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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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of asking questions ought not to be so indiscriminate as
you suggest. Have you thought of it from that point of
view ? — Yes. We had a case where we thought a man
was very nearly sent from Leicester through, I think,
a jury of townsmen and there being no one to represent
the man at the time.

37162. At all events you have sufficiently considered
that a coroner's inquest is a Criminal Court really in Ihis
irstance ? — Yes.

37163. That might make you pause when you demand
for a Trade Union official or anybody else a light to ask
questions independent of the coroner, where a man is in
the preliminary stage of being tried ? — In that case it
would be best left alone asking the questions, anyhow.

37164. You want the truth to come out ? — Yes.

37165. The causes of the accident, and to prevent it in
future ? — Yes.

37166. Could that not be done, in cases where it was
necessary, by subsequent enquiry, not before a coroner,
but before experts, as the Act provides ? — Yes. One
reason why I think a Trades' Union official ought
to be there is this : under the present law he has to get
the appointment in writing by the majority of the men,
and it takes him time to get tnat appointment.

37167. Where it is necessary for the workmen to unite Mr. L.
and write an order to attend you think that quite super- Loveti.
fluous ? — Yes.

37168. I have quite understood that point. Again, I ^ ^®^-» ^^^

suppose it would be rather difficult to secure in coroner's

inquests all over the country that where a seaman were

killed there should be three practical seamen, and where
a doctor was alleged to have illtreated a patient that there
should be practical doctors. If you applied your rul^
universally and had in every coroners inquest three
practical men who knew the thing, it might make inquests
difficult ? — I was thinking of a miner's inquest.

37169. There are other considerations, and I want to
put them before you ? — Quite so. I was thinking about
fatal accidents in mines when I put that.

37170. I quite see the point of view. In the examina-
tion for managers and under-managers there should be
some practical workmen on the Board ? — Yes.

37171. To examine them orally, you mean ? — Yes.

37172-3. Do you not think it would be better, when you
have the paper part of the examination, to have one paper
set for the whole of England, not a local paper for each
place, but one paper the same for everybody ? — I think it
would be fair.

37174. Have you heard that it is easier to ^et your
pass in some places than at others ? — Yes.

37 175-6. Do you not think it is desirable that it should be
equally difficult all over the country ? — Yes, and the same
test, I think.

37177. Then with regard to sanitation in mines you
think that the roadways might be made cleaner ? — I
think they might.

37178. That could be done by a good Special Rule ? —
I should think it could be done by a Special Rule.

37179. Then men would approve a rule ? — I could not
say that they would approve a rule, but it should not be
any detriment to them in taking them away from their

37 ISO. Are the roadways foul at present from odour.
Is that what you mean by sanitation ? — No ; I mean by
sanitation any cases of ankylostomiasis. I was talking
of it in that way. There is not the same convenience on
the roads to ease nature as there is ( n the stalls.

37181. You would have plaoes made at intervals for
men to go ? — Yes.

37182. Would that involve the necessity of the men
being Uable to a breach of the Special Rule if they did not
use it. There is not much in it. A man can be fined who
does it in a public street in London. Would you go as far
as that or not ? — I do not know that I would. In case
there was any danger of ankylostomiasis I would go as far
as that.

37183. You do not think it is neoeasary T — No.

Mr. Edward Huohbs, called and examined.

37184. {Mr. Cunynghame,) You belong to the North
Wales Miners' Association, and come here to represent
that Association ? — Yes.

37185. You would Uke the present staff of in-
spectors to be so increased as to enable them to examine
each coUiery at least every two months ? — Yes, or at least
every three months.

37186. That would involve multiplying the present
number by about four ? — Yes.

37187. Is the country to pay them for this ? — I suppose so.

37188. You would like some working-men inspectors
among them. I usj the word practical men inspectors,
men who have been practical working miners ? — I should
suggest that a third-cl&ss of inspectors should be appointed.

37189. I suppose that class would not be expected to
advise oq the more difficult engineering questions ? — No.

37190. In the second place such men as that could not
aspire to the highest positions on the inspectorate unless
they were able to pass the engineering examinations ? —
That was my intention, that they should have first or
second-class certificates.

37191. With regard to the deputies and firemen, you
think that they have too big districts at the present time ?
— I do.

37192. We have heard a good deal of evidence upon
the detail of that, and I will leave it to those who are
expert to deal with the question more in detail. I will
just take the general points. You do not like fines ? —
I do not. I tlunk that prosecutions would have far more

37193. They might have far more effect, but would it
not be for a very small offence rather hard on a man to lose
a day's work ? — I do not think so.

37194. You think men would rather be prosecuted than
fine.l ?— -Yes.

37195. Actually the men themselves T — I think so, the
best of them.

37196. You have never heard of a man who was offered
the alternative of a fine who desired to be prosecuted
instead ? — I have known of fines being made and returned
to the men in the way of consideration, so consequently
it has no effect.

37197. What do you mean bv "in the waj^ of con-
sideration " ? Is it not an odd thing to do, to fine a man
and hand him his money back ? — ^The manager feels bound
to fine him.


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37198. That w for public example ? — Yes, but never-
theless he does not like the man to suffer financially, so
he fines him with one hand and hands him back the fine
5 Feb., 1908. with the other hand.

37199. That is wrong ?— Yes.

37200. Do you not think that a man who acts so wrongly
as that manager, who has such a peculiar view of his duties,
would be likely, in a case where he ought to prosecute, to
let him off T — ^I do not know ; he may.

37201. Do you think he would feel more delicate in one
ease than in the other ? You see my obvious retort ; there
is that difficulty ? — ^Yes ; but personally I would rather
be prosecuted than fined. I always object to fines myself
in my district.

37202. Supposing the fine was only made with your own
consent ; you would have an opportunity of being prose-
cuted instead, if you liked ? — I should rather. I have
always advocated it.

37203. At present fines are only inflicted with the
consent of the men ? — Yes.

37204. You could always be prosecuted, if you wished ?

37205. Would you take away from those who are fined
by their wish the right to be fined, and put them into the
same box as yourself ? — I woidd. I think it would be to
their interest.

37206. If fines were done away with, should we not see
the inspector going round and urging a great many more
prosecutions, and a great many more prosecutions taking
place T — It may have the effect in the long run of reducing
the fatal accidents, or accidents in mines generally.

37207. In regard to Special Rules, you would like there
to be a thorough understanding as to any proposed new
rule, both by employers and employed, before &ie rule comes
into force ? — Yes.

37208. And at as early a stage as possible ? — ^Yes.

37209. Is that generally what you desiro ? — Yes.

37210. I do not propose to go into the whole detail,
because we have heard so much about it ; but you are in
favour of any scheme which will bring that about ? — Yes.

37211. What do you say about systematic timbering ? —
I suggest that we have systematic timbering not ordy in
the face but in the roadways as well. I have the
misfortune to represent a district which has during 1906
suffered very much through falls of roof. Our fatal acci-
dents run irom falls of roof and sides alone, 1 in 706 employed

II or 1 in 500 in all accidents. In my opinion, if we had
11 systematic timbering on the roads as weU as in the face
M it would reduce the accidents very materially.

37212. Are there not, at all events in South Wales— I
do not remember that I have seen what I am stating in
North Wales — some mines where the roads go on, I believe
I may say, for miles without any timbering at eJl ?—
Sometimes it may happen.

37213. Where it is said that the roof is quite safe — I am
putting what has been said to me — and where the timbering
would be really more a source of danger than of safety on
account of preventing you seeing the pieces that were
coming down, and where it is alleged very few accidents
have occurred ? — It would not be so in North Wales.

37214. You have not seen such a case as that ?— No.

37215. Are your roads pretty well timbered, or not ? —
Not usually ; not generally so.

37216. Do many accidents occur through want of
timbering in roads ? — Yes, very many ; one colliery in
particular, where we had six fatal accidents in 1906.
Three of them, if I mistake not, were caused by falls of
roof. I remember being at the colliery only two months
prior, and I called the attention of the manager to it. He
objected to timbering unless authorised by the fireman,
because they had to pay for it. I said the consequence
of it will be some of your men will be killed by this bind
coal, and it was the cause within two months.

37217. It is that which leads you to think there ought to
be systematic timbering ? — ^Yeo.

37218. At all events, you would put it in the mines with
which you are acquainted ? — Yes.

37219. It might be different in some other parts ? — I
am talking especially for North Wales.

37220. Travelling on haulage roads, you think, ought to
be prohibited while the haulage ropes are in motion ? —
Yes, or that there should be sufficient space on the road-
side, and that such space should be on the same side as the

37221. In most mines is tt j^q^ ^^ f^^ |j^^^ ^^^ -^
sufficient space to walk aJon^ Without getting in oontaot
with the haulage ropes ? — ^Veiy often you have to cross
from one side of the haulage road to the otlier, and I

37222. A bridge ?— No ; a man walks right along and
wants to cross to the left or to the right. I suggest a
space for travelling should be on one side of the ro£^ and
that it should be on the same side as the manhole, so liiat
if anything was to happen, the man could easily fall into
his manhole.

37223. It may be necessary to cross oGoadonally under
the rope for turning down another turning to the left ? —
Quite so ; that would have to be done.

37224-7. At all events, your view is, speaking of your
district^ that is a defect which ought to be remedied ? —

37228. You next say wherever gas has been found that
safety lamps ought to be enforced ? — Yes.

37229. You do not mean — if you do say it — where the
minutest thimbleful of gas could be disoovered by a
chemist that safety lamps should be put in ? — Personally
I should not object to safety lamps in all ooal mines,
whether gas is found or not» or especiaUy if gas has ever
been seen I should have a safety lamp.

37230. If you said ** wherever gas has been found " a
magistrate would say, " I suppose that must mean where
any gas has been found, ever so little." Wouki not that be
equivalent to saying safety lamps must be employed in
every mine in the kingdom ? — I would not object to it.

37231. Would you force them against the will of the men
in districts where they work with naked Ughts T — I would.
I think it would be to their interest in the long run.

37232. How many naked-light mines are there in your
district ? — Only one or two, very small ones.

37233. Would you force them to have safety lamps ? — . .
If I had my own way they would have safety lamps llji
to-morrow. V^^

37234. Are you prepared to say all over the country
that naked lights ought to be put an end to, because that is
a big order ? — I should, myself.

37235. You are aware some people say you are more
likely to have falls of roof irom not being able to see well
in places 7 Do you think anything of that T — No.

37236. It ia a technical subject, on which you would have
a better opinion than myself. Lastly, you say that a court
of enquiry should be created in eaoh mining djstriot so that
the officials in charge may be cross-examined by a legal
representative of the deceased. That is where an accident
occurred?— Yes.

37237. Do you mean after each inquest ?^No. I should
suggest, if you wish, call it a board of equal repreeentatiyes
of both miners and employers, men who have experience
in mines. As a rule, the juries at coroners' inquests know
very little of miners' terms, and so on.

37238. Is it not a fact that under Section 45 of the Coal
Mines Act power exists already in the Secretary of State,
if he exercises it, to do all that you wish in that respect,
and to have an inquiry at which everybody will be present,
and have it put into the hands of the best experts he can
get T - I am not aware of it.

37239. Section 45 has never been used, as far as you are
aware ? — Not as far as I am aware.

37240. Would you be surprised and glad to learn that
throe inquiries have just l:^n made under Section 45,
and that the report is just about to be sent in ? — That
would not occur in each accident.

37241. You surely do not intend that where a ladder
falls upon a man and he is unfortunately killed^ that a
court of inquiry is to be established to say what eveiybody
must know, how he has been killed — not in every case ? —
The jury at a coroner's inquest want to know the cause
of death. We should like to know what brought it about.

37242. I agree with you, but it surely would be unneces-
sary in a large number of cases to get, in addition to the
coroner's jury, a court of inquiry together ? — If it was
formed one for each District I do not see why it should
not be so.

37243. They would have to meet and inquire into
every cause of death ? — Yes.

37244. Are they to be paid by the State for doing this,
or give their services gratuitously ? — ^Their expenses, I
should suggest.


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37245. Who is to pay for their day's work which they
lose ? — Still the Exchequer, I should say.

37246. You think the taxpayer should ? — If it would
be the means of saving life.

37247. I agree ? — If it would, they should pay.

37248. Leave for the moment the question of who is to
pay. In this country everybody wishes somebody else
should pay, and that is not unnatural, but the poiiit is
this : is it not a fact that in the large majority of cases of
death it is only too clear and evident how it has occurred
without wanting a court of inquiry otiier t^an the coroner's
inquest ? — In such cases there would be no need for the
Board to meet.

37249. In giving vour answer to this question you were
not fully aware of tne provisions of Section 45 of the Coal
Mines Act. That is the first question one asks ? — I was

37250. It deals with the very subject, and it is rather
wise to think of what exists before you propose something
else. There is power in every case to order an inquiry
by the Secretary of State ? — Yes.

37251. If that power was exercised in ill cases in
which it was likely to throw light upon some question
which would be the means of saving life, that would do
what you want ? — ^The trouble is in getting the Secretary
of State to order each inquiry.

37252. Do you think it would be very great ? — Yes,
undoubtedly. I should suggest that these Boards should
be already created and ready for emeigency whenever a
case occurs.

37253. And that pay should be provided for the members
to compensate them for their trouble in assembling ? —

37254. (Mr. Enoch Edwards,) North Wales is under the
Liverpool inspection ? — ^Yes.

37255. Have you a resident inspector ? — No.

37256. How many mines have you ? — There are some-
where about 40. I am not sure.

37257. Employing how many men ? — Less than 13,000.

37258. 12,000 odd T— Yes, aco rding to the 1906

37259. In case of an accident how far would the inspector
have to travel to get to your pits ? — 12 to 20 miles at the
outside. He lives at Chester, of course.

37260. He visits in the case of all accidents ? — Yes.

37261-3. Does the inspector visit your mines at other
times than accidents ? — I could not tell. I notice that
his visits during 1906 were 170, and his chief, 78 visits.
That is for the whole of West Lancashire, Cheshire, Flint-
shire and Denbighshire.

37264. You suggest a third class of inspectors ? — ^Yes.
I take it there are two now, the chief and tne assistant.

37265. In the extension of this principle you suggest
that there should be a third class of inspector ? — Yes.
I mean by a third class of inspector a practical miner of
not less than 10 years' experience at the face.

37266. In that case he should have sufficient theoretical
knowledge to pass an examination ? — Quite so.

37267. He would pass such an examination as a second
or first class ? — Second or first. We have, as you are
aware no doubt, hundreds of miners holding first-class
certificates working at the face — not in North Wales.

37268. In the country ?— Yes.

37269. You will have some, likely ?— Yes.

37270. There are more managers than they can find
places for ? — Yes.

37271. From this class of men another order of inspectors
should be appointed ? — Yes.

37272. Of somewhat lesser importance, but men who
can give more time underground ? — ^Yes, to give the whole
of their time to visit and examine collieries.

37273. They should make thorough inspections of mines 7
— Yes, efficiently.

37274. By that you mean a thorough inspection ? —

37275. A good deal of inspection is done by sample, a
part of one pit is taken ? — Yes.

37276. You would inspect the whole of a pit and its
workings ? — Yes.

37277. By that means the inspector would be able to
advise the management on many matters to prevent
accidents happening ? — I do believe so.

37278. More constant supervision would prevent many
of these accidents happening T — Yes.

37279. That is an opinion your North Wales men
generally agree with ? — Yes.

37280. If you have more examination by men who are
employed by the Government many of the fatal and
non-fatal accidents would be obviated 1 — ^I had, only four
weeks ago— this is rather strong, anyhow it is a fact — a
district of men who had to be returned home for want of
timber. The previous day they had worked the whole
shift where they ought not to work, and the next day they
returned home for want of timber. If the mines inspector
had visited that colliery at the time, someone would have
known about it, and it would not have happened again.

37281. If the colliery owners are negligent in providing
timber, that might happen even if you inspect a mine
ojce in three months ? — Yes.

37282. It might happen often ?— Yes.

37283. The law should be made stronger to meet a case
like that ? — Quite so.

37284. At present they are expected to find the men
suitable timber ? — They are supposed to find sufficient
timber, but they do not do so. That is what I am aiming

37285. In such a case where your men had to go home,
would it not be well to report that to the inspector ? —

[Mr, Cunynghame,) It is difficult to see how the law
was broken, because if there was not the timber the men
were forbidden to work, and it is like closing the mine.

37286. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) With reference to the
firemen, you suggest that they should have a limited
number of men to look after ?— Yes.

37287. Is your experience now that they have too many
men under their charge ? — Yes. These poor men have not
time to look after the men in the way of accidents. There
are too many men and too many places^ and too much
travelling between one [ lace and another, end so on.

37288. Have the deputies and firemen other duties than
looking after safety ? — Yes ; at most of the pits they are
supposed to get the coal out, and most of their tame goes
in getting the coal out.

37289. When he is not examining, his business is to see
that the coal is got out ? — Yes. Whether it is his business
or not, that is what he does.

37290. You think his ordinary duties as a fireman are
neglected because of the other duties ? — Yes.

37291. Would you prefer to see a rule which made it
obligatory on the part of the owner to provide firemen
who should be separate and specially for tJiese duties
only T — Yes.

37292. His district should be of such a size that he could
get round it ? — Yes.

37293. Who would you make the judge of the size of
those districts ? — ^The Inspector of Mines.

37294. You think the Inspector should say whether a
district was large enough or too large for the man to attend
to ? — I think he ought to say whether the fireman
would be able to examine each place at least three
times in eight hours, as it ought to be done.

37295. By such examination, beyond the ventilaticm
you mean the sides and roof ? — Yes,

37296. With reference to fines what is the custom in
North Wales ? — Prosecution, generally. Thero are only
one or two collieries 1 am aware of where fines have been
made, and I objected very much then to it personally, and
really the men. They did not care for it It is only iti
one instance I know of.

37297. They prefer rather that the law should be clear
that if there is a breach of the rule they should be prose-
cuted T — If they are guilty they prefer being prosecuted
to being fined.

37298. With reference to the Special Rules being con-
sidered thoroughly, have you any difficulty as to Special
Rules in North Wales T — There is no doubt about it ;
they know they are there, and that is all they know about
them. My suggestion is that Special Rules, before being
adopted, should be thoroughly considered by both parties,
and if so, the men would have known or understood them
when they came into force.

37299. Your present Special Rules have been In force
many years T — Yes.

37300. You have not recently had cause to complain
about any rules being put in force without the men being
consultea ? — No.

Feb.t 1908.

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37301. If any such rale was proposed in North Wales
would your Government Inspector consult your Society ?
— I should expect him to.
6 Feb., 1908. 37302. You think he would ?— I think he would.

37303. In timbering is it not the duty of the collier to
do his own timbering in North Wales ?— Generally in the
roads and face.

37304. I am dealing rather with the face— in his working
place ? — Yes.

37305. His contract includes the obligation to set
timber T — Yes. Sometimes they are paid so much per bar.

37306. It i^ part of the contract that the collier should
do this timbering ? — ^Yes.

37307. You think he is the proper person to do it ? —

37308. He is the most likely person to know how to do
it ? — He knows the nature of the ground better than
anybody else.

37309. What do you mean by systematic timbering ? —
On the road what we call bars should be set, say every
yard or so along the haulage road.

37310. I am rather dealing with the face, where the man
works. The man does not work on the haulage road. It
is his duty in his contract to set his timber ? — ^Yes.

37311. Have you reason to think he does it to the
satisfaction of everybody ? — No ; it is not always allowed.
I have known instances I referred to just now, where the
men were prohibited from setting timber because they
would not be paid for it, unless instructed by the fireman.

37312. In setting timber you are not referring to setting
props, but to putting bars across ? — Yes.

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 158 of 177)