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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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it leads to.

36573. Will you answer that question or do you prefer
to leave it unanswered, as to whether you would go so far
as to say that a man ought to be forbidden by law to make
an agreement with a manager as to a fine under any
circumstances whatever 7 — I would prefer in every case
the proper authority should determine as to wnether
a man should be fined, and if so, what amount — as a means
of getting rid of some of the pernicious features of it.

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Mr. Thomas Mansell c&lled and examined.


36574. (Chairman.) I understand you have come here
to give evidence on behalf of the South Staffordshire and
East Worcestershire Miners' Association ? — Yes.
f 36575. What position do you occupy in that Asso-
ciation 7 — General Secretary of the Miners' Association.

36576. How long have you held that position ? —
About 13 years now.

^ 36577. Have you had any special instructions from
vo'vtr Association as to the points they wish you to put
before this CommlBsion, or do you simply stand upon the
general knowledge you have of the miners' wishes owing
to the position you have occupied during the last 13
years ? — The general knowledge of the miners I represent.

36578. You say with regard to administration you think
there is room for an increase in the number of inspectors
of mines in your district X — Yes.

36579. I suppose you mean Government inspectors of
the district class ? — ^Yes.

36580. Do you consider it is necessary to increase the
number of Government inspectors of the present class of
inspectors and assistant inspectors, or do you consider
that the increase might be made solely by way of adding
a third dass of inspector, who would be in a different
position from the others ?— I think there is great need
for an increase in the Government inspectors — the present
assistant inspectors.

36581. You would like more assistant inspectors and
/ more district inspectors ? — ^Yes.

4, I 36582. How many more ?— For the Black Country
/ proper I should think one or two would be sufficient.

365S3. One or two in your own district, which you
know about ? — Yes.

36964. How many inspestors have you in the. district
you are secretary for ? — ^We have Mr. Johnstone, who
represents the Staffordshire districts, who visits us
occasionally, and Mr. Makepeace, and another assistant.

36585. You only belong to one district ?— That is alL

36386. You say you think there is room for an increase
in the number of inspectors of mines in the district with
which you are acquainted ? — ^Yes.

36587. Do you consider there ought to be more than
one district inspector and two assistant inspectors ? — I
should think more assistant inspectors would do, because
we have an admirable man in Mr. Johnstone.

36588. You would have three or four more inspectors
besides the two at present ?— Speaking from my know-
ledge of the Black Country I think if there was an additional
one for the Black Country alone proper, it would make a
big improvement — I think it would minimise accidents.

36589. Would you supplement that by another class of
inspector— working-man inspector T— I may say that the
inspection under General Bule 38 has never been brought
into effect in our district.

36590. It has been sugeested before us more than once
that it would be extremely desirable to have a great deal
more €k)vemment inspection than at present obtains, and
there should be a new class of inspector appointed who
should have, say, £3 a week, or some salary of that kind,
and who should be appointed from, mostly at all events,
men who have Worked in the mines T— Yes, I quite agree

"^ with that.

36591. Some of the witnesses have said that the duties
under Rule 38 might weU be done by these third-class
inspectors, and other witnesses have suggested that
besides the third class inspectors this inspection by the
men under Bule 38 should still go on. As regards Govern-
ment inspection, to take that first, how often do you think
a mine ought to be inspected by a Government inspector of
some kind, either the district inspector, assistant inspector,

' ( or third-class inspector ?— I should think in a dangerous
coalfield like ours, once every three months — I mean
«, Government inspection.

36592. The whole of the pit ?— Yes.

36593. Not only inspection by sample once every three
months, but the whole of the pits in the district should
be gone through by some sort of Government inspector ? —

36594. And that, I suppose, would necessitate the appoint-
ment of at least half-a-dozen, ff not more, of these third
class inspectors, besides the three assistant inspectors you
want ?— Yes.

6. If you had that Government inspection do you ^^ j . ^^^
ink it would be desirable that the men should con- ^ Jan-^lwi^

36595. Therefore, you would have something like a
dozen inspectors of some kind in your district ?— -Yes.

still think

tinue to have the power of inspection by their own men
under Bule 38 ? — Seeing it has never been brought into
effect in the Black Country I do not think that would

36597. It never has 7 — ^Not to my knowledge. It is
too great a risk for men to volunteer and be appointed to
undertake that duty ; they would have to do it under
pain of being discharged.

36598. If they gave an unfavourable report ? — ^Yes.

36599. That is your belief ?— Yes, from practical

36600. Your belief is that the miners in your district
would be willing to undertake the duty of examiners if
they were not afraid that they would be dismissed if they
made a bad report ? — ^Yes.

36601. That is the only reason to prevent inspection
under Rule 38 in your district ? — ^Yes.

36602. Could that difficulty be met supposing the men
were to appoint two of their number, or more if they liked
— any number they pleased of their own members — ^to be
perpetual inspectors, not to work at the pit at all, but
spend the remainder of their lives so far as they were
engaged in mining pursuits, simply and solely in tins kind
of inspection ? — ^It would be an improvement on the
present system.

36603. Do you think under that system the men would
object to going down the mines ? — ^I do not think so.

36604. You think if they were empowered to appoint
a certain number X)f themselves who should do nothing
whatever but this inspection, you would find men willing
to do it» and the men would be willing to pay them for
it — or how should they be paid ? — 1 do not think the men
would be willing to pay the independent men like that —
men who would not work in the pit

36605. Then that would not meet tlie difficulty. If
other people were to do it there would be no objection ? —

36606. And you could easily get men to do it ? — Yes.

36607. But you do not think the men would consider
it worth their while to pay men to inspect under Rule 38 ?
— ^I think it would be rauier difficult to persuade them to
do so.

Mr. T

3. With regard to the firemen, or examiners, or
deputies, or whatever you call them in your district— the
under officials who have to look after the safety of the
miners under Rule 4 — you say they should possess know-
ledge of the various gases found in mines, and their effect
upon human life, tc^ther with a good sound practical
experience as a miner ? — ^I do.

36609. Do you think it would be necessary that they
should pass an examination for a first or second-class
certificate ? — Second-class certificate.

36610. Do you also think it necessary that they should
have knowledge of first-aid ambulance work ? — Yes, that
is essential in my opinion.

36611. You say nothing about the size of the districts t
— The district which I represent covers an area which
employs a little over 7,000 men.

36612. I mecm the firemen's district. Do you say in
your district that the districts assigned to the firemen
are too large for them to carry out their duties properly ? —
I do not Slink so, because our pits are very smi^ pita
compared with the other pits in the British coal-field.

36613. You think the districts you know of are not too
large 7 — Not the firemen's districts ; but the competency

of the individual is another matter. y

36614. As regards *the size of the districts, you have \X
nothing to complain of ? — ^No.

36615. As to the competency of these firemen, you say
that the best men are not appointed ? — I do say so from
my own experience.

36616. What reasons would you assign for that ? —
Under our butty system I think there is more preference
given to relations and to those people who come and do
bullying about the pit and rush tne men into the work.


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Mt T^ 36617. You consider the firemen are appointed not

ManseU, entirely because they are persons who are capable of

looking after the safe^ of the miners, but also, and perhaps

23 Jan., 1908. chiefly, because they are able to see that the men do the

maximum amount of work ? — ^Yes, they do see that, and

at a very high speed too — they do it at a speed which
renders it more dangerous for them.

36618. You consider the firemen*s duties ought perhaps
to be confined to looking after the safety of the miners, and
they ought not to have anything to do with the general
management of the mine, except as regards the safety of
the miners ? — Yes.

36619. And haying to do other things makes it desirable,
from the point of view of the management, that they
should be men who possess qualifications which are not
always found in conjunction with the knowledge of how
to protect the men ? — ^Yes.


You would be in favour, I imagine, of the fire-
mens' duties being more strictly defined, and of their being
restricted in their duties to looking after the safety of the
men ?— Yes.

36621. Then with regard to the establishing of Special
Rules, you have nothing to complain of in the way of
setting them up ? — No, I do not see any ground of

36622. In your districts are the men consulted at first ?
Supposing an owner wishes to set up rules, does he consult
the men before he sends them to the Home Office for
consideration ? — Well, it has not been so done in the

36623. They first of all send them to the Home Office,
and after they send them to the Home Office the men
have an opportunity of considering them and not before 7

36624. Do you not think^it would be an advantage that
the men should have an opportunity of considering the
Special Rules at an earlier period ? — Yes.

36625. But that has not been the case in your district ?
— Not in the past.

36626. Would you rather that the men were taken
into the confidence of the master at an earlier period ? —
I do not say the system in the past is a good system. I
think the workmen should be consulted in framing the
Special Rules ; but, so far as our Special Rules are con-
cerned, I see no objection to them at present.

36627. The Special Rules, you think, are all right ?—
Yes, for the district

36628. What you find fault with, if you do find fault
with anything, is because under the present system the
men are not consulted at as early a period as they ought
to be ? — If the men were consulted and discussed the
question together, there might be some improvement
made in the present Special Rules — but they never have
been consulted.

36629. You are very well acquainted with the Special
Rules ? — Yes. The rules are fixed up so that the men
may consult them. I think the men ought to be con-
sulted before they are sent up to the Home Office.

36630. At an earlier period than they are ? — Yes.

36631. The Home Office see that the opinion of the men
is taken before they ratify the rules ? — Yes.

{Mr. Wm. Abraham.) He says it has never been done in
his district.

36632. {Chairman.) Have you sent up any sort of
petition to the inspector that you would like to consult
the men about the rules before they were adopted by the
Home Office. Surely the Home Office would see you
had some opportunity ? — I should think so.

36633. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) The question is this : have
you had any opportunities of consulting the employers in
making Special Rules 'for your district? — No, we have
never been consulted up to now.

36634. {Mr. Cunynghame.) When were the rules made.
Was it 20 years ago ? — Yes, it was.

36635. {Chairman.) What is the date of the most recent
rules adopted by the Home Office for the Black Country
district ? — I could not give you the date ; it was before
my time.

36636. There are some timbering rules within the last
five years — ^in 1902 — and your statement is that the men
were not consulted before the establishment of those
rules ? — ^That is so.

36637. I understand ^*^"'^ is a very unusual circumstance
and one not likely to ^^lir again ? — ^The custom in the
Black Country coalfield ^ very much regulated by Lord
Dudley*s office ; he holds the predominant part of the
Black Country coalfield, and after the Special Rules have
been framed, and after they have been consented to by
the office, that is the Mining Department, they have been
generally adopted in the Black Country, but I never
remember being consulted in my life.

36638. {Mr. Cunynghame.) The timbering rules are not
in force in your counwy ? — ^No.

36639. {Chairman.) Then you have no complaint,
except as to rules which were drawn up a great many
years ago, when the Home Office were not so particular
about consulting the men as they are now ? — ^That is so.

36640. {Mr. Hatdiffe EUis.) That was before your time ?

36641. During your time no Special Rules have been set
up at all ? — ^No. I may say we should not adopt the
system of timbering as suggested in the rules.

36642. {Chairman.) Then it comes to this, during the
whole of the time you have been the miners' secretary
no Special Rules, exciapt the Electrical Rules which were
framed by a Committee on which the men were repre-
sented, have been established by the Home Office in the
Black Country — not since 1888, but you may rest assured
that the practice of the Home Office now is, and has been,
that if any rules are established the men should have an
opportunity of considering them before they are estab-
lished ? — I am glad to hear it.

36643. Then as to accidents, you say that too much
care cannot be displayed in timbering roofs and sides,
especially in your Black Country thick seams, and you
think there could be an improvement in this respect by
a more frequent visit of inspectors. Is that the only
suggestion you make as regards timbering ? — ^I think if
there were more frequent visits of inspectors there would
be greater care in fixing the timber up. In our thick
seams there is plenty of room for improvement provided
there was someone to constantly overlook it.

36644. Is it done by special men or ordinary hewers ? —
I think there is too much carelessness in that respect,
they do not put the highly skilled men as often as they
should to timbering.

36645. You say that in difficult places the men should
be constantly supervised by experts in timbering, and
should not be allowed to set their own timber ?-7-That is
my view.

36646. In addition to that, even although there are
expert timberers looking after the timbering in the thick
seams, you still think it is desirable there should be an
inspection by Government inspectors at least once in three
months ? — Yes, I suggest once in three months.

36647. As to haulage, you say where it is favourable
you would extend the principle of mechanical haulage,
as it would be less dangerous than the old system of horse
haulage. Horse haulage is going out now very much,
is it not ? — We cannot do very well without it in some of
our smaller pits.

36648. But where you can do without it you do do
without it ? — ^Yes.

36649. I do not think you have anything to complain of
in that respect, as to there being too much horse haulage ?
— ^No, but I should extend the principle of mechanical
haulage where I could.

36650. You would extend the use of the safety-lamp ? —

36651. Do you not think the safety-lamp is sufficiently
used in your district ? — ^Where necessary, I think the
safety lamp is sufficiently used in the Black Country
district, because we are not so much subject to inflam-
mable gases as they are in other parts of the British

36652. You have no complaint to make with regard to
the non-introduction of safety-lamps in your district ? —

36653. You have nothing to say on the system of exam-
ination for certificates for managers and under-managers,
and you think the district is satisfactory 7 — That is the
first and second-class certificates.

36654. You consider the system of examination for
certificates for managers and under-managers in your
district to be perfectly satisfactory ? — Yes.


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36655. As regards ankylostomiasis, you say the seams
are so shallow and vary so much in temperature, and are
so much subject to water passing through the workings,
that you do not think it possible for the disease to prevail ?

36656. You have no fear of ankylostomiasis ? — ^No,

36657. {Mr. Cunynghame.) In your district the charter
master system largely prevails, does it not ? — ^Yes.

36658. I am not sure I thoroughly understand the whole
of that system. It seems to me to result in a man acting
practically as manager of the mine who has had no
certificate at all ? — Yes, in a good many instances.

36659. I am not sure whether the letter of the Act is
not broken, but certainly the spirit seems to be broken,
if you have a man directing operations who has never
had any proper certificate ? — ^That is so.

36660. Just tell us a little about your views of that
charter master system generally 7 — I have had the pleasure
of going through the report of our late inspector of mines,
Mr. Atkinson.

36661. I would rather you would give us your views ;
we have his views. The value of the evidence is your
view. Do not take it from him ; contradict him or
anyone, if you like, but give us your view 7 — My view is
this : first of all, I must endorse ihe view of Mr. Atkinson,
because we have discussed this matter together in years
gone by. I think the principle of ihe butty system tends
to increase the number of aibcidents, which is fairly demon-
strated by the record for the year ending 3(Hh June, 1907.
I have had the opportunity of getting out statistics which
are not generally available. We have been working under
a compensation scheme fund in the Black Ck)untry, and
for years I have been auditor, the consequence being I
am able to give you statistics that the inspector could not
possibly get at.

36662. Will you let us have them in evidence 7 — ^First
^ of all our death rate in the Black Coimtry proper from

falls of roof is 2*342 per 1,000. If you compare that with
falls of roof in the whole of the British coalfield, which
works out at -78 it is practically equivalent to three times
the average of the whole of the Kingdom, and it is a clear
indication that there is something imperfect in the butty
S3rstem, so far as the protection of the life and limb of the
collier is concerned.

36663. You must compare things which are like one
with another. Is the 2'34 falls from roofs and sides only ?
— Yes, only.

36664. How do you get at the figure of 2*34 7— From
"Mr. Johnstone's, the Grovemment inspector's report.

36665. {Mr. Cunynghame.) Have you ever had any
practical experience of this butty system 7 — I have worked
under the butties.

36666. In what capacity 7 Were you a doggy 7 — ^No.
I have worked filling, and what we call pike work and
picking-in. I have worked under the butty system, I
was going to say, practically aU my life.

36667. Give us an impression without mentioning
names, of the mining capacity of the men conducting the
operations practically in the pit 7 — I have had the ex-
perience of working under the butty system, and I have
had the experience of working under the system of what
we call general management, and I find you have not got
the time allowed to fix up your timber and do your work
properly under the butty system as you have under other
systems. We have other employers in the Black Country
apart from those under the butty system. The man
engaged to overlook the other man, in most instances is
some distant relative of the butty, and he is one of those
who keeps worrying you all the time of the work, and the
consequence is you are being bullied and there are a good
many men certainly who rush into dangers which they
would not otherwise do if there was decent management.

36668. What I wanted to ask you was as to the capacity
of the management, and your knowledge of mining under
the butty system, as compared with mining under the
system such as it is in other districts 7 — Do you refer to
the general manager or his subordinates 7

36669. I refer to both ; I want to hear them separately 7
— In so far as the capacity of the general manager is con-
cerned it is second to none in the Kingdom, but, owing
to the great number of pits and the great distance they
are from each other, it is impossible for him to give the
supervision he otherwise would do if there were more

Mr. T.

36670. You moan that really the general manager is
general manager only in name, and there is not a manager

strictly for that pit at all 7 He covers the whole coalfield, ^

and the consequence is that he cannot do it properly. 23 Jan., 190".

36671. Still, even although they are very small pits and
necessarily worked, perhaps, by small people, would it be,
in your opinion, advantageous that some test of qualifica-
tion should be required of a man who may be left the whole
day entirely in charge of a pit 7 — ^Yes.

36672. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Who may be the gentle-
man vou call the charter master 7 — It is the man who has
got the pit. Strictly speaking, he takes a pit under his
lordship and he works that pit at so much per ton. In
some cases he has to find his own timber ; in other cases
he does not. However, he takes the whole responsibility
and the more he gets out the more he gets for himself.

36673. He is there in the position of a contractor 7 —

36674. Does he, as a rule, know anything about it 7 —
As a rule, he has sprung from a collier and saved sufficient
money to take on the charter master system.

36675. He might be a good man, but is it necessary
do you think for him to possess a certificate of management
either of the first or second-class 7 — If he is going to take
on any part of the management of the mine he should
possess a second-class certificate.

36676. As a charter master he is not compelled to do it 7

36677. Then he has to engage someone else 7 — Yes.

36678. Who is the general manager of the pit 7 — It is
rather difficult to answer that question, because the
general manager of one pit is perhaps general manager
of a dozen or fourteen.

36679. Who is the active manager 7 — The one selected
by the butty.

36680. The one selected by the charter-master himself ?

36681. What is his qualification 7 — In some instances
there is no qualification at all.

36682. This is a most important statement you are
making. From what you have said it appears you might
work in a pit without any practical manager, only someone
named by the charter -master 7 — That is so.

36683. Then how is it supposed to be working under the
Mines Act 7 — I was going to suggest that I do not think
the Act of Parliament is so much contravened and ignored
in any other part of the Kingdom as in ours.

36684. What is the class of men who are doing the
timbering as a rule 7 — They are men who have had
practical experience.

36685. Are they men appointed for that work speci-
fically 7 — ^No. In addition to timbering they have to do
the picking-in as we call it, that is opening the wastes out
and dropping the different sections of the coal.

36686. What is the thickness of the seams you are
working 7 — Ten yards generally.

36687. That in itself is a serious danger 7 — Yes ; it it
the most dangerous seam of coal we have in the Kmgdom.

36688. And requires the best class of man possible to
be the timberer 7 — Yes.

36689. And calls for very high-class supervision 7 —

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 154 of 177)