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

Minutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines online

. (page 96 of 177)
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go down whether they liked it or not ? — No : I think
they should be left to express the desire to do so, or that
they should be ordered to do it say by the iiispector if
he thought it was necessary, or by the Coroner himself.

30131. Now we will go to the Special Rules. Is it your
view that before a Special Rule is made, or is proposed,
both the employers and the workmen should meet and
discuss it ? — ^Tes, I think that is advisable.

30132. If they do not agree, is it not to be proposed 7
—Well, I do not know, if they do not agree.

30133. That is what I want to put to you. What is to
be done then 7 — I should say the inspector for the district
would be the best person to decide, if they do not agree.

30134. At the present time the Home Office have a right
|o propose a rule 7 — ^Yes.

30135. Would you say that they should not have a right
to propose a rule until it had been discussed by the work-
men, and the workmen had agreed to it 7 — I think the
workmen ought to have an opportunity of expressing
their view about it.

30130. I want to know what is the scheme, and I should
like to have your answer to that question. The Home
Office now have a right to propose a rule. Would you sa^
ih&t they should not have a right to propose a rule imtd
they have invited the men to dii^uss it, and there had been
an agreement that it should be proposed 7 — ^Well, it might
have to lead up to the Home Office having to insist upon
a rule being put in force, although the body of the men
to whom it applied did not see quite the same way with
regard to it.

30137. Will you answer my question 7 You say the
employer should not propose a rule unless he invites the
men to discuss it with him in the first instance. Do you
say the same with regard to the Home Office — that they
should not propose a rule until Ihey have invited the men
to discuss it, and there had been an agreement that that
role should be proposed 7 — No. There must be finality

30138. Can you give us an idea of what should be done
if a meeting is called and the employer says, " I wish to
propose a rule." Supposing we wanted to propose a rule*
say, in Lancashire, and I said to you, '* Now, Mr. Twist,
I want you to discuss this with me, ' and then we could not
agree» is not the rule to be proposed 7 — I have not gone
into that point.

30139. Do you not think it is important before you
make these suggestions, that you should go into it and
think the matter out 7 — It requires consic^ration.

30140. {Chairman.) There is one question about Special
Rules which I should like to ask. Do you suggest on the
part of your Federation that the men should be allowed
to propose Special Rules to the &ome Office 7 Supposing
the men have come to the conclusion that a Special Rule
is desirable, would you allow them to send in to the Home
Office an appHcation that that Special Rule should be pro*
posed 7 — ^Yee, I think they ought to have an opportunity,
as well as the employer, to propose Special Rules, as well

as to take part in discussing those proposed by the em-

30141. {Mr. Enoch Edtcards.) I think you stated in
answer to his Lordship that you were appointed by the
Lancashire Miners' Federation 7 — ^Yes.

30142. And that the expression of opinion you give us
here with regard to the Government inspectors would apply
to the Miners' Federation generally 7 — ^The Miners' Fed-
eration, as a whole, of Great Britain.

30143. As to the inadequacy of the number of inspeo*
tors 7 — Yes.

30144- You perhaps have serai the Bill that was drafted
some time ago by the Federation — the Amended Mines
Bill for Inspectors 7 — ^Yes.

30146. And the conferences have repeatedly suggested
that there should be one inspector to 10,000 work-peopto 7
— ^That is the number the Bill prescribes.

30146. Have you given much consideration to the size
of the districts that they have now as inspectors 7 — Only
to the Liverpool and North Wales.

30147. To Lancashire 7— Yes.

30148. It necessitates a considerable amoxmt of travel-
ling for the inspector to get round with hia work 7 — Yes,
it is a long distance, of course.

30149. If there were more districts created and more
inspectors, you would get more service and less travel-
ling 7— Yes.

30150. I mean as to the assistant . inspectors, or the
special inspectors to which you direct attention, what is
termed ralher * * working men inspectors " 7 — ^Yes.

30161. Mr. Ellis asked you with reference to a certifi-
cate of competency, and you suggested a second-class
certificate 7 — ^Yes, for some inspectors.

30152. Still they would be inspectors 7— Yes.

30153. They need not possess the same technical
knowledge as the chief iospectors 7— No.

30154. The trend of your evidenoe is that you want
inspectors more in the mines who practically understand
^e mine 7 — ^Yes.

30156. And the dangers of a mine 7— The men who have
a technical knowledge sufficient to secure a second-olass
certificate, and who, in addition, have had a large experience
to make them good men for that purpose.

30156. That is what you mean 7— Yes.

30157. That is what you mean when jaa suggest one
of that claas for 10,000 men. That is the type of man you
mean 7— Yes.

30158. I am trying to see whether yon put the same
interpretation upon it. This type of new mspeotor that
we are deskous of creating must be a man of praotioal
knowledge, but not necessarily a high technical training
as a first-class inspector 7 — ^That is what we believe.

30159. That his time should be spent in a pit 7 — ^Yes.

30160. Largely now his time is taken up with derioal
work and travelling 7 — ^Yes, attending scenes of aoddflnti
and coroners' inquests.

30161. {Chairman.) Would you have another class, in
addition to the class of sub-inspectors and in addition to the
working men inspectors, attached to particular mines to
go round under Rule 38 7— Yes. I thmk it should be left
optional to the men in addition to the sub-inspectors to
appoint a man to go round.

30162. {Mr. Enoch Edwards.) We have the chief
inspector and assistants. We are rather directing attention
to another class of men who would be below the assistants f

30163. The assistant inspectors now appointed are men
who hold first-class certificates, and many of them possesB
high qualifications 7 — I should say they are practically
as qualified as the chief inspectors.

30164. You suggest that these men should be drawn
largely from the practical type of men who understand
mming through and through 7 — ^Yes, that is the idea of
the Federation.

30165. When you express an opinion about winding and
the speed of travelling, it has been made clear since that
idl pits wind men at a less pace than they do coals 7 —
There is a reduced speed.

30166. Did I understand you to say in Lancashire
that they would have coal in the cage in the lower decks
while dbrawing men from the opposite cage 7 — At a few
ooUieries. That is not general

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30167. Are you aware an opinion aa to the wisdom of it
was expreBBei by a Government inspeotor many years
1^ 7— Yes, I beUeve as &r as I xecoUeot the opinion has
been expresaed that it helps to steady the oage, and there
has been the other opinion expressed that it ought not
to be so.

30168. Generally colliery companies do not do it 7 —
Generally oolliery managers see that the oage is tree from

30169. Mr. Canynghame was not here ^dien I tried to
get at what yon meant by the scotches in wagons. Do
we understand there that that woxUd be on a level where
the gradients are up-brow 7 — Up-brow.

30170. Men are simply called on to push the empty tub
up, but they must locker it down with a Locker 7 — ^Yes»
^t is so.

30171. What is the objection to putting in a jig ?—
I see no objection other than that of having to keep a wider
road open if they do put a jig up.

30172. If you were working mines such as I have had
experience of in North Stafford, you would have to put a
jig up because the gradients are so sharp. They do not
do it while men will locker the wagons and take them down ?
^-Wherever men can hold a tub down with two lockers
in thi^ are generally expected to do it, and it is only in
the rarer instances that a wheel or a balance or a jig is

30173. It seems rather a clumsy method of getting coal,
to expect a man to push up a heavy gradient much of a
distance where they could put a jig in. Is that the practice
generally 7 — ^Yes, and it involves a tremendous amount
of labour.

30174. It must, and the objection to it is very strong.
Apart from the risk, is it pushing empty wagons 7 —
Nearly every price-list gives extra payment because the
brows are counted double distance for long drawing.
It is so g^ieral because full tubs are pushed up and come
down lockered.

30175. Have you had many accidents in these cases 7 —
There are a few happening each year. I have known

30176. The man starts away and does not get his
lockers in ? — ^Yes, sometimes he may get a tub with the
wheel turning loose on the axle, and the locker does not
act, and then it goes away.

30177. You stated that the feeling of your men in
Lancashire, or your Federation, rather, is against fines
in the colliery office 7 — ^It is distinctly against fines.

30178. And that they would prefer that men should be
prosecuted in court ?— That is the opmion of the Federa-

30179. I suppose many ol those fines are fines inflicted
under the Goal Mines Regulation Act for matters not
affecting the safety of men, but for such matters as filling
dirty coal, and thmgs of that kind ?— The majority of the
fines are for filling cUrty coaL

30180. They hardly touch the business of this Com-
mission, which is inquiring into accidents in mines 7 —
Very few, as fur as I ^ow, of the fines are inflicted for the
workmen's neglect to timber, sprag or prop. Usually
if that is done the management give the man no option :
they take him before the magistrate.

30181. To what extent are the men parties to these
fines in the colliery office 7 Have you any idea of the
general feeling of the men 7 Do they prefer to pay a
fine quietly in the office to being prosecuted 7 — I uiould
say ^at the majority of the men would be against fines.
That is declared throuffh our lodges and by the resolution
of our Federation, 'mere may be a few instances, and
no doubt there are, where men prefer to be fined rather
than to be exposed.

30182. If it is a question of discipline in the pit and
the interests of safety, your men agree it is important
that they should be prosecuted where they can defend
their case, as stated, rather than be fined in the office 7 —
Yes. The opinion of the Federation is this: if a man
is guilty, then it is much better in the interest of safety
to prosecute him, besides its having a deterrent effect,
and being a warning to others.

30183. The fines you suggest are not fines that apply
to the safety of the mine, but simply a matter of carrying
out contracts, largely 7 — Yes, largely.

30184. There is a matter Mr. Ellis was putting to you
and I should like it to be clear on the notes. With reference
to the clause relating to workmen's inspection, he sug-
gested if a man worked five years in a mine and was out

of it for 20 years, that he would be a practical man. Is Mr.

that a practical man 7 — I do not think he can be described S» Twist

as not being a practical man, yet he is not so effident ^^j. — {^

and up-to-date as a man who has so recently come from *'' Wo^Hlin
the coal-face.

30185. You would not think yourself, in the interests
of safety in mines, that it would be a proper thing to take
a workman out of a pit for 25 years, who has never seen
the change that has taken place, and say that he was a
practical miner 7 — ^I should advise against such a man's
election if he were a candidate.

30186. You would rather suggest that any law should
not leave it open for a man to be appointed who for 25
years had not seen the inside of a pit 7 — I think in the
interests of all concerned it would be wiser to stipulate
a time limit as to his absence from the mine.

30187. When you suggest that the firemen in Lan-
cashire are not fully competent, you mean by that that the^
have not had this working face experience 7 - That is
what I mean.

30188. You do not mean more than that 7 — ^I do not
mean more than that.

30189. You and your colleagues beUeve that a man
should have some knowledge of a working face before he
is appointed a fireman 7 — As the fibreman's work is largely
to control and direct the collier, we beUeve it is
essential that he should have coal-face experience.

30190. And to be in a position to advise he must have
had experience of what is meant by the ever-changing
scene of a face 7 — ^Yes.

30191. With all its techmque and difficulties 7— We
fail to see how he can intelligently direct a man of experi-
ence at the face unless he has had that experience himself.

30192. The question, of course, of area Mr. Ellis asked
about to get your view as to it. In taking the number
of men over which a fireman is appointed, due regaxd
should be had to the area he has to travel 7— Yes.

30193. A fireman might effectively have supervision
over 100 men in some circumstances, and more effectively
than he could supervise 60 men under other circumstances T
— ^That is so.

30194. That, as a matter of management, would have
to be defined. As yet we have no practical suggestion.
You were asked what would be your suggestion. Would
it not be one of the duties of these sub-inspectors to direct
the management that there are not sufficient firemen
in a particular area, and that more should be appointed 7
— I think a complaint from the inspeotor to the manage-
ment that a particular district was not being properly
supervised on account of the area being too laige or tne
number of firemen being too small, ought to receive atten-

30195. The area may be too large, and the work may
be too highly technical It would be easier in some pits
for the men to get about themselves. Where you have
sharp grades you want more inspectors 7— Yes.

30196. You could not state the number of persons
who should be employed in a particular area. Some
authority ought to decide whether it should be kit
absolutely to the management to say whether sufficient
were employed or not 7 — ^I think the inspeotor should
have the power to exercise, say some advisory power

30197. At any rate to be able to suggest that in his
judgment there were not sufficient firemen 7 — ^Yes, that
there were not sufficient firemen.

30198. With reference to new Special Bides. Mr. Ellis
put it to you as to whether coal-owners should be in a
position to propose a new rule and send it on to the Home
C^&oe without consulting the men, and I understand you
object to that 7— Yes ; we think that the men ought to be
consulted before it is sent on.

30199. He said ought not the Home Office to have
the power theniselves to suggest rules, and I understood
you object to that 7 — ^No, 1 do not object to the Home
OfSiOQ suggesting rules, providing they have the consider-
ation of the men at the same time as the employers have
the opportunity of considering them. If they are sug-
gestions I do not mind, but if they are mandatory I am
opposed to them.

30200. In your judgment neither employers nor the
Home Office, either separately or both of them« should
proceed with t^ese rules, without first consulting the
men 7— That is what we believe. We think they oof^t
to be consulted, no matter from what source the sug-
gested rule originates.

37 A

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30201. The Home Office often has a suggestion of the
Government inspector, and usually of course the company.
You say if they are agieed, first of all before anything is
done at all, the workmen should be consulted about it ?—
Yes, and any objections the workmen see fit to make, or
any suggested alteration, they should have an opportunity
of making before the thing is posted up and left for them
to object to as at present.

30202. {Mr. F. L. Davie.) In answer to Mr. Edwards
Just now you said that there ought to be a time limit,
some time fixed after which you would not appomt »»»»
as a working mine inspector under Rule 38. What
would you suggest as the time ?— I think a man may have
been out 10 years and yet be an up-to-date man, be a
sound practical man and have in no way lost any know-
ledge that he had, or failed to keep pace with minmg

30203. Would you be in favour of suggesting 10 years 7—
Yes, I i^ould

30204. Up to 10 years he would be eligible as a practical
man ?— Yes.

30206. But not after 10 years T— No ; I do not thmk
it would be wise to go too far, having regard to gettmg
efficient and up-to-date men.

30206. You told us in answer to somebody earlier in
the day how long you had been working at the face. How
long is it since you gave up working underground ?— It is
between eight and nine yeeurs.

302(^7. Mr. Ellis had a number of questions to ask you
about the firemen, but I have only one or two. You say
in your proof that the men in some of the most important
respects are incompetent, that is firemen. Has that come
undOT your own experience ?— Yes, I know men who have
been appointed to this position that both from the stand-
point of knowledge of gases, ventilation, timbenng and
ooal-getting, have not the necessary experience, wjcordmg
to my view, to make them competent men to discharge
duties of that kind.

30208. Did that happen when you were working in
the mine, or since ?— When I was working, and since.

30209. You must have been very unoomfortable, I
should think, when you came to the conclusion that these
men were not competent, especiaUy when you were
working in the mine P— I can assure you often ex-
perienced colliers do not feel that some of the firemen
are competent to advise them.

30210 If that were the case, and these men were
not competent, you and all the other men in the pit
must have been in a very unsafe position, or feehng
uncomfortable, and possibly in danger ? - You rather
trust to your own desire to keep yourself wfe m that ease,
and you satisfy your own conscience and mind you are
safe apart from any advice the fireman may give.

30211 I do not know whether you are limitmg his
incompetency to looking after timbering, but if you have
an incompetent fireman you may be allowed to go to work
when it is not safe, so that you cannot help yourselves ^m.
— Ithink a fireman ought to pass a lower grade exammation,
ffivinc evidence of some knowledge of the properties of
gases and what they are calculated to do, and some know-
Mge of ventilation as well as timbering.

30212 Did you at any time draw the attention of the
inspector to what you believed to be the fact, that these
firemen were incompet»nt men, and that you and your
fellows were in danger ?-I have not personally called the
attention of the inspector to the fact of any mcompetent
person having been engaged.

30213. If, as you suggest, it is such a serious thing, do
you not think that you should have done so, not only for
your own safety but for the safety of others T— I cannot
say that the firemen complained of did actually move m the
district which 1 worked in, but they work^i m the same
mine or in some pit of which I had knowledge.

30214. I put it to you, if it were as serious as you make
out in your proof it was, it would have been your duty
to draw the attention of the mspector to it 7— Many
thincs might be reported which men do not report
because there is a fear which hangs about the m^ t^t
if it should be known they have reported anythmg to the
inspector it would go badly with tiiem.

30216. From what we have heard from the inspectors
I do not think we can pay any attention to that at aU ?—
Not from the inspector, from the particular fireman
objected to, or the employer under whora he is engaged.

30216. I say from the evidence ^e have had from the
inspectors themselves here that tloes not apply at all,
because they say they get no end of anonymous complaints
or information ?— -That may be so, anonymously, but still
at the same time there is the fear that the anonymous
letters will develop ultimately into having to face the thing.

30217. I put it to you, if I were in your place and I felt,
as you say, that these men were incompetent men, and that
you and your fellows were in danger, I should have sent an
anonymous communication to the inspector. As you did
not do so I should suggest that the position was not as
serious as you try to make it out to be T — ^I can only say
that the fact that anonymous letters go, to me is
evidence that the men fear to append their own names to

30218. I am not on that point as to whether the men fear
it or not. They need not append their names. The
inspectors tell us they get anonymous information from
the men ? — Yes.

30219. You tell us there are very many incompetent
men, and that you and your fellows have been in danger,
and yet you have never informed an inspector of the con-
ditions under which you were working T— Personally,
I have not.

30220. Very well, I will leave it at that You made use
of the expresfflon that you would be in favour of one
manager one pit T — ^Yee.

30221. You consider that there may be two or three
or more pits close together employing a very few men as
compared with many pit8,say a couple of hunctoed men each.
Would you then think it necessary that each of those pits
should have one manager -appointed T— I think you will
notice in the pr^is I sent m we stete we are further of
opinion that certificated managers should be limited to
a certain number of underground work-people. Having
in view the fact there may be very small collieries with
very few men in, as an individual pit, it may be under
such circumstances permissible for a man to take more
than one shaft, but in large collieries empldying 600 or
more people underground, we certeinly beUeve that there
ought to be put over that one pit one manager to have
proper supervision.

30222. My complaint rather is you have laid down veiy
wide regulations in certein directions : you have said this.
You said you would have one manager one pit. We now
see that it might be advisable to have one manager over
two or three pits T— If there is only one pit and say 100
or 60 men employed, then I thmk the law requires even
there that there shall be a certificated manager, if there
be only one pit.

30223. I agree, but the manager may be appointed
manager over two or three pits together with a small
number of men T— Yes. To us the danger is at present
the tendency of putting one manager over more and more
pits. That seems to be the tendency at present.

30224. Against that you said one manager one pit. Now
rou rather limit it to the number of men than to the pit ? -
lea, I should prefer to limit it to the number of people
underground than to one individual shaft.

30226. I think I understand that now. With regard
to your proposal that there should be separate travelling
roads, what experience have you had outside Lancashire
and Cheshire. Where have you worked ?— I have had no
experience outside Lancashire and Cheshire.

30226. You say that, not knowing how it would affect


say, Wales or any other district ?— I cannot say as to how
it would affect any other district.

30227. Have you had any experience in mines that use i
naked lights ?— No, I have had no experience of them.

30228. Without having had any experience you still say
that safety lamps should be used in every colliery T— Yes,
that is the belief and feeling of our Federation m the
matter, that there ought to be safety lamps used.

30229. Do you think you have mentioned everything
you think might be an improvement in the new Coal
Mines Act ?— Perhaps not, only that the stetement sent
on to us was dealing with the matters here referred to.

30230. I mean from your own experience and from
your own knowledge of your own district ?— I do not know
anythmg else that at the moment I can call attention to.

30231. I think you have mentioned quite enough. I
did not suggest that there were lots of thmgs left out.


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Online LibraryGreat Britain. Parliament Great Britain. Royal Commission on MinesMinutes of evidence taken before the Royal Commission on Mines → online text (page 96 of 177)