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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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should be made in the present staff of inspectors or the
present staff of assistant inspectors ; what I say is that
the present number is certainly inadequate to perform the
functions that we think the Government inspectors should

19643. Your principal x>oii^t is that in every district
you would have six or seven, or perhaps seven or eight,
inspectors of a different class 7 — ^That is my chief point.

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19644. How muoh do you suggest they should be paid ?
— ^I do not t^ink I should suggest the salary, either.

19645. Or whether they should be appointed by the
Home OfGioe, as ihe other inspectors are ? — I am not quite
satisfied even that the method of appointing the present
inspectors is the very beet method.

19646. How are the present inspectors appointed ? —
I understand the method of appointment at present is
tiiat the Home Office has the nomination absolutely.

19647. {Mr, Cunynghame,) It is not absolute : they
nominate a number of people to compete ? — ^Unless
nominated they cannot sit for a competitive examination.

19648. It is not an open competitive examination ? —
It is not.

19649. (Chairman.) Do you suggest that there should
be open competition ? — That is my suggestion.

19650. That is, if anyone wishes to be a mines inspector,
and succeeds in open competition, then he should be ap-
pointed ? — ^Yes.

19651. (Mr. Enoch Edwards.) What is meant b;
"anyone" which his Lordship puts in his question ?
must be a man with some knowledge ? — I take it no one
would enter a competitive examination unless he had
some special qualification.

19652. (Chairman.) At present I understand no one is
allowed to compete who has not served for a certain number
of years in a mine, or passed a certain examination ? —
Quite so. I did not mean that you should remove those
restrictions, of course.

19653. You would keep Uwse up ? — ^Yes. I have gone
upon the assumption that the Home Office would not think
of appointing an inspector who was not in possession of a
colliery manager's certificate.

19654. Would you suggest there should be some sort
of provision for the appointment of mines inspectors,
as there is for mine managers, and that a man must
have some practical acquaintance with a mine, or something
of that sort ? — I would. I quite agree with what has been
said here, and I do not think we have any complaint with
respect to the inspectors appointed even under the present
system : still, it is open to this, that they might be
appointed without having any practical knowledge of
mines at all.

19655. You would like some sort of rule as there
is laid down for managers, that no man should be aUowed to
sit for an examination, we will say (supposing that it was
necessary for a mines inspector to pass an examination),
who had not a practical acquaintance with mines. Now it
is not necessary, as I understand — ^a mines inspector has only
to pass an examination, because the Home Office says he
must pass an examination, but the Home Office might say
to-morrow, "We will appoint anyone without an ex-
amination,' ' as I understand you ? — That is so.

19656. The only statutory require uicnt is that the
Secretary of State must appoint a fit person ? — ^Yes.

19657. You suggest definite rules should be laid down by
Act of Parliament restricting the diass of persons who
might be appointed mines inspectors by the Home Office ? —
I do.

19658. And the same would apply to assistant inspectors,
I suppose ? — ^Yes.

19659. Then with regard to the third class of inspectors,
you suggest that in the same way they should be subjected
to some kind of examination 1 — Yes. You wfll notice I
have said, I think, that preference should be given to those
who hold a certificate of competency under the present Act,
viz., the colliery manag^'s certificate.

19660. Either a manager's or under-manager*s cer-
tificate ? — ^No— manager's certificate.

19661. (Mr, Batcliffe EUis.) They are aQ managers
certificates, but they are first and second class ?— Yes—
first class, I mean.

19662. (Chairman,) Do vou think that you would get a
great many people who have passed this first-class ex-
amination to c<Mnpete for tins third class of inspectorship 7
— ^I think so.

19663. In that case I suppose they would have to be paid
fairly well ? — Yes. We have a large number of colliery
woiimen, at present, who hold these certificates.

19664. First-class certificates ?'I^t-class certificates,
and they are» at present, ordinary colliers.

19665. How are they paid ?— They are only paid the
ordinary collier's wages. j.-


19666. And many of them have obtained a first-class Mr. T.
certificate ? — Yes, and a greater number still have the Richards,
second-class certificate only, because they have no oppor- M.P.
tunity of getting a position, and there is no inducement - — -
for them to go for a first-class certificate. 29 May,lW )7.

19667. But they would be capable of obtaining a first-
class certificate, you think ? — I think so.

19668. Have you any idea what sort of proportion of
ordinary colliers would be capable of obtaining a first-class
certificate ? — ^I have not.

19669. A good many ? — I think a good many.

19670. (Dr. Haldane.) They are usually firemen, or men
holding some official position ? — No, I mean the ordinary
working colliers who attend mining classes and qualify
during their spare time, and still foUow their occupation.
That is one of the few complaints we have against the
colliery owners, that these men are not given the position
of firemen, although quaUfied, and have obtained a
second-class colliery manager's certificate : but other men,
without those qualifications, working in the same pit and in
the same district, are often appointed firemen.

19671. (Chairman.) You propose to make some alter-
ation in the working of Rule 38, and you say that Rule 38
should be am«ided so as to permit the appointment by the
workmen of persons as examiners " who are " or have
been "practical underground workmen." The words of
the Act now are : " may from time to time appoint two of
their number or any two persons, not being mining en-
gineers, who are practical working miners." What is the
difference ? — The difference is the interpretation put by
some colliery owners, viz., that a practical working miner
must be a hewer. Some colliery people interpret those words
as confining the selection of these examiners to those who are

19672. (Mr. SmiUie.) And have not the Law Courts held
that to be so ? — I think so.

19673. (Mr. Ratdiffe EUis.) In the Act of Parliament,
Rule 38, it is : " who are practical working miners,'* and
Mr. Richards' amendment is " who are, or have been,
practical miners " ? — ^I would make another alteration:

who are, or have been, practical underground workmen "
I want to call them " practical underground workmen "
and not " practical working miners " : because that has
been interpreted to mean that it is only the man making up
the coal at the face who is eligible to be appointed under
this Section, whereas we sav there are men filling other
occupations in the colliery who are sometimes better quali-
fied to make this examination, and who know more about
the colliery in consequence of working in one district to-day
and another district to-morrow, timber-men, for instance.

19674. (Chairman.) You say anyone who has been a I /
practical worker underground ought to be eligible ? — That I ^
is what I say.

19675 And also you would agree that they might have the | /
power to appoint any practical miner even though he did not I v
oelong to that particular mine ? — ^Yes.

19676. There has been a difference of opinion about
that, and I am told there is a good deal of feeling some^
times shewn by the men appointing as they sometimes do.
I understand, a man from another mine to go down their
mine : and the managers say " We do not care about a
man employed in another mine looking into our mine and
we think that the miners ought to be confined to choosing
a person who is at present at work in the particular
mine." You would not so limit them ? — ^I would not.

19677. They are certainly not hmited in that way at the
present time ? — There has been a good deal of difference of
opinion as to whether that is not the meaning of the Act.
There was some correspondence in the South Wales Dis-
trict with reference to that recently.

19678-9. It seems to me on the rule that is not so. The
men have a right to appoint a man from another mine, but
that is only my reading of it ?— Well, there has been a good
deal of correspondence upon it in reference to a particular
appointment. ^

19680. (Chairman.) You say that from some cause or
other the workmen do not use the power given them in
Rule 38 as extensively as you thmk they should do.
What cause do you suggest for that ? — I think one cause
that the workman docs not care to use the power may be
that there is a probability of his being obUg&d to make an
unfortunate report of the colliery at which he is employed,
and he rather shirks doing it if he can.

19681. He does not wish to get into the bad bo(^ of the
manager ?— That is lo.

2 A

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Mr, T. 19682. Have you had any experience of that ? Has any

Richards, workman told you that that ia the case ? — I have heard

M.P. that, but I do not say recently. Perhaps within the last

nine or ten years we could not cite cases of a workman

'J9May,1907. hcing harshly dealt with in consequence of some unfavour-

able report ; but prior to that it was frequent that workmen

complained that> after having made an unfavourable report
of the colliery they dismissed, and if not dismissed
their lives were made unbearable.

19683. That was nine or ten years ago, but that state of
things has altered for the better j'ou think ? — Very much
for the better I think.

19684. And the men are now pretty secure : and if they
only make a truthful report of the mine, even though they
may find fault with the working, and very often probably
justly so, the manager will not treat them badly in conse-
quence ? — The workmen would rather not be put> in that

19685. Although they feel that security, they would
raUier not be put in that position ? — They would rather not.

19686. Notwithstanding the fact that for the last nine
or ten 3 ears you know of no instance in which they have
been dismissed or in' any way injured by giving a true report

j about a mine ?— Quite so. It ought not possibly to be
I BOf but I am told that in some districts the reason why
\ the workmen do not use this power as frequently as they
I might is because of the expense. They have to pay the
Imen lor doing the work, and where men are earning
4ow wages that is an additional reason why it is not done
so often.

19687. As regards inspection under General Rule 4 by
the officials of the mine, you say that is very unsatis-
factory, because the management may appoint persons who
have not the special qualifications necessary to perform the
duties of firemen, and there is no test of fitness, and you
urge a qualifjring examination and certificate of com-
petency ? — I do. I may here revert to the question of the
workmen holding certificates. A large number of workmen
having qualified for second-class colliery managers' certifi.
cates are still employed as ordinary colliers, while men who
have taken no steps whatever to quahfy themselves — theo-
retically, anyhow — for the position, have been appointed
to these important posts, who have been working in the
same district and in the same colliery.

19688. To what do you attribute that ? Surely it is to
the interests of the managers to appoint the best men,
and it would seem against their own interests that the
best qualified persons should not be appointed ? —
Yes, if they confined the duties of the firemen to what we
think they should be confined, simply and solely to the
continual examination of the district under their care.
Their whole attention should be applied to the examination
of the district, and then it would be more to the interest of
the colliery owners themselves, and they would take more
interest in appointing men who are qualified in that respect.
But so many duties are put upon the fireman that I am
afraid it is sometimes the man who has the most influence
and command in getting hauliers to drive coal rapidlv, and
other men to do some other kind of work rapidly, who has
the qualification which is looked upon with favour rather
than the one who has the qualification of dealing with the
safety of his district.

19689. You think the qualification looked for is the
power of driving the men and making them do the most
work ? — ^That is the one which I am afraid is chiefly looked
for. In fact, I have instances within my own knowledge
where a fireman whom we have thought had been an ex-
ceedingly careful fireman and a man very attentive to the
examination of his district, and instructing the workmen
with respect to the timbering of their places, and so on, has
been taken from that district and put in another district
and has been taunted in a few weeks time by the manager
with the amount of coal that is got out of that district since
he has been there, while the other man has come and
devoted his attention to seeing that the men have sufficient
trams to fill, and so on.

19690. You think they should be kept separate ?— Yes.

19691. One man to look after the inspection and the
other the quantity of work done ? — Yes,

19692. On the other hand, the miners are paid for the
work they do. If they do not get a certain quantity of
coal they do not get their full wages ?— Certainly. I quite
agree it is an important part of the management of a mine
to see that the workmen get sufficient trams and timber,
and so on, but I do not think it ought to be the duty of the
special officials — I think their duty ought to be confined

absolutely to the examination of the safety of the mine,
and they ought not to have anything to do with the traffic
of the men.

19693. You do not agree with the enforcement of dis-
cipline by means of fines ? — I do not.

19694. Do you think that in almost every case a man
ought to be taken before the magistrates if he seriously
neglects his duty ? — Yes. If he has committed a breach
of discipline that necessitates any measures at all being
taken, then he should be taken before the magistrates.

19695. You think that for a small breach of discipline he
should be simply cautioned ? — Yes.

19696. And for anything serious taken before the
magistrates ? — Yes. To put it shortly, I do not believe in
the colliery office being a police-court.

19697. However, you think tliat some of the men them-
selves might prefer to be fined ? — That is undoubted, I
think — otherwise it could not have been done to the extent
it has.

19698. You think it would tend to a better observance
of the Mines Act, and Special Rules if in the first instance
it was made obligatory upon the officials to supply every
workman they employ with a copy, and that printed copies
dealing with particular parts should be distributed
periodically ? — I think there are thousands of workmen at
present who know absolutely nothing about the rules.
They either do not know they are entitled to receive a
copy, or, if they do know, they do not go to the office to
fetch it. The provision under the present arrangement is
that the owners must give a copy of the rules if the work-
man applies for it. I say it should be part, of the engage-
ment of the workman, when he comes to sign on, that the
official signing him on should give him a copy of the

19699. And if the rules are altered at any time then he
should have an altered ;5opy at once given him ? — Yes.

19700. You think it is desirable that Special Rules
should be prepared by the Secretary of State after ascer-
taining the views of the owners and workmen, and that they
should be confirmed by Parliament ? — Yes.

19701. What machinery do you suggest for ascertaining
the views of the owners and workmen ? — There might be
a joint conference with the coal-owners and the workmen
and the inspectors.

19702. You think that before any Special Rule is propa-
gated by the Secretary of State there should be something
in the nature of a conference between the workmen and
the managers, and that no Special Rule should be put before
the Secretary of State or Parliament for confirmation until
the men had been in some way officially consulted ? — I
think it would tend to a better observance of those rules
the more they were discussed before they were put into
operation, and the more attention was called to them.

19703. You say you think a more regular and systematic
method of timbering would reduce accidents caused from
falls of roof and sides. There have been Special Rules dealing
with systematic timbering and unfortunately they do not
appear to have reduced that class of accident at aU.
What further rule do you suggest ? — I understand the
rules that are in operation at present are largely in the
hands of the manager of the colliery, who has to fix the
maximum for the setting of any timber ; and I am afraid
that in some instances the maximum has been too great.

19704. You would leave less discretion in the hands of
the colliery managers ? — Even with respect to this too, a
joint conference would possibly be the best means of dealing
with it. If an agreement could be arrived at between the
colliery manager, after consultation with the Home Office,
and the workmen, as to the requirements in a particular
seam, perhaps that would be the best method.

19705. That might take some time T True, it might
take some time.

19706. That would cause considerable delay and loss in
the working of a colliery, I suppose, if you had to take all
these opinions before you were able to timber a new seam T
— So far as regards Monmouthshire, that has been done :
and I understand it was failure to agree really as to the
fixing of some method, or agreeing upon some method, that
ultimately led to each manager being allowed to ^n his
own maximum.

19707. Do you think that any General Rule could be
laid down by Parliament with advantage with regard to
timbering T Have you any suggestion to make with regard
to that T — I am afraid the variety of seams and conditions
makes it rather difficult for FarUament to lay down any
General Rule.

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10708. Your suggestion is that it should be taken out
of the hands exclusively of the managers and put into the
hands of the workmen and the managers together. That
they should together decide rather than the manager
alone ? — And the Inspectors.

19709. You think those three parties should consult
together ? — Yes.

19710. And they should put forward certain Special
Rules applicable to a particular mine or particular seam>
and that those rules should be observed just as other
Special Rules are observed ? — Yes.

19711. You say that travelling roads, independent of the
haulage roads, in which the hauling is done by machinery,
should be provided, or that such haulage roads should
be of sufficient width to admit of a footpatli clear of the
trams ? — Yes.

19712. As regards that suggestion you say you are in-
formed that in places where they have this width at present
it is rendered useless for walking by old timber, rubbish
&c., being allowed to accumulate ? — That is so.

19713. Ai*e there no Special Rules for preventing that
accumulation of old timber and rubbish ? — No, only so
far as the approaches to the man-holes are concerned.

19714. You might have a gangway of sufficient width
between the trams and the sides for a man to walk on :
and that precaution might be rendered absolutely useless
by an accumulation of all sorts of rubbish ? — I am told
that is so now in a good many instances.

19715. Do you suggest that there ought to be some
General Rule to the effect that all gangways should he
kept clear in the haulage ways ? — I think as a general
rule, especially in laying out new collieries and new dis-
tricts, it would be better to have a separate travelling
way instead of the men having at all to walk pa^t where the

lachinery is in operation. It would not be impossible
janywhere, but there might be some instances in the case
of collieries now at work where the expense would be
'enormous. I do not want to close my eyes to that — still,
all haulage roads should be of sufficient width to allow the
men to walk clear of the trams.

19716. Independent of the man-holes ? — Independent
of the man-holes.

19717. And independent of the travelling ways ? — Yes.

19718. Suppose you had a travelling way, so that it
was not the least necessary for the men to go on the haulage
roads at all : would you still say you ought to have them
of sufficient width as to admit of a footpath clear of the
trams ? — It would still be desirable, because there would
be still a certain number of men who would have to go that

19719. {Dr. Haldane.) You do not .include horse haulage
— you mean engine haulage ? — Yes, engine haulage.

19720. (Chairman.) With horse haulage you would have
more men to look after the trams than in the case of engine
haulage ? — There is not the same danger with the horse
haulage as there is with the engine haulage.

19721. You say that where now there is a sufficient
gangway to enable a man to walk between the trams and
the sides, still that provision is made nugatory by the
gangway being filled up with rubbish ? — Yes.

19722. Would you suggest there should be any Genera]
Rule to prohibit such a thing taking place ? — Yes.

19723. A General Rule to say for instance that al)
gangways where men have to wa[lk along should be kept
clear of rubbish so far as possible, or something of that
sort ? — Yes, I would.

19724. There is no rule to that effect anjndiere ? — I
think not.

19725. General Rule 16 says ' * Every manhole and every
•place of refuge shall be constantly kept clear and no person
shall place anything in any such man-hole or place of
refuge." What does ** every man-hole and every place
of refuge shall be constantly kept clear " mean ? — A man-
hole and a place of refuge is the same thing. I have*
already said the man-holes are kept clear under that rule.

19726. It seems to me it is practically an infringement
of that rule if you block up the gangway at all : because
at any moment a man may be walking sdong between two
man-holes, and, oh account of there Iwing a lot of rubbish
about, he could not get into a man-hole. Suppose he was
caught an equal distance between the two man-holes and
there was a lot of rubbish between the two man-holes, I
should have thought that would have been a practical
breach of rule 16 ? — It is very frequently so. I should say

if you went down a Squth Wales colliery to-morrow you
might find every man-hole quite clear, and the direct
approach to it kept clear, but between the man-holes you
will find either a heap of rubbish or possibly old timber,
or some obstruction or another.

19727. (Mr, Baidiffe EUis.) Along the part which the
men have to travel ? — By the side of the rocui.

19728. Along which the men have to travel ?— -Yes —
they walk between the rails.

19729. (Dr. Haldane.) They can get to safety provided
they can get to the manhole in time ? — Yes.

19730. (Mr. F. L. Davis.) You do not suggest that is a
gereral practice ? — T do not, but I say it often happens
there is no obligation put upon the colliery owner to see
that those a^ccumulations are not allowed to exist — in fact,
there is no rule at all providing that they should have
sufficient width to start with.

19731. (Chairman.) But whore there is sufficient width
it might be quite possible that although Rule 16 was kept
to the letter the men might be caught between the two
man-holes and not be able to get to either, because of the
accumulation of rubbish T — Yes, simply because of the
want of a little care and attention.

19732. There would be no means of his immediately
stepping off the line into safety ?-> Quite so. Another
point which I wish to make is this ; there are a large number
of accidents taking place in the collieries ip consequence of
the breakage of shackles, that is the coupling used between

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 2 of 177)