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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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if it is not, there is something wrong with the inspection
unless the officials or men are prosecuted.

26750. Is your view that because upon some occasion
a bov has to fetch timber for 100 yards therefore that is
proof that that mine is not sufficiently inspected by the
Government inspector ? — No, that is one of the cases I

26751. I want to see the value of your opinion. Is that
your opinion ? — It is not my opinion.

26752. What has this boy got to do with the question of
inspection ? — I quoted one case that came under my
knowledge to show that inspection was not efficient there.

26753. From the instance you have given to the Com-
mission, you form an opinion as to the inefficiency of the
inspection ? — It was not from that single case that I
formed my opinion.

26754. Then why do you give it ? — I quote it as one
case in particular. I formed my opinion from what I have
seen generally.

26755. Is there anything better than that 7 — Yes,
here is this case where the men did not get their timber
because they had not paid their rent.

26766. Does the inspector know of it 7 — He ought to
know, just as I do.

26757. How would he get to know 7—1 think that he
should be sufficiently versed as to the condition of things
underground in his district to know of these matters as
well as I do.

26758. How long have you known of it 7 — For the last
12 months, and I have spoken against it at pubUo meetings.

26769. Have you ever told the Government inspector
about it 7 — No, because unfortunately that particular
inspector holds such strong views that he has on more than
one occasion attacked me for interfering with what might .
be called political questions ; for instance, such a question I
as the reduction of the hours of firemen in the colliery. *

26760. Surelv a Id. stamp would have taken this
complaint to me inspector 7 — I think it is more effectual
to speak about it at public meetings to which the miners
are invited.

26761. The inspector is not invited 7 — He is invited to
attend and has read the book giving these facts.

26762. Do you think that the inspector has read the
book 7 — Yes, and he compliments me upon it.

26763. Have you put that in the book 7 — I do not think
that particular case is quoted, but the other cases are here.
It is simply a question of whether he has read the book,
and he has done so.

26764. What is your experience as to the practical
working of mines 7 — I have had 15 years' experience in
visiting collieries, examining, searching, questioning, and
generally that experience wbioh a minins engineer would

26765. Do you mean actually doing the work of an
examiner 7 — No, except I have done the work of an
examiner in going round with him as an assistant and
examining for myself.

26766. How long ago was it that you started on this
work 7 — About 12 or 14 years ago.

26767. Is what you have put before the Commission
from Information given to you by firemen and examiners,
and others 7 — And from information I have directly
ascertained for myself in visiting the colUeries, and in
examining, searching and questioning, and doing the same
as a Government inspector does.

26768. How come you to visit collieries 7 — I am a
lecturer on mining and I should not like to lecture about
things which I did not understand.


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Mr. Henry 26769. Do you visit with the permission of the owners 7

Davies. — Yes, I get t)ie support of the owners invariably in South

-— Wales. They encourage me to visit the mines and put

10 July, 1907 every facility possible at my disposal

26770. You have a large number of reports from
examiners or other officials ? — ^That would only be with
respect to the duties of individuals and their hours of

26771. The information which you give to the Com-
mission is founded upon those reports, and your own
experience as to how far those reports are well founded ? —
The information with regard to the hours and duties I have
got directly from the men themselves.

26772. Your present work is as a lecturer on mining ? —
I am Director of Mining Instruction for the Glamorganshire
County Council and Secretary of the South Wales and
Monmouthshire Mining Education Board.

26773. {Mr. F, L, Davis.) Did you ever work in mmes
yourself ? — In what capacity 7

26774. In any capacity 7 — ^Yes. I call it working just
as the Gk>vemment inspector does to go round and examine
and search. I do the same kind of work as they do, and
I presume a Government inspector would call it working.
I nave gathered my experience as a Government inspector
would do.

26776. Had you any position as an official when you
were working in a mine 7 — As a collier.7

26776. Yes 7— No, but I do not think that would affect
my knowledge. I do not think it would be necessary that
I should have worked as a collier before ascertaining these
facts, any more than anyone should be a navvy before
becoming a civil engineer.

26777. I only asked you if you had been a collier 7 —
I have cut coal, if that is what you ask.

26778. Not worked as a collier 7— No.

26779. Nor as an official 7 — ^No ; on the other hand
I have had the same training as most Government inspectors
and mining engineers. They do not start by working on
the coal.

26780. Did you say how long you had been visiting
mines and getting the information which you are now
using 7 — Yes, 15 years.

26781. You stated generally that the hours of the
firemen were too long 7 — Yes, from the knowledge which
I have here and which I can substantiate with the returns
which 1 have. They run up to 12, 12|^, ]1 and 13 J hours,
and I think that the duties they have to carry out are
too many.

26782. All over Wales do you say that the hours of
the firemen are too long 7 — I would not express an opinion
with regard to Pembrokeshire and Denbighshire, but as
regards Carmarthenshire, Glamorganshire, Breconshire and
Monmouthshire, I should say that they are too long from
personal knowledge.

26783. In cases where men have complained that the
hours are too long — I do not know whether they have
done so— do you happen to know of your own knowledge,
where the firemen have complained, that the management
have met them 7 — Yes, I understand, and I want to be
fair, that the general manager of the Ferndale Collieries
has promised the men that he will give them the eight
hours' shift before the Legislature will probably, or possibly,
make it compulsory. The men, when they waited on
Mr. Hannah, the general manager, were met favourably,
and, although he did not specifically promise to give them
eight hours' he gave them to understand that he would
favourably consider the matter before it came before

26784. I suppose you mean re-arranging the districts
and hours 7 — Yes, in the other case also— Lewis Merthyr —
the eight hours shift is in operation with excellent results.

26785. An eight-hour shift for firemen 7 — Yes.

26786. What is your opinion of the firemen, generally,
in South Wales, I mean as to their competency and in-
telligence 7 — So far as intelligence is concerned, it is very
much higher in South Wales than I have seen in Belgium,
Germany, or America or Somerset. I believe if they
bad more opportunities of studying they would keep up-to-
date, and, I believe, read the Government inspector's
reports and the reports of this Commission. They are
unable to do so at present, because at the end of a 12
hoiuB* shift they are too tired to study.

26787. You have no complaint as to the competency i /
of the firemen in Wales ; your point is that the hours I /
should be shortened 7 — ^Yes, shortened, in order to permit I V
them to exercise that competency which they possess. I

26788. This custom of tipping, or paying rent, you
mentioned just now is rather new to me. That is not a
general thing, I understand 7 — No.

26789. You would not say it is general throughout
South Wales 7 — No, because in some co lieries where it
did exist it has been stopped by improved supervision.

26790. What is your objection to that 7 What is your
point with regard to it 7 — Where a collier has to pay tips
to a haulier, he not only gets the preference of the first
tram, but the hauUer, too, gives the man the preference
as to the best timber, and the first timber. When a man
in Monmouthshire has not paid his " rent " this is what
happens : the examiner comes round and finds a man
has not stood a post where it ought to be stood, and then
the poor collier complains that he had no post, and, possibly
the boy has to go a considerable distance to look for
it. Then the examiner turns to the haulier and says,
** Why did you not bring this man a post 7 " and he
replies, "He did not pay his rent last month." With
improved supervision such a thing would be impossible.
If a fireman had his attention directed to that instead of
the number of rubbish trams which were being filled we
could do away with the system.

26791. That is an arrangement that takes place between
the hauliers and the colliers 7 — Yes, with tne knowledge
sometimes of the management, but the hauliers' wages
would be so arranged that it is unnecessary to take tips.

26792. Whatever the regulations may be, can you
prevent one haulier favouring a collier who happens to be
a friend, apart from tipping 7 — One can make the tips
unnecessary and the favouring an impossibility.

26793. That is an arrangement between the men them-
selves, sometimes with the knowledge of the management
and sometimes without 7 — In this case I would assume
as you do not know about it that it would be without the
knowledge of the management or the owners.

26794. Do you think that any steps should be taken
by the Federation and by the men's leaders 7 — Yes, I
believe that every Federation Lodge should set its face
very strongly against the continuance of a system of that
kind. I believe that the management and the Federation
Lodges could succeed in stamping it out. It is difficult
at present because the management do not give that
possibility for supervision which is necessary to prevent it.

26795. Do you know if any steps are being taken by the
Federation. First of all, have you taken any steps to
bring that to the notice of the Federation 7 — Not to the
Federation, but to the miners themselves. I have spoken
pubhcly against it. The lectures I give have been reported
m the papers, but in some cases the officials deny its exis-
tence, although, I think, a salutary effect has already
been produced. More people know of its existence now
than knew originally. One member of this Commission
has appealed to the men at the Annual Conference and
asked all the miners and other workers to act as under-
ground police, each to safeguard the life of the other.
That was at the Federation Annual Meeting at Cardiff.

26796. And very good advice 7 — I want to repeat it
once a quarter for 10 years and then, I think, it would be

26797-8. How long have you known this system of tipping?
Is it any thing new, or has it been to some extent existing
for many years 7 — It is a very old custom, and it is less
prevalent now than it was.

26799. On the subject of inspection you said your
complaint was not against the inspectors as inspectors 7
— In the case I quoted relating to the lamps it is against
the inspector, specifically.

26800. Generally speaking, you have no complaint
against the inspectors, but against the system of inspection 7
— That is so.

26801. You also said you would have two inspections
a year instead of one 7 — Yes.

26802. What is your opinion of thorough inspection 7 —
Inspection such as to secure an application in its entirety
of the Coal Mines Regulation Act and the General Rules
and the Special Rules. At present it is impossible for an
inspector who visits a colliery possibly once a year, or once

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in two years, to see that all the provisions of the Coal
Mines Regulation Act are enforced.

26803. If he visits twice a year do you think he would
be able to then ? — He would have twice as many chances.

26804. He can only then see what is going on when he
visits the mine ? — It depends on the individual. He
ought to see twice as much in two visits as in one.

26805. You do not think that the inspector should
take any responsibiUty off the manager of the mine by
frequently visiting the mine ? — No, I no not want to make
him jointly responsible for the management of the mine,
but I want to make him responsible to the Home Office
for the efficient appUcation of the provisions of the Coal
Mines Regulation Act. Unless he visits fairly frequently
he cannot see that its provisions are carried out.

26806. Surely he cannot be sure that the provisions are
carried out unless he is there every day and every hour,
can he ? — No, neither can a manager in a lesser degree,
because he is not there the whole 24 hours.

26807. I agree ? — But the inspector can, by visits
without notice, see better if he goes twice a year than
once a year, that his instructions are carried out. If he

5oes in January and does not visit again till the following
anuary he is not able to see whether the recommendations
that he suggested in January are carried out or not during
that 12 months.

If the inspector were to be there at leetst twice
a year that would be very much better than it is at the
present time ? — Yes. I do not say it would be a perfect
cure. So much depends on the individual. He would
have twice the opportunities of seeing if improvements
were carried out if he visited twice instead of once.

26809. Did you make a recommendation with regard to
the fireman^s duties; I mean with regard to measuring
the air ? — ^Yes.

26810. What is your suggestion ? — I beUeve that it
should be one of the duties of the colliery examiner to
measure the quantity of air passing through his district
at least once a fortnight, and also measure the percentage
of gas at the last working place in each split once a fort-
night. That should be part of the fireman* s duties rather
than measuring the work done by day men and keeping
an account of the number of horses employed, and the
work done by labourers, and the number of rubbish trams
filled. I think it would lead to a reduction in the number
of accidents if he were called upon to carefully measure
the air and record the percentage of gas present. I do
not object to this being done by the management for other
purposes, but the fireman should be educated to make
those records themselves. *

26811. (Dr. Haldane,) You are not satisfied with the
present provisions of the Act with regard to measuring the
quantity of air. The Act provides that the quantity of
air in the respective splits shall be measured at least once
in every month ? — I believe that it should be done every
fortnight, and at the same time not only the quantity but
the quality of air-cuirent should be measured as well.

26812. {Mr, F. L, Davia,) Do you mean to take that
out of the hands of the manager and make it part and
parcel of the Coal Mines RegiuAtion Act that that work
should be done by the firemen ? How would you carry it
out ? — I would hold the manager responsible according to
the Act for the ventilation of a colliery, and for the safety,
as the Act stands at present, but I woidd put it as one of the
duties of the fireman, so that the manager might measure
for his own purposes once a fortnight, but that this
examiner should take so much interest in his work that
he could measure the quantity and quality of the air

26813. You think that is advisable. You do not go so
far as to suggest that that should be in the Coal Mmes Act ?
— The Act sa3n9 the place has to be examined every day
before the men go in. I do not see why, since the examiner
has to measure the percentage of gas daily, he could not
do this other work fortnightly.

26814. The manager at the present time can decide.
He can appoint anyone he likes to do that particular work,
whereas you want the fireman to do it ? — I want the
fireman to hold the responsibility, not to the Home Office
but to the manager.

26815. You have told us that you go about the country
giving a number of lectures on all sorts of questions relatizig
to mining, particularly with regard to safety having regard
to the precautions for preventing accidents 7 — ^Yes.

26816. Assume an ideal colliery, and an ideal manager,
and all the regulations being earned out according to the

Coal Mines Act in proper form, then you would say that
there would continue to be many accidents occurring ? —
It would be impossible to make a condition of things so
perfect as to make an accident impossible, but I believe
we can aim at making them impossible, and in aiming at
making them impossible we will succeed in getting an
approximate remedy — or approach the perfect.

26817. Many accidents occur although the management
has done everything it could, through carelessness of the
men. I am not putting any more blame on to the men
than must be put, I tiiink ? — Is your point that some
accidents still continue ?

26818. In spite of all the management do to prevent
them? — ^I do not know of more than one case at present
where the management has done all that is possible to
prevent the accidents.

26819. That is a matter of opinion ? — You should
fairly have given these men — the firemen — opportunities
for carrying out efficiently the duties entrusted to them,
and until you do that you have not done all that is possible.
I hope you will pardon the attitude I take in regard to
this question.

26820. You would agree that a number of accidents
occur owing to the carelessness of the men not taking all
precautions for their own protection ? — Yes. At the same
time the owners have not taken all the precautions
possible for their protection.

26821. In your lectures you try to bring that to the
notice of the workmen T — Yes.

26822. You impress upon them the necessity of taking
precautions to protect their lives and the lives of the other
men ? — I address the men with regard to the timbering
and speak very strongly against procrastination. Then the
men ask me what I am paid by the officials for attacking
them so severely. At other times I censure the officials for
acts I consider wrong, and they accuse me of playing to
the gallery. My position is thus rather an interesting one.
But I do what I consider right, and attack the whole
system when I consider it wrong.

26823. You think by your lectures and the men*s agents
constantly bringing before the men the importance of
considering their own safety and that of others that may
do good and prevent accidents in the future which occur
now owing to their carelessness ? — As far as Glamorgan-
shire is concerned, the Federation Lodges already invite
lectures on the cause and prevention of accidents. They
put up notices at the pit-heads : they pay the cost of the
lectures as far as publishing and providing the room are
concerned. The Federation Lodges of Glamorganshire
are practically doing all that is really possible in that

26824. Your particular work, you believe, does a good
deal towards preventing accidents ? — I am hoping so.
Sometimes I feel depres^ as there does not appear to be
much fruit as yet, but I believe the work is productive of
increased intelligence and mental activity on the part of
the men, and that will gradually reduce the number of

26825. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Going back to the question
of effective and thorough examination, will you explain
further what you consiaer to be a thorough inspection ?
Is it a kind of inspection a mines inspector does, or a
workman inspector, once a month? — By efficient inspection,
first with regard to examiners or firemen, I mean such an
inspection that will make reports on details possible. Now,
for instance, in one colliery the examiner starts round his
district, and his district is so large that he is unable to cover
it, and the haulier does a portion of the work for him. The
examiner reports the work done by the haulier in a district
which he himself has not seen, and possibly shot-firing will
be carried on in that district. Inspection by examiners
or colliery firemen should be such as to enable them
to say, when there is an inquest after an accident, what
was the percentage of gas in a certain district six months
back. I want me examination by the fireman to be
such that he can draw a ciu*ve showing the percentage of
firedamp present, and that curve would follow the ordinary
barometer curve, that is made automatically every day.
If the j^edamp curve is made fortnightly, we would have
valuable information at the time of the inquest as to the
relation between the barometrical curve and the firedamp
curve, and the exact percentage of gas in a mine six months
before. That information can l^ got with very littie
trouble, and the attempt at getting it would amply repay
for the trouble and time taken. It would make the maa
take more real interest in the work itself.

26826. That is an examination which would require
more technical knowledge than this body of examiners

26 ▲

Mr. Henry

10 July, 1907

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Mr, Henry generally possess ? — Not much. With an ordinary hlue

Davits. cap they manipulate the flame carefully and practically.

-^-.■j — ^iq^vfl^*^ another kind of lamp that manipulation, which

m J uly, 1 wi I fai^ea two or three minutes, would be unnecessary. You

1 1 would have a scale at the side of the flame, and by another

1 1 kind of flame the fireman could tell the actual percentage

I of gas present mathematically, instead of according to his

own eyesight, which might be perfect or impaired, and,

according to his opinion &e percentage of firedamp present

would vary.

26827. For the assistance of the examiner you would
have a lamp specially made in order to enable him to
measure the gas easily ? — Yes.

26828. Would frequent inspection of the mine made by
the workmen themselves assist us in the direction of
reducing the danger in the mines ? — Yes. I believe that
the report of the workmen inspectors, if presented to the
Federation Lodges, would so rouse the interest of the men
and the leaders in the actual things as to seriously reduce
the number of accidents.

26829. You know from your own knowledge a number of
South Wales collieries ?— Yes.

26830. Take one of the large valleys of the Rhondda.
There is Lewis Merthyr, Cymmer, Gelli, the Ocean and
Femdale. How many days would it take a person to make
a thorough inspection of such a colliery ? — Do you mean
one person.

26831. Reduce it to four, or half a dozen. You are
talking of a thorough examination ? — ^Yes. If you took a
large colliery where there are 1,500 men employed, it
would be impossible to get an efficient inspection of that
colliery in a day. The Government inspector, as a rule,
spends about half a day under ground, but to examine or
efficiently inspect a colliery of that kind would require at
least several days on the part of one man.

26832. In order to get a thorough inspection done by the
Government officials it would require a great number of
men, but not of the highly technical training that the
inspector possesses at the present time ? — Quite so. The
Government inspector frequently has to report upon
winding engines, hauling engines, ventilating machinery,
and pumps. That has not so much to do with the actual
working dangers of the mine. There should be an
inspection of a different character with regard to the inner
workings of a mine, which could be carried through by
men of a different type, possibly what we might term more
practical from one standpoint, that is, the ventilating
current, the percentage of firedamp present, systematic
timbering. I believe, then, there shoiud be an inspection
of the workings themselves by men of a standard less high
than that of our present Government inspectors, and vet
that inspection for practical purposes would be thoroughly

26833. Do you recommend that there should be another
grade of inspectors ? — 1 believe that, should there be a
possibility of increasing the number of the present staff
it would be an advantage ; but, seeing that it is almost
impossible to expect a great multiplication of men of

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 66 of 177)