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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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35641. It is suggested there should be an ambulance.
I think that is now the subject of examination with respect
to certificates 7 — I do not know. I know some collieries
where the manacer asks, as an indispensable matter, that
^e deputies, at least, should be all fiist-aid men, and I
think it is very useful.

35542. That is not general ? — ^That is not general.
There are a veiy laige number of collieries where we have
first-aid corps, but I woudd have them multiplied. If an
accident occurs, the miner is away from the doctor, and he
must depend upon the, to a certain extent, rough first-aid
given to him. If vou look at Mr. Bain's Report for 1906
you will see a reference to a remarkable case. In my
•opinion if there was a first-aid man there life might often
be saved.

35543. I think in the Durham district ambulance work
is one of the subjects of examination 7 — ^I hope so.

35544. {Mr. Cunynghame,) You have been giving some
evidence upon the question of fines 7 — I was asked if the
men were mied by the managers.

35545. You understand, of course, that the chief object
of the Home Office is naturally to get the Rules obeyed
as well as x>06sible, and that we have no predilection one
way or the other for or against fines 7 — Quite so.

35546. I want to put one or two points before you for
your opini(m with regard to them. In the first place are
the men's Associations not influential enough to protect
the men from unreasonable fines 7 — As an Association we
object to fines at all by the manager.

35547. Supposing fines existed, may we take it that
the Association would be influential enough to protect the
men from unreasonable fines or not 7 — Suppose they
existed, that is, suppose any Act of Parliament contained
a pro\iaion that a manager should fine a man for breaking
a Rule 7

35548. No : supposing an Act of Pariiament did not
forbid it» and it was a practice. As a matter of fact, I
want to know would the Associations be influential enough
to protect the men from unreasonable fines 7 Before you
answer it I will give an instance of what I mean : in the

East-end of London, in the sweated industries where the Mr, J.
people (women) have no organisation at all, there are Wiban^
very objectionable fines on a wholesale scale inflicted. if J'.

Would that be impossible or not in the case of miners 7 —

Well, it is a form of fine and punishment we should object 23 Jan., 1906.

35549. Would not your Trades Union Association be
sufficiently powerful to protect the men against un-
reasonable filnes 7 — ^We think we are " Hackenschmidts "
— so far as we are concerned we think we are powerful
enough for an^rthing. You have to consider the friction
that would arise.

35550. I want your evidence upon it generally 7 — I
thhik it would cause friction if we liad a manager fining a
man. We should have to go into the merits and the amoun t
of the fine, and we think that if a man violates the Act
of Parliament he should go before the proper tribunal.

35551. I should like to put before you the facte of a case
which I have been told of privately, which occurred at a
certain colliery. A youth who was a pony driver infringed
a Special Rule : he rode down the main plane in an empty
tub without permission, and instead of being fined for
that he was taken before the magistrate and prosecuted.
When he got there he pleaded guilty, and he was fined
2a, 6d. The case took up the time of three men who
lost half a day's work to go up to the court, and, in
addition to that, the solicitor had to be paid 308. for
costs 7 — I quite see all that

35552. I am putting a case, which, I believe, is rather a
common one, of the trouble and expense and cost to 'get
this boy fined for doing an act which was decidedly
dangerous to his own life. Would it not have been simpler
to have some means of fining him the 2s. 6d. in the first
instance and have done witii it 7 — Again, I can only just
fall back upon my position, that the magistrate's Court is
the Court for the punishment of derefiction of duty, so far
as the Special Rules, or Act, are concerned I was on the
bench myself recently, where three young men weve fined
for violating the Special Rules, and I say here again that
they ought to go before the magistrate.

35553. Would not the 308. cost on the employer and the
loss of time of three officials lead to the want of prose-
cutions, or their not prosecuting in proper cases 7 — ^Mij^t
you not have another aspect of it 7

35554. You see my question is, would not that cost
lead to the want of prosecutions 7 — ^I will answer it in ^e
Scotch fashion, if I may. Miffht you not have this aspect
that if you have a slim sort of finmg you might have great
danger to the men by a lad knowing he would onlv be
fined say 28. 6d., and you would have a young man aoing
something serious because he felt confident that there
would only be 28. 6d. fine.

35555. That might or mi^^t not be met by compelling
a prosecution with regard to a large number of offences,
and making it legal that there should be a prosecution
and prosecution only — and on^ allowing fines m a certain
number of trivial cases 7 — ^What do you call '* trivial
cases " 7 Who is to judge of the triviality of the case 7

35556. This role might lay it down. One rule might
say that you could have a fine and another would say
thVt you must prosecute 7 — ^You cannot differentiate in
the ease of viobtion of a Rule except you know the viola-
tion. You cannot sketch it out in the Act of ParHament
and say '* If you violate Rule so and so."

35557. You might say that such a thing as to run down
in an empty tub is a thing in respect of which there migjit
either be prosecution or a fine, and you might sa^ that
taking down matches into a mine was a thing which should
not bd capable of a fine 7 — ^It mi^t be more dangerous
for a man to ride in an emply tub than even accidentally
taking matches down in his pocket. I have got into a
cage with another man's jacket on with matches in the
pocket There may be no danger. A man may take
down matches into a mine, and he regrets it.

35558. True, but if you are setting out a Code of Rules
it may be that riding in an empty tub might be a matter
for a fine, and taking matches aown a matter to go before
the magistrate 7 — ^Taking matches down into a mine is
oft-times extravagantly used. Take the case of a miner
who has a garden or piece of ground, and he is working in
his garden in the morning in his waistcoat: he takes a
pipe, and he has a couple or three matches in his pocket,
and then afterwards goes down the mine quite uncon-
scious of their being there. The man does not intend to
take them down.

35559. That is just the point. It seems to me your
argument, if I may say so, rather confuses together the

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Mr* J. tribunal to try it and the piinishment to be inflicted.

Wilaan, When I have him before a magistrate for a case like that

M,P, it would be only a case of reprimand : but would it not

be better in a certain number of cases which may be

22 Jan-ylOOS. trivial to allow for the infliction of a fine instead of taking

them before a magistrate ? — ^I do not think you can


35560. Every day the common law of England has to
differentiate. You are aware that there are a number of
cases which can be tried before a magistrate, and others
must^go before a Court of Sessions or to the Assizes?— And
so, in these cases, a man might commit an offence as in the
ease I have just mentioned — a very trivial violation —
and the magistrate could differentiate then as to the

35561. But the law differentiates as to the tribunal
before which he shall be sent ? — ^Well, every violation of
an Act of Parliament, in mv opinion, should go before the
proper tribunal to be decided, and not be decided by a

35562. What is your objection to a fine for a trivial
offence levied by ihe mine owner ? — All I can say is I
believe the man who violates the Act ought to go before
the magistrate.

35563. Assume it was found that a fine was a deterrent
would not that satisfy you ? — ^That is putting to me a
hypothetical case which I do not think applies at the
present time.

35564. You are aware that a good many societies of
different kindspunish their members by fines ? — ^You are
speaking of a l^rade Union with its constitution and regu-
lations, which sajns, " If you violate one of these you will
be fined" But fined by whom ? Fined by the committee
of the Trades Union.

35565. Who make the law. You mean the person who
makes the law ought to be the person to fine under it ?—
I do not see that they make the law, because it is made
in Parliament

35566. It seems to me your objections to fines are of a
philosophical and theoretical character rather than prac-
tical 7 — I believe if you were to adopt a wholesale arrange-
ment of fining by managers, and leaving it to their dictum
and option as to the amount, you would be introducing
a very dangerous element As I have said, in this year
I do not know of a case of fining in the County of Durham.
I am the general secretary, ana I do not know it

35567. Your argument comes to this that Durham
manages to get on without fines ? — I understand that
Inspector Bain savs there are fines. I do not know
of diem, and they have not been reported to me. I may
•ay this : if we Knew of them we should object

35668. Permit me to say that your objection seems to
me to be based upon perhaps rather the theoretical
or philosophical principle that the person who makes
the law should enforce it I wanted to find out the

CDtical objection ? — Well I will put it there is an ordinary
iness common-sense objection.

35569. Now about the Coroner's Courts. We have had it
stated here frequently that the miners who appear on
behalf of Associations or otherwise do not always set all the
questions they want put ? — As to the County of Durham
we have no objection. I never knew but one question
refused to be put in the whole round of Coroners' inquiries ;
but I do know a coroner not very far from us who
objected, and I have heard my colleagues in the soutli
speak of coroners being very arbitrary. As a means of
closer investiffation into an accident I would aUow greater
latitude in asking questions.

35570. I want to put before you an objection to giving
that right by law which possibly has not occurred to you,
but which may be a s^mbling block in some people's
minds. A coroner's court is a court of justice, and a man
there may be about to be committed for manslaughter.
To give a right to a number of people to intervene and ask
all sorts of questions in respect of which a man's veiy
heavy punishment indeed may be impending, would be of
doubtful validity, and it would be only justifiable if you
made a very strong case. Have you reflected upon that 7
It is not like a summary court of inquiry ? — It is an
inquiry into the cause of a man's death.

35571. It is to find the guilt ? — Is that not a proper
court to find the guilt ?

35572. Even in a trial at Assizes, if a man is being tried
for his life, the judge would not allow any Association or
other tribunal to come in and ask questions 7 — Tnat would
be done by the barristers.

35573. In the coroner'^ ^\iH if you were to give a right
to representatives of mi^^^s or others to come and ask
questions it would be vel7 Uiuch as if you were interfering'
at an Assize court 7 — If the miners' representatives go to a
coroner's inquiry, as I understand they do, and I have
gone to a few mvself , it only inquires into the cause of the
men's death, and if the questions put lead to the fact that
there has been insufficient timbering, and the manager or
anyone else is the cause of that, and the man has lost hifr
life in consequence, surely they should have a right to ask
about it

35574. In an Assize court no one other than a barrister
is allowed to ask questions. Should that not apply to a^
coroner's court 7 — For the time being Ae representative
of iiie workmen ia the barrister ; and he goes there as their

35575. I can hardlv put the case as high as that, because
in an Assize court the barrister is the prosecutor 7 — He i»
there to get at the fiicts of the case.

35576. He is there for more than that ; he is there to-
secure a conviction 7 — My point is that for the time being
in the coroner's court, the representative of the workmen
is the man to get out tiie facts of the case and the cause of
the man's death.

35577. Would you say he had- a right to ask anyone
whether he was guilty or not 7 — ^Noi he would not do that

35578. So that there should be some limitation 7 — ^He
would not say to the man who was giving evidence : ** Are
you responsible for this man's death 7 "

35579. You would not regard him as a barrister for the
prosecution 7 — ^The barristers are perhaps too high to
compare an ordinary miner's representative with, but I put
him in the stead of the relative of the deceased man.

35580. I quite see his position ; the only point to my
mind is about giving him an absolute right in the place of
the coroner in reference to asking questions 7 — Well, the
coroner has to sum up, and he tells the jury what he

35581. Now a question about these baths as shown in
the photographs. I do not know whether that method
of bathing would be popular with the men or not ; but
how do you think the miners could be got gradually to
adopt the plan of going to the mine in their own
clothes, and going down the mine in a special suit of clotheSr
and then washing when they come up 7 — I have not con>
sidered the [question. I know in Cornwall it has been in
vogue for many generations ; men go in their every -day .
clothes, and the ordinary working clothes are kept at thej
mine, and then if they wish, after a bath, they can go home/
dressed again. f

35582. That is a thing which you think would gradually '
become popular 7 — I am in &vour of baths being attached
to the workmen's houses rather more than that V

35583. What are your reasons for that 7 I have formed>
with not a great knowledge of things* rather a contrary
view. It seemed to me for a man to get into a dry suit of {
clothes to walk home in, for instance, would be a good i
thing 7 — It would be. I

35584. But it would not be if a man had to get home in
that way on a wet day 7 — He would get wet anyhow.

35585. Might he not come up from the mine and then
get wet in going home 7 — We are arranging for the matter
universally, nojt for exceptional cases. I do not see that the i
principle &ould be made compulsory if a man does not like
to adopt it — that men should be washed by absolute force.
You would not have a man taken home and washed.

35586. No ; but I ask you to suppose that facilities were i
given 7 — ^I have no hesitation in expressing to you my ^^J^
profound ignorance of what the workmen in Durham would
say on that.

35587. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Is it not possible for an
observance of a Special Rule on the part of a certain class of
men to be a kind of prevention to his facilitating the
bringing out of coals 7 — I do not know that I follow that

35588. Take the case of a haulier as we have them, and
between the horses and the tram they have what is called
a gun. The practice for years has been for the boyhauling
to nkle on that gun and to get the horse light. That was
made a breach of rules a few years ago 7 — ^It is not a breach
with us.

35589. Knowing that to be the case, would it not be an
improper thing to allow the management to decide 7 — If it
was part of the Special Rules agreed to, as I have said,
between the three parties, the employer, the inspector, and
the workman, I do not see any objection could be made to

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35500. The observance of that Special Rule would
prevent that boy doing it ? — ^It would limit his opportuni-
ties for work, and he would not get so much coal out.

35591. That is the point ? — And there would have to be
more boys employed.

35592. With regard to the fining is not the breach of
that rule rather an imjuroper thing for the manager to
decide ? — I quite agree. I do not think in any class of
violation should the manager be allowed to fine any boy
at aU.

35593. There is a rule also to prevent the haulier going
l)efore ihie horse when the tram is in motion 7 — ^I thmk in
those cases the boy should have facilities for getting the
coal out as fast as he can, provided he keeps safe. He
must go before or behind.

35594. And if he went behind the tram the horse would
liave no lis^t ? — The horse might not care whether he went
or not, if he went behind the tram.

35595. You think it is undesirable that that matter
■should be in the hands of the manager 7 — ^That is my

35596. According to your experience, is it not the fact
-that the real managers, tiie best managers of mines, seek
to have the mines propwly inspected 7 — I speak now as
universally as a man can speak : in the County of Durham
1 do not know of a single case where a man has suffered for
inspecting. Every facility is given for them to so, when
an accident takes place, and look at the place, ana tiiere is
no deterrent placed in their way.

35597. In fact, the principal managers desire that that
inspection should take place 7 — ^They do. There is every
-facility given, and an official goes with them every time
they go round.

35598. You think that that in no way reduces the
^reraonsibility on their part ? — I do not see why it should.

It 18 maligning the managers to think so.

35599. Do the deputies put up the timbers 7 — Yes.

35600. As well as cut them 7— Yes.

35601. What class of timber do they cut, and what class
of timber do they put up 7 — ^They cut the props sent in
to make different sizes. They cut a prop to suit the
49ection of the seam, allowing for the plank to go on the top,
and, if there is any need for more timber, the man sees
the timber and puts it up himself.

35602. What class of timber had you in your nund when
you said you would rather put it up yourself 7 — ^Theee
ordinary props and planks. I should Know where to put
the prop to suit myself.

35603. Your opinion is that every hewer of coal should
be a practical timberman 7 — ^I say he should know how to
set timber. I do not say that the deputy should not be
there to set timber when required. I was speaking rather
of what the deputy has to do, having such a large number
of men in many cases to attend to. They go in a hurry,
saw the timber, and leave it in convenient places for the
men, and if he wants a prop before they come back he puts
-it up.

35604. You would have no man employed in the working
places unless he was able to pjt up tne timber to protect
nis own life 7 — ^That I could not say ; but I think eveiy
man should be able to look after himiself to protect himself
in a mine.

35605. You say, I think, that no man should be allowed
-the charge of a working place unless he was able to do that.
I quite agree with that attitude of the men. With regard
to firemen, is it in your district part of their work to
examine the travelling roads from the station up to the
working faces 7 — ^Hiat is the deputies* duty. They are
supposed by Act of Parliament to do it, but I have indi-
cate that a man having a large number of men, and only
having about an hour to examine, and having half a mile to
travel to the furthest place, and 13 or 14 places to
•examine, cannot properly examine the sides and roof.

35606. You think in any new enactment something
should be done not with the view of taking the discretion
out of the hands of the management, but that the
management should have to do something practical to
confine those men's work to what it is possible to do 7 —
lliere is the possibility of another class of officials, what
we call master-shifters, or men over the repairers, and it
is possible for them to inspect the sides and roofs.

35607. You think there is necessity for a law on that
point 7—1 do.

35608. (Mr, Rakliffe EUis,) Why do you suggest that
the third-grade inspectors should be less qualified than a

chief inspector 7— Because I think you get more in touch
with the practical and ordinary working man, and he is
the man who has more practical experience of llie working
of a mine. Take the present inspectors: very few of
them have been really working men. It demands a
man with a very high educaticm. But the class of man I
have suggested* if he was able to pass for .a second-class
certificate, would be, in my opinion, competent to examine
all that was necessary.

35609. What would you expect such a man to do 7 —
To inspect ih& sides ana the roof as he went — to see it was

35610. The timbering 7 — ^Yes, the timbering.

35611. Would he have to do anything with reference
to gas 7 — If he found gas it would be his duty to report it.

35612. Would he be qualified to measure the air 7 — He
would not have a second-class certificate unless he could.

35613. I am not so sure of that. You think he ought to
be qualified to do that 7 — ^I think every official in the
colliery ought to be so qualified. Let me say that the
district inspector never comes unless there is a serious

35614. The qualification of the third-grade inspector
would have to be as great as that of the district
inspector ? — Yes ; but the suggestion for a third-grade
inspector is to make the inspection more frequent.

35615. We agree that for purposes of inspection, his
qualification must be as great as that of the district
inspector 7 — ^He would have to inspect for gas, and he
could not be a second-class fully-qualified man unless he
could inspect for gas.

35616. In what respect should this man be less qualified
to make the inspection than a district inspector 7 — I do
not know what qualifications a district inspector has to


You want a satisfactory inspection of a mine 7 —

35619. Your view is that this third-class inspector should
be as capable of inspecting that mine as anyone 7 — ^No, I
do not say he should be as qualified as a district
inspector, and as well educated.

35620. I do not say as well educated, but I ask about
inspection 7 — ^This I do say : a man who has qualified
himself by being a workman from his boyhood upwards
and passed a second-class examination knows sufficient to
examine a mine.

35621. I suggest there are other people who are as fully
quatified who have not worked in a pit as a boy. Have you
in your mind any qualifications necessary for inspection
less than that which is possessed by a district inspector 7 —
The man I have before my nund to suggest to you is a man
who has been a woikman in the mine, not a man from
school — not a man who has gone in for an apprenticeship
BO as to become a manafter, but a man who has worked in a
mine and knows the nature of gases and can measure the

35622. He must be qualified to measure the air 7 — ^Yes.

35623. And must understand when timbers are set 7

35624. And understand the nature of the gases 7 — ^Yes.

35625. Assuming him to be qualified either with a first
or seoond-class certificate, then what has he to do in
making the inspection 7 — ^Examine the pit as to the sides
and roof. I suppose the great essential of your inquiry
is accidents from roof and sides.

35626. If he finds it is not set in accordance with his
view, what has he to do then with reference to timber 7 —
He would have to make complaint to the manager.

35627. Do you think for that purpose it is desirable
to have a less qualified man than a manager 7 — He makes
complaint to the under-manager.

35628. Take it generally. For that purpose is it desirable
to have a less qualified man than a manager 7 — ^I submit
to you the idea in this way : If you think that the quali-
ficaticm of a manager is necessary, you can arrange it in
that way . but I do say that for the safety of sides and
roof there should be a doser inspection*

Mr, J.'



35617. I ask you in what respect as an inspector a person
to inspect the safety of a mine ought to be different to a
district inspector 7 — ^I cannot say, as I teU you. I say
that the man who inspects the mine should bAve some
knowledge of the practical working of a mine.

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Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 145 of 177)