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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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distances should be at the various collieries, taking all the
circumstances into consideration. That will not take
away the responsibility of the management in my opinion^

35198. You do not want to see the responsibility of the
management lessened 7 — It would not be lessened then.

35199. Whether it is that or any other case, you do not
want to see the responsibility of the management lessened 7
— ^No, certainly not.

35200. (Mr. Smillie,) May I take it you agree with
some of the other witnesses that it would be a good and
useful thing to have provision made for washing at the
collieries and drying pit clothes 7— Yes, I agree, and I
believe the workmen would be only too delighted.

35201. Do you think it is necessary that there should be > /
full ambulance provision at all collieries, including an / v
ambulance wagon to take home men who are injured 7 — I
Yes, I do.

35202. It is not done universally just now 7 — No. I do
not think I can point to a colliery in my district where
there is an ambulance wagon. There are ambulance
appliances, but they are hand or shoulder appliances.
There is no ambulance wagon.

35203. The old method of taking injured workmen home
was by taking them in a cart, or canning them 7 — Yes.

35204. In some cases they may bleed to death in taking
a long journey in an old jolting cart 7 — That is true. I have
a case in my mind where we had to take one of our injured
workmen in the doctor's conveyance, which was a trap — a
simple trap. We had to take him to his home, which was '
by road about six miles, whereas if there had been a
proper conveyance the man could have been taken from
the pit-top at once after the examination, and no doubt it
would lessen his suffering to a great extent, because he was
no sooner home than he died.

35205. A simple fracture of the limb might turn into
something serious before a person was taken three or four
miles home 7 — Yes.

35206. ^ou have ambidanoe wagons at some collieries
in Wales, partly provided by the contribution of the
workmen and partly by the employers ? — I think there
are. There are none in my district.

35207. Setting aside how it should be paid for, do you
think that there should be an ambulance wagon at every
colliery, or group of coUieries, which may be called upon in
the event of an accident 7 — I think it is absolutely neces-

(Mr. F. L. Davis.) You mean a wagon at the surface,
after the man is brought up 7

35208. (Mr. Smillie.) Yes. Do you think it would be a
wise arrangement to have telephonic communication
between every district in the mine and the surface 7 — I
think so.

35209. And that could be done at very small cost ? — ^Yes.

35210. It should be possible for people on the surface
to have information within two or three minutes either of
an accident or axiy danger arising in any section of the mine
underground 7 — It is in two collieries in my district now.

35211. Do you think it would be wise to make that a
universal provision 7 — I think it would be.



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35212. With regard to the qualification of firemen.
I was listening carefully to your answers to Mr. Ellis, but
unfortunately I was not able to fully grasp the position.
Do you say that the manager who is about to engage a
fireman, a competent person under the Act, has to get
from that person what his qualifications and practical
experience are, and send that to the inspector ?— Yes.

35213. Is the inspector merely to keep a record of that ?
— ^Keep a record of the qualifications as sent to him.

35214. Does that in any way get us out of the difficulty ?
It does not improve the qualifications and competency of
that person, does it ?— I think it would remove the dfiffi-
culty to a certain extent. The practical and competent
man who is not selected would have an opportunity then,
whereas now he has not.

3521 6. You do not propose to give the mines inspector any
power to prevent the appointment by the manager of that
I)erson ? — ^No, I would not give him power.

35216. Supposing a manager sent word to the inspector
that he had employed John Jones, No. 4 district in a certain
mine, and that Mr. Jones had been nine months in the pit,
and had previously been an agricultural labourer, had only
been in the pit nine months, and was working at the pit-
bottom, and had appointed him as a competent person
under the Act, is the mines inspector to accept that infor-
mation and keep it to himself till something goes wrong
with the colliery ?— That would be an exception, I think.
I do not believe any manager would do that.

35217. Your provision does not give the inspector any
power to interfere. Mr. Ellis put it to you, would you
prevent a manager, who was held responsible for the
management of the mine, appointing a person he thought
fit, and would you put that power into the hands of the
mines inspector, and you said no ? — No.

35218. Do you not at the present time prevent a mine-
owner from appointing any person whom he may think fit
or competent unless he has a certificate proving he has
stood an examination ? — I do not quite grasp your ques-

35219. Would the law to-day permit a mine-owner to
appoint a competent person to manage his mine unless
that person held a certificate ? — ^No.

35220. Do you think we have any right to interfere
with the right of a mine -owner to appoint a person he may
think competent to manage his mine ? — ^Providing he is
qualified. That is how the law stands at present.

35221. The law lays down not only must the mine-owner
be satisfied that he is comi>etent, but also that he holds a
certificate of competency f — That is so.

35222. Would the same thing not apply to the appoint-
ment of a fireman ?— Yes, it should apply, I think.

35223. There should be, in addition to his proof that he
had practical experience, proof that he had passed some
examination, whatever it might be ? — ^WeU, yes, put it at
that. There should be a different method. I do not know
that I could locate the method of selecting firemen ; it
is a question for you. I believe there should be a different
method of selection, or a different method of qualification
of those men other than there is now.

35224. Mining legislation and Miners* Associations, so
far as the safety of workmen is concerned, are always
endeavouring to bring up the worst-managed mines to the
position of the best ? — ^That is so.

35225. That is the position to-day ?— Yes.

35226. Consequently, we are entitled to take every
precaution to make sure that in the worst-managed mines
competent persons will be appointed ? — ^Yes.

35227. Supposing we admit 80 per cent, or 90 per cent,
of the firemen appointed to-day all over the country are
thoroughly competent, we do know there are persons
appointed from time to time who are not thoroughly
competent ? — Yes. I have given you two oases in point,
one six months ago and another twelve months ago, which,
were it not for the practicability of the workmen in the
district those men went into> would have been blown up.

35228. Did one of those persons hold a first-class
certificate ?— Yes.

35229. You said immediately afterwards that he was
not a competent person ? — He was not a competent

35230. Might it not be he was rather a careless person ?
It was not so much for want of being competent as for want
of being as careful as he might have been ? — That may be
80. I think he was too young for the position.


35231. Want of experience may have been the cause Mr. M.
of the thmg ?— That is so. Boack.

35232. Mr. EUis put it to you that most of the accidents , ^ ^ ^.^

for which you gave statistics had taken place on haulage ^^ ^®^" ^^^

roads and headings. I think you admitted six out of 31 had

taken phioe at the working face, and 29 on headings,

haulage roads, and other drawing roads ?— Yes.

35233. Mr. Ellis pointed out to you that repairers and
timbermen are not restricted to putting up timber. They
are not paid by the sets of props, but by shift wages. Is
it not a fact that timbermen take their orders as to where
they are to go to repair from the manager or overman, or
some person in charge ?— Yes, from the fireman.

35234. They do not go about indiscriminately putting
up timber here and there T— Certainly not.

35-235. To that extent that falls to the ground,
are told to go to a certain place to repair ? — Yes.


35236. And are supplied with timber to put in the
road ?— Yes.

35237. Supposing they passed a place in the drawing
road where there was no timber for 10 yards, they would
not begin to put up timber there unless instructed to do
so ? — ^Certainly not.

3^38. As a matter of fact they are not expected to
repair at any part of the roadway unless instructed to do
those repairs ? — Unless instructed by tJie fireman


( Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) It is suggested as a source of danger
that the men are not entitled to put up timber where they
think fit because questions may arise as to payment.
That appHes to the face and the entries to the face. At
the face there are very few accidents and the system does
not seem to be bad. I want to know what proportion of
accidents happen in this gateway.

35239. (Mr. Smillie.) Where the miners are paid for
putting up what I will call a pair of timber those are put
up in the road head generally ? — Yes.

35210. They are not put up along the face in the long-
wall ?— No.

• 35241. Consequently a miner does not get paid for
setting a prop here and there along his face to keep him-
self safe ? — ^No.

35242. You have never heard of firemen coming in and
knocking out those props he might have placed over the
face ? — No.

35243. Where they set a pair of timber for which they
are paid is in the road head ?— The road end.

35244. Sometimes they load tubs there ?— They are
loaded there.

35245. It is turned out from the face to the road head
and they load the tubs there ? — Yes.

35246. Consequently the loaders spend a considerable
part of time right at the road head ? — Where the boys are
working with men the boys are always there. They gener-
ally take on the loading.

35247. Does your reply as to where 25 accidents take
place include that part from the road head down into
the drawing road and the main haulage road ? — It includes
that part.

35248. Consequently if miners were prevented from
setting timber there where they thought it wise to do so,
or if the timber was knocked out on the ground it wae
not required, those 25 accidents would come within that
part of the roadway.

{Mr. Ratcliffe Ellis.) No, not the whole of them.

{Mr. Smillie.) A portion of the 25 ?

(Witness.) Yes.

(Mr. Ratcliffe EUis.) What portion ?

35249. (Mr. Smillie.) That is a part of the road you
included ?— That is part of the stall road right out to the
main haulage road.

35250. A certain proportion of the accidents might take
place right here where the filling went on, and the tubs
too ?— Yes, certainly. I could not tell you they have
done, but I can only give you them as they were sent to
me ; I made claims for them. They would be falling of
roof on heading or side or something like that.

35251. Is it not the case that falls are most likely to
take place from the end of the heading road where the
filling takes place, back 40 or 60 yards, than further out
in the road because of the creep that is there ?— Yes.

54 A

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Mr, M. 35252. ConBequently there is more need for systematic

Roach, timbering there than further out in the road where it is

settled ? — Yes, because the place is not settled as you

' 13 Deo., 1907 suggest. I have had that experience myself.

35253. There is always a creep and little bits falling
off ? — There is always a crush until it is properly settled.

35254. Is there any ripping done in your seams, or are
they sufficiently high to prevent ripping at the heads T —
There is ripping in some collieries.

35255. Do the workmen themselves do that ripping ? —

35266. In cases of that kind where they rip would the
fireman or under-manager prevent them putting up what-
ever timber they thought necessary for their safety ? —
Yes, in some cases they prevent them. In oases I have
investigated myself where they have put them up without
orders the trouble is they wiU not pay.

35257. Even in cases where they do their own ripping ? —
Even in cases where they do their own ripping.

35258. You have expressed an opinion as to who was
the best judge of where timber should be put in the working
face, whether it should be a man who has taken out the
ooal or a person specially appointed for that purpose by
the employer. In some parts of the country the employer
appoints a special timbering man for timbering at the
working place. That is so in a limited part of Great
Britain. In other parts it is included in the ton rate
to do their own timbering. Do you say that the men at
the coal face are the best judges of when and where timber-
ing should be put up ? — I certainly think so. That is my
own expereince. I had 22 years at the coal face and I
Hiink that the man who is working, no matter what the
collieiy or seam is, should be the determining factor as to
what timber is required.

35259. He would be a b^*^ judge as to the danger than \ /
^' " day?— I I

a fireman who comes rou^d the face twice a
think so.

A person specially appointed for that purpose
and devoting his whole time to timbering at the face would
ultimately come to be as good a man as the man taking
out the coal, if he devoted his whole time to the work ? —
No doubt.

35261. He would have the same danger as the person
taking out coal ? — Yes. I think the workman should
be allowed to have discretion.

That has been put once or twice, If that is so,
and the person at the working face, because of his long
exx>erience at the face and seeing the dangers round him,
is the best judge, then you do not think it fair or ri^t
that some person outside the fireman, or someone else,
should tell him to take out timber set for his own safety ? —
I do not think they should tell a man he should take it
out. If they say a stick was necessary they should have
some right to instruct the man to put it up, but I do not
think they should tell a man to knock it out or that it
should be taken out.

35263. If there is no limitation on the miners at the face
to set timber so far as the face is concerned for their own
safety ? — ^Not in the least.

35264. They are expected to do so ? — If they do not do so
they are prosecuted.

35265. In addition to that they are expected to stand a
prop at any point which the fireman may instruct them ? —
in addition to that they have to do so.

35266. (Chairman.) Do you wish to add anything more 7
— No, I do not wish to say anything more.

Mb. Hubebt Jenkins, called and examined.



35267. [Mr. Wm, Abraham,) Do you agree with the
former witnesses generally with regard to their statements
as to what they consider necessary to strengthen the law to
reduce accidents ? — Yes, generally speaking, I do. •

35268. It is no good taking it again line by line, but pro-
bably you have something from your own districts you
would like to emphasise. Will you kindly state that to us 7

{Mr, Ratdiffe EUia.) What is his district 7

35269. (Mr. Wm. Abraham.) You are miners' agent for
the East Glamorgan Distriot? — Yes.

35270. How many years have you been a practical
miner ? — I have had 22 years of underground work.

35271. Were you appointed agent a few years ago 7 — ^I
was a checkweigher for two years and three months, and I
have been appointed a miners' agent for nearly three years.

35272. Will you state to the Commission in your own
way anything you want to add as emphasis to the evidence
given? Is there anything you want to enlarge upon, or is
there any new point you want to make? We are under a
disadvantage through not having had your proof. — I under-
stand that. To begin with, I would like to say I agree
with those who have tendered evidence as regards the abo-
lition of fine« inflicted by the managers for breaches of the
Coal Mines Act. I certainly think if in every case the
offender was prosecuted it would have a strcmg moral effect
on the rest of the workmen.

35273. With regard to the inspection of the mine by the
workmen, what is your opinion 7 — My experience has
taught me that there is a general reluctaiice on the part of
a large number of the worlmien. They feel somewhat reluc-
tant in accepting that duty because of a fear of oon-
sequences, whether they are justified or not is questionable
in many cases, but still they have that fear of con-
sequences in case they should have to present an
unfavourable report.

35274. With regard to the third class of inspectors sug-
gested, whd workman.

35349. Had you the information previous to going to
the inquest ?— No.

35350. Your suspicions regarding the matter had not
been aroused previous to that ? — ^No.

35351. This is one case only which you know of 7 —
No. At the same inquest a workman gave evidence who,
when questioned as to the nature of the roof, could not
answer and say what was the nature of the roof, whether
it was cliff, rock, or what it waj.

35352. Was there any person working with this man
who was killed ? — ^No.

35353. Was he work'ng alone ? — Yes. This other one
was working in a place, too.

35354. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) That is one case. Do you
think during the last few years that the managers in South
Wales are keener about the quality of men they engage
as a rule ? — I want to make that point clear. I do not
attribute any blame to any colliery manager. I think they
are as careful as we can expect them to be ; but it is possible
for a workman to misrepresent himself to the manager, and I
think something should be done to make the man produce
proof that he has worked at the face for two years, in
accordance with the law.

35365. {Mr. SmiUie.) A manager may be misled by a
person saying that he has worked two years at the face 7

35356. From the timbering rule Mr. EUis quoted down
a certain distance. Have there been any alterations in
these systematic timbering rules as to distances since
they were established in 1902 ? Has there been any altera-
tion posted in your district since ? — I could not say.

35357. It is not likely every second or third day, or
every other week, that the manager will post up new
distances as to timber ? — No.

35358. The last part of Rule (A) says : " Provided that
nothing in this rule shall prevent the setting of timber
where it is required in the interests of safety at a distance
other than that specified in the notice." That is, the
miner shall have the right, in addition to systematic
timbering, to set his timber where, in the interest of safety,
it is required 7 — Yes.

35359. It say? nothing shall prevent him doing it, but
in the face of this rule the fireman claims the right to
take out his timber where he thinks he has set it for his
own safety 7 — ^Unfortunately that is so.

35360. You strongly object to that 7— Yes.

35361. Who would be responsible, supposing a miner
set a pair of timbers which he thought was required at
the gate end, and the fireman knocked them out, and a
fall took place afterwards by which a boy or a man was
killed 7 Would the fireman be held responsible for the
death of the man 7 — ^No, the management would be held
responsible for it.

35362. In compensation 7-— Yes.

35363. He would not be charged with manslaughter 7
—A case like that has not come under my notice. I think
that would be a very strong case.

35364. If you had a case of that kind you would be likely
to try and get a case raised against the fireman 7 — Cer-

35365. {Chairman.) Do yoi wish to say anything more 7
— ^Yes. With regard to the stowing of small coal in the
gob or waste, I hold the opinion that the coal as gotten
diould be sent out. I know one particular colliery where
there are thousands of tons of small coal being thrown
into the gob or waste, and at the same time a huge rubbish
heap is to be seen at the colliery. If the small coal was
sent out and the rubbish kept in it would tend to prevent
accidents, because it would make a firmer gob than snmll

Digitized by




coaL Small coal will not support the roof when a heavy
squeeze comes on.

35366. {Mr. Ratdiffe Mis.) If the small coal was sent
out they would be paid for it 7 — ^They are not paid at that

35367. They would be paid for it ?— Not under the
present arrangement.

35368. Thev are clearly not entitled to be paid for it ?
— They would, not be paid under the present arrangement.

35369. You think that the present arrangement is not
quite fair, and that they ought to be paid for it ? —

35370. There is no question of being paid for the dirt Mr, H.

that comes out. This small coal is of very little use when Jenkins.

it is brought out T — It is a very valuable commodity on

the market to-day. 13 Dec, 1907

it is very extraordinary

{Mr. Ratdiffe Mis.) Then
why it is left inside.

35371. {Mr. SmiUie.) Was it because of the payment
point of view you advocated it should go out ? — ^No,
because I believe it would tend to prevent or reduce the
possibility, especially in places where the workman has to
work in wet places, of spontaneous combustion occurring
because of the stowing of the small coal in the gob. ^


Wednesday, 22nd January, 1908.

Sir Lu^DSAT Wood, Bart.
H. H. S. CuNYNGHAMB, Esq., O.B.
Wm. Abraham, Esq., m.p. (Rhondda).
Enoch Edwards, Esq., m.p.


Lord MoNKSWELL {Chairman).

Thomas Ratcliffe Ellis, Esq.
John Scott Haldane, Esq., p.r.s.
Robert Smillib, Esq.

S. W. Harris, Esq. {Secretary).

Mr. JoB3X Wilson, M.P., called and examined.

35372. {Chairman.) I understand you have not prepared
any Statement to put before us, but you desire that we
should ask you any questions we think desirable ? — ^That
is so.

35373. Witnesses on behalf of the Miners* representatives
have been examined here on the basis of certain questions
which have been drawn up to a great extent, I believe,
by Mr. Edwards. I propose to take you through those
questions drawn up by the Miners' representatives so
uiat you may know on what points we desire to hear
evidence. First of aU, there is the Government inspec-
tion. What are your views as to whether it is
desirable there should be more inspectors ? — I think it is
essential and necessary there should be more Government

35374. How many more ? — I would not go so far as
to say ; neither would I like to be understock as making
any complaint in any way at all. The county which I
represent has 311 comeries, I think, in it, and has under-
Ipround about 104,000 people. There are, I think, six
inspectors in the North of England to cover Durham,
Northumberland, Cumberland and North Yorkshire.
For proper inspection I think that is too much for six
men — if inspection has to be inspection.

35375. What do you consider ought to be the theory
of the Government inspection. Do you consider every
mine, for instance, ought to be visited all through, say,
once a year or once in six months, or once in three montl^,
or do you consider sample inspection is sufficient ? —
I think they ought to be properly inspected and the men
should have a proper round. I would not fix a time or
a period when they should inspect I do not think it is
proper inspection when men have just to wait until they
are sent for, but I think there should be a sort of circuit
for each inspector, and he should visit the collieries within
proper times.

35376. Is not every colliery visited by either an inspector
or an assistant inspector at least once a year ? — I cannot
say whether he inspects them once a year or not.

35377. We have had statistics about it. They have to
give a report in every year to the Home Office showing
what inspections are made, and in most of the districts
wp find that nearly the whole of the mines have been more

Mr. J.



or less inspected in the course of the year, sometimes only
by sample, and in other cases right through the mine ? —
I do not see how they could inspect mines by sample.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 142 of 177)