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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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all these inspections should occupy a great deal more time 7
—Yes.

20232-3. That would mean more than twice the number
of inspectors. Inspection once every six months would
mean twice the number of inspectors ; therefore your
proposal would mean three or four times the number, I
presume 7 — I presume it would.

20234. (Chairman.) There are now about 40 inspectors
and assistant inspectors, and yoix would suggest that tiiere
ought to be something like 200 7 — Yee, I think it would
mean that.

20235. You say that you should like an inspector for
every 10,000 persons employed. There being about
800,000 persons employed, that would mean 80 inspectors.
You say you think there certainly ought to be one for every
1 5,000 or 20,000 persons employed. There is one for every
20,000 persons employed now 7 — Not in our districtw

20236. What is the mining population of your district 7
What is the number of underground workers in the Midland

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Mr. J. O.
Hancock,

30MayT907.



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MtNUTES OF EVIDBKCE :



Mr. J. G.
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30m1^907.



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distriot T - *! am Hot Bpeaking simx^y of the undorground
workers, I am taking the total number employed, or the
total nmnber included in the inspector's returns.

20237. There are 103»000 persons employed and threo
inspectors. There are about 35,000 to an inspector ? —
103,000 does not include those employed at the quarries and
metalliferous mines.*

20238. Including those, there would be something like
1 in 40,000. In your district you say that the hispectors
ought to be doubled. The general result of your suggestion
is that the inspectors should not only be doubled, but more
than quadruped if they are to visit each mine twice in the
year instead of once, and if each visit is to take much longer
than present visits. It is clear you want a great deal more
than twice the number of inspectors ? — Yes.

20239. You yourself have suggested that perhaps 200
would not be an excessive amount ? — No.

20240. Do you think they should all be of the same
class and receive much the same remuneration as the
inspectors and assistant inspectors do now T — No, I do not
know that I am prepared to suggest that. I think that
there might be inspectors appointed who had passed a
certain examination and had some practical knowledge of
ooal mininff simply for the purpose of ins|>ecting mines, mid
not be suDJeot to the same examination as the present
inspectors.

20241. You would not pay them the same salaries as the
present assistant inspectors ?—I do not see how that could
be done.

20242. You would have a class of men employed who
woidd get smaller salaries and who would not have the same
qualifications ? — Yes.

20243. Do you suggest there ought to be more inspectors
and assistant inspectors of the class that are now employed
— the 40 or so now employed ? — I do not know that I make
any suggestion upon that point : all that I am submitting
is simply this, that the mines should be inspected more
frequently than they are and more thoroughly than they are
now inspected.

20244. You go on to say that you are of opinion that the
size of districts should be reduced as time now spent in
travelling without adequate recompense would then be
spent in inspecting. If you reduce the size of the districts
you must have many more districts, and I suppose you
must have an inspector at the head of every district 7 — Yes.

20245-6. Therefore you would require, if your proposals
Were carried into effect, more persons in the position of
district ioBpeotor ? - Yes. I think that inevitably follows.

20247. Possibly each inspector might be satisfied, if you
had more of them, with one assistant instead of two or three
as they have now t— Yea.

20248. So that possibly, althoo^^ you would certainly
have more district inspectors, you might do with about the
same number of assistant inspectors as you have now ; and
you would have further a third class of inspectors who
would not be so fully qualified and receive smaller salaries.
Is that your idea? — Yes; the third clafis of inspectors
would be subject to the principal inspeotoTB, would they
not?

20249-50. Yes, certainly. You would have three classes
of inspectors instead of two. In the first place it would
increase the present number of district inspectors 7 — Yes.

20251. Each inspector of a district would have to have
at lea0t one assistant inspector 7 — Yes.

20252. Therefore probably you would have at least as
many assistant inspectors as you have now 7 — ^Yes.

20253. Then you would have a third class who would
be less highly qualified €uid consist of not less than 150
persons to make up the 200 7 — ^I could not say what the
number would be. I should be guided by circumstances.

20254. You would have not less than 100 and perhaps
as many as 150 of this new class of inspectors. That is
your suggestion? — ^Yes. .

20255. Then you say that yoa cannot admit that in*
specting a certe^ area and accepting that as a criterion
of the whole of the colliery is satisfactory, reliable or safe.
Do you say the only satisfactory, reliable and safe mode
of inspection of a colliery is to inspect every hole and
corner 7— That is so.

20256. With regard to General Rule 38, you know only
one or two cases where the workmen have inspected the
mines. You do not think that it is a question of expense,
or that the owners should contribute, and your explanation
of the disinclination of the men to avau themselves of



Rule 38 is partly that their examination would relieve
manaoers of a responsibility they ought not to be relieved
of and places on the men a responsibility they ought not
to have, and also that an unfavourable report might be
detrimental to the examiner as a worker, and subject him
to the harsh treatment of his employer. Take the first,
that the examination by the men tends to relieve managers
of a responsibility they ou^ht not to be relieved of and
places on men a responsibility they ought not to have.
Have you had that position placed before you by the men 7
— Yes : I give it there, iif you will excuse me saying so,
as the expression of the men themselves. I may say also
that I endorse it myself.

20257. Why should not the men have a certain amount
of responsibility for what goes on in the mines 7 The men
themselves are interested to a very great extent, and they
may reasonably or unreasonably think the managers do
not sufficiently care for their safety. In any case, must
there not l)e some responsibility on the men u^ess you are
willing to consider the managers infallible ? — ^There is the
responsibility of the workmen always resting upon them
for reasons given further on : they tmnk that is a respon-
sibility that oufht not to be cast upon them, that is the
responsibility of inspecting and reporting.

20258. I do not understand how it relieves the managers
of their responsibility* I should have thought a manager
under all circumstances would be responsible for what goes
on in his mine, whether the men inspected or not. I should
have thought that it was in the nature of a further pre-
caution that the men should inspect. You go on to say
that it is not so necessary because the mine managers
attend to their duties better than they used to. If you
have absolute confidence in them I can understand the
men saying that it is not worth while to have inspections
on their account, but I should hardly think they had such
absolute confidence as all that. Mr. Ellis says it is very
satisfactory to find that they should have so much confi-
dence 7 — I do not know that it is a question of confidence.
I have not looked at it from that standpoint at all. My
only submission is that the men do not imdertake this
inspection because they think if they presented a report
it mighjb be used against them later on.

20259. That is another matter. I was asking you to
explain the first part of paragraph 5, that you think their
examination tends to relieve managers of a responsibility
they ought not to be relieved of and places on men a respon-
sibility they ought not to have. I do not quite understand
that statement 7 — All I mean is this, if the men inspect
the mine and report that it is safe and satisfactory ana an
accident occurs a little later on, that report will be brought
up against the men undoubtedly, ana on the manager's



20260. Of course it is a serious responsibility for a man
to go down a mine, having power to inspect on behalf of his
feUow-workmen, and declare that the mine is safe when it
is not safe. You say they are not willing to take that
responsibility on their shoulders 7 — ^No.

20261. I can quite understand that view. Then you go
on to say that an unfavourable report might also be detri-
mental to him as a co-worker, i understand it might be
detrimental to him with his employer, but have you had
any instance of a man being dismissed or harshly treated
on account of his having produced an unfavourable report
with regard to the mine 7 — There has been no instance in
Nottinghamshire so far as I know ; in fact there have
only been two of these inspections made so far as I know.

20262. During the whole time you have been there
since 1889 7 — Yes, I have only heard of two inspections
being made at two dificrent collieries.

20263. You think part of the reason they are not made
is that the men are generally afraid, if they give an un-
favourable report, it will go against them 7 — ^I do not know
that men are generally afraid of that, but this enters into
this question.

20264. Have not men told you they are afraid 7— No.

20265. What reason have you to suppose that they
would be afraid 7 — ^I do not know that they would be
afraid, but they simply say that it might be used against
them.

20266. They do not know of any instance of it having
been used against them, but they have some sort of dim
notion, which apparently there is no substantial ground
for, that if they give an unfavourable report, it might go
against them with the mine officials? — Yes: if you
will excuse me I would like to say only some two or
three months ago the men of a particujar coUiery were
talking this question over and the committee was divided



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m opinion as to wlietlier an examination should be made
or not. Part of the committee were opposed to it being
made, and they urged this as one of the reasons, and the
inspection was not made.

20267. Then you say that an unfavourable report might
also be detrimental to a man making it as a oo- worker.
You mean the other men might object ? — Yes.

20268. Why would they object to a report he might
make ? — ^His report might be unfavourable so far as some
particular stall or district was concerned.

90269. Then he would get himself into hot water with
the men working at that stall 7~The men in that stall or
district, as the case might be, would very likely resent his
unfavourable report.

20270. As you hAve only had two inspeotions during
the time you have been in your present position, you have
had no experience of that being the case ? — ^No.

20271. Then yon say that the men really are incapable
of making an inspection that is worth much. That is
what it comes to. In paragraph 6 you say that such
examinations must in every case be to some extent super-
ficial and incomplete because these men do not understand
and cannot measure ventilation, cannot read plans, indeed
have little or no opportunity for seeing them. Surely
there are men in the mines who hold even a first-class
manager's certificate ? — ^Yes, we have men here and there
who have done that.

20272. Surely they are capable at all events of readinc
plans and roaghly reading ventilation ? — I am speaking of
the general body of men.

20273. You would not entrust this inspection to an
ordinary uneducated minor ? — No.

20274. You have men in your districts who hold first
or second-class certificates ? — Yes.

' 20275. Would they not undertake this inspe-ction and be
oompetent to do it 7 — I do not know. It would depend
upon one or two things. In the first place I am convinced
that there are not enough men in every colliery who
have passed those examinations and hold thoee cer-
tificates. In the next place these men would not be
selected in all probability by their fellow men.

20276. Why not ?— I do not know why. They may be
or may not be selected.

20277. Surely there must be several men in your mines
who have these certificates ? — There are,

20278. How many 7— 'I could not say. I have no idea.

20270. Quite enough I should think to carry out these
inspections 7 — I am inclined to question that.

20280. How many would you want to carry out these
inspeotioDS 7 How often should you suggest that the mine
should be inspected by the mien 7 What would you consider
to be a reasonable amount of inspection 7 — I do not know
that I can make any suggestion upon that point, but I think
it would require at least two at every colliery.

20281. Who should be deputed for that duty ?~Ye6.

20282. Surely you could always get two sufficiently
educated to understand about ventilation and plans, could
you not 7 — I question that.

^ 20283. You mean you are Hot sure that at some collieries
there would be found even two men who had got the cer-
tificates 7 — I do not think so.

20284. Then you say that the condition of the mine at
the time of the accident may bo very different to that at
the time of the inspection. Still, at the same time, inspec-
tion is very desirable. It is not a reason I should have
thought for not having inspection. In paragraph 7 you
say that mines are managed much bettor now than they
were, consequently there is not the necessity now for these
inspections, and you also say there is not and never was,
so far as your experience goes, any great desire on the men's
part to make these inspections. That is even when they
had much less confidence in the managers than they have
now, they did not think it worth while to mak ) these in-
spections, or, at all events, they thought there were such
orawbacks to making these inspections, or that they got into
such difficulties through making them, that it was not
worth their while to make them T — I am speaking of the
last 30 or 35 years, and during that time there has not been
to my certain knowledge a general wish, so far as the Notts
miners are concerned, to make these inspections.

20285. That was apparently because they did not con-
sider the inspections were necessary, but I understand that
the principal reason was that th^ might get themselves
into hot water either with their own workers or with the



21

mine officials if they did make the inspections 7 — I cannot
say that that was tiie principal reason, but all the reasons
I have given enter into the business and undoubtedly are
reasons why these inspections have not been made.

20286. What do you say is the principal reason of the
want of desire on the part of the men to make these inspec-
tions 7 — I think the principal reason is indifference.

20287. With regard to General Eule 4, that is the inspec-
tion by officials, you say that the deputies and the shot-
firers do not make the systematic examination of the mine
they ought to do 7 — They do not make the systematic
examination I think should be made.

20288. How is that 7 To what do you attribute their
not doing so 7 — I know that in some cases they will enter
in at one gate and pass along tte faces and down another
gate leaving the intermediate gates not examined so far as
they are concerned^ and the shot-firer is expected to examine
those gates, but he, generally speaking* acts in the same
way as the deputy has done.

20289. In the case of thp phot-firer and probably in the
case of the deputy they do not do the duty, as a matter of
fact, that they are supposed to do, and the duty that is
entrusted to them 7 — They do not go in and out along every
gate or travelling road.

20290. Do not the managers of the mines make enquiries
as to how the deputies undemtand their duties and the
firemen understand their duties, and keep them up to the
mark 7— Those enquiries imdoubtedly are made and they
know they understand their duties, but the men themselves
report to me that that is the way in which they discharge
their duties, and there are gates here and there which are
not examined.

20291. When you get this information from the men do
you not hand it on to the mine manager and ask him to see
that the daputies and firemen perform their duties 7—1
have not done so.

20292. Do you not thmk it desirable to go to the managers
and explain the matter to them 7 — I thii^ it would be, but
that evidence I only had last week.

20293. You get that evidence from the men ahd do not
hand it on to the managers 7—1 said I only got it last week.

20294. All the time you have been there you have not
known of this alleged dereliction of duty by the deputies
a^d the firemen 7 — No, I have been to two or three collieries
and questioned the men on this particular point and they
tell me that is how the duty is discharged.

{Chairman.) You seem to be a long time in finding this out.

20295. {Mr. Wm. Abraham.) Do you think that the
manager would accept you as an instructor 7 — I do not
suppose that he would.

20296. Do you not think he would strongly resent any
interference on yonr part 7 — Probably.

{Mr, Ratdiffe Ellis,) This is not a checkweighman.

(Mr, Wm. Abraham,) I know it is not.

{Th€ Witness,) It would probably be resented and it
would not be a very pleasant thing to do.

{Mr, F. L. Davis.) This information has not been known
for long. It has only just been got up for this Commission
within the last week. It has only been found out within
the last week.

{Chairman.) Supposing that a manager might resent
any interference on your behalf or any suggestion you
might make, would not the manager be very glad to get
information, at all events, from the men themselves, or
the inspector, or any official of the mine. Would not the
men, for instance, tell the inspector that they thought the
fireman and deputy did not carry out their* duties 7

{Mr. Raidiffe EUis.) Why could not the witness tell the
inspector 7

20297. (Chairman.) Yon could tell the inspector without
going to the manager. You might do that or the men
might do it themselves 7 — Yes.

20298. Or the men might tell the managers. I suppose
the men would not like to go to the managers and, so to
speak, peach upon their comrades 7 — That was one of the
questions you put on the list you sent to me, and it was
after receiving that list and getting to know the points I
should be questioned upon that I got this information.

20299. You say you have receiv^ed this information from
a good many men 7 — From a coasiderable number of men.

20300. That in the opinion of the men the depaties
and the firemen do not perform their duties properbf 7-^
They do not examine every gate or travelling road.



Mr. J. a
Hancock.

30M&y.l907.



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Mr.J.Q.

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30May,1907.



20301. It IB part of the duty of the deputy or the fire-
man, to examiue every gate, and that they do not do ?
— No.

20302. The firemen should be men of practical ex-
perience, that i9 men who hare worked in the mine. Is not
that usually so ? — Yes.

20303. Do you know any case where it is not so ? — I
have heard of cases, but not recently.

20304. You think it is imderstood by the mine
managers that the firemen must be men of practical
experience ? — Yee.

20305. Then as regards discipline, fines and prosecutions,
you say generally speaking the men are opposed to any
recognition of a system of &kes. Do you fina as a rule that
the men would rather thfit their fellow workmen were
prosecuted than fined ? — No. What I mean is this,
that generally speaking the men are opposed to any general
system of fines being adopted between the workers and the
employers, but they do not object here and there to people
being finod who have done wrong and the offence can be
met by a fine. They do object to anything like a general
and collective recognition of the system.

20306. How would the men propose that discipline
should be kept up in the mine ? Would they prefer
prosecutions to any general system of fining ? — No ; they
think that diflciplire can be kept up without any general
recognition of the system of fines.

20307. Or prosecution ? — Fines or prosecutions.

20308. In what way would you keep up the discipline
if you have no system of general fining, and hi^dly any
prosecutions ? Occasionally men would naturally say
in their own interest that a workman should be
prosecuted ? — Yes.

20309. If there was any grave dereliction of duty it
would be to their interest that he should be prosecuted ?
— I am not saying that there should not be fines or that
there should not he prosecutions, but only at a very few of
the collieries in Notts is there a general system of fines
agreed upon, aod still I think the discipline is kept up
fairly well.

20310. How is the discipline kept up — by prosecutions ?
— Prosecutions and fines.

20311. I suppose the opinion of the men as to prosecu-
tions would hQ that in very serious cases it would be in
their own Interest that a man should be prosecuted and
not fined ? — Yes.

20312. Supposing that the offence was not very serious,
they think perhaps it would be met by a reprimand ?-«
Yes, followed by a fine, very likely, if it was repeated.

^ 20313. Then as regards the establishment of Special
Rules you think that workmen could with advantage
be asked for their opinion when Special Rules are being
prepared; that is to say, that you would not have any
Special Rules go so far as to be put forward by the mine
owners until the matter had been threshed out between
the mine owners, managers, and the men. You would
have a sort of preliminary meeting, when the managers
would suggest to the men the kind of Special Rules they
wanted, and the men would consider those rules, and
you think that no rule should be formulated or go so far
as to be printed, perhaps — at all events should not be
enforced — until the men had an opportunity of considering
them ? — Yes, I think that is a fair way of putting it.

20314. No Special Rule should be enforced— enforceable
we will say — until JJie men had had some opportunity of
objecting ? — That is so.

20316. And you think that objections should be heard ?
—Yes.

20316. Before the rule is enforceable 7— Yes.

20317. Then you say that you are in favour of some
of the Special Rules being put into the General Rules,
especially those relating to machinery, shafts, signals,
managers, under-managers, deputies, ajod perhaps lamps
and explosives. That is rather a considerable question ?

(Mr. Batdiffe EUis,) Those are now |vovided for in
the Greneral Rules.

20318. (Chairman,) There are General Rules applicable
to all these matters. I suppose your position is uus, that
the General Rules are not sufficient, that in almost evefy
district it has been found necessary to supplement them
by Special Rules, and there are certain Special Rules that
are so generally necessary that they might veiy well be
applicable to every district, and probably it would be found
out, on comparing the Special Rules, that there are some
Special Rules that are enforced in all the districts ? —
That is just what I had in minci



20319. Can you suggest any particular Special Rules
that are in force in your district that should be made
General Rules ? — None, excepting the ones that I have
already referred to, the ones you have just read.

20320. *' Relating to machinery ** : that is a mere
general proposition with regard'to the kind of matters that
should be dealt with by General Rules. Do you suggest,
for instance, that all the rulea that you have in your district
relating to machinery are so excellent and unobjectionable
that they can be put into an Act of Parliament and made
GenersJ Rules all over the country ? — No, that is not my
suggestion. I think that there are Special Rules relating
to all those matters that are of such general application
that they could be put in the General Rules.

20321. Some of them ?— Yes ; I do not say all.

20322. I was asking you to point out any particular
rules which you think might be made General Rules.
Have you any in your mind 7 — I have not any particular



Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 8 of 177)