asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that Kenneth Oliver, aged 14 years, employed at the Bullcroft Colliery, Doncaster, was fatally injured on 13th January; that he had been employed six days prior to the accident and was engaged in uncoupling tubs; whether he had received any training; and whether the Coal Mines Regulations provide for such training?
Yes, Sir, and I understand that the facts were as stated by the hon. Member. As regards the latter part of the question, the boy had not attended the voluntary safety classes, but he had been instructed by the colliery safety officer in the proper method of coupling and uncoupling tubs. Although he was working under the general supervision of an adult haulage hand and was required to uncouple tubs only when the set was standing, such work was not, in my opinion, suitable for a boy who had only been at the pit for six days, and I understand that the management have made better arrangements for the future. The Coal Mines General Regulations do not prescribe any course of training for boys entering the industry, but, as the hon. Member will be aware, much progress has been made on a voluntary basis.
Will the question of accidents to children of these tender years come before the Commission that is now dealing with safety in mines, and may we expect a recommendation from it upon this matter?
I cannot say anything about any recommendation which the Royal Commission may make, but the evidence which has been put before the Commission has very forcibly brought to its notice the whole question of the safety of boys in the mining industry.