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Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

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psrform their duties properly ? — I could not say. I know
that a shot-firer's is a very responsible post for anyone to

29587. You do not complain as to inexporionced persons
baing put to fire shots in your mine ? — I could not, because
I never knew of an inexperienced person being set to be
a shot-firer.

, 29588. With regard to the inspection of mines, do you
agree that it is necessary or desirable, at all events, to
have more inspection in your mines ? — I think it would

.' be beneficial if we had more inspections.

29589. Do you agree that the best way to get that in-
spection would be to appoint a working man as an
additional inspector ? — I think it would be very beneficial

i 29590. Better than having another inspector of the
' present dsaufi ? — Yes, I think it would. With regard to
I working men inspections, they are continually carried
« I out at the pit I am at, and I have been appointed by the
j m3n on several occasions to make the examination.

29591. I am glad to have somebody who has done that
sort of work. Do you feel you are in the least hampered
by what you say ? — Not at all. When we have finished
the examination we go into the office and the report-book
Ls'plaoed before us, and to the best of my judgment I write
a fair honest report. Some part of the mine I had to make
complaint about and ask for things to be remedied, and
I may say they were done within a very short time.

29592. You find the management have not the least
objection to your finding fault where fault ought to be
found ?— No, I do not think they do.

29593. Wherever you have had to make a bad report
on a mine, what you have reported has been remedied at
once ? — ^Yes.

29594. Do you know anybody who has suffered through
making true reports of his mine ?— No, I do not : I have
never heard at all of anyone suffering through it.

29595. {Mr, Wm, Abraliam.) Have you been appointed
by the district to come here or by the mine that you
work in ? — I have been appointed by the district, by our
own Association.

29596. You are able to speak for the district as well as
for the mine ?— Yes.

29597. What is the size of the district that you had
charge of when you were a deputy ? — I had two big power
machines to follow, and 26 or 28 fillers.

29598. What would be the size of the district 7—
About 28 places, 14 places to each machine.

29599. What examination had you to do in the morn-
ing 7 — I had to thoroughly examine every place and make
a report of it.

29600. Who examined the road leading thereto 7 — I
had to.

29601. What distance had you to travel 7 — I am sure
I could not say, but a long distance : I should say two or
three miles.

20602. To start with, you began at half -past four in
the morning 7 — That is going round the district from one
place to the other and examining the wagon-ways and

29603. That is what we wanted to know. You started
your work going do^vn at half-past four in the morning 7 —

29604. You had a distance of two or three miles to travel
before you came to the working ways 7 — Not before I came
into my district. My district was close to the pit-bottom.

29605. What was the distance of road you had to examine
leading to the working place t That » was my question
before 7 — I could not exactly say the distance.

29606. Was it a mile 7 — I should say it would be to go
round by the bank which the stuff came from, from the
landings, to go round to the working face, it would be a
mile — rather more.

29607. Rather over than imder 7 — Yes,

29608. When you got to your district the roads and faces
you had to examine there added to that would be between
two and three miles which you would have to walk ? — I
could not say accurately, but I should suppose they would

29609. We do not expect you to have measured it to a
yard. You had to examine all these places before the men
went on 7 — Yes.

29610. You had also to follow these two machines.
Who examined the place after the shots were put in 7 — The
shot fireman.

29611. You did not examine them 7 — No.

29612. Who examined the timber 7 — It was my work to
examine the timber.

29613. Who put it up 7 — The men working under me.

29614. You told us that the district was too large to
enable you to do your work properly as you ^ou^t it
ought to be done 7 — Yes, it was.

29615. Is that a complaint in other places in the district
now, that the districts allotted to the deputies are rather
larger than they can do 7 — I believe there are complaints
to that effect.

29616. In your opinion it would be well and necessary
that more men should be appointed than that the districts
should be made smaller 7 — Yes.

29617. That is from the point of view of safety to the
men and the mine as well 7 — Yes.

29618. That is your opinion, having had 40 years'
experience 7 — Yes, that is my opinion.

29619. With regard to the examination made by work-
men, do you agree with the last witness that what is necess-
ary is that a more minute examination of all the places is
necessaiy than what the Qovemment Inspectors are able
to make 7 — Yes, I do.

35 A

Mr. J.

7 Nov., 1907

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Mr. J.


7 No^l907.


29620. Do you think working men like yourself, haying
passed a practical examination, would be the proper men
to do that 7 — Yes, I think they would.

29621. (Mr. Batdiffe MU.) Could you define in
any way what the size of these districts ought to
be ? Is there any rule ? — No, there is not ; it
depends chiefly upon the nature of the ground
in which you work. Some districts might have very
rotten tops. Two deputies might be kept busy, and
have more work than they can get through to follow 12 or
14 men. In other distriots where the tops are more solid,
and tiiere is not so much timbering required, two deputies
might foUow 20 or 22 men far easier than the other two
would follow 12 or 14 men.

29622. You would have to leave it to the management
to decide the size of these districts ? — Yes.

29623. But there should be some sort of rule that
districts should not be larger than they can be conveniently
worked by one or two men 7 — Two deputies.

29624. Whatever be the general rule, the manager
woidd have to decide as to the size of these districts 7 — Yes.

29625. With reference to the examination you make imder
General Rule 38, if you make a thorough examination, we
hear it takes three days 7 — Three days we were examining.

29626. You have yourself to continue working in this
mine and undertake any risk that there might be in the
mine 7 — Yes.

29627. So that you would naturally take great care that
your examination was a fit one, because any defects there
might be you would suffer from if any mischief came
from them 7 — Yes.


In your view are the persons who can most
satisfactorily make examinations, the persons who are
working in the mine 7 — Yes.

29629. You think so 7— Yes.

29630. (Mr. SmiUie,) On that point, have you been very
many years in the mine you are in at present 7 — More or
less I have worked in it close on 20 years.

29631. Because of having worked there a considerable
, time you wHl be well acquainted with the mine 7 — I am.

29632. And practically all the workings of it 7 — All the
districts. Every district there is in the mine I am fully
acquainted with.

29633. Under the Coal Mines Regulation Act are you
aware a person is not entitled to leave his own working
place 7 He is supposed to remain in his own working place
from the time he comes in in the morning till the time he
goes out at night 7 — ^Yes.

29634. A x>erson might bo in a mine some years without
knowing much more about the mine except the district
he is employed in 7 — ^That is true.

29635. Under circumstances of that kind you might be
quite as well quired to make an examination under this
Act in a neighbouring mine as you would in a mine at which
you were employed 7 — Yes.

29636. That is, if you did not know any more about your
mine than your own working place 7 — Yes.

29637. What isreally required is the practical knowledge 7

29638. In order to make a thorough examination on
behalf of t^e workmen 7 — Yes.

29639. To some extent the danger of intimidation is
removed where two men might be appointed from one mine
to examine another mine, not the one they are working in.
To some extent there would be less danger of intimidation 7

\ 29640. I am not saying that there is any intimidation 7 —
\ J I have not seen any so far as I am concerned.

««r^^x. There would be more freedom to 'give an opinion .
of the mine you are really employed in yourself 7 — I would i
rather, if I was chosen, make an examination of my own !

[ mean if you were appointed by the men at the
tng pit to make this examination 7 — If I was

mine than a neighbour's mine, because I think the men at
the neighbour's pit might say *' We think we have someone
in our pit able to make the examination quite welL'*

29642. I

neighbouring pit

appointed to do it, I would willingly do it.

29643. The men in your pit could not appoint you 7 — No.

29644. If you were appointed by men in a neighbouring
pit, it would be of course, because they believed you to be
best fitted for the examination. There are manv ways of
making a miner feel he has done wrong in addition to
dismissing him 7 — Yes.

29645. A manager can make it hot for a man without
dismissing him 7 — Yes.

29646. Sometimes examiners might feel themselves that
they were not being altogether fairly treated, although
Uiey could not prove it 7 — I cannot say that in my own
case. It could be done. A manager or an overman, if he
had anything against a miner in the place, could, as you
say, make it very warm for him.

29647. Without being able to prove that he was being
unfairly treated 7 — Yes.

29648. I do not suggest that is done to any extent,
because clearly it is not in your orni county. No such
thing is done ; but I only wanted to bring out the point
made by Mr. Ellis that what is really required in an
examination of this kind is the practical knowledge and
intelligence necessary to give an honest report of what
you find 7— Yes.

29649. You believe those examinations have done, and
would still do, a considerable amount of good from the
point of view of proper ventilation and safety 7 — I am
certain they have done good.

29660. You have no desire to give up the right to do this, |
althou^ you claim an extension of the Government l
inspection 7 — No ; I think we ought to have the right to \
do so.

29651. You want to have them side by side 7 — Especially
when a fatal accident takes place, I contend that we should
have the right to send two examiners to examine the place
where the fatality occurred, so that we are in a position
to give evidence if required at the Coroner's Inquest.

29652. That is in addition to the examination under
this rule 7 — Yes.

29653. Where a fatal accident takes place, or a serious
non-fatal accident, it is not a bad thing for the examiners
who examine to find out whether there is any blame
attaching to the ofiicials 7 — ^Yes.

29654. You do take advantage of that sometimes 7 —

29655. You are examiners 7 — Yes.

29656. (Chairman,) Supposing anything should occur
short of an accident that would miAce you like to mekke
another examination, although the month had not elapsed
since the last examination, would the management make
any objection to your going down more than once a month
if you gave good reasons for asking for another examina-
tion 7 — I do not think they would. I think there is an
agreement between the mine-owners and our association
that when a fatality occurs they are wishful that two men
should be appointed.

29657. Supposing anything had happened, a great fall of
roof, which had not hurt anybody, when all the miners were
away, would the management object to your going down
more than once a month 7 — I do not know ; I have never
known that. I do not think they would have any

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Wednesday, 20th November, 1907.


Sir Lindsay Wood, Bart
H. H. S. Ctjnynohame, Esq., Cb.
Wm. Abraham, Esq., m.p. (Rhondda).
F. L. Davis, Esq,

LoBD MoNKSWELL (Chairman).

Enoch Edwards, Esq., m.p.
Thomas Ratcuffb Ellis, Esq.
Robert Smilue, Esq.

S. W. Harris, Esq. {Secretary).

Mr. Henry Twibt called and examined.

29658. (Chairman.) I understand you have been deputed
on behidf of the Lancashire and Cheshire Miners' Federa-
tion to give evidence before this Commission ? — That
is so.

29659. Have you had any consultations with your
Federation before coming here with regard to the nature
of the evidence they wished you to give? — Yes. The
officials have had a small conference and have talked the
matter over.



Then you have reason to believe that you
represent the opinions of the great majority, at all events,
of the Federation ? — I am quite sure that is so. ^

I2966L You begin your statement by saying that the
present staff of Government inspectors is i nadec|uate to
efficiently inspect all the working mines over wtucH they
have charge. Willyou gjive the Commission your views
on tiiat matter ? — ^We beheve that the number of persons
employed in the mines and about the mines is such that
the number of inspectors now covering that area and
having charge over those mines is insufficient. They work
out at about one inspector to every 22,000 persons
employed. We believe that in order to get efficient
inspection there should be one inspector to not more than
every 9,000 or 10,000 persons employed. ^

29662. Then if you have one inspector for every 9,000
or 10,000 persons, how often do you suppose the mines
would be inspected during the course of the year ? — So
far as that inspector was concerned, without assistance
he then would not be able to make a competent inspection
more than perhaps once every six months.

29663. At present the inspection is about once a year,
though some mines aie inspected oftener than .that 7 —
It just depends upon what you mean when you say
*<mine"; perhaps a portion of a mine may be sampled,
but I venture to thii^ that seldom, if ever at all, is the
inspection of a mine completely covered during any period
of the year.

29664. Do you think that an inspection should cover
every part of the mine ? — I do.

29665. And do you think that the appointment of an
inspector for every 9,000 or 10,000 men would enable those
inspectors to inspect every portion of the mine at least
twice a year ? — ^No, I suppose they would hardly be able
to cover the whole ground twice per year then.

29666. Therefore even then you think they ought to
have some additional assistance ? — Yes, I think they would
require further assistance.

29667. What further assistance would you suggest ? —
We should suggest the appointment of, say, a third-grade

29668. Do you mean a third-grade inspector for every
inspector — that an inspector should have an assistant
or two, as he has now, and that in addition he should have
a third-grade man, so that there would be twice as many

inspectors as there are now ? — ^Yes. I should sav that
it would probably require more ^an oae third-grade
inspector to one chief inspector. f

29669. Then would you double the number of chiet
inspectors, or would you leave the districts pretty much
as they are at present, and merely have more assistant
inspectors, and some third-grade inspectors 7—1 think
there ouffht to be more chief inspectors, and that the
districts snould be reduced in area and in number of persons

29670. Would you suggest that the districts should be
about double the number 7 — I think that ought to be so.

29671. And that each district should have a chief
inspector at the head, as is the case now, and one assistant,
if not two assistants, to help him, an^ also some third-
grade men 7 — ^That is so.

29672. How much would you pay the third-grade man 7
— I should say a man competent to do the work ought to
be paid not less than £3 or £4 per week.

29673. I suppose as a rule you would not suggest that
he should be a man who would be likely to rise to be an
assistant inspector or an inspector, but generally speaking
such men would remain at the third grade 7 — Probably so.
He would be a practical man, also giving evidence of his
theoretical knowledge by the possession of, say, a third-
grade certificate.

» 29674. Then you would have a third-grade certificate :
these men should all have to pass some sort of examina-
tion 7 — Yes, I think they ought to give evidence of their
theoretical knowledge of mining, and the probability is
that the sitting through an examination and the obtaining
of a certificate would be necessary to be quite sure that
they possessed competence in that knowledga.

29675. In addition to that would you make it obligatory
that they should work for so many years underground 7
— Yes, certainly.

29676. Five or six years, or something like that 7 —
Yes, probably more than that.

29677. And with these additional inspectors you think
it would be possible to inspect every mine in the district
thoroughly at least twice a year 7 — ^Yes, I think it would.

29678. At all events that is what you are aiming at —
a sufficient number of inspectors to do that 7 — ^Yes.

29679. If that was done you would consider that that
was all that was necessary in the way of inspection — by
Government, at all events 7 — Yes.

29680. Now we will deal with the question of inspection
by workmen under Rule 38. I understand you would have
Rule 38 sdtered so that it should read that the inspection
might be made " bv two of their number, or any two
persons who are or have been practical miners " : tnat is
to say, you^would not confine the persons who are eligible
to inspect under Rule 38 to those persons who are at

H. TunaL

20 Novri907



R "!''^

Digitized by




Mr. preeent working in a mine, bo long as they had worked in

H, Tm$i. a mine and were competent miners ? — So long as they

^ possessed the practical experience and the theoretical

^U Nor. 1907 knowledge I do not think that the line ought to be drawn
to persons actually working in a mine at the time that
the situation is required to be filled.

29081. Then would you suggest that mines should be
inspected only by persons who are working or have been
working in that particular mine, or would you leave it to
the men to appoint anybody they pleased to go down to
any particular mine they pleased ? — ^We believe in popular
election : that is to say, that the men should appoint these
men after they have given proof of their theoretical
knowledge. We believe that there should be two of their
number then working in the mine, or two who have worked
in a mine, and that they should be appointed by the men
working in that area over which they have to travel.

2%82. Which do you mean — ^that particular mine, or
any mine in the district ? Would you give the men
power to appoint any miner working in the district, or
woidd you say a man is only eligible for appointment under
this rule who had worked in the particular mine or was
then working in the particular mine which had to be
inspected ? — ^You see many firms employ a largo number
of men and have a large number of pits, and we do not
think it would be fair to exclude a man from travelling
in another pit other than that in which he had worked :
we might find the most competent men in that pit which
employed the least number of people.

29083. If you found an especially competent miner
for this purpose who was working in any pit whatever in
your district, you think the men ought to have power to
take him out of that pit and let him examine any pit in
the district ? — ^Yes.

29684. Then you say that these men should be paid
by the Government. Have you thought over that care-
fully : is it desirable that the men should be paid by the
Government: would it not be more satisfactory from the
men's XK)int of view if they were paid by your Federation
or by the men themselves in some way ? — I do not think
so. We have the case of a colliery where we have under
this rule for years appointed these workmen inspectors,
and they have done their work, so far as we are able to
judge, fairly well, and it has cost the local miners on each
occasion that an inspection has been made about £16 to
.pay them. We think that the expense incurred has a
deterrent effect upon some miners lodges in appointing
the men under this rule.

29685. So that on the whole you would be in favour of
their being paid by the Government rather than by the
men. Do you think that now under the present state of
things a miner would get into any trouble for reporting
adversely to the system in vogue in a mine ? — We are quite
sure that there is a feeling of fear in the men that they
would be harshly dealt with if they did make an adverse

29686. That is the feeling on the part of the men ? —

29687. Do you say it is justified or not ? — I cannot give
you specific cases, but still among the men themselves
who have acted for us I could name two now who are out
of this country at the present time and have gone to
Canada who performed this work for us, we believe, more
faithfully than any other two : they are out of the country
now and they themselves left the country feeling that
— I caimot say whether it was justified or not — in more
ways than one they had given offence, and that they did
not have the same chance as they had formerly.

29688. How would you propose to get over that difficulty :
would you propose that there should be a certain number
of working men appointed, say by Government and paid
by the GovenimenC on the recommendation of the work-
men, and that those persons shouldjbe a kind of workmen's
inspectors and do nothing else but inspect mines, so that
they should be independent 7 — That, in my opinion, is
the solution of that problem.

29689. So that you would have two further classes
of inspectors: first of all you would have the paid Govern-
ment inspectors who would be paid £3 or £4 per week,
and who would inspect on behalf of the Government,
and then you would have a further class of inspectors
who thonld also be paid by the Government, but should
be appointed by the men ? — ^Yes.

29690. And who should do nothing else but inspect ? —
Nothing else.

29691. Now as to inspection by officials under General
Bule 4, in the paper which is before me you bring a very

serious charge against the management oi mines : you say
inspaction imder Rule 4 is not at present as efficient as is
essential to safety, and that the men appointed are often y
in some of the most important respects m compete nt, and >/
when compatent are almost alwa3r8 given too much to do
to admit of satisfactory inspection. You say that in some
of the most important respects they are incompetent, so
that you accuse the management of deHberately appointing
incompetent men to inspect the mines under General
Rule 4. What have you to go upon in making that state-
ment ? — I have to go upon my own practical experience
— my knowledge of men who have been appointed, some
of whom have lost their lives immediately after they have
been appointed*

29692. Men themselves who have been appointed have
lost their Uves, having gone into dangerous places, not
being sufficiently skilled to know that f^ose places were
dangerous, and they have lost their Hves in some way,
either by falls of roof and sides, perhaps, or by explosions ?
— I have a case in my mind now of a man who was a
bricksetter's labourer: he went down the coal mine:
he was 28 years of age : he became a fireman in a little
over six months after being down the mine, and a few
weeks after his appointment he was suffocated: there
were 20 yards of gas on the intake side of his dead body.

29693. You think that was due to his not being sufficiently
cognisant of what goes on in the inside of a mine ? — We
could not see how a man who had only been in a mine
that length of time could be competent to discharge the
duties of a fireman.

29694. You think that is not infrequently the case—
that inexperienced men are appointed to the very impor-

Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 91 of 177)