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Horses And Ponies

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 3 March 1949

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power what is the average number of working years of the horses used below ground in the mines of South Wales; and the average working life of the ponies employed in Durham, Northumberland and Yorkshire, for the past ten years.

I regret that the information available is insufficient to enable a reliable estimate to be made.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he will make a regulation pursuant to the Coal Mines Act, 1911, in order to provide horses and ponies employed continuously below ground in mines with a month's rest on the surface every year or in every alternate year.

Great care is taken under the strictest supervision to ensure that horses employed in coal mines are not overworked and I do not think that the proposed regulation is either necessary or desirable.

asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether he is aware that four old pit ponies who were destroyed at Lambley, Northumberland, were all over 20 years of age; how many years over 20, respectively, these four ponies were when taken up; and whether he is satisfied that ponies over the age of 15 years should be employed below ground in mines.

I am informed by the National Coal Board that the four ponies recently withdrawn from underground work at Lambley Colliery and destroyed were aged 21, 22, 25 and 29 years, respectively. I do not consider it desirable to impose a rigid age limit for horses and ponies employed in mines. The physical condition of each animal should be the deciding factor. Although no exact figures are available, the normal age at which ponies are withdrawn from underground work is estimated by the National Coal Board to be about 15 years but in the experience of His Majesty's Inspectors of Mines many ponies over the age of 15 years are well up to the work and may be safer than younger animals.