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Pit Ponies

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1943

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power the number of ponies employed underground in the mines of the country this year compared with 1938?

The number of horses, as recorded, on colliery books at 3oth June, 1938, at mines under the Coal Mines Act in Great Britain was 32,524. Particulars for 1943 are not available but the comparable figure at 30th June, 1942, was 26,593.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that in collieries where mechanisation has been advanced there are still sufficient pit ponies?

We have had no complaints recently, but if my hon. Friend has any particular pit in mind, I shall be glad to go into the matter.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power to what extent, in the interest of maximum production, he receives reports as to the proper feeding and reasonable employment of pit ponies in the mines of the country; and how far there has been an increase in fatality rates due to underfeeding and overwork?

The feeding and conditions of work of pit ponies are watched from day to day by the Inspectors of Mines who take such action as is necessary at the time and report to my right hon. and gallant Friend periodically on the general situation, which continues to be satisfactory. The fatality rate has not increased and I know of no evidence which would suggest that ponies have died from underfeeding or overwork.

Is my hon. Friend aware that 44 per cent. of the ponies in Northumberland and Durham Counties are unemployed and that there are allegations in certain districts that ponies are being worked two shifts and are dying through exhaustion and underfeeding?

I know that relatively Northumberland and Durham County have the largest number of pit ponies underground. If my hon. Friend knows of any particular pit where ponies are being treated unfairly, I shall be glad to look into the question.