are appreciated.

34025. The restrtt would be to prevent a good deal of
dirt and discomfort at home, would it not 7 — ^Yes. I
doubt whether the men in many cases rea% desire it.
They would ratfier go home and wash.

34026. Provided they have accommodation at home 7
— It is very awkward. A man cannot get a comfortable
wash at home very often.

34027. It is for these cases you think it is desirable 7 —
I think it is desirable if it can be done.

34028. Are you aware whether there are amy one-room
miner's houses in England 7 We have heard that tJiey
exist in Scotland in some districts 7 — ^No, I do not think
I know of any cases of that sort.

34029. You think that is extremely unlikely 7 — Yes.
I think it is very wrong that men should Uve under such

34030. There are apparently some old miner's houses
in Scotland 7 — ^Are they provided as part of their wages 7
Are they provided by the owners or does the man select
his house 7

(Dr. HcUdane.) I do not know.

34031. (Mr. Smillie.) They pay rent for them, but they
belong to the colliery 7 — A man could get another house
if he liked, or would there be none available 7

(Mr. Smillie.) None available only miles and miles away.

34032. (Dr. Haldane.) In any case of that sort the
absence of washing accommodation would be a serious
matter 7 — They are building a model village in connection
with one of the new collieries in Yorkshire, which I hope
to describe some day. In that they are making provision
for bathrooms.

34033. In each house 7 — Yes. The scheme is only
sketched out at present.

34034. As yet, at any rate, it is exceptional rather than i /
otherwise, to find batlnrooms in a collier's house 7 — Quite r'

34035. In many houses the men can get some room
where they could go to ? — Of course it is very crowded
and insufficient for a man to have a thorough wash after
the pit shift.

34036. You think on the whole it would be a great boon 7
— ^I think it would be a boon to the men.

34037. To have accommodation of this kind 7 — Yes.

34038. Have you formed any opinion as to the desira- I
bility of proviing sanitary conveniences undei^round 7 /
— ^I think they might be provided in many cases. If the
men could go safely into the goaf and bury the stuff up, ^
it is the best thing.

34039. There are a good many men working in the mine
who are a long way from the goaf 7— Yes. I think there
ought to be places provided where they can go. It is no
use providing places like that unless they are properly
attended to and cleaned.

34040. Are any arrangements of that soft made in the
Indian mines 7 — In the Indian mines sweepers go round
the mine — ^people go anywhere they like, and these men
sweep it up. There is a particular caste in India, a sweeper

34041. Tliey work in the mines, too 7 — They work in
the mines, too. It is only the low caste men who do it.
The miner will not do that work. That is the case in all
the towns, and so forth. The sweepers do that.

50 A

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Mr, W. H, 34042. Do you know whether they have any trouble

PickerifiQ, with ankyloetomiasis in collieries in India ? — I have heard

of a case which I think probably is so, but not in the

12 Dec., 1907 Bengal coal mines to any serious extent as yet.

34043. There is very much on the surface ? — In the gold
mines it is the case.

34044. Ck)nstantly Europeans get affected in gold mines ?
— I think in some of the thin seams in the Punjaub they
do. Before I came away I was beginning an inquiry about

34045. {Mr, Ratdiffe EUis.) With reference to General
Rule 1 there are other gases which have to be diluted
besides inflammable gases 7 — Yes.

34046. The suggested standard for fire-damp would
only apply to one sort of gas ? — ^Yes, that is the case.

34047. The rule as it is now requires all kinds of gases,
whether inflammable or not, to be diluted 7 — ^Yes.

34048. And the ventilation must be adequate 7 — Yes.

34049. You have no fault to find with General Rule 1 7
— No : it has worked very well in practice. It has been
embodied in rules all over the Empire.

34050. You think the General Rule which provides
for the men being withdrawn under oeHain conditions
might be improved 7 — ^It is possible that might be

34051. Do you think it desirable instead of leaving it
to the discretion of the manager when the men should come
out, that there should be a state of things prescribed when
they must come out 7 — If it can be prescribed I see no
objection to that at all.

34052. It has been suggested that the visits of the
inspectors to the mines are anticipated, and that prepara^
tions are made for their coming. Is it the custom of
inspectors to give notice when they attend mines 7 — •
Not always.

34053. You make surprise visits 7— Yes, at times.

34054. Take an accident, for instance, where the state
of things must be left until you come, unless it is necessary
to do something for safety. You would not be very easily
deceived as to whether the state of things was left as it
was or not 7 — ^No. You get witnesses of the accident.

34055. They know whether any alteration has been
made 7 — Yes.

34056. Immediately after an accident it is not necessary
for some member of the Federation to be put on guard
to see that nothing is moved 7 — ^I do not see any necessity
to guard it.

34057. (iff. Gunynghame,) You spoke of some form of
Board in each district to consider rules, which was to
have members of the coal owners and also miners repre-
sented upon it in some way 7 — Yes.

34058. You do not suggest that the opinion of tiiat
Board should be final and binding upon the Secretary
of State 7— No.

34059. The chief object is to seoure that before Special
Rules, which may be Special Rules for all places and not
merely a district, are brought into operation, that there
should be a full opportunity of everyone consulting upon
the matter and forming the most deliberate opinion they
can, and reporting it to the Secretary of State 7 — ^Yes,
that is my view.

Mr. EvAK Thomas, called and examined.

Mr, Evan


34060. {Chairman.) You appear, I understand, on behalf
of the Rhymney Valley District, and you have been deputed
to give evidence before this Commission by them 7 —
I have been deputed by the South Wales Miners* Federa-
tion, but Rhymney Valley is the district I immediately

34061. You appear on behalf of the South Wales Miners*
Federation 7 — Yes.

34062. What steps have you taken to ascertain their
views on the various questions you wish to put before us 7
— I have met the men at their committee meetings and
also at general meetings, and my own observations.

34063. You have had a conversation recently with your
Federation, and you believe what you are going to tell us
may be taken to be not only your opinion but the opinion,
at all events, of the great majority of the men in the
Federation 7 — ^Yes.

34064. With regard to inspection of mines, you say that
the present number of Government inspectors is inadequate
and that it is impossible for them to make many inspections
of the same collieries, and also that the areas are too

(extensive. How far deficient do you think it is. How many
more inspectors would you like to see in the South Wales
District 7 — I think that they could be practically doubled.

34065. You think if you double the number of inspectors
that would be sufficient 7 — It would meet the situation
certainly to a better extent than at present. I could not
say definitely whether it would be sufficient or not.

34066. How often do you think mines ought to be
inspected in the course of a year 7 — If two or three thorough
inspections are made during the year I think that would
be fairly adequate.

34067-8. For each mine 7— Yes.

34069. You consider if you double the number of in-
spectors you could inspect every mine in the district
two or three times a year 7 — Yes.

34070. Would you do anything by way of relieving the
inspectors of some of the duties they have now so that
they might have more time for inspection. They perhaps
have more clerical work to do than they should. Perhaps
you do not know much about that 7 — I do not know much
about the work thoy have to do in their own offices.

34071. In a general way you think that about double
the nural)er of inspectors would be sufficient 7 — ^Yes.

/ 34072. Then you want to have workmen inspectors.
I You want a third class of inspector who would, generally

speaking, remain third class inspectors. They would not I
become assistant inspectors or chief inspeotcvs as a rule, I
but they might 7-— Yes.

34073. How much do you think they ought to be paid |
for that sort of inspection. What could you get good I
men for to do that work 7-^ 10s. or £4 a week and their \
travelling expenses.

34074. Thev should be under the control of the chief I
inspector and should have smaller districts allotted to I
them. Each one to take a particular district 7 — Yes. «

34075. Under a chief inspector and be responsible for
that district only 7 — ^Yes.

34076. The inspector would have power to send them
to other parts of his inspectorate if he so desired 7 —
Certainly, they would be under his control

34077. With reference to inspection by workmen under
Rule 38 you say this is almost a failure, scMne of the causes
of this failure would be the fact that the workmen are
apprehensive of unpleasant consequences following upon
making a report that would be considered by the manage-
ment as being an unfavourable report. What experience
have you had of that. Have you known cases where a ,'
man has suffered from having made what the manager v
considered an. unfavourable report, but which the man ]
considered was a true report 7 — ^I am in the habit of j
attending the Colliery Committees when the examiners |
are appointed, and alao when examiners make their {
reports, and I attend the conmiittees in the course of a
month or two or three afterwards and I generally hear
complaints from the men. Perhaps there is nothing
direct and distinct, but the men are under the impression
that so and so has suffered. It may not be directly as
the result of the report, but that is the impression upon
the men.

34078. Do you think that impression causes them int
many oases to give reports that are unduly favourable to I
the management 7 — No, I believe the men give the reports
as they find the conditions in the colliery. I

34079. Notwithstanding they are afraid that they may I
suffer from it 7 — I believe they give true reports. {

31080. You go on to say also the co^t such examinations
involve is against the rule being carried into effect How
do you thiiSc the cost ought to be borne 7 — ^The colliery
committees have to pay the examiners out of their own
funds and to examine some of the large collieries it means
the appointment of sometimes six or eight men, and it

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will take them perhaps two or three days to do the whole
of the colliery, and for six or eight men to be paid full

I wages oomee rather heavy upon the funds of the com-

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 131 of 177)