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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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432



MINUTES OF EVIDENCE 1




22Jan.,1908.



35629. The only point is whether or not you think he
should not be as well qualified a man as the manager of
the mine that he has to find fault with ? — He will be if
he takes a seoond-class certificate.

35630. You think that he should be as well qualified
as Hie manager of the mine 7 — ^I do not say that. I say
there are hundreds of men in Durham to-day with first
class certificates,

35631. But that is not the question. The question is,
Do you think he should be as well qualified as the manager
of the mine 7 — I can only give you the answer I have
given you if you ask me ever so many times. If he holds
a second-class certificate he would be qualified to inspect
the mine.

35632. You do not think there is anything in the sugges-
tion that is made t^at too close an inspection might tend
to relieve the management from their responsibility 7 —
I do not think a man is worthy to be manager of a pit
that allows it.

35633. Now, Mr. Pickering, an inspector of considerable
experience, gave this answer before us : "I think if you
have a Government official constantly going to the mines,
the managers and owners wiU at once not take so much
responsibmty on themselves, they think that the super-
vision as regards safety is coming from the Government,
and they will more concern themselves with the economical
questions. At present we tiy to make the managers and
owners as responsible as we can." Do vou approve that 7
— I do not agree with that. I would not malign the
managers and owners in this country by saying that^

35634. You do not desire to place upon the Government
Inspector the responsibility for the management of the
mine 7 — ^No. Each man to take his duty.

35635. He is put there to see the Mines Act is carried
out 7— Exactly.

' 35636. With regard to the question of discipline, I
understand you say you disapprove of fining 7 — Yes.

35637. You are familiar with the provisions of the
Truck Act-^that a man must agree to be fined 7 — Yes.

35638. And then it must be reasonable 7— Yes.

35639. And must be put upon his pay-ticket 7 — Yes.

35640. And a list kept for the inspection of the inspec-
tor 7— Yes.

35641. That if the fine is unreasonable or if any of these
requirements are not compUed with, that the employer
is liable to be prosecuted for a breach of the Truck Act,
and the workman can get back the excess of the fine 7 —
Yes.

35642. Notwithstanding all those provisions you do not
think it is a desirable way to maintain discipline 7 — How
can he enforce it except by putting up the rules 7

35643. By fining, I suggest 7 — That is subsequent.

35644. You say you agree that there is great cost in
bringing them before the magistrate 7 — ^Yes.

35645. In addition to the cost which Mr. Cunynghame
put to you, there is a day spent by the officials going down
to obtain the summonses 7 — Yes.

35646. There is a probability that you cannot get it
tried when you get there, because there is not a qu^ified
magistrate f^Just so.

35647. Now, with this responsibility upon the manager,
that he must be either responsible himself or shew he has
done the best he can to enforce the rule, would you still
say you would prosecute 7 — I say that every breach of
the §i)ecial Rules and Mines Act should be tried by the
tribuj^ provided by the Mines Act Would, in your
opinion taking all reasonable mecms include the fine
imposed upon this boy, for instance. How could he fine
him before he committed an offence 7

35648. He has to prevent his committing a similar
offence. — He could not fine him before he did it.

35649. The manager brings before the magistrate some
person who has committed some act. He says '' 1 have
put up the regulations and done what I can — I have
appointed my managers — I have inflicted fines " — if that
is sufficient, the magistrate would say " I discharge you.*'
But your view is this, that he would not be entitled to an
acquittal, although perfectly innocent, except in every
offence against me Act he fined 7 — I say it would be
sufficient excuse if he put up the regulations where the
men could see them.

35650. (Chairman,) 1 understand there have been cases
where the mines inspector has prosecuted the manager
for not prosecuting in the case of a breach of rules 7 —



Yes. The question put ^ me implies this, that it is now
competent for the man^^r under the Act of Parliament
to fme men, and he could not excuse himself, before
the magistrate except he did fine them. I say he haa
no right to fine them, and I do not think this Section
of the Act gives him power.

35651. It enables him to take means to pierent the
recurrence of a similar breach of mles; and supposing
he was culpably negligent in not prosecuting a person for
a breach of the rules then ^e mines inspector might
reasonably have him up for refusing to prosecute 7^They
could not bring the manager up because he had not fined
a person who violated the rules.

35652. He must either prosecute, fine, or do something T
—Yes.

35663. He might go to the man and say : '' I ought to
fine you lOs. for that offence-— do you agree to that " — and
the man say^ *' No " — and then ne takes him before the
magistrate 7 — My answer is that the manager should not
have that option to fine ; he diould take him before the
magistrate.

35654. He might very well be had up under that section
for not having enforced the rules, even if he had pot
them up and made them known to the men and had
refused to prosecute in a proper case 7 — ^If he refused to
prosecute in a proper case, and the mines inspector got to
know, the mines inspector would prosecute him.

35655. My point is this: I agree with Mr. Ratoliffe
Ellis that the mines manager is so far responsible for the
enforcement of discipline Uiat he cannot justify it in all
cases by simply saying he has done his best to bring thece
rules to the notice of the men 7 — But Mr. Ratctiffe Ellis' a
question as I understood it was this: that it was not
sufficient for the manager to show he had posted up rules
and regulations and taken all reasonable means, but he
must show if there had been violation before, and that
he had fined him.

35656. (Mr. Rafdiffe Ellis,) He must show he has done
something to maintain discipline 7 — Quite right.

35657. I ask, considering the great expense of prose-
cuting in every trivial case, is it a fair thing to the manager
to leave him subject to this liability and say he shall only
maintain discipline in one way and that is by bringing
the defaulters before the magistrate 7 — ^It is the Act of
Parliament and the tribunal is provided by t^e Act. Any
man who contravenes the Act should be tried by the
tribunal appointed.

35658. Of course there is another remedy, and that is
dismissal 7 — Yes.

36659. Is it a desirable thing that it should go forth
that the manager should be obliged in order to save himself
under that 50di Section from getting into difficulty, must
either dbmiss a man or prosecute him 7 — You must excuse
me from answering that question.

35660. Do you suggest that at this preliminary meeting
when the Special Rules are drawn, before they are sub-
mitted to the Home Office that the workmen should have
the power of vetoing the rules 7 — I do not put it in tBat
way — ^I put it to open the discussion.

35661. Suppose they do not agree, the employers would
still be entitled to send the rules on 7 — Yes.

35662. Do you say if the employer sends his rule to the
Home Office before the rule is established, that the work-
men or anyone should have an opportunity of objectinz
to it 7 — Yes. But I think it conduces to concord and
harmony if you call the parties interested into mutual
discussion of the rules.

35663. Still the employer is to please himself whether
he proposes the rules or not 7 — Undet the Act of Parlia-
ment ; but I am suggesting an amendment

35664. I want to know your amendment. At this
preUminar]^ meeting the employer is still to have a right
to propose hia rule, notwithstanding what takes place at
the preliminary meeting 7 — But I still think the men
should have a right to send up their objection.

35665. The employer says " This is a rule I want to
propose whether the men Uke it or not." He is allowed
to propose it. I want to know whether your view is not
met supposing he sends that to the Home OfBce, that the
Home Cfffice advertises the rule and then they invite the
objection of anyone, and then before it is published they
meet tosether again to get rid of any differBncee7-^I think
you had far better anticipate the differences by getting
them discussed and settled before you send to use Home
Office.



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433



35666. Supposing it was '* No rule shall be established
untU it has been submitted to the men " — ^you would not
give the men a right to say that that rule should not be
proposed ? — ^They would tr> to arrive at a mutual under-
standing, and if they could not the Home Office would be
the arbitrators in the matter. The men should have a
right to say : *' That is what we propose in opjHMition."

35667. You think that before the owner is entitled to
propose a rule, he ought to caU the men in conference ? —
I think it would lead to amicability and good under-
standing.

35668. Still he is entitled to propose that rule afterwards
whether the men agree or not ? — That is always his right,
I think. I

35669. Have you any suggestions to make for additions
to the present regulations with reference to shot-firing ? —
Not that I am aware of.

35670. It has been suggested it might be desirable if
no shots were fired in ilie haulage roads, except under
the immediate direction of the manager ? — Do you mean
that the manager should be there 7

35671. That either he should be there or should prejoribe
the weight of the explosive and be fully acquainted with
what the shot has to do and prescribe the conditions
under which it is to be fired ? — As a practical miner, and
I have worked at all these classes of work — ^I think the
workman is the best judge as to the amoimt of explosive
required to bring down any portion of stone. The manager
is there and sees what we call the jacks or spring, or what- *
ever it is. Except he saw the shot put in, he could not tell
the amount of explosive. It is the practical man who does
it ; he puts the hole "v^here he thinks best and he knows,
by his experience, what quantity of explosive it will take,
but a mana^r should not do it — ^he would have to be there
every time a man starts to drill a hole.

35672. Tou do not think tliere is any addition required
to the present regulations, if they are carried out ? —
I think not. I may say as to the haulage way, I think
greater attention should be paid to the dust.

35673. That is being made a subject of inquiry. Do
you think a shot should be fired at all in the haulage
road 7 — I think the manager and officials should tell
men whether they are to be fired in the haulage road.

35674. It should not be done indiscriminately 7 — ^No.
The official says to him : " You may go into a certain place
and do something " — and considering the terrible danger
that lies in dust I say the manager or official should tell
the man whether he should put a shot in or not — he
should not teU him how to put it in, but he should tell him
whether he should put it in or not. He would say ; ** Now
you can go and put a shot in that."

35675. You have given two reasons which to your mind
are a source of danger, one is that familiarity with danger
is apt to breed contempt, and the other is too great a
desire to make money 7 — Yes.

35676. Can you suggest anything by which the first —
familiarity— can be dealt with 7 — 1 3iink there is gradually
a change taking place.

35677. Can you suggest any legislation or recommenda-
tion to be made by this Commission with reference to
that 7 — No ; but it is quite a natural thing to me that
men's familiarity through being trained up to it from
boyhood, will induce in their minds a sort of contempt.

35678. What I want you to answer is whether you think
any legislation or recommendation should be made by this
Conmiission to alter that 7 — ^I do not know myself how
you could do it by legislation.

35679. Then too great a desire to earn money. Do you
think we could alter that 7 — ^I do not see how you could
by legislation; but there is the fact.

35680. Do you suggest how we can find out these
dangers and avoid them 7 — No; but there they are.

35681. There are dangers which no legislation can
guard against 7 — So far as regards making money and
the desire of men to make money, that arises in their trade,
and I do not see how you can restrict it by legislation —
you ciui by teaching and training.

35682. It follows there are a number of accidents which
must happen in a mine which cannot be prevented by
legislation 7 — ^I am very much afraid that in mine working
there will be accidents, which no earthly skiU can provide
for ; but at the same tune we can try to lessen them.

35683. {Sir Lindsay Wood.) I should like to ask you
this with reference t>o the remarks you made about no



fines beii^ made in Durham, was that reply confined
only to the fines for breaches of the Act or General
Rules ? — ^I am speaking subject to correction, but I do
not know myself personally of any fine we have permitted
in Durham, but as I say Mr. Johnson will be able to
answer that question perhaps more fully.

35684. Not for any offence 7 — ^Not any offence — ^not to
my knowledge. If it has come before us in Committee,
we have said to a man : " We do not agree to fines."

35685. There are collieries which do fine and collieries
which do not fine, Mr. Bain says 7 — Well, I do not know.

35686. (Mr. Enoch Edvxurds,) I understood you, in
answer to his Lordship, to say that you had six inspectors
covering the northern districts of Durham, Northumber-
land and Cumberland ? — And North Yorkshire, the iron-
stone mines. There may be a mine or two in Westmore-
land, but that is very small.

35687. Three chiefs and two assistants 7 — ^There are two
chiefs, and four assistants.

35688. Two assistants under each chief 7 — Yes.

35689. I suppose they reside some in one portion of
the district and some in another 7 — ^The three for Durham
and North Yorkshire reside in Durham, and of the three for
North Durham and Northumberland and Cumberland,
one resides at Cleator Moor, in Cumberland, and the other
two reside in Newcastle.

35690. For Durham what distance would the inspectors
have to travel from their homes t/O some of your remoter
collieries ? — Do you mean in Durham 7

35691. Yes 7 — I should think the furthest colliery you
would have to travel to would be twenty-one or two miles.

35692. So that some amount of their time would be
spent in travelling 7 — I am not speaking of North York-
shire.

35693. Of course. Is Cumberland worked from Durham 7
— ^From Newcastle — ^Northumberland.

35694. Of course they have a resident inspector some-
where in the County of Cumberland 7 — One lives at
Cleator Moor, in Cumborland.

35695. Under the present system some amount of time
will be taken up in travelling 7 — Yes.

35696. All the coUieries will not be in direct communica-
tion with railways, very likely 7 — No. There are some
places where they wiU have a good bit to travel by road.

35697. So that it will depend upon the size of a man's
district as to the amount of personal supervision he can
pay to a coUiery 7 — Yes.

35698. Have you thought out what might be saved by
making more districts 7 — No, I have never thought of that.
I thought that the districts in the north were pretty nicely
arranged, providing there were a number of subordinate
inspectors.

35699. Yours would not be so extreme a case as some 7
—No.

35700. The district inspector will have a considerable
amount of clerical work 7 — I suppose he will.

35701. He will visit collieries largely in cases of accident 7
— He goes in case of an accident, I should think, but not
only in the case of an accident if there should be any
complaint from the men. I have no doubt he will go in
that case, or send his assistant, as the case may be.

35702. I understand from the opinions you have
expressed that there is no complaint to make against the
present inspectors ? — Not against their doing their duty
none whatever.

35703. The same observation would apply to your
deputies or overmen, as to the district being too big to give
what inspection is necessary ? — Yes.

35704. They read out to you the observations of Mr.
Pickering, which I think, after my experience here, is
largely in harmony with most of the observations of the
inspectors, that there is a fear of too much inspection ;
but you do not take that view ? — No. That has always
appeared to me as a sort of belittling of the manager, that
he would take advantage of any additional inspection
and neglect his duty.

35705. I understood from the observation that has been
put by several that you resent that interpretation 7 — I have
no special plea for resenting it, but I do not think it would
make him any more careless if there were more inspectors.

35706. You said you had hundreds of mec 7 — I think I
am right in saying hundreds.

56



Mr, J.
Wilson,
M.P.

22 Jan. .1908.



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434



MINUTES or evidbnce:




3OTd7. Who were qualified with first-class cmrtifioatos ?
— ^Perhaps I may be wrong as to " hundfeds," but there
is a very large number ; yon can take that from me without
my saying " hundreds." There are a very large number
23 Jan.»1006. oi young men and middle-aged men in Durham who hold
first-olaas certificates.

35708. Who are not managers ? — No, they are workmen.

35709. In some cases they would be firemen or overmen,
and some of them would be working at the coal face ? —
Yes.

35710. They would hold such qualifications as to be in
your judgment competent to take this other grade of
inspectorship ? — Yes, that is my idea.

35711. So that at any rate, so far as you are concerned,
in Durham already there are competent men here, there,
and everywhere, who could be employed as additional
inspectors ? — Yes, that is my idea.

35712-13. In your judgment, after your length of experi-
ence, you agree it is desirable where there are subordinate
inspectors uiat they should hold a qualification equal to
the qualification of the men under whom they would have
to inspect ? — ^I think so. I think he will come more into
oontact i^-ith the under-manager. If there is anything
above, the district inspector would deal with it ; but I
think he ought to have a certificate equal to that,
and also experience as a workman.

36714. You agree that it is desirable there should be
more inspection by inspectors 1 — I think so.

35715. And that the inspection should take the form
of complete inspection ? — Complete supervision, yes.

35716. It has been suggested that you may inspect by a
sample. What is your view with regard to that ? — I do not
see how you could do it. Collieries differ so much ; they
differ in strata, in thickness of seams, and in every way.

35717. You would not take it in a large colliery employ-
ing 1,000 men, with six miles of roadways, that an inspector
would go into a pit and inspect an area in one seam, and
that that could be taken as a sample of all the pit ? — That
would not be inspection.

36718. In your opinion, it would not be satisfactory
unless the inspector had made the inspection and reported
on the inspection through the mine ? — That is my idea of it.

35710. With reference to timbering, I think we have
gathered from the observations of other Witnesses that
vour methods in the north differ largely from the methods
m most counties 7 — Yes.

35720. And you also have a class of men set apart to do
the timbering ? — Yes.

35721. According to your present view you prefer to set
your own timber ? — If a timberer came in and could set
timber without interfering with my convenience and with
the rules, he could put it in ; but if it was not necessary
I would rather put it in myself.

35722. That is his special work, to set timber ? — He is
responsible for that work.

35723. I understood you to say if the deputy had left
and gone to some other place, he would leave timber with
instructions to the man to make himself safe ? — Yes.

35724. Do you only refer to setting props with lids on 7
*-That is alL

35725. They do not do at the face any bar timbering 7
— ^What do you call that 7

35726. Two legs and a bar 7 — Yes, put up two props ;
we call them planks, but you call them bars. It is a bar
about two or three inches thick.

35727. In setting a prop be would have a small lid at
the top 7 — Yes.

35728. Is that the timbering the deputy would do 7 —
The deputy would do that, and the man sometimes, if
necessary, if he found himself unsafe.

35729. In working at a face in ordinary cogging and
chocking, that would be the work of the deputies 7 —
The deputies put the chocks in. The man does not do that.

35730. That is the deputies' work 7— Yes.

35731. When you suggested a separate travelling road,
I think if I followed you rightly, you said in the roads now
there have to be manholes laid and kept clear by the Act,
of course : but that if there was a separate road some of
this expense need not be incurred. In the main haulage
roads it would not be necessary even to have manholes 7 —
Not if they had a travelling way, because a man would
not have any necessity to come out that way.



35732. In main haula^ foads is it not necessary for
men to be there 7 — ^In ths repairing of it, in the usual
heaving up of the mine, the natural pressure. Of course
there are men going to repair, to put that right, certainly.

35733. An accident may happen, a wagon may go off
the line, and someone has to put it on 7 — Yes.

35734. It would be necessary still to have manholes 7 —
I do not see that it is so necessary, because these men who
go in to do repairs go in at night when the wagons are not
running.

35735. I will take it apart from repairs, in ordinary
drawing shift. I do not know what is the custom with
you. When the wagons are off and a man puts them on,
he must have some place of refuge 7 — He is the man
employed in doing that. He is what we call the wagon-
wayman. ,

35736. It is necessary to have some place to go to
when the wagons are started 7 — There would be place
ends for him to go into, and he would know th^n.

35737. You have made the position clear that the men
are opposed to fines in the coUiery office 7 — ^Yes.

35738. It has been suggested to us that in the absence
of fines you take the officials very much away from the
coDiery if you prosecute so much in Court. I want to
put it to you after your leneth of experience in this
matter, in your judgment and that of your Mends, if
fines in the colliery office were made illegal and you
were compelled to take them before the Court, is it not
likely that there would be less cases to go before the
Court and less fines 7 — ^I believe in the end it would
work its own cure. I mean the amount mulcted in fines
and costs would work its own cure on the colliery.

35739. You think it does not command respect for
the rules and the due observation of thetn that there would
be if publicly punished before a Court 7 — ^That is my idea.

35740. Even if a workman favoured a fine you say it
is not in the intwest of the men themselves that thsy
should be so fined 7 — I do not think that it is in the interest
of safety.

35741. When you refer to a man neglecting his timbering
in the rush ana eagerness towards the close of his shift,
you mean he wants to get another tub or two out 7 —
Yes, that is my idea.

35742. In answer to Mr. Ellis you were both agreed i
you could hardly suggest a remedy for that sort of thing 7 |
— No. It is the natural bias and tendency of a man's I
mind. J

35743. Do you think if all the collieries worked day/
wage it would remedy it 7 — ^If they did, it would do away \
wim the eagerness.

35744. There could be a remedy found 7— If yon put ^
it on day wage, but I have my own view as to puttmg
pieoe-workers on day wage.

35745. This Commission has been told by represeiitatiTes i ^
of the workmen that that is the cure for it 7 — There may be i /C



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 146 of 177)