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Life-Saving Apparatus In French Coal Mines

Volume 180: debated on Thursday 8 August 1907

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I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been directed to the fact that the French Minister of Public Works has recently signed a decree ordering that every coal mine employing 100 men underground at the same time must be provided with a portable respiratory apparatus, ready for immediate use and enabling a miner to remain at least one hour in an irrespirable atmosphere, and that the number of such appliances must be not less than two for each pit, placed in charge of an engineer or inspector familiar with their working, and provided with ten picked men, trained in the use of the apparatus and ready to be sent to the seat of danger immediately the necessity arises; and whether he can see his way to insist upon similar precautions being observed in British coal mines.

This matter was referred by me some time ago to the Royal Commission on Mines which is now sitting. As the hon. Member is doubtless aware, a Report has already been presented by the Royal Commission on the question of the use of rescue apparatus. The Com-mission did not feel justified in recommending that the provision of rescue apparatus should at the present time be made compulsory. They made, however, certain proposals for the establishment of central rescue stations, etc., and I am communicating with the owners with a view to their taking action.

They may possibly make an interim Report. But they cannot finally report.