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Orders Of The Day

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 1 July 1954

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Mines And Quarries Bill

As amended (in the Standing Committee), further considered.

4.29 p.m.

Clause 4—(Qualifications Of Mine Managers)

Amendments made: In page 4, line 20, leave out "twenty-five." and insert "twenty-six."

In line 28, after "that," insert:

"this subsection shall apply to the mine, and."

In line 29, after second "be," insert "appointed or to be the."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

Clause 5—(Limitation On Number Of Mines Which A Person May Manage)

Amendment made: In page 5, line 3, after "fulfilment," insert:

", in relation to those mines or ant of them."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

Clause 6—(Under-Managers)

Amendment made: In page 5, line 11, at end, insert:

"and to the following provisions of this Act."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

Clause 7—(Temporary Appointments During Vacancy In Office Of Mine Manager Or Under-Manager)

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Fuel and Power
(Mr. L. W. Joynson-Hicks)

I beg to move, in page 6, line 20, to leave out "ninety," and to insert "seventy-two."

I suggest that it will be convenient to take at the same time the next two Amendments and also the Amendment in Clause 94, page 59, line 5, which are all of a similar nature.

The Clause deals with temporary appointments during vacancy in the office of the mine manager or under-manager, and a time-limit has to be fixed beyond which a substitute who may be unqualified is not allowed to occupy the position of manager. Under the 1911 Act, the time-limit that was fixed, subject always to extension by an inspector, was four months, or roughly 120 days.

When we came to consider the Bill, we thought that the period might beneficially be reduced, and therefore we brought it down to 90 days. In Committee considerable pressure was brought to bear upon us to reduce the period still further, right down to 48 days. We undertook to look into the matter and to see what was the shortest time—we are all agreed that we want this to be as short as possible—that could be safely laid down.

We have now come to the conclusion that the lowest figure which we can insert as to the maximum period is 72 days. This may appear to hon. Members opposite as being too long, but I ask them to bear in mind that it is a maximum period and that in a simple case there is every expectation that an appointment would be made much sooner. We must, however, provide for the difficult case and for the case where it is a matter, not merely of one appointment, but of several successive appointments. For example, when the National Coal Board seeks to promote managers from a smaller mine to a bigger mine, it is obviously desirable that when a succession of promotions is involved they should all be made consecutively, so that one manager can hand over to his successor. Our conclusion, after consultation, is that the best and lowest maximum period that we can write into the Bill is 72 days, and I hope that the House will accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 6, line 33, leave out "ninety," and insert "seventy-two."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

Clause 8—(Daily Supervision By Mine Managers And Under-Managers)

Amendment made: In page 7, line 16, leave out "ninety," and insert "seventy-two."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

I beg to mow, in page 7, line 37, to leave out "an under-manager thereof," and to insert:

"the under-manager thereof in whose place he is acting."
This is a formal Amendment to clarify the phraseology.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 9—(Charge Of Mine Where Neither Manager Nor Acting Manager Nor Under-Manager Is Present)

I beg to move, in page 8, line 2, to leave out "(if any)."

I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the House if the discussion on this Amendment could cover also the many other Amendments of a like nature throughout the Bill: they are practically identical.

This is a question of the qualifications of various people in the mines. In our view, the words "if any" can be interpreted to allow responsible positions to be held by somebody without any qualifications. The Clause applies to managers, under-managers and deputies. Presumably, it is not intended that a colliery manager or under-manager should not have qualifications, and, quite clearly, a deputy must be qualified. The removal of the words "if any" would avoid ambiguity.

I beg to second the Amendment.

The Amendment relates to a person having charge of a mine when neither the manager, acting manager nor under-manager is present and when the over-men in the industry take charge. I take it that the Clause deals specifically with over-men and no other persons. The Bill is not up-to-date and cannot be up-to-date until it recognises the status of the over-men. In responsibility nowadays they receive far more recognition from workmen, from management and from the Board, and yet, odd though it may seem, they have no statutory powers, they sign no statutory reports and they have no certificate higher than that of a deputy.

The efficiency and safe working of a colliery depends a great deal upon these officials, and the Clause is inadequate and unsatisfactory in not recognising their status. In previous legislation they have been referred to as officials inferior to under-managers but superior to deputies. As yet, however, they have not received any statutory obligations.

The overmen are responsible for the production and safe working of the colliery during the absence of the manager and under-manager—that is to say, far 50 per cent. of the working time of the colliery, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. This period of 12 hours includes the most dangerous shift of all, the night shift, when all the coal cutters are working at the faces and shot-firing is in progress ready for the faces being prepared at six o'clock next morning.

I suggest to the Minister that the status of these overmen should be recognised by providing in the Bill that all overmen should be specially certificated higher than a deputy and that an obligation should be imposed upon them to sign a daily statutory report. I cannot understand why the Minister has omitted any reference to these officials.

Safety is our aim. We cannot get safety of the standard that we require if during 50 per cent. of the working time of the colliery we allow officials to be in charge who have no certificate higher than that of a deputy. I hope that the Minister recognises the wisdom of these Amendments and will agree to this provision for future eventualities by the higher certification of overmen. Can the Minister say what are the views of the Coal Board on this matter? Does the Board at any time in the future intend to lift the cerificate standard of overmen in the industry?

I do not want to confuse the issue here with the duties of the deputy or overman. I endorse what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton). We are concerned with a question of interpretation, and the phrase "if any" seems rather loose. The Bill should say what it means. I hope the Minister will accept our Amendments.

The words "if any" appear throughout the Bill and form a very important feature of it. Clause 21 says:

"Regulations may require the manager of every mine to keep at the office at the mine a geological map of the district in which the mine is situate, being a map conforming to such requirements (if any) as may be prescribed."
The words "if any" immediately create doubt. Why should we have "if any"? The geological map is of great importance. Is it to be suggested that in certain instances it does not matter if the map does not exist? The words "if any" are also used in relation to the position of the manager. We are justified in pressing for the deletion of the words.

This is rather a technical legal point, and I hope that I shall be able to explain it to the House. I can assure the House that the words "if any" have no belittling effect upon anybody and have no legal effect which might entitle the Minister or anyone else to appoint, or to allow to remain in posts, people who are not efficient.

If we were dealing only with coal mines, there would be no trouble at all, because there is power to prescribe qualifications in the case of coal mines, but the Bill applies also to metalliferous mines and also to very small coal mines where fewer than 14 men are employed and where qualifications are not required.

Therefore, as a matter of pure drafting, we use language which is very clearly established in the drafting of statutes. We refer to "such qualifications (if any) as may be prescribed." If the words "if any" were omitted, the implication would be that one could not have a man carrying out the duties unless qualifications had been prescribed. In the case of metalliferous mines and small mines, no such qualifications are called for, and, therefore, as a matter of pure drafting, we require the words "if any" in the Bill.

I would reinforce what I have said by reference to an example. In Clause 21 we have reference to a map:
"… conforming to such requirements (if any) as may be prescribed."
In relation to coal mines, requirements always will be prescribed by regulations, but in relation to other mines there is no power to prescribe the requirements. If "if any" were omitted, we should be stultifying our purpose because we should be referring to something for which there is no legal backing.

I can assure the House that the use of "if any" in the Bill could not possibly have the effect of lowering standards or of allowing low standards to be adopted. It is purely a matter of legal drafting. I assure the House that there is nothing significant in it.

I should be grateful if the right hon. and learned Gentleman would clear up a point for me. Clause 13 (2) specifically provides for regulations under which a manager may appoint competent persons, and the regulations are to prescribe their qualifications. Would that apply also to Clauses 9 and 11 and others? Is there power to make such regulations in respect of all appointments in coal mines?

4.45 p.m.

The Attorney-General has given us the legal explanation, but we must get down to the practical application of the provision. A manager may be going on his holidays and may appoint someone in charge of the mine—I do not say he would—who has no qualifications, while there may be other men in the mine who have the necessary qualifications. Apparently that would be legal under the Bill as it now stands.

I support the arguments which have been put by my hon. Friends. With all due respect to the Attorney-General, we have to consider how the provision will be construed by a manager. In these circumstances, the manager would no doubt assert that he was acting within the provisions of the Measure.

I regard the reasoning of the Attorney-General as dangerous in the extreme. It may be all right to point out that these words are necessary for the purposes of metalliferous mines and small coal mines, but we have to consider the practical application of the provisions. I appeal to the Attorney-General to look again at the phraseology. It does not matter so much here where we are enacting a Measure, but we have to consider what will happen in actual practice if an accident occurs. What we are enacting will have an influence on the lives and the work of men throughout the coalfields.

Part of our difficulty arises from the original defect in the Bill, which is that it deals with other mines as well as coal mines and also with quarries. Throughout the proceedings in Committee it has been obvious that the language of the Bill is unnecessarily tedious and ambiguous because of the fact that we have not had separate Bills for mines and quarries.

It would be a very dangerous mistake if we allowed it to be assumed that, as a result of leaving in "if any," the obligations in respect of proper qualifications would be weakened. The danger about leaving in "if any" is that it would appear to give the Minister the right to appoint officials without qualifications. Even if the words "if any" are left in, we must insist that the obligations upon the Minister are as strong as if those words were omitted.

Even if "if any" were omitted, the Minister would still be able to prescribe trivial qualifications, so we should not be protected. The words "if any" do not weaken the provisions. Elsewhere in the Bill a duty is imposed upon the Minister to cause mining officials to have qualifications. If it were said that a manager must have two eyes, that would be a qualification. It is obvious that the provision is not weakened by the use of "if any."

We want to be quite certain that the Attorney-General is right and that the obligation to impose proper qualifications in respect of officials in coal mines exists in other parts of the Bill and will be carried out, and that the obligations upon the Minister in that respect are not weakened.

If I may, by leave of the House, speak again, I would say that I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) for what he has said. Although he was not able to be with us when we were considering the Bill in Committee, he seems almost to know more about it than anyone else.

With regard to the structure of the Bill in this connection—the words appear in a number of places—it is for the Minister to prescribe the qualifications. In Committee the Minister, on a number of occasions, made a definite statement that he would prescribe, for example, suitable conditions in all these cases, and the Committee thought that that was a better way to do it than to write the conditions into the Bill. That was the way in which we dealt with the matter in Committee. I cannot speak for my right hon. Friend. I have no doubt that he may wish to say something about this. However, on several occasions in Committee he was asked this question, and he gave the answer which I have just given.

If I may be permitted to say another word, I can understand the preoccupation of my hon. Friends, but the Attorney-General has assured us that there are to be regulations covering the whole matter; that they will meet the points which my hon. Friends have in mind and that in fact these words will not make any practical difference. In the light of that assurance, I think that my hon. Friends would be willing that this Amendment should be withdrawn.

There will be regulations with regard to overmen.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I beg to move, in page 8, line 4, to leave out "either."

I think that it will be convenient to take this Amendment with the next Amendment in line 5, to leave out from "employed," to the end of line 6, and to insert "thereat below ground."

Both these Amendments implement an undertaking given in Committee by my right hon. Friend to meet the point raised that, notwithstanding how few men there were underground, there should always be someone in charge.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: In page 8, line 5, leave out from "employed," to end of line 6, and insert "thereat below ground."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

Clause 10—(Duties Of Mine Managers With Respect To Reading Of Reports, &C)

I beg to move, in page 8, line 12, to leave out from "other," to "that," in line 14, and to insert, "competent person and."

I think that it would be convenient to consider with this Amendment the Amendments to Clause 97, page 60, line 41, and page 61, line 9, which are similar.

Clause 10 deals with the duties of a manager regarding the reading of reports. Hon. Members who were present during Committee will remember that we had a long discussion about this and that dissatisfaction was expressed about the wording of the Bill. My right hon. Friend agreed to reconsider the matter to see whether it was possible to insert words to meet the objections. This is our attempt to do so, which I hope will be acceptable.

In effect, the Amendment says that it is the duty of the manager to see that a competent person reads reports bringing to his attention such matters as require attention, and if that system fails, an offence is committed by the manager. It puts the responsibility upon the manager, which was what was desired.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 12—(Deputies)

Amendments made: In page 9, line 18, after "prescribed," insert:

"by virtue of this paragraph."

In line 29, leave out from "is," to "to," in line 30, and insert "sufficient"—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

I beg to move, in page 9, line 31, at the end, to insert:

The persons appointed shall not perform any duties which in their opinion may interfere with the efficient performance of the duties imposed upon them under paragraph (a) hereof.
This is a very important Amendment. I raised the matter during the Second Reading debate and it was argued at considerable length in Committee. We are raising it again on Report because we wish to be satisfied that the deputy is protected.

Under the 1911 Act the statutory duties of a deputy were specified, but that was repealed in 1947 and the duties were embodied in regulations, either in 1949 or 1950—I am not sure of the date. The statutory duties of a deputy are very important. He has charge of the men in his district, and in law he is responsible for writing a report about the conditions in his district at the end of each shift—the number of persons he has in charge; the condition of the air in the district; that there is sufficient timber for the men.

The duties of a deputy regarding safety precautions are paramount, and the production of coal is a secondary factor. We all know from experience that it is possible for a great deal of pressure to be put upon the deputy to neglect his safety duties in the interest of coal production. Previously the deputy has been able to safeguard himself by saying that under the provisions of the 1911 Act his paramount duty was to attend to the safety of the men under his charge, and that the question of coal production would be dealt with after that duty had been fulfilled. The deputy had another power, that if his district was too big, and it was impossible for him to carry out his statutory duties, he could appeal to the inspector and have the size of his district reduced.

We desire that the deputy shall be safeguarded against pressure which may be put upon him to produce coal to the detriment of safety. We are not asking that a deputy shall have nothing to do with production at the coalface. There are some who argue that safety and production may be married, but in such a marriage we wish to see that the predominant partner is safety. We therefore move this Amendment to empower the deputy to say that he will attend to the matter of coal production after he has fulfilled his statutory duties relating to safety. If there is nothing to that effect in the Measure, a deputy may find himself in difficulties with those above him.

There is a different set-up in the mining industry today from that which was envisaged when the 1911 Act was passed. Deputies are now on the official staff of the pits. While I am pleased that they have attained that status, I would emphasise that it makes it more imperative that they should be safeguarded against pressure which may be exerted upon them by those above them. If the object of this Bill is to promote safety and protect the interests of the men in the pit, such statutory protection must be afforded to deputies.

5.0 p.m.

I beg to second the Amendment. It is possible that the Minister will mention the 1951 regulations and that he will say that the Government's intentions on this matter are equally as good as ours. That may be so, but without question we should like this provision put clearly in the Bill. All my hon. Friends who have worked in mines understand what the work of a deputy involves. We realise the economic pressure which from time to time has 'been brought to bear upon these officials. This has meant that the statutory duties have been neglected in the interests of production. We want it to be clear that on this issue statutory duties must come first.

We want to ensure that those duties will be properly carried out. I want no sidestepping on this point. Though conditions have changed in the past few years, nevertheless the note is still on production and even more production. The Minister would give great satisfaction if he accepted the Amendment. My hon. Friend mentioned the size of districts. We all know that, especially in the last 25 years, safety measures have not always received their fair share of attention. We are somewhat apprehensive because, while the colliery manager is responsible for the well-being of a pit and those who work in it, the deputy himself has a most responsible job. We want it stated in no uncertain terms that he must on all occasions fulfil the statutory duties first.

The Amendment is far more important than might be assumed from what has been said so far. The deputy holds a key position in the safety administration of a mine. We are discussing the duties of qualified men who have existed for as long as the industry has existed as examiners, deputies or firemen. They have always been charged with the responsibility for inspecting the whole of their district, for seeing that work is properly done, for giving instructions when required, and for giving warning of danger. These men are really the pivot on which the whole of the managerial responsibilities have been centred.

The examiner, the fireman or the deputy is in his district the whole time. The manager is not. The manager has general supervision over the whole of the mine and he must satisfy legal requirements in that respect, but the deputy is confined to his district. Woe to him if he is found outside his district—even though he may be doing similar work—to the neglect of his own work. He is the man in charge.

We suggest that the Bill should not fail to say that the man in charge may not be put on other duties which may interfere with the efficient performance of his own duties. If the deputy is not doing the duties imposed upon him, what could he be doing? What licence is to be given to the manager to give instructions to the deputy to take on additional duties not merely connected with the question of supervision or of safety in his district? We are treating this matter far too lightly. The examiner, the deputy or the fireman is an important person.

I have known a manager to spend a week before he went to see all the districts in his mine. Occasionally, the under-manager may be away on urgent matters and unable to pay a daily visit but the deputy is there all the time. The workmen have confidence in the deputy. He is generally known as a good workman himself, or he would never be made deputy. Everybody would know what his responsibilities were if the Amendment were accepted. It would be clear that whatever a man was asked to do, especially in a small district where there might be more time at his disposal, he should not neglect the duties for which he was appointed. Even though he does not hold a managerial certificate, the deputy is a person qualified to exercise full control over safety precautions in the industry.

Perhaps it would help if I intervened now to say at once that the Government agree in substance with the case which has been put so powerfully by hon. Gentlemen opposite In no circumstances should any additional duties interfere with the paramountcy of safety duties. I have been into the question of the best way of giving effect to this suggestion. Since the deputies are dealt with under regulations, it would be best dealt with in that way; but since, on this important matter, the House would desire that there should be an injunction in the statute, I should like to advise hon. Members that we have taken advice as to the best way of securing that.

I am advised that the best way would be to have an injunction on the Minister that in making regulations dealing with deputies he should safeguard the paramountcy of safety duties.

If hon. Members accept that, the Government will undertake to bring forward appropriate words to that effect.

We are very much obliged to the Minister. What he proposes is obviously the best plan. It will certainly meet the point which we have in mind, and I think that my hon. Friend will be willing to withdraw the Amendment.

There is an important principle involved in the Amendment and I thank the Minister for what he has said. However, I press that we should accept the principle laid down in the Amendment which states:

"The persons appointed shall not perform any duties which in their opinion may interfere …"
That is a most important principle which needs to be safeguarded in what the Minister proposes.

It is the deputy who will have the right of exercising judgment about what may or may not interfere with the efficient performance of the duties imposed upon him. We all know of the old story of how the deputy used to leave his district because there was a breakdown elsewhere: but he cannot do that now because, with mechanisation, the deputy has to be almost an engineer or a fitter to be able immediately to remedy any defect in order to keep coal production in progress.

I do not want the deputy to be under fire from the manager or under-manager or the fireman for not attending to some breakdown on the face because in his opinion that would have interfered with his work under the regulations relating to safety. I hope, therefore, that whatever the Minister does that safety principle will be safeguarded.

The Minister has accepted in principle what we want and, therefore, it is unnecessary to carry the debate much further, but I am puzzled by the situation. I cannot for the life of me understand how a Department with the long experience of this Department could have drafted a Bill and carried it through the Committee stage to the Report stage without having in it a provision for a principle of this sort. We do not know even now what vehicle the Minister will select to carry out his purpose. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor) pointed out, one may say that the paramountcy of safety must be made clear, but by whom must it be made clear? Is it to be by the deputy or by the manager?

I should have thought that the Minister would have been able to tell us what kind of vehicle he proposes to use. We have always regarded this as one of the most sensitive points in the whole hierarchy of the mine. In some coalfields we were so conscious that the deputy fireman was used for production purposes in contradistinction to his duties as a safety official that in some areas we did not allow him to be a member of the miners' union. We kept him outside because we knew that he was not only a safety man.

Let us suppose that an accident occurs and an inquiry is held and it can be shown that if the deputy had done what he might have done the accident might have been avoided and he says, "I was doing something else." Unless the priority of claim upon his time is something which he himself exercises he has a defence at the inquiry. If he is carrying out duties given to him by the manager or the fireman and those duties interfere with his work as a safety official then, unless the priority is determined by himself, he has a defence and we do not want him to have a defence. We want to take it from him and by statute and regulation say that his first duty is to look after the safety of the men and that he must decide the paramountcy. What vehicle does the Minister propose to use to effect this?

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's point of view. There is no doubt that the reason why the Bill did not specifically mention this subject was that it is so much taken for granted in the Department that the idea that there could be any departure from it never occurred to those concerned. I should like to draw attention to the existing requirements in the regulations dealing with deputies, which were promulgated in 1951. Regulation (2B) uses these unequivocal words:

"No deputy shall at any time perform any duty himself, or knowingly permit any work by any workman under his charge, if the same would prevent or delay the performance of any duty or work necessary for safety."

The right hon. Gentleman says that this was taken for granted, but it has always been taken for granted before nationalisation that deputies were frequently called upon to perform duties wholly or partially inconsistent with their primary duty to take immediate action if a fault was discovered. Who is now required to decide whether work done by the deputy is contrary to his duties relating to safety? If the mine manager tells him to do a certain thing and the deputy thinks that his duty lies elsewhere, who determines the point? The object of the Amendment, which is of the utmost importance, is to make clear that the safety man is pretty independent in these matters.

5.15 p.m.

The language which the Minister read to the House is still rather too ambiguous from our point of view. The deputy is under the disability that anyhow he is an employee. A strong deputy can answer back a weak manager, and we want to provide that the deputy shall be able to say to a manager that something should not be done, in his judgment.

We considered this matter at length in Committee. These regulations were brought into effect in 1951. When I said that these matters were taken for granted, I was not referring to past history, but to present day-to-day administration of health and safety matters in the Ministry of Fuel and Power, which it has been my honour to represent during the passage to date of this Bill. The language which the then Minister inserted in the regulations was meant to be quite unequivocal and it would be my desire also to make the language unequivocal. In the course of our discussions it was desired to go further and to make sure that in the statute the Minister was directed to act in that manner and that such a stipulation should be put in the statute. That procedure we would do well to follow.

I should not like the opportunity to pass by without further warning the Minister of the dangerous trend towards deputies placing production before safety. I have had recent experience of working in the industry and I have seen this trend. Deputies have been urged to do things by managers who do not fully realise their folly until an accident occurs. These may be strong words but, nevertheless, they are true.

The Meco-moore, the Samson stripper and other mechanical aids have been introduced and deputies are urged to make a machine a success. Consequently, a deputy will sit on the machine for the whole of the shift and neglect his safety duties. If there is a belt-conveyed face in the mine and there is a breakdown, the deputy is expected to go along and assist in getting the belt ready or repairing the conveyor. Consequently, his duties in examining supports and roadways are neglected. I warn the Minister that these things are taking place. By adopting the Amendment the position may be remedied.

I hope that the Minister is making a strong effort to meet our views. We who have experience of the coalfields know perfectly well that the fireman has always been the upper and nether millstone. The recent accident at Newcraighall Colliery, Niddrie, Midlothian, accentuated the position of the deputy. A major catastrophe very nearly occurred there. I urge the Minister to make it plain that the deputy will be protected in the performance of his duties.

Our Amendment was entirely based on Regulation (2 B). I am at a loss to understand the terrific opposition of the Government benches to putting this provision in the Statute. It is suggested that the Minister should have some power imposed on him by regulation to do what we want him to do, but why cannot that be put in the Act? If the Minister does not like our wording, why not put in the Act the words:

"No deputy shall at any time perform any duty himself, or knowingly permit any work by any workman under his charge, if the same would prevent or delay the due performance of any duty or work necessary for safety."
If the Minister cannot accept our Amendment but would put those words in the Measure, the deputy, by reading the Act, would know that he was statutorily protected. If this is done by regulation some other Minister could give an entirely different interpretation and the deputy would have no statutory protection because the regulation might be altered and not represent the feelings of this House at this time.

I am very sorry that, after three hard fights over two hours in the Committee on this issue, we have not yet been able to reach satisfaction. Let there be no mistake about it, our whole ambition here is to give protection to the deputy—who has onerous duties—so that he can stand up against anyone in the pit who said says that he must get coal and neglect safety duties. We want this provision in the statute. Whether the Minister puts it in by using the words in Regulation (2, B) or by accepting this Amendment does not matter. We are keen that there should be protection for the deputy in his safety duties stated in the statute.

Amendment negatived.

Clause 13—Other Officials, Engineers Technicians, Etc)

It may be convenient if, with the next Amendment we discussed the next two Amendments, in page 10, line 4, after "manager." to insert "or owner," and in line 11, at the end, to insert:

(3) Every person appointed pursuant to this section shall be responsible to the manager of the mine for the efficient performance of his duties and nothing in this section shall detract from the powers and duties of the manager of the mine under this Act.

I beg to move, in page 9, line 32, after "manager," to insert "or owner."

In moving this Amendment I am asking the Minister to make a new departure in regard to mechanical engineers. I do so because a revolution has taken place in the mining industry in the last 10 or 15 years. There was a time when we had an abundance of manual labour, horse haulage and the steam winding engine and coal was screened at the pit top. A transformation has taken place since then and 85 per cent. of the coal produced today is dependent upon the use of electricity. That calls for great responsibility.

It is our view that the mechanical engineers—the men in charge of the department at a colliery—ought to be employed by the owners. In point of fact they are, but we would like this Measure to say so. It is laid down that the surveyor and under-manager shall be appointed by the owner. Where a mechanical engineer is in charge at a large colliery, producing possibly 3,000 tons or 4,000 tons a day entirely by the use of electricity—electricity right from the pit top to the roadway and the actual face—we have always to bear in mind that there are great dangers which call for expert knowledge. Without the electrician it would not be possible, in modern mines, to produce coal. Electricity is used for the lighting at the faces, for the power, for coal cutting, for conveyors, haulage and winding.

Hon. Members must bear in mind that great responsibility is placed on the mechanical engineer. We must make sure that in the appointment of a mechanical engineer the right person is appointed. I fully realise that the colliery manager has to be the captain of the ship and that the mechanical engineer must receive his instructions from the manager, but we have to remember that in the new set-up in the industry electricians work hand-in-hand with mechanical engineers in planning large schemes. They order the materials and consult each other. Nevertheless, we are conscious of the fact that, statutorily, it is the colliery manager who is responsible. When appointing the head electrical engineer the responsibility should be borne by the owner.

As time goes on in the industry with the demand for more coal and the sinking of more pits there will be a call for more electricity. It is a very admirable servant, but can be a very bad master. I trust that the Minister will give consideration to what we think is a very important problem in the mining world today.

5.30 p.m.

I beg to second the Amendment.

We have now moved away from the idea of the old colliery manager and the old colliery engineer. When the mechanical and electrical engineers are appointed, the manager may be there, but the appointments are made by those higher up and the manager has to accept the mechanical and electrical engineers they pick for him. The status of these men in the coal industry is such that the National Coal Board demand that they should have very high qualifications.

The Mining, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers' Association is not trying to detract from the powers of the manager. In a letter which it sent from Glasgow to all hon. Members on this side of the House—I do not know whether hon. Members have received it—it says explicitly that its arguments to be employed by the owner arise from a question of status and in no way detract from the powers of the manager. The Minister should consider this matter in the light of new developments, because, as we mechanise the mines and undertake great capital expenditure programmes, these men will become very important.

I cannot pretend to have the technical knowledge necessary for me to support the Amendment, but I want to ask my right hon. Friend why he has not seen fit so far to accept the request of the mechanical engineers. Hon. Members on this side of the House have the letter to which the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) referred and it has caused some doubt as to whether the correct action has been taken in this matter.

As those who were Members of the Standing Committee will recall, the Minister willingly accepted my Amendment to change the word "subordinate" to the word "responsible," making the electrical engineer or mechanical engineer responsible to the colliery manager but not subordinate to him. That was a step forward on the lines indicated by the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts) and the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring, but it seems to me that if the appointment of a mechanical or electrical engineer is deemed to be so important because of the development in the industry it is reasonable that it should be made by the owner rather than by the manager.

There can be no doubt that the responsibilities of mechanical and electrical engineers have enormously increased in mining in the last generation. I can well understand that they desire it to be fully appreciated in the world outside, as well as in the mining world, that their status has increased, but I wish they would not choose this way of marking their increase of status. They are not the only people in the industry whose status has improved and is improving.

The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) referred to the fact that the old colliery engineer was a thing of the past. It is true to say, too, that the old colliery manager, or a certain type of the old colliery manager, is becoming a thing of the past, and we also want the status of the manager to improve and to grow with the revolution which is taking place in the industry with the introduction of all these up-to-date techniques of mining. The status of the miner himself has improved and we want to see it continue to improve.

It is, therefore, wrong to introduce a conception by which there is a kind of competitive race for status within the industry. While I appreciate and agree that the status of the electrical and mechanical engineers is improving, and while we note that fact and desire it to continue, we do not feel that this is the right way in winch to note it. We feel that it is still right that the colliery manager should make these appointments, as he has done in the past.

In all our debates on the coal industry we refer to the fact that not enough young experts are coming into the mining industry. We want technicians. No doubt in the next debate the lack of technicians in the mining industry will be a cardinal point of the discussion. In the meantime, young technicians are leaving the industry to become maintenance engineers or electricians in factories, where they get a far better job than they do when working inside the coal field. I am pleased that the Minister said that we must enhance the status of these men, where possible.

I understood that the hon. Member had intervened to ask a question.

I am sorry that I have been led astray. Did the Minister bear in mind the point which I was making about the need to attract young technicians into the industry?

I have not considered that point in relation to this proposal. We all know how important it is, but, if the hon. Member will allow me to say so, I do not think it is a very strong point in relation to this proposal. After all, in other industries, those engineers will probably be taken on by the works manager, not by an owner in some solemn capacity, as it were. There is nothing dishonourable in a man being taken on by the colliery manager.

It may be that the fine electrical engineers of today would have felt a tremor at being taken on by the old colliery manager of a generation ago, but it would be unfortunate if it were felt that there was something wrong in being properly taken on by the new type of manager we want to see.

Is it not the practice of the manager to consult the owner—to consult the experts of the National Coal Board in electrical engineering—before he makes the appointment? Does not that meet part of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts)?

Is it not a fact that when there is a vacancy for a mechanical or electrical engineering position, it is advertised, and that the appointment is not made by the manager but by the various general managers, with perhaps the manager in attendance?

Amendment negatived.

Amendment made: In page 9, line 37, leave out "may be reasonably required," and insert "is sufficient."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

Clause 15—(Notification To District Inspector Of Appointments By Mine Owners)

I beg to move, in page 10, line 32, to leave out "send." and to insert "give."

This is the first of a long series of Amendments which are all of a drafting character. Their object is to respond to the appeal made to us, not once or twice but on many occasions, to simplify the phraseology of the Bill and also to ensure consistency in the provisions governing notices. It would be for the convenience of the Committee, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if you are agreeable, that this and the next three Amendments should be taken together.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: in page 10, line 32, leave out "a."

In line 33, leave out "stating," and insert:

"of the making of the appointment and of."

in line 34, leave out "and, if," and insert:

"stating, in a case where."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

Clause 17—(Keeping Of Plans)

I beg to move, in page 11, line 11, to leave out paragraph (a), and to insert:

"(a) accurate plans of—
  • (i) all the workings in the mine (whether abandoned or not) or such of them as ma) be prescribed: and
  • (ii) all other workings (whether abandoned or not) within the boundaries of the mine or within the prescribed distance outside any boundary of the mine (measured from an) point on the boundary in a straight line on any plane) or such of them as may be prescribed;
  • This Amendment is made in response to a rather technical but helpful suggestion proposed during the Committee stage by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Fylde (Colonel Lancaster). He pointed out that if the vertical distance between workings in adjacent mines exceeds a certain figure, it ought not to be, necessary to have plans for those workings in each mine showing the workings in the other mine.

    The object of this Amendment is to make that clear, and it will avoid the necessity of having those two sets of plans in each mine when there is no danger of an accident occurring owing to the amount of vertical distance.

    Will the Minister explain one point about this sensible Amendment, which I am not criticising? What is the meaning of the words "or such of them as may be prescribed"? Do they not vitiate the whole proposal? It seems to me that if we put in those words we shall lose the utility of the Clause. These terms are very dear to Parliamentary draftsmen, because one feels that they are designed to cover the possibility of their having failed to think of something, but they seem to me to be negative.

    That is the way in which we prescribe the distance above which the workings need not be put into the plans.

    But none would be prescribed if the workings were all outside the prescribed distance.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I am not speaking twice. I rose to put a question to the Minister. I have sat through Report stages for nearly 10 years and have never before heard it suggested from the Chair that a mere intervention to elucidate a few words was a speech.

    I mistook the hon. Gentleman, I thought he was making a speech. As long as he is only asking a question, he is in order.

    I do not want to labour the point, but it may be important. After leaving out paragraph (a) we insert the words:

    "accurate plans of—(i) all the workings in the mine (whether abandoned or not) or such of them as may be prescribed."
    That does not refer to distance or to size or to anything else. Again, paragraph (ii) says:
    "all other workings (whether abandoned or not) within the boundaries of the mine or within the prescribed distance …"
    That is, all other workings except such of them as may be prescribed. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the Parliamentary Secretary might look at this again.

    It is quite possible that the words "all other workings" in paragraph (ii) may mean workings not in the mine in question, but in one in proximity to it.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 11, line 17, leave out "so far as practicable."

    In line 19, leave out "and," and insert:

    "or, as the case may be."

    In line 21, leave out from "may," to "require," in line 23.

    In line 27, leave out "the workings, and insert:

    "workings delineated thereon."

    In line 40, leave out "to which the plans relate," and insert:

    "delineated on the plans."—.[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 19—(Faulty Plans)

    5.45 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 13, line 27, at the end, to insert:

    (5) Any person who causes or permits a plan to be in such a condition as to cause an inspector to make representations to the Minister pursuant to subsection (1) hereof shall be guilty of an offence under the Act.
    An attempt has been made in Clauses 17 and 19 to ensure the keeping of accurate colliery plans. We feel, however, that the language in which those Clauses are drafted is hardly strong enough to ensure that inaccurate plans will not be kept and everybody with a practical knowledge of mining will appreciate the dangers that may arise from inaccurate plans.

    For instance, a manager who prepared and kept inaccurate plans, and then was removed from his position as manager, might place his successor in serious difficulties. Coal might be worked which it was not intended to work, with resulting grave losses in respect of the men working in the mine. Also, as a result of inaccurate plans coal which it was intended should be left as a barrier, might be removed and an inrush of water or gas might take place, endangering the lives of the men working there.

    We believe that a deterrent is necessary to ensure that the plans of the manager shall be prepared and maintained in an accurate state. In view of the promise made by the Minister to look into this question on Report, we hope he will accept this Amendment.

    It is not possible to accept this Amendment for reasons which I will explain to the House. In the first place, there are provisions dealing with the matter in Clause 17, and also in Part II of the Coal Mines (Surveyors and Plans) General Regulations, 1952, which will be continued in operation under Clause 175 of the Bill. The suggestion that the matter should be carried further in the way proposed is. I think, one that, on reflection, the House would not like to put into operation. As the House will see, the offence is created by merely causing or permitting

    "a plan to be in such a condition as to cause an inspector to make representations to the Minister …"
    The offence is complete when the inspector has made representations to the Minister. Even if the Minister were wholly dissatisfied with the representations and came to the conclusion that the inspector was wholly unjustified in making them, under this Amendment the man would still be guilty of an offence.

    We talk about using a steam hammer to crack a nut, but this is a rather severe proposal. There is also the consideration that if a person is deemed guilty of an offence in this manner the result will be that the contravention will be taken outside the penalty Clause, which is Clause 144. That would make it impossible to proceed against the officials—the hierarchy as they might be called—so that it will be appreciated that this Amendment is really going too far.

    If representations are made that there is anything in the regulations or in Clause 17 which could be tightened up, we will consider that, but I would ask the House not to impose this very severe penalty. I hope that hon. Members will not press it.

    Amendment negatived.

    Clause 22—(Provision Of Shafts And Outlets In Coal, &C, Mines)

    I beg to move in page 15, line 21, to leave out from "section." to "for," in line 24, and to insert:

    "it shall not be lawful for any persons to be employed below ground in a mine of coal, stratified ironstone, shale or fireclay unless there are available."
    I think it would be for the general convenience of the Committee if, with this Amendment, we took the Amendment to line 30, the Amendment in page 16, line 23, and the two Amendments to line 30. They all hang, together.

    This Clause deals with the provision of means of ingress and egress, about which we had a great deal of discussion on the Committee stage and the Amendments, which are rather substantial, are to give effect to the undertaking given by my right hon. Friend during the course of those debates. The object of them is to limit the circumstances in which a manager may continue to employ persons below ground when only one shaft or outlet is available, at the same time safeguarding the position of workmen who claim damages in consequence of an action directly resulting therefrom.

    The way in which it has been done, particularly in the second Amendment, is that where there is only one shaft or outlet available the manager can only continue to employ any workman who is already below ground until the end of his period of work. Hon. Members will appreciate that that covers the expression "shift," but the word "shift" is not appropriate in all cases. The "period of work," which is the greater including the lesser, is the term we use to clarify the position.

    At the same time, the manager may have a period of up to 24 hours to employ below ground any person whose work is necessary to secure the safety of the men and the welfare of animals. I think that it will be agreed that that is an essential need. Persons employed in the safety of the mine are those normally called safety men. In addition, he can employ any person who is carrying out repairs necessitated by the accident.

    Finally, I think I should call the attention of the House to the last of this series of Amendments. The first Amendment to line 30 is designed to meet the Amendment put down in the name of the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts) about damages. The way in which we have done this is to shift the onus of proof on to the defence. That is a matter upon which the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams), whose absence from the House we all very greatly regret, was particularly interested and this Amendment—I think he would not mind me saying this—is in accord with the lines on which he himself was thinking. I hope he will be pleased to be informed that the House has adopted a suggestion which, in many ways, was made originally by him.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 15, line 30, leave out subsection (2), and insert:

    (2) Where the employment of persons in an area consisting of the whole or any part of a mine below ground would, apart from the following provisions of this subsection be, by virtue of the foregoing subsection, unlawful in consequence of a shaft or outlet having, in consequence of an accident or breakdown, become unavailable for affording to persons employed in that area ready means of ingress and egress, but the manager of the mine is satisfied with respect to that area or any part thereof that persons employed in that area or, as the case may be, that part thereof, will not for the time being be exposed to undue risk by reason of that shaft or outlet being unavailable as aforesaid, then if he—
  • (a) posts in a conspicuous position at the mine a notice specifying the accident or breakdown and the said area and stating that he is satisfied as aforesaid with respect to that area or, as the case may be, that part thereof and the reason why he is so satisfied: and
  • (b) sends, by the quickest means available, to the inspector for the district and the person, if any, for the time being nominated under the provisions of this Act relating to the notification of accidents to receive on behalf of the persons employed at the mine notices under the said provisions, a message to the like effect as the notice mentioned in the foregoing paragraph;
  • there shall be excepted from the operation of the foregoing subsection—
  • (i) the employment in that area or, as the case may be, that part thereof, until the end of his period of work, of any person who was below ground in the mine at the time of the accident or breakdown;
  • (ii) the employment in that area or, as the case may be, that part thereof, until the expiration of the period of twenty-four hours beginning with the time at which the accident or breakdown occurred, of any person in work necessary for securing the satety of the mine or the welfare of animals employed therein or rendering that shaft or outlet again available for the purpose for which it was available immediately before the accident or breakdown:
  • Provided that nothing in paragraph (i) or (ii) of this subsection shall authorise the employment of any person at any time after the receipt by the manager of the mine of notification from an inspector that, in his opinion, that person should be withdrawn from the area or part of the area in question.

    In page 16, line 23, leave out from "that," to first "of," in line 27, and insert:

    "the employment below ground in the mine, in accordance with such conditions as may be prescribed."

    In line 30, at end, insert:

    "shall be excepted from the operation of subsection (1) of this section."

    In line 30, at end, insert:

    (5) In any claim against the owner or manager of a mine for damages, being a claim arising out of an accident caused by a decision of the manager made for the purposes of subsection (2) of this section, the defendant shall, unless he proves that the manager was not negligent in making that decision, be liable in all respects as if the plaintiff had proved that the manager was negligent in making that decision—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 23—(Communications Between Shafts And Outlets In Coal, &C, Mines)

    Amendment made: In page 17, line 31, leave out subsection (3).—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 24—(Limitation On Number Of Persons To Be Employed At Coal, &C, Mines In Places With Single Exits)

    I beg to move, in page 18, line 22, at the end, to insert:

    Provided that no such provision as aforesaid shall be made with respect to a mine by the Minister or an inspector unless the Minister or the inspector, as the case may be, is satisfied that no persons employed in the mine will be exposed to undue risk in consequence of the making of such provision.
    This Amendment is a little more than consequential. It gives effect to an undertaking given by my right hon. Friend in Committee and concerns relaxations of the general safety regulations which provide that there should be at least two independent ways of escape from a part of the mine in which more than nine persons are employed. When that is done it is laid down that a relaxation should not be authorised unless the single means of escape does not result in the persons being exposed to undue risk.

    The question of undue risk is one about which the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) was particularly anxious, and I hope we have met his point. There is also an Amendment down in his name dealing with "inconvenience," and if he formally moves it we shall be happy to accept it.

    I beg to move as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, after "risk," to insert "or inconvenience."

    As the Parliamentary Secretary has told us, this Amendment deals with a mine where there is only one road out and where a miner takes a risk greater than the normal risk of his employment lt is generally recognised that if there is only one way out there is sure to be some upset in ventilation. We wish to put in the word "inconvenience," so that, in circumstances like that, we shall not have men working in very high humidity. For that reason we put down this Amendment, and I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for accepting it.

    Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.

    Proposed words, as amended, there inserted in the Bill.

    Clause 27—(Provision Of Winding And Haulage Apparatus)

    Amendment made: In page 19, line 26, leave out first "or," and insert "and."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 29—(Securing Of Shafts And Staple-Pits)

    6.0 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 20, line 23, to leave out "proceedings taken in respect of," and to insert "prosecution for."

    This Amendment, together with the Amendments in page 23, line 6, in Clause 33, and page 26, line 35, in Clause 35, are all in implementation of an undertaking given by my right hon. and learned Friend in Committee, and the object is to remove any possible doubt that the proceedings referred to in these Clauses are criminal proceedings. Therefore, the word "prosecution" is being inserted instead of the words "proceedings taken in respect of." I think the substitution will remove all possible doubt.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 32—(General Provisions With Respect To Construction And Maintenance Of Roads)

    I beg to move, in page 22, line 1, after "as," to insert "either—(i)."

    I think it would be helpful if we were able to refer also to the Amendment to page 22, line 3, after "inadvisable," to insert "for reasons of safety," and to the next Amendment, also in line 3, to insert the new paragraph (ii).

    This Clause contains general provisions with respect to the construction and maintenance of roads, and, as it now stands, it requires that—
    "every such length of road made after the commencement of this Act shall be so made and maintained as to avoid sudden changes of direction, height, width and gradient"
    as far as is possible. There are some cases in which this action may be inadvisable, although not impracticable, and those hon. Members who sat in the Committee will recall that we had a great deal of discussion about this matter. My right hon. Friend undertook to look at the point again in order to try to find some way of defining the situation as between what was impracticable and what was inadvisable.

    The new series of Amendments, the first of which I am now moving, is in implementation of his suggestion that the phraseology should indicate that it can be done so long as safety is not prejudiced, and that is what I think we have achieved, because these Amendments provide that the requirement need not be complied with if it is inadvisable for reasons of safety or if it is unnecessary so to do. When they are read into the Clause, they make the matter quite clear.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 22, line 3, after "inadvisable." insert "for reasons of safety."

    In line 3 at end, insert

    "or
    (ii) it is unnecessary to do so."

    In line 5 leave out

    "so far as is reasonably practicable."

    In line 7 leave out

    "so far as is reasonably practicable."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 22, to leave out lines 23 to 33, and to insert:

    "The provisions of Part XV of this Act with respect to references upon notices served by inspectors shall apply to a notice served under this subsection."
    This is one of a series of Amendments consequential on the acceptance of the new Clause dealt with yesterday—(Provisions as to references upon notices served by inspectors.)

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 33—(Prohibition Of Use Of Vehicles And Conveyors In Roads Not Affording Free Movement)

    I beg to move, in page 22, line 43, to leave out the second "or."

    This is the first of a different series of Amendments, and it would be convenient if we could, at the same time, consider the Amendments in page 22, line 45; page 23, line 3, and page 23, line 5.

    The effect of these Amendments is to implement an undertaking which I gave to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Neal), with whom I had a slight difference of opinion in Committee stage upon a technicality concerning mining implements. The object of these Amendments is to prohibit the rubbing or vehicles or haulage ropes against such things as electric cables which are attached to the roof or sides of transport roads, but at the same time not to prevent the operation of anything on which the ropes are intended to run, such as pulleys or guide ropes. I think that the hon. Member for Bolsover and myself now understand one another, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be in agreement with these Amendments.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 22, line 45, at the end, insert:

    "or anything in the road not provided for the purpose of controlling the vehicles or (in the case of vehicles which run as part of rope haulage apparatus) the ropes to which they are attached."

    In page 23, line 3, leave out second "or."

    In line 5, at end, insert "or anything in the road."

    In line 6, leave out "proceedings taken in respect of," and insert "prosecution for."

    In line 20, leave out from "road," to "and," in line 23, and insert:

    "which it was impracticable to prevent"—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 34—(T Ra Ns Port Rules)

    I beg to move, in page 23, line 38, to leave out from "the," to "the," in line 39, and to insert:

    "avoidance of bodily injury being caused to person, by reason of."
    This Amendment is moved in response to a request made to my right hon. Friend during the Committee stage, when my right hon. Friend gave an assurance that he would try to find a form of words which generalised what was in the Bill before, in regard to the safety of persons carried in or on vehicles and employed in connection with the transport system.

    We have provided that the transport rules are concerned with the safety of any person who might suffer injury through the running of a vehicle. We think that that generalises the matter and widens the scope of the cover which was given. We believe it does so to the satisfaction of those hon. Members who asked that the matter should be dealt with.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 24, line 35, after "road." insert "in the mine."

    In page 25, line 2, leave out "in the mine." and insert "therein."

    In line 6, leave out from "as," to "that," in line 7, and insert "are appropriate for securing."

    In line 14, leave out from the first "to," to "that," and insert "secure."

    In line 26, leave out from notice to "stating," in line 28.

    In line 36, at end, insert:

    "The provisions of Part XV of this Act with respect to references upon notices served by inspectors shall apply to a notice served under this subsection."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 35—(Provisions For Securing Safety Of Foot-Passengers In Roads)

    I beg to move, in page 26, line 6, after the second "mine." to insert "or."

    This Amendment goes together with the next two on the paper, in lines 8 and 10. They implement an undertaking which I gave in Committee to enable workmen's inspectors to travel on a road while gravity or mechanically propelled vehicles are in motion on that road.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 26, line 8, leave out "or a person."

    In line 10, at end, insert:

    "or engaged in carrying out, by virtue of the provisions of this Act relating to workmen's inspections or of any such agreement as is therein mentioned, an inspection at the mine."

    In line 35, leave out "proceedings taken," and insert "prosecution instituted."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 36—(Safety Measures Relating To Use Of Vehicles)

    Amendment made: In page 27, line 5, leave out "so far as is reasonably practicable."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 27, line 8, to leave out from "prevent" to "and," in line 10, and to insert:

    "the occurrence of accidents due to vehicle, so used running away."
    This Amendment is identical with the Amendment in page 62, line 38. The effect of them is to provide for the maintenance and use of safety devices to prevent vehicles from running away, and to define, rather better than in the Bill, the way in which it should be done. The safety device which is normally in use does not, strictly speaking, prevent a runaway but brings the runaway to rest in the quickest possible time. The Amendments describe the purposes of the safety devices rather better than they are described at present in the Bill. The second Amendment is exactly the same, only it applies to quarries.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 27, line 11, leave out "so far as practicable."

    In line 21, leave out "reasonably practicable," and insert "necessary."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks]

    6.15 p.m.

    Clause 40—Signalling In Shafts And Outlets)

    I beg to move, in page 28, line 40, to leave out "seventy-five." and to insert "fifty."

    This Amendment, and the next five Amendments on the Paper, give effect to undertakings which I gave in Committee for improving the provisions dealing with signalling. The first Amendment reduces the distance, I think to the satisfaction of hon. Members opposite. The second Amendment provides that the signal shall be both audible and visible. The last Amendment of this series provides that the signal shall be in relation to a prescribed code, that is, worked out on an organised system.

    I understand, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Gentleman is speaking on a further five Amendments, so perhaps I may range over the five rather than rising another five times to catch your eye.

    I am glad that my hon. Friends have induced the right hon. Gentleman to reduce the size of the shaft from 75 feet to 50 feet. Where there is a double-decker cage with openings on both sides we are still liable to have accidents, from the very existence of the double-decker cage itself, without taking into account such things as depth. One has known of two or three serious accidents on that point. I apprehend that we need signalling in any case.

    I recall the Chief Constable of Oldham once reporting an accident in a mine, caused in a very short shaft. Seven people were killed. The person in charge of the winding apparatus was aged eight years. He was frightened by a rat and let go of the lever. That was many years ago, before nationalisation, but it was under a previous Tory Government.

    I would ask a question on the drafting of these Amendments. What is the virtue of a double negative? Why have we to say something in the most obscure possible way? What is the point of saying
    "for requiring that the prescribed signals shall not be transmitted … otherwise than in the prescribed code,"
    instead of saying
    "for requiring that the prescribed signals shall be transmitted in the prescribed code"?
    Why do we have to stick in the negative and try to produce the same result more obscurely?

    Replying in the presence of so many hon. Members who were in the Committee, I must say that we have previously come up against a number of drafting difficulties. Many of us struggle manfully to do a job, but we have to recognise from time to time, when the more Christian sides of our nature come uppermost, that we are sometimes rather querulous about the need for these drafting devices. We realise, however, that we laymen depend very much upon the expert knowledge of the draftsman to assist us in putting our intentions into the words of an Act of Parliament.

    I should not be prepared at the moment to take up a position different from that of the hon. Gentleman, nor am I sufficiently advised definitely to agree with him, but I can give the assurance that I will examine the matter between now and when the Bill goes to another place to see whether simpler and better words can be used to produce the intention about which we are all agreed.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 28, line 41, after "transmitting," insert "audible and visible."

    In page 29, line 5, leave out "seventy-five," and insert "fifty."

    In line 6, after "transmitting," insert "audible and visible."

    In line 13, at end, insert:

    () Provision may be made by regulations—
  • (a) for requiring that the prescribed signals shall not be transmitted by means provided in pursuance of, or of regulations having effect by virtue of, the foregoing subsection otherwise than in the prescribed code;
  • (b) for requiring the manager of a mine to secure the attendance thereat, at such times as may be prescribed, of persons for the purpose of transmitting signals by those means and receiving signals transmitted thereby.—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]
  • Clause 43—(Duty To Secure Safety Of Roads And Working Places)

    I beg to move, in page 30, line 20, to leave out subsection (2), and to insert:

    (2) It shall be the duty of the manager of every mine to take such steps as may be necessary for securing that he is at all material times in possession of all information relevant for determining the nature and extent of any steps which it is requisite for him to take in order to discharge efficiently the duty imposed on him by the foregoing subsection.
    This Clause imposes the duty to secure the safety of roads and working places. Subsection (2) provided a defence in legal proceedings for any alleged breach of subsection (1), but that defence is no longer required owing to the alteration which has been made in the new Clause which was introduced during the Committee stage, and which is now Clause 149. Therefore, that defence can come out of the Bill, and to that extent this Amendment is consequential.

    I wanted to refer to it particularly because we have also changed round—and I think the House will approve—what was, in effect, an alternative form of defence, or part of the defence, and have made it into a duty imposed upon the manager to obtain all the relevant information in determining what needs to be done to keep the roads and working places secure. That means, in effect, that he has to know and apply the scientific principles of roof control.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 44—(Systematic Support In Coal, Shale And Fireclay Mines)

    Amendments made: In page 31, line 13, leave out from "notice," to "specifying," in line 14.

    In line 20, at end, insert:

    "The provisions of Part XV of this Act with respect to references upon notices served by inspectors shall apply to a notice served under this subsection."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 31, line 44, after which," to insert:

    "he has reason to believe."
    This Amendment is moved in response to an undertaking given by my right hon. Friend to try to meet this problem, which is the right of the workman to judge for himself whether he should set a support or should take some action of that sort himself, or whether he should rely upon the deputy to tell him whether or not a support should be set. We had a considerable discussion about this in Committee, but were unable entirely to agree as to what was the right thing to do.

    The upshot of the argument was that a man should have the right to set a support and should be justified in so doing if he has reason to believe that it is necessary. That is what this Amendment does. It gives effect to the promise given by my right hon. Friend by not referring to the supports which are necessary, because that would raise issues as to who was to decide whether they were necessary or not, but by referring to the supports which the workman himself has reason to believe should be set up.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 46—(Supply Of Materials For Support)

    Amendment made: in page 32, line 16, leave out from "mine," to "to," in line 17.—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 32, line 18, after "of," to insert "suitable."

    This Amendment gives effect to something which we all desire. It makes sure that the workman shall be provided with the right size of props and material for support.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 47—(Withdrawal Of Support)

    Amendments made: In page 33, line after "by," insert or by virtue of."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 49—(Provisions As To Support Rules)

    Amendments made: In page 33, line 30, leave out from "notice." to "specifying," in line 32.

    In line 39, at end, insert:

    "The provisions of Part XV of this Act with respect to references upon notices served by inspectors shall apply to a notice served under this subsection."

    In line 41, leave out "regulations." and insert "regulation."

    In page 34, line 1, leave out first "the," and insert "a."[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 34, line 7, after "be," to insert "kept."

    This is rather more than a drafting Amendment. Under the Bill as it stands, it is necessary to post a copy of the support rules, but, by inserting the word "kept," we have sought to emphasise that it is not only necessary to post them, but to keep them in a condition in which they can properly be read. That means that if they get damaged by dampness or from any other cause, another copy must be posted.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 34, line 9, at the end, to insert:

    "and a copy of the rules shall be supplied to every workman in the district seven clear days before they come into operation."
    Amid the mass of Amendments to which we have given approval during the last half-hour, it would not be difficult to provoke a long discussion on this Amendment. Clause 49 contains adequate provision for support about which we have very little complaint. It also provides that copies of support rules shall be kept in the office and posted at the pithead, and also that the rules shall be admissible as evidence in court, but there is no provision in the Clause to ensure that the man who has to use the supports to the roof shall receive a copy of these Jules. To familiarise the workman with the support rules with which he has to comply he should be supplied with a copy of them.

    6.30 p.m.

    Roof support is at once easily seen by the working miner as a very important feature of his daily duty. A man may be studying props or bars, or observing timbering rules in some way for years on end. When a change takes place, it is necessary for him to have a copy of the rules in order to know what duties he is expected to perform. If he violates these rules, a copy of which has not been placed in his possession, he is liable to be charged with an offence under the Bill. In those circumstances, we feel that the Minister ought to agree that the workmen should be given a copy seven clear days before the rules come into operation.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    One realises that, with all the timbering rules in the world, risks are taken in the winning of coal. However many notices are posted there is no proof that the workman has read them. This is a very important matter. Those who read the Inspector's Annual Report will appreciate that quite a lot of accidents are still taking place on roadheads and coal faces. I honestly believe that if the timbering rules are supplied in the form of a booklet to the workman himself, he will realise what a responsibility is being placed upon him.

    My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Neal) outlined the timbering position referred to by the Minister. Rules may be posted inside the offices, but it is perfectly true to say that weeks and weeks can go by without the workman going to the office. He goes there only if asked by a colliery official, or to make inquiries. What objection can the Minister have to issuing a small booklet to a workman?

    Some of these workmen are observing a code of timbering which may have been in operation for years but which may now be changed by consultation. It a change comes about, it takes more than a notice to make the workman appreciate its effect on the support rules. To give real strength to the meaning of roof support, it would be better, and in the interests of all concerned, that the workman himself should have the timbering rules so that he may peruse them at his leisure and not depend on seeing a notice—which may be damaged or not readable—in the road of a mine.

    The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Neal) and the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts) already know that we have great sympathy with the views which they have expressed. In case of any misunderstanding, I should like to say one thing. The support rules, of course, are required to be posted not only in the manager's office but at the entrance to every district. They are therefore available for inspection and reading, but we agree with the hon. Gentlemen that that is not sufficient. The workman needs to have a booklet which he can put in his pocket to study at home and to carry about with him.

    The hon. Member for Normanton said that he did not see why there should be any objection to issuing a small booklet. That is very much in the words of the undertaking given by my right hon. Friend when this matter was discussed upstairs. He said then that he would try to find words to make it clear, no doubt by a regulation, that workmen should be given a commonsense, short document containing what the workmen ought to know about the rules in the district. That is still our view. I am afraid that it has not been possible up to now to produce such a document. It would be almost impossible to define such a document in a statutory and legal way, but it can be done perfectly well administratively and by regulation.

    If there is a change in the timbering rules, does the offer still stay good?

    Most essentially. The most dangerous thing in the world would be to have a booklet containing false information, so that if any change were made it would have to be notified.

    In line 7, on page 34, it is stated that a copy of the rules:

    "… shall be posted at the entrance to the district …"
    As there is more than one entrance, would it not be much better to say that a copy of the support rules shall be posted at each entrance of the district?

    I fail to see why the Minister cannot accept this Amendment. This course has been followed in the past at many collieries. When this Bill becomes an Act, the support rules have to be submitted to the inspector for acceptance. When they are accepted, they become the rules of the colliery. That is another reason why the men should have a copy of the rules.

    In the North there is the cavelling system under which the men change their places every three months. It is therefore necessary that copies of the timbering rules should be available, because different rules of timbering apply in different parts of the pit. With regard to the notice to be posted in the entrance to the district, one must remember the dust. It does not take long for a notice to become so dilapidated that one cannot see it.

    I therefore think it essential to impress upon the Minister the need to make it an obligation that a copy of the timbering rules should be given to the men in the district. If a man has a copy of the rules sanctioned by the Minister which he can study at home, he can have no defence if he does not comply with them.

    I want to make it quite clear that it is my intention in another place to propose words that will mean that every man in a particular district will receive the timbering rules, or a proper abstract of the timbering rules. of that district. I must apologise to the House if the present wording does not seem to meet the case. As I think the Members of the Committee know, the draftsmen have been working very hard to give effect to all the undertakings which we gave in Committee. This is one case where we just have not succeeded in getting the right words at the moment, but we will put them in, because we realise the importance of the point.

    If the Parliamentary Secretary had been as explicit as the Minister, we should have had no need to continue the discussion. In view of the assurance given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 50—(Duty To Provide Adequate Ventilation)

    I beg to move, in page 34, line 23, to leave out subsection (2), and to insert:

    (2) Without prejudice to the general application of the foregoing subsection—
  • (a) ventilation produced in a part of a mine shall be deemed for the purposes of that subsection not to be adequate for the purpose of diluting carbon dioxide so as to render it harmless unless the amount thereof in the general body of the air in that part of the mine is not more than one and a quarter per cent. by volume:
  • (b) ventilation produced in a part of a mine shall be deemed for the purposes of that subsection not to be adequate for the purpose of providing air containing a sufficiency of oxygen unless the amount of oxygen in the general body of the air in that part of the mine is not les,; than nineteen per cent. by volume: and regulations may provide that, without prejudice to the general application of that subsection, ventilation produced in a part of a mine shall be deemed for the purposes of that subsection not to be adequate for the purpose of diluting a prescribed gas (other than carbon dioxide) that is inflammable or noxious so as to render it harmless unless the amount thereof in the general body of the air in that part of the mine is less than the prescribed percentage by volume.
  • This rather voluminous Amendment gives effect to an undertaking given by my right hon. Friend to include in the Bill specific percentages of oxygen and carbon dioxide. It is to a great extent in conformity with the 1911 Act. I doubt whether the Committee would wish to go through it in detail, but the amended subsection will enable rules to be made prescribing concentrations of either inflammable or noxious gases other than carbon dioxide.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 34. line 41, leave out:

    "so far as is reasonably practicable."—[Mr Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 35, line 1, to leave out subsection (4).

    If it is agreeable to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the Committee, perhaps I might mention also the Amendment in page 35, line 34, to insert a new subsection.

    This Amendment seeks to do with ventilation what we did just now in regard to another matter on an earlier Clause. The defence provided by the subsection is no longer necessary as a result of the introduction of Clause 149, and therefore it has been deleted. At the same time, the secondary element in the defence has been converted into a duty imposed on the manager, so that the effect is now that in the event of any failure of the ventilation, the manager has a duty to see that no unauthorised person enters the affected part of a mine, except to restore the ventilation. I think those words and intentions are in accordance with the wishes of the Committee.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made. In page 35, line 28, leave out paragraphs ( b) and ( c), and insert:

    (b) in any waste.

    In line 34, at end, insert:

    () Where, in any part of a mine required by the foregoing provisions of this secction to be ventilated, the ventilation is interrupted or ceases to be adequate for the purposes mentioned in subsection (1) of this section, it shall be the duty of the manager of the mine to secure that, until the ventilation is restored, access to that part of the mine is so restricted as to prevent from entering it any person not authorised to do so and no person is permitted to remain in or pass through it except for the purpose of restoring the ventilation or in a case of emergency.—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 51—(Power Of Inspector To Require Improvement Of Ventila Tion)

    I beg to move, in page 35, line 35, to leave out Clause 51.

    We have already inserted a new Clause which gives inspectors improved and more general powers for the improvement of ventilation.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 52—(Provisions As To Means Of Ventilation)

    Amendments made: In page 36, line 35, after "by," insert "section fifty of."

    In line 37, leave out "section fifty of this Act," and insert "that section."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 37, line 23, at the end, to insert:

    Provided that no exemption shall be granted by regulations made by virtue of this subsection unless the Minister is satisfied that no persons employed in mines of the class to which the regulations apply will be exposed to undue risk in consequence of the granting of the exemption, and no exemption shall be granted under this subsection by an inspector in the case of any mine unless he is satisfied that no persons employed in that mine will be exposed to undue risk in consequence of the granting of the exemption.
    This provision deals with ventilation, and this Amendment is in response to an undertaking which my right hon. Friend gave in Committee to ensure that exemptions, whether by regulation or notice by an inspector, shall only he granted when the Minister or the inspector is satisfied that no undue risk will result. I think this Amendment achieves that object and meets the point.

    Amendment agreed to

    6.45 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 37, line 25, at the end, to insert:

    "or, except with the consent of an inspector, to release in a mine compressed air for the purpose thereby of diluting or removing inflammable or noxious gas."
    This Amendment gives effect to an undertaking that I gave in Committee on a point which was raised by the hon. Members for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) and for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) that we should not allow the use of compressed air for improving bad ventilation.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 53—(Prevention Of Leakage Of Air Between Airways)

    I beg to move, in page 37, line 38, to leave out "nine hundred," and to insert "four hundred and fifty."

    It may be necessary to preface my remarks by saying that this is an official Opposition Amendment and that my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) and I are not responsible for any remarks to the contrary that may be made in the subsequent debate which may follow.

    During the Committee stage a very long discussion took place on this feature of this Clause. The Minister will recall that we tried to extract from him a compromise with regard to the distance from the coalface where leakages of air should be permitted between the intake and the return. Our Amendment is a repetition of those efforts.

    The leakage of air between the intake airway and the return is, in some circumstances, inevitable. Years ago people used to talk about uncontrolled leakage, but nowadays, of course, a new factor has entered into the matter of leakage between the intake and the return, and that is controlled leakage. Pipes are passed between the intake and the return for the very good purpose of extracting methane, and we have no intention of deterring managements from undertaking those operations.

    We do think, however, that to permit managements to allow uncontrolled leakage taking place 900 feet from the coalface is too great a distance in the interests of safety. We should be much happier if the Minister would accept the compromise which we propose in our Amendment of 450 feet as the maximum distance.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    We had a lengthy discussion in Committee on this question of 300 yards. This figure is expressed in feet in the Clause, but we prefer to express it in yards. We suggest that the distance should be 150 yards from the coalface. We have tried to compromise with the Minister and his expert advisers; and, for the life of me, I cannot understand why we should allow a distance greater than 100 yards from the coalface. It appears that the expert technical advisers think it would be better if the distance were 300 yards.

    As practical miners, we on these benches are aware that when mine workings advance rapidly, as they do in these days, fissures appear in the roof and, as a result, there occur leakages which, with the best will in the world, cannot be controlled completely. But to allow a mine manager to escape his responsibility of concentrating the ventilation upon the coalface to the extent of 300 yards is too much. There ought to be more vigilance in maintaining proper ventilation in that part of the main intake.

    If a healthy atmosphere is to be maintained at the point where the men have to work, leakages must be prevented right the way through, from the bottom to the downcast shaft to the coalface. Every cubic foot of air that is allowed to escape, short-circuit itself and go back to the upcast shaft is detrimental to the health of the workers at the coalface. My personal opinion is that the best distance is 100 yards, but, in order to ensure some improvement in the ventilation of our mines, we are prepared to accept a distance of 150 yards. One of the reasons dominating our minds is that many of our seams are a tremendous distance inbye. The further one goes inbye the warmer it becomes and the more difficult it is to convey ventilation to the point required. As we are now engaged on greater takes we are anxious that proper ventilation shall be maintained for the men at the coalface. We hope that the Minister and his Department will see the wisdom of the Amendment and accept it.

    Not only are we going inbye to the extent of 2½, 3 and 4 miles, but in some pits the temperatures are now reaching 110 degrees. I live near the deepest mine in the country. It is 1,000 yards deep to begin with, and it is very hot at the pit bottom. I know that we have not yet reached the stage of refrigerating our ventilation, but it will have to come eventually. This pit, which is 1,000 yards deep, is now three miles inbye, and the gravitation is to the south. When the men reached the coalface after walking for three miles inbye they have to work in a temperature between 100 and 110 degrees in the shade.

    These men cannot work for more than 5 hours out of the 7½ owing to the excessive heat. Working in the mines ever) working day they are losing from 7½ lb. to 11 lb. in weight. This is an added reason why the Amendment should be accepted. The cooler the ventilation at the point where the men work the better it is for them. I emphasise the importance of the Amendment once again, and I hope that the Minister will accept it, so that we can ensure that the ventilation system at the point where the men work is adequate.

    I could say quite a lot on this subject, which has been discussed at great length, but I think the most acceptable and most eloquent remark that I can make is that I am very glad to accept the Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Amendment proposed: In page 37, line 39, to leave out from the word "in." to the end of line 40, and insert:

    "a straight line on any plane, or such other distance, so measured (whether greater or less than nine hundred feet) as an inspector may fix in any particular case."—[Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd.]

    Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and negatived.

    Question proposed. "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

    Proposed words amended, by leaving out "nine hundred," and inserting "four hundred and fifty" instead thereof—[ Mr. Neal]—and, as amended, there inserted in the Rill.

    Clause 54—(Barometers)

    I beg to move, in page 38, line 1, to leave out:

    "There shall be provided and maintained."
    I think it would be convenient to discuss this and the following three Amendments together, because they give effect to a series of undertakings that I gave during the Committee stage. First, we wish to provide that barometers shall be placed in conspicuous places where the men are used to seeing them and where they have been provided hitherto under the terms of the 1911 Act. We also seek power to prescribe for the provision of thermometers and hygrometers in appropriate circumstances.

    Besides wanting to continue the provision of barometers in places where the men are used to seeing them, we want to make progress and to provide for rather more advanced scientific instruments, not necessarily placed in the old positions, but in positions where they will be most effective. For example, the new instrument for measuring humidity will not necessarily be placed only at the bottom of the upcast, as it was in the past. It will also be placed in the damp working places. This series of Amendments provides satisfactorily for these new arrangements.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 38, line 4, after "present," insert:

    "there shall be provided in a conspicuous place and in such a position as to be easily read by the persons employed at the mine."

    In line 5, at end, insert:

    (2) Provision may be made by regulations for requiring—
  • (a) the provision at any such mine as aforesaid of a barometer of a prescribed kind in addition to that required by the foregoing subsection to be provided thereat;
  • (b) the provision at the prescribed places in mines of the prescribed instruments for measuring the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere.
  • In line 6, leave out from beginning, to "shall," in line 7. and insert:

    "Every instrument provided at a mine in pursuance of, or of regulations having effect by virtue of, the foregoing provisions of this section shall be properly maintained, and regulations may require that any such instrument.—[Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd.]

    Clause 55—(Lighting)

    7.0 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 38, line 13, to leave out from "provision," to the end of line 21. and to insert:

    "of
    (i) suitable and sufficient lighting (whether natural or artificial) in every part of the mine above ground in or through which persons work or pass;
    (ii) suitable and sufficient artificial lighting in every part of the mine below ground in or through which persons work or pass, other than a part in which the installation of artificial lighting is inadvisable for reasons of safety or is unnecessary because of the amount of light emitted by lamps normally carried by persons who work in or pass through it or for any other reason."
    I move the Amendment in accordance with a promise made by my right hon. Friend in Committee to try to find some way of introducing the words "suitable and sufficient" with reference to lighting. We had a good deal of discussion about the degree and method of lighting, particularly below ground. It was agreed that it was not necessary, even though it might be practicable, to light places where the miners were not necessarily working but might be passing to and fro and which were sufficiently lit already by miners' lamps. We have, by this Amendment, introduced the phrase we were particularly asked to introduce, "suitable and sufficient," and I think the House will consider that by the redrafting we now have this provision in a more agreeable and a simpler fashion.

    I want to express my appreciation, and that of my hon. Friends, of the Minister's response in this matter. There is reliable evidence that has been revealed to us in the last few years that improved lights underground has reduced the number of cases of nystagmus. I hope that when the Minister makes regulations he will see to it that every conceivable thing is done to make it possible for the best lighting that can be procured to be installed. We appreciate that there is a desire on the Minister's part to improve lighting.

    I would add another word of thanks for the Amendment. Improved lighting does reduce the incidence of nystagmus and generally contributes to the prevention of all accidents, and it also helps to increase production, and, of course, contributes to the general welfare and happiness in the pits. One of the first things the National Coal Board did when it was set up was to make large-scale experiments with fluorescent lighting.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In page 38, line 23, after "lighting," insert "thereat."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 56—(Permitted Lights)

    Amendments made: In page 39. leave out lines 24 and 25.

    In line 30, at end, insert:

    "and the provisions of Part XV of this Act with respect to references upon notices served by inspectors shall apply to any such notice."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 39, line 36, at the end, to insert:

    Provided that no exemption from the said provisions of a part of a mine of coal shall be granted after the expiration of the period of four years beginning with the commencement of this Act or shall be granted or renewed before the expiration of that period otherwise than so as to expire not later than the expiration of that period.
    This is a very important Amendment and also one which I think the Committee will welcome. It is to ensure that after four years from the beginning of the operation of the Bill there should be no mixed light mines left.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 60—(Prohibition Of Possession Of Smoking Materials In Certain Mines And Parts Of Mines)

    Amendment made: In page 41, line 6, leave out "not practicable," and insert "impracticable."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 41, line 25, at the end, to insert:

    A notice conspicuously displayed and setting out clearly the general intention of this section of the Act shall be posted and properly maintained at all parts of the pit used as means of access to the place where the search is made.
    This is an important issue regarding contraband. We want to make sure it is not taken into the pits. From time to time fatalities occur because some such forbidden article has been used in the mine. It is not good enough to allow a workman to take something down the mine, search him at the bottom, and then penalise him. I have always been a believer in prevention. We all believe that prevention is better than cure. Therefore, we suggest that there should be conspicuous notices warning the men beforehand, and we also suggest that they should be illuminated where necessary.

    While the Minister has good intentions in the matter, we are of opinion that the Clause can be strengthened by such a provision as is suggested in the Amendment. I think it is better that people should be warned beforehand rather than merely punished afterwards, especially if they have not been warned. I should like to see at all pitheads glaring notices telling the men to search their pockets to remove all contraband and warning them of the consequences of taking contraband down. I hope the Minister will accept the Amendment.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    We are not asking the National Coal Board or the Ministry to incur any further expense. The Amendment would insure that men about to descend the shaft would be warned by notices that they will be examined for contraband. One of the striking features of present-day mining is this. We used to walk a short distance to the pit bank, but now we have considerable distances to walk from the lamp room to the pit bank, and there is often a verandah from the pit baths to the pithead. This increases the likelihood of men carrying contraband about with them forgetting that they have it. I am sure that both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary understand that we move the Amendment with the desire to ensure that no contraband shall be taken underground simply for the want of notification to the men.

    I entirely agree with the purpose behind the Amendment but, as is so often the case when hon. Members have not the advantage of the official draftsmen, I am advised that these words are not the best words for achieving that purpose. I will undertake to introduce words to give effect to the intention, which is to have a big notice in the best possible place bearing the kind of slogan which the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. A. Roberts) mentioned— "Search your pockets. No smoking beyond this point."

    I am advised that the words in the Amendment are not the right words for an Act of Parliament, but I can find the right words and will undertake to insert them into the Bill in another place.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 62—(Electricity And Electrical Apparatus)

    I beg to move, in page 43, to leave out lines 1 to 7, and to insert:

    ",shall make provision for requiring that, where the amount of inflammable gas in the general body of the air in a part of a mine below ground exceeds such percentage by volume (which shall not exceed one and a quarter) as may be prescribed, the supply of electricity to all apparatus in that part of the mine (other than such apparatus as may be prescribed, being apparatus as to which the Minister is satisfied that the continued use thereof will not involve undue risk), shall be cut off, and may make provision for requiring the cutting off, in such circumstances, other than as aforesaid, as may be prescribed, of the supply of electricity to apparatus below ground in a mine."
    This Amendment implements an undertaking given by my right hon. Friend in Committee to provide in the Bill itself that the regulations shall not fix a higher figure than 1¼ per cent. as the percentage of inflammable gas in the general body of the air. The regulations will say that if such a percentage is exceeded, the electricity must automatically be cut off. This Amendment gives effect to that undertaking.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in page 43, line 8, to leave out "or a part of a mine."

    This Amendment and the four following Amendments are all of a drafting character, but they clarify the Clause and also emphasise the fact that the inspector's powers for the prohibition and restriction of the use of electricity in these circumstances are in relation to its use underground. Substantially, they are drafting Amendments.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 43, line 8, leave out "or part of a mine."

    In line 9, leave out "in that mine or part," and insert:

    "below ground therein or in any part thereat below ground."

    In line 12, leave out from "opinion." to "and," in line 13.

    In line 15, after "electricity," insert "below ground."

    In line 15, after "or," insert "in."

    In line 17, leave out from beginning, to "shall," in line 18, and insert:

    "The provisions of Part XV of this Act with respect to references upon notices served by Inspectors shall apply to a notice served under this subsection and any such notice."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 65—(Fire-Fighting And Rescue Operations)

    7.15 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 45, line 38, at the end, to insert:

    "and, in particular, the provision at mines of adequate supplies of water for use in case of fire."
    We are now dealing with fire-fighting and rescue operations. It was pointed out in Committee that, amongst all the appliances which had to be provided, there was no reference to water itself. It was felt desirable that there should be some such reference, and we have accordingly introduced the Amendment to make provision for adequate supplies of water.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 67—(Dust Precautions)

    Amendments made: In page 46, line 19, leave out from "mine." to "the," in line 20.

    In line 23. at end, insert "is minimised."

    Amendment proposed: In page 46, line 30, leave out paragraph ( a), and insert:

    (a) that the entry of the dust into the air or its accumulation in any place in circumstances in which its accumulation in that place might be dangerous or harmful is minimised by means of steps in that behalf taken as near as possible to the point of origin of the dust—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    This is a very important Amendment which concerns two diseases in the mining industry, silicosis and pneumoconiosis. I want to thank the Minister for having re-drafted the Clause so that it is much better than when it was originally inserted in the Bill. The Clause now lays down provisions for suppression and is much better than its original form, about which we argued in Committee. I think it is right that we should thank the Minister for the Clause.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 46, line 36, leave out so far as is reasonably practicable."

    In line 42, leave out "so far as is reasonably practicable."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 47, line 4, at the end, to insert:

    (3) Regulations may impose upon managers of mines such requirements with respect to the use thereat of prescribed apparatus and the taking thereat of prescribed steps as it may appear to the Minister requisite or expedient to impose for the purpose of attaining any of the objects mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this section; and regulations having effect by virtue of this subsection may provide either that compliance therewith by the manager of a mine is to be taken, either without qualification or to a prescribed extent, as compliance with all or any of the requirements of the said provisions or that compliance with the regulations by the manager of a mine is not necessarily to be taken as compliance with any of the said requirements
    We are now dealing with dust precautions, as the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) said—and we greatly appreciate what he said. It was impressed upon us that we should introduce words to define the means which should be used for suppressing dust, and proposals were made for quoting specific methods, such as water infusion. My right hon. Friend promised to consider the matter.

    We have considered it very carefully indeed, and our conclusion is that the state of dust suppression and our general knowledge about dust and the methods of suppressing it are so much in the development stage and are passing so swiftly from one phase to another, as knowledge and experience increase, that it would not be desirable to put into the Bill specific methods, which would be of an immutable character. That would necessarily slow down the pace of development, experience and research, because it would be said that those were the methods laid down for use by an Act of Parliament.

    We have therefore adopted the proposal contained in the Amendment whereby they shall be prescribed in regulations. The regulations are not of such an immutable character as the Bill; they can be changed from time to time to keep Pace with the research, knowledge and development which goes on in the industry. We hope and believe that the provision contained in the Amendment will meet the criticism which was raised in Committee and will be agreeable to the House.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 68—-(Duty Of Mine Owners And Managers To Seek Evidence Of Proximity Of Disused Workings, Water-Bearing Strata, &C)

    Amendments made: In page 47, line 6, leave out from beginning, to "such," in line 8, and insert:

    "In the case of every mine, the owner thereof and the manager thereof shall each he charged with the duty—
    (a) of taking."

    In line 9, leave out from "information," to "which," in line 11.

    In line 22, leave out from beginning, to "for," and insert:

    "of taking such steps as may be necessary."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 47, line 27, to leave out from beginning, to "forthwith." and insert:

    "In the case of every mine, the owner thereof and the manager thereof shall each he charged with the duty."
    This Amendment and the next four Amendments go with one another, and perhaps we might consider them together. These, again, are in response to an undertaking which I gave in Committee, namely, that there should be a reciprocal obligation upon the owner and the manager to exchange information which either of them might obtain which might lead to knowledge of water hazards in a mine.

    In the original Bill the obligation was on the owner to inform the manager, and this Amendment makes it reciprocal, so that the manager must also inform the owner, in case the owner may be able to take advantage of the knowledge in another mine.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In line 36, leave out from beginning, to "particulars," and insert:

    "of furnishing to the other."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 69—(Duty Of Mine Owners And Managers To Ascertain Thickness Of Strata Between Workings And Surface Water)

    Amendments made: In page 48, line 1, leave out from beginning, to "forthwith." and insert:

    "In the case of every mine, the owner thereof and the manager thereof shall each he charged with the duty."

    In line 3, leave out "to furnish," and insert:

    "of furnishing to the other."

    In line 4, leave out:

    "to the manager of the mine."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 70—(General Duty To Take Precautions Against Inrushes Of Gas, Water Etc)

    I beg to move, in page 48, line 12, to leave out subsection (2).

    This and the next two Amendments are consequential upon the introduction of the new Clause 149.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 71—(Powers Of Inspector With Respect To Danger From Inrushes Of Gas, Water, Etc)

    Amendments made: In page 48, line 34, leave out "subsection (1) of."

    In page 49, line 17, leave out "subsection (1) of."

    In line 35, leave out subsection (31. and insert:

    (3) The provisions of Part XV of this Act with respect to references upon notices served by inspectors shall apply to a notice served under either of the foregoing subsections, and any such notice shall, if it is so specified therein, become operative forthwith.—[Mr Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 72—(Withdrawal Of Workmen In Cases Of Danger)

    I beg to move, in page 50, line 15, to leave out paragraph (b), and to insert:

    (b) unless he is the manager of the mine, he shall, forthwith after complying with the foregoing paragraph, give, to his immediate superior and the person in charge of any other part of the mine appearing to him to be likely to be affected, notice of the fact that inflammable gas is present at the said place in a concentration deemed as aforesaid to be excessive.
    This is with regard to withdrawal of workmen in the case of danger. The Clause requires that if a person takes a prescribed action in withdrawing persons in a case of danger, he must immediately notify his superior. The object of the Amendment is to redraft the Clause to make the phraseology more clear, and. at the same time, to make it clear that the manager does have to report.

    Amendment agreed to.

    I beg to move, in line 22, to leave out from beginning, to "he," in line 23, and to insert:

    "so soon after complying with paragraph (b) of this subsection (or, in a case where that paragraph does not apply, paragraph (a) of this subsection) as it is possible so to do without undue risk."
    We now come to a series of Amendments which are designed to provide that the examination of the affected area shall not be made too soon, but only as soon as reasonable, having regard to safety considerations. Then follows the Amendment which has the effect that the report shall be made, not at once, but as soon as reasonable, because it is most important that the actual work of safety should be carried on before the report is made.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 51, line 12, leave out "As soon as reasonably practicable after," and insert. "Where."

    In line 15, leave out from "it," to "particulars." in line 17, and insert:

    "shall record in a book to be provided for that purpose by the owner of the mine."

    In line 20, leave out from "of," to "and," in line 22, and insert, "subsection (1) of this section."

    In line 33, leave out from "than," to end of line 36, and insert:

    "two per cent. by volume or, if a greater percentage by volume (not exceeding two and a half) is prescribed, that greater percentage."

    In line 40, leave out from "than," to "or," in line 44, and insert:

    "one and a quarter per cent. by volume, or if a smaller percentage by volume is prescribed, that smaller percentage."—[Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd.]

    I beg to move, in page 51, line 45, to leave out "a gas cap," and to insert "an indication of gas."

    This gives effect to my undertaking to find a substitution for the words "a gas cap," in relation to a discovery of gas.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 73—(Duty Of Workmen To Deal With, Or Report, Danger)

    I beg to move, in page 52, line 12, after "his," to insert "normal."

    This is to make sure that the workman will only be affected in this case in regard to the normal scope of his duties.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 75—(Fencing Of Exposed Parts Of Machinery)

    I beg to move, in page 52, line 42, to leave out subsection (2).

    This Amendment is consequential on Clause 149.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 77—(Air, Gas And Steam Containers)

    I beg to move, in page 53, line 19, to leave out "and maintained," and to insert "maintained and used."

    This Amendment relates to the construction, installation and maintenance of certain apparatus. It was considered desirable to add the words maintained and used."

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In line 20, leave out:

    "so far as is reasonably practicable."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 80—(Safe Means Of Access And Safe Means Of Employment)

    Amendments made: In page 54, line 13, leave out:

    "so far as is reasonably practicable."

    In line 21, have out:

    "so far as is reasonably practicable."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 83—(Penalisation Of Negligent Acts Or Omissions And Unautho Rised Removal, &C, Of Articles)

    7.30 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 55, line 6, to leave out "employed at a mine."

    This Amendment and the next deal with a point which caused doubt in the Committee. The doubt was whether in the Bill as drafted the expression
    "a person employed in a mine"
    included a manager or under-manager. The object of the Amendment is to ensure that a manager or under-manager is included within the provisions of the Clause.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 55, line 7, after "does." insert "at a mine."

    In line 8, leave out "employed."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in line 9, after "do." to insert "at a mine."

    This is consequential on the last Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendment made: In line 11, leave out "so employed," and insert "thereat."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 84—-(First-Aid)

    I beg to move, in page 55, line 18, to leave out Clause 84.

    We adopted yesterday a new Clause which deals with this subject in a more elaborate and improved way. Therefore, we ought now to leave out this Clause.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 85—(Medical Examinations)

    I beg to move, in page 55, line 27, to leave out "or seeking employment."

    Perhaps it would be convenient to take the next two Amendments also in line 29, leave out "either absolutely or."

    In line 38 at end, insert:

    (2) A true copy of the report of such medical examination shall be furnished to the person concerned or to his representative.
    (3) The regulations shall provide that art, person examined pursuant to the foregoing provision of this section shall have the right of appeal against the contents of the medical report and against any prohibition made pursuant thereto.
    (4) Provision may be made by regulations for requiring any persons seeking employment at mines for the first time to submit themselves for medical examination.

    Certainly, Mr. Speaker.

    The Clause gives power for the making of regulations by which those employed in the industry will be medically examined. I do not know in how many other industries regulations of this kind apply, but that is what the Clause provides for miners. Not only that, but having been examined, the miners can be given notice of dismissal as a result of the words "either absolutely or" in the Clause. In any case, if the medical examiner employed by the National Coal Board is of opinion that a miner is fit only for light employment he can certify that he is incapacitated and the miner may be given other suitable employment or he may not.

    Our proposal that the words "either absolutely or," should be deleted, that if there are to be medical examinations there shall be a right of appeal for the workman, that the medical report shall be sent to the workman's representative or medical adviser, and that if there is disagreement the matter can be forthwith referred to an independent authority or medical board selected for the purpose.

    We have to be very careful, on the question of medical examinations. We are very concerned about output. Coal production is going down to some extent through loss of manpower. If there are to be rigid medical examinations of men who have worked in the industry for 20 or 25 years and if from time to time doctors say that a man is not fit, unless there is a right of appeal to an independent tribunal or authority to decide these matters there is likely to be further depletion in manpower, with all its evil consequences to the production of coal. We are justified, therefore, in pressing the Amendment.

    If there is to be medical examination, it should be subject to appeal if the workman's medical adviser or anybody on his behalf feels that there is injustice. We all know that medical men are apt to differ about a man's condition. Is the National Coal Board doctor to be the final arbiter in cases of this kind? We feel that a true copy of the medical examination report should be furnished to the man's personal representative. Surely, a man who has given his life to the industry is entitled to ask that his own doctor should look into the case to ascertain whether the certification by the Coal Board doctor is justified.

    It is true that in South Wales, if not in the industry generally, there are men working in the industry who are suffering from the early stages of pneumoconiosis. After medical examination they are returning to the industry to specified conditions of employment. That is all very well, and perhaps it is necessary to have medical examination in certain circumstances, but we suggest that the workman should have the right of appeal.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    The House is making very good progress and I hope that the Minister will meet us handsomely on this Clause so that the harmony may continue. We are not against the medical examination of new entrants into the pits. The industry is entitled to examine new entrants so that the mines can get the best available labour. We are not against the 12 months' probationary period.

    What we object to in the Clause is that if, say, a man has worked at the pit for 20 years and the pit closes and he goes to another pit for work, within the meaning of the Clause he is seeking employment and could be medically examined. The Coal Board doctor at the second pit may certify that he is not fit for any employment, with the result that he is thrown out of the industry. We are not prepared to accept such a position. We believe that if a man has spent a lifetime in the industry, and he is changed from one colliery to another, he is not leaving his employment but must be regarded as a man who is still within the industry.

    The second point to which I wish to refer is that we cannot give to the National Coal Board doctors the absolute power to determine whether a man shall go to work in a pit or not. We do not question the medical qualifications of those making these examinations, but surely if a man is certified by an N.C.B. doctor as being no longer fit for underground employment and the man thinks he is, he should have a right of appeal to some independent doctor to determine whether or not the N.C.B. doctor is right.

    We ask the Minister, even at this late stage in the Bill's progress, to redraft this Clause so as to protect the man who has worked for years in the industry and give him the right of appeal against an adverse decision by an N.C.B. doctor. We urge him not to allow one man to determine whether a miner shall lose his livelihood at the pit. If we can get those two points accepted, then we shall be satisfied. We are not concerned here with entrants into the industry, who should be medically examined, but with those who have spent their lives in coal-mining.

    I think I ought to say a word at this stage. I accept the two principles put forward in these Amendments. I agree that the medical examination which might result in somebody leaving the industry should be confined substantially to new entrants. There is the point about a probationary period which we all understand, but that is highly technical. It is one of the reasons we have not succeeded in bringing forward suitable Amendments at this stage.

    Secondly, there is the question of appeal. Considering the importance of the issues involved, it seems to me that, when a man may be made to change his job, there must be an appeal. One man cannot decide the fate of another without some kind of appeal, and, therefore, I can say quite briefly that I can accept the principles laid down in these Amendments.

    I can also tell the House that I would have done this already if it were not for the existing regulations and the desirability not to invalidate them. That was one of the difficult drafting problems which we had to face. Now that we have done so much of the rest of it and the House has approved of so many of the other proposals, we shall have more time to devote to this and we shall succeed in finding a solution to it.

    I am delighted to know that the Minister has gone another length of rails as we say in the pits. We had a very long discussion in Standing Committee on 4th May on this point, and we were sustained extensively by the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor) on the desirability of appeals and on the men having to submit themselves to medical examination. At that time I gave an example of a concrete case of how these medical examinations, in fact, affect men who are seeking employment in another pit. We all accept the fact that in the days that lie ahead many of the men now working will be redundant and the working of old collieries will come to an end. Developments that are taking place will absorb at least those who are 100 per cent. capable of working underground, but the difficulty will arise when we come to the employment of men who have sustained accidents while working in the pits. We want to safeguard the interests of those men.

    7.45 p.m.

    The case that I have in mind came to my own doorstep when I was in charge of men in the pits. On 3rd February, 1937, the four pits of which I was lodge secretary closed down completely. Those who were 100 per cent. physically and mentally capable could get work, but those men who had sustained accidents at the pits where they had worked all their life could not find employment. There were 127 men. Had those pits continued in commission producing coal they would have continued to work there, but because of the medical examination, to which they had to submit themselves and which revealed their partial but slight incapacity, they could not get work at all.

    We have come a long way on the question of medical examinations. We say that the new entrants into the pits must be medically examined and, if need be, we shall have to have periodical examinations. What we are seeking is that when a man is medically examined and the decision goes against him, he should have the right of appeal to some one higher up. That is what happened from 1935 when the industry was still in private hands. A man who was turned down by the company's doctor went to another doctor by way of appeal and invariably we got those men through. I am glad that the Minister is prepared to consider the principles embodied in these Amendments.

    I should like to say a word or two here, because I feel rather strongly about this matter. Unfortunately, I have had as much experience as anybody in the House of pits closing. When men have been working in a coal mine from the age of 13 or 14 until they are 50, and then because their pit closes they have to be medically examined, it is but natural that they should not be perfectly fit men. It is a remarkable thing, however, that had the pit not closed those men would have continued working there for many years.

    They are prevented from working only because of the medical examination. I do not want to say anything derogatory of doctors. Sometimes I feel very strongly about them and I have seen some very naughty things that they have done. However, on the whole, I believe that they would be prepared to give a fair examination, but I submit that they are not in a position entirely to give such a fair examination to a man whose pit is closing under circumstances over which he has no control. If he is 45 or 50, there are few avenues in life left open to him.

    The Minister has been treating us very well, but I notice that when he said he would meet us on this matter he remarked that he would do it in a substantial way. What is "substantial"? Is that 50 per cent. of what we want, 51 per cent., or 100 per cent.? What we want to ensure is that men who are in pits that are closing should be able to work in other pits. Many of these pits are closing today. Some of them should have been closed a long time ago, because they are nothing but junk pits. What is more, we paid considerable sums of money in compensation for them when nationalisation came long. Further, there are hon. Members opposite who thought that we did not pay enough for them. But that is by way of digression.

    These men come under a word new to the coal industry—it is "redundancy." The N.U.M. has done its best and the Coal Board has done its best in paying men, as far as possible, during redundancy. But it is not easy to find work for men aged 65 or 70. I am thinking of men who are actually producing coal, who are some of the best workmen in the pit from the point of view of production because of the regularity of their employment. It is not right that they should have to be medically examined, although I am all for the new entrant being examined. If, however, this should be necessary, they should have the right of appeal. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell me what he means by "substantially"?

    This is a most difficult medical problem which is not easy to explain to the layman. The Miners' Federation has no medical officer attached to it, and while some miners' lodges have medical officers attached to them, they are only doing general practitioner work in the main; so that there is no one to whom the general practitioner can appeal unless he sends these men to some other place away from the mining industry.

    I ask hon. Members who belong to the medical profession to be careful in accepting medical machinery for reexamination in cases of this kind. Some of these claimants for work at a certain age may be suffering from various degrees of scattered pneumoconiosis, that is to say, it is not concentrated in one part of the lung but is in patches all over it. It is difficult to diagnose such a case even with a decent X-ray. These intermittent examinations may cause great hardship to many old or middle-aged men who have given their lives to the industry and who have given their physical constitution to the industry—

    I do not think that this Amendment has anything to do with the nature of the medical examination.

    If the hon. Member will look at the Amendment, he will see that it deals with men having to submit to medical examination.

    You are drawing it rather tine, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, though I am perfectly prepared to submit to your Ruling on the matter. You are giving a Ruling by which subsequent medical examination or intermittent medical examination can scarcely be discussed. I can only say, God have mercy on the miners who will undergo future medical examination and periodical medical examination whenever something happens in a pit, and either it closes completely or is partially closed.

    Unless this Amendment is accepted, great injustice will be dealt out to men who have done all they can for the industry and who have great experience of various kinds of mines. So I beg Labour Members to be very careful in watching this scheme. Although I am getting old, as a medical man I speak from experience, and I beg my hon. Friends on these benches to try to see that these men are protected in every possible way from being thrown on to the labour market simply because a medical officer in a certain area decides that they are not fit for mining work.

    I want first to say how much we appreciate the Minister accepting the principle of this Amendment. If he had not done so, something insidious would have been left in the Clause which would have worked against those who are qualified only for light work. Throughout the mining world there are vast numbers of men who are only able to do that kind of work, and if this test of a medical examination applied to those of them who were to be transferred to another colliery, in all probability those people would not be employed there. So it is in that sense That we appreciate what the Minister has done.

    This also works against the person who is not 100 per cent. physically fit, who may not be able to obtain a lighter type of work at his own colliery, and yet might have an opportunity of going elsewhere because, if he had first to submit to a medical examination, it would go against him. There is also the question of redundancy, mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. R. J. Taylor). In the case of a number of pits closing down, a large number of men might have to be re-examined in order to remain employed in an industry in which they had worked all their lives.

    So I end by saying, as I began, how much we appreciate the Minister agreeing to the principle of this Amendment.

    May I reply briefly and particularly to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth (Mr. Taylor) about the meaning of "substantially"? I used that phrase only at the end of my remarks after I had accepted two importtant principles. One is that medical examination of anybody already in the industry could in no circumstances lead to his exclusion from the industry. The second is that medical examination for the purpose of a man continuing in the industry would only apply to new entrants, which I understood was generally accepted, with the exception of the probationary period.

    I think that those two principles meet substantially what hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have in their minds; and, of course, we could not allow any sharp practice, which it would undoubtedly be, of trying to treat as new entrants men in pits which were closing down because of redundancy. That would be disgraceful.

    In view of the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Clause 87—(Sanitary Conveniences)

    8.0 p.m

    I beg to move, in page 56, line 3, after "thereat," to insert:

    "(as well below as above ground)."
    The object of the Amendment is to make clear that the provision required under the Bill applies below as well as above ground.

    I find myself in a similar quandary to that in which I was yesterday. I do not know whether the Clause will apply to men employed in quarries. I want the men in quarries to get the same benefits from the Bill as the men employed in mines. There is nothing in the Clause to say whether they are included or excluded, but Clause 107, to which I was referred yesterday, says:

    "Sections sixty-six and seventy-three to eighty-nine of this Act (except sections seventy-six and eighty-seven) …"
    I am anxious to know why there should be this exception. Perhaps the Minister will say that for any reference to a mine there should be substituted reference to a quarry. Why in one Clause does he take out the miner from the Bill and then in another Clause in an indirect way try to put him back again? I should like a definite assurance that quarrymen will not be excluded from the welfare regulations covering sanitary conveniencies.

    General welfare regulations are outside the scope of the Amendment. As the hon. Gentleman will have seen, there is a part of the Bill which deals with safety and welfare provisions in quarries.

    On the point about the provision of sanitary conveniences, that is not applied to quarries because it would be impracticable to do so. The method covering the requirement of sanitary conveniencies in quarries is that of regulations whereby the inspectors have powers to require provision to be made where suitable; but quarries are very different from mines in this respect. One gets hundreds of quarries which are worked intermittently. The definition of quarries covers even the small gravel pit on a farm where it would be totally unreasonable to require a substantial amount of expenditure for the erection of a building which, in any event, probably would not meet with the town and country planning requirements in the situation in which it was required to be set.

    We have considered the point. I assure the hon. Member that the Committee went into it very thoroughly. The conclusion which we arrived at was that the extension of the existing principle was the proper method of procedure whereby the provision of conveniences could be required as a result of an inspector calling upon an owner to provide them where necessary.

    Does the Minister want to deprive quarryworkers of sufficient and suitable sanitary conveniences because some small quarries will not be obliged to put them up? The Bill says:

    "All sanitary conveniences … shall be kept clean and properly maintained and reasonable provision shall be made for lighting them."
    Surely that is as essential in a quarry as it is in a factory or a mine. The quarrymen ought to be included in the Clause.

    I support what the Parliamentary Secretary said. The definition of quarries is very wide and it includes a great number of small pits on farms, where perhaps for a few days in the year a few men may be engaged getting road metal for farm roads. It would be an impossible position if every little quarry of that sort had to have something in the nature of a sanitary convenience.

    While I do not expect a reply now, may I ask the Minister to consider putting in something of a more definite character to provide that where above a certain number of men are employed the amenities mentioned should be provided?

    Hon. Gentlemen will appreciate that in the matter of mines and quarries several differences should be taken into account. This consideration has led us to deal with the problem in quarries by regulation. That is certainly the most convenient method because of the great variety of quarries. However, I give an undertaking that, in addition to re-enacting the existing regulations for quarries, which deal with the subject already, and which under the Bill—

    Order. I am not at all clear. When I look at the Clause I see that it does not appear to deal with quarries. As far as I can see, it deals with mines.

    That is true, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but as you allowed debate on the subject, perhaps you will allow me to say that I will look at the matter, especially when the new regulations come to be made.

    I think that the union interests among quarryworkers would be well satisfied if the Minister conformed to what he has repeatedly said in Committee and maintained the substance of the present regulations and also, in any case of extending or changing any one of them, he closely consulted both sides of the industry.

    May I put a point to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? On page 56, under the heading Part IV, there is a definite reference to:

    "Management and Control (Quarries)."

    If the hon. Gentleman will look at the Paper, he will find that we have not.

    With all respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, the point was raised that Clause 107 affects Clause 87. That was why the question was introduced.

    Yes. I am afraid that I let the debate go wider than it should have gone. I did not notice what the hon. Member was saying at the time. We have not reached Clause 107.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 91—{General Powers And Duties Of Quarry Managers)

    Amendments made: In page 57, line 27, leave out from second "of," to "the," in line 28, and insert "securing."

    In line 35, leave out from "of," to "so," in line 36, and insert "securing."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 93—(Rights Of Quarry Manager With Respect To Instructions Given By Or On Behalf Of Owner)

    Amendment made: In page 58, line 20, after "fulfilment," insert:

    "in relation to the quarry."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 58, line 36, to leave out "as soon as practicable." and to insert "forthwith."

    This Amendment is one of many to which we are now coming which bring the provisions with regard to quarries into line with those relating to mines in the matter of drafting so as to make the farms of phraseology consistent and comparable. The effect of the provision is to require that the person who gives instructions on behalf of the owner shall notify the manager forthwith rather than "as soon as practicable."

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 94—(Temporary Appointments During Vacancy In Office Of Quarry Manager)

    Amendment made: In page 59, line 5, leave out "forty-eight," and insert "seventy-two."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 97—(Duties Of Quarry Man Agers And Owners With Respect To Reading Of Reports, Etc)

    Amendments made: In page 60, line 41, leave out from "other," to "that," in line 43, and insert "competent person and."

    In page 61, line 9, leave out from "other," to "that," in line 11, and insert "competent person and."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 102—(Provisions Relating To Use Of Ropeways And Vehicles)

    I beg to move, in page 62, line 38, to leave out from "Prevent," to "and," in line 41, and to insert:

    "the occurrence of accidents due to any such vehicles' running away."
    As at present drafted, the Clause requires provision of safety devices to prevent vehicles in mines running away. We have already dealt with that point, and the Amendment is consequential.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In line 42, leave out "so far as practicable."

    In page 63, line 6, leave out "reasonably practicable," and insert "necessary."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 104—(Dust Precautions)

    Amendments made: In page 63, line 25, to leave out "so far as is reasonably practicable."

    In line 36, leave out paragraph ( a), and insert:

    (a) that the entry of the dust into the air or its accumulation in any place in circumstances in which its accumulation in that place might be harmful is minimised by means of steps in that behalf taken as near as possible to the point of origin of the dust.—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 64, line 3, at the end, to insert:

    (3) Regulations may impose upon managers of quarries such requirements with respect to the use thereat of prescribed apparatus and the taking thereat of prescribed steps as it may appear to the Minister requisite or expedient to impose for the purpose of attaining any of the objects mentioned in the foregoing provisions of this section; and regulations having effect by virtue of this subsection may provide either that compliance therewith by a manager of a quarry is to be taken, either without qualification or to a prescribed extent, as compliance with all or any of the requirements of the said provisions or that compliance with the regulations by a manager of a quarry is not necessarily to be taken as compliance with any of the said requirements.
    The Amendment brings the phraseology of the provisions relating to dust suppression in quarries into line with those relating to mines.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 105—(Withdrawal Of Workmen In Cases Of Danger)

    Amendments made: In page 64, line 11, after "manager." insert "of the quarry."

    In line 12, leave out from "paragraph," to "notice," in line 13, and insert "give."

    In line 18, leave out "as soon as reasonably practicable." and insert "so soon."

    In line 21, after "subsection," insert:

    "as it is possible so to do without undue risk"

    In line 38, leave out "As soon as reasonably practicable after," and insert "Where."

    In line 41, leave out from "be," to "particulars," in line 42, and insert:

    "provided for that purpose by the owner of the quarry."—[Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 108—(Notification Of Accidents)

    8.15 p.m.

    I beg to move, in page 65, line 34, after "of," to insert:

    "or serious bodily injury to."
    We are introducing this Amendment in response to an undertaking which I gave in Committee, particularly in reply to the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton), who made some very helpful observations. The point of the Amendment is the difficulty of defining what is a serious bodily injury. The hon. Member felt that the words in the Bill gave rise to a considerable degree of doubt, and it was generally felt in Committee that it would not be possible to arrive at any satisfactory definition to be included in the statute. By means of the Amendment we propose the deletion of the words other than "serious bodily injury" and we intend to define those words by regulation. We think that that is a more satisfactory way of dealing with the situation.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 65, line 35, leave out from "quarry," to end of line 39.

    In line 40, leave out "written."

    In line 42, leave out "sent," and insert "given."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 66, line 1, to leave out from "to," to "notices." in line 4, and to insert:

    "such person as may for the time being be nominated—
  • (a) in a case where there is an association or body representative of a majority of the total number of persons employed at the mine or quarry, by that association or body;
  • (b) in any other case, jointly by associations or bodies which are together representative of such a majority
  • to receive on behalf of the persons so employed"
    This Amendment, dealing with the 'notification of accidents, is again moved in response to an undertaking which I gave in Committee. The Clause as a whole provides that notice should be sent to the representatives of the body representing the majority of persons employed at a mine or quarry. In the course of discussing the matter it was represented—and we recognised that fact very fully—that in certain places, particularly quarries rather than mines, the majority of employees might not be represented by one organisation.

    Therefore, this Amendment and the Amendment to Clause 115 in page 68, line 15, to insert new paragraphs (a) and (b) are designed to provide that where there is not a single trade union or other body which represents all the workmen two or more such unions can get together and between them—if they represent the majority—appoint a representative. Paragraph (b) of the Amendment in page 68 makes exactly the same provision with regard to inspectors.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Further Amendments made: In page 66, line 7, leave out "written."

    In line 8, leave out "sent," and insert "given."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    I beg to move, in page 66, line 8, after "district," to insert:

    "and the person nominated as aforesaid."
    This Amendment carries out an assurance that I gave in Committee and provides that notification of a man's death which arises subsequent to notification of his serious injury due to an accident must be made to the workmen's representative. It is a tidying up Amendment.

    Amendment agreed to.

    Clause 111—(Inquest In Case Of Death By Accident)

    I beg to move, in page 66, line 41, after "at." to insert:

    "or by a disease which may have resulted from his employment at."
    I wonder whether it would also be convenient to consider with this Amendment the next Amendment, in line 43, after "Minister," to insert:
    "and the person nominated pursuant to section one hundred and eight of this Act or some other person on his behalf."

    I think it would be almost impossible to avoid discussion on all Amendments to this Clause if the discussion is not to be unintelligible.

    It may be for the convenience of the House and I am in the hands of hon. Members on this matter.

    Clause 111 makes provision that where death has taken place a result of an accident the coroner shall convene an inquest, and it is provided that the inquest may be adjourned unless the inspector or some other person acting on behalf of the workman is present in accordance with Clause 108.

    By this Amendment we desire that the same procedure should be adopted in the case of industrial diseases. In South Wales many men die as a result of pneumoconiosis contracted during employment in the mining industry. It is very important that where death is suspected to have been due to pneumoconiosis an inspector should be present at the inquest so that the record of the man's employment should be available and the provisions of Clause 108 should be applicable in any event.

    A further point is that when dealing with cases of accident a great deal of inquiry is made as to the cause of the injuries and of the accident. That is the principal feature of such inquests. The coroner has to satisfy himself that the death was due to injury or accident at the quarry. But that procedure does not apply in the case of industrial disease, particularly in cases of pneumoconiosis. All the medical evidence is not always available in those circumstances.

    It is serious when in South Wales a certain amount of medical evidence is given at an inquest and a verdict is returned that death may have been due to pneumoconiosis. That verdict appears in the local Press and the widow believes that she will get compensation because of that verdict. Then the man's lungs are sent to Cardiff, or some other medical centre, where, after examination, it is decided that death was not due to pneumoconiosis. She then has two medical certificates, one saying that her husband died from pneumocononiosis and the other saying that he did not die from that disease. That causes unnecessary distress.

    When we raised this matter in the debate on Welsh affairs, a very delicate position seemed to arise. Clause 111 provides that the coroner shall carry out certain duties when death takes place as a result of an accident in the quarry. All we seek is that the same procedure shall apply if death is due to pneumoconiosis. At present the lungs may be packed up and sent to Cardiff or somewhere else and then it may be found that death was not due to pneumoconiosis and the widow has two death certificates. That causes unnecessary distress and pain to the dependants. There should be uniformity. I have raised this matter in Committee and with the Minister of National Insurance. There seems to be some power held by the coroner which no one is able to touch. We press this question very seriously because of the unnecessary pain and distress which result in such cases.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    It is becoming increasingly important to include industrial diseases in this provision. In the quarries men suffer from silicosis through breathing dust from the stone. Yesterday we were discussing the position of men making tarmac at quarries. Those men are subject to other diseases as well as silicosis—for example, epithelioma cancer, brought about by the use of pitch and tar. If a man dies from that disease, the same circumstances should apply to him as to the man who suffers an industrial accident.

    There are other diseases. For instance, recently we read of other forms of cancer brought about by the breathing of fumes. Men working on tarmac plants in the quarries are continuously among fumes and in danger of contracting cancer, and if a man dies from cancer in this way his case should be dealt with in the same way as that of a man who suffers an industrial accident which proves fatal.

    We know that there are difficulties in relation to these Amendments because there has to be collaboration between the Home Office and the Ministry of Fuel and Power, but that does not in any way derogate from the vital principles which we think should be embodied in this Clause. It is up to the Government to find some way of meeting this problem. Why should the death of a person who has died from a disease not be brought before a coroner's inquest? In Committee it was said that a man may die in the Isle of Wight and it would not be known where his relatives were; but throughout the Bill many exceptions have been argued in order to try to prove the rule. I hope that we shall not be arguing in that way tonight.

    There is another important point. When men are killed or die of injury, we are not notified officially by the coroner that an inquest is to take place. The coroner is tied by the Act to inform the inspector but not to notify those who have to represent the widow. Why should not the report and the documents be given to those who represent the relatives as well as to the inspector? I do not know why there should be opposition to that suggestion.

    Nearly all the collieries of the N.C.B. used to give us the plan, a copy of the statements, and all the other paraphernalia when there had been a fatal accident, but that was done through the goodness of the manager and not by legal rights. We have to defend the widow and children, and we are entitled to be as fortified with information as is the inspector who sits beside the coroner and questions everybody so as to get at the truth. The Minister ought to go some way to meet us on this Clause, in regard to these important points.

    8.30 p.m.

    Coroners' inquests are very important in mining life, because the incidence of accident and industrial disease is very great, and focus our attention upon the defence of those who are left and upon the evidence and the statements that have to be made. When an accident arises, a man can have his trade union official present at the inquiry to make statements. If we are entitled to that, and if the inspector at an inquiry is entitled under the Bill to bring in someone to help a man in particular circumstances, why should we be debarred from the same procedure at the coroner's court when the welfare of a widow and family are at stake? When we defend a widow who has lost her husband and may be left with children, we are entitled to have the same documents and other material as the inspector.

    The hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) has performed a service in putting this Amendment on the Paper, although the problem with which he, I and many other hon. Members wish to deal can probably not best be dealt with by amending this Clause or perhaps even this Bill. I say that, because the problem is not restricted to diseases arising out of mining but may arise equally with diseases occasioned in employments for which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power is not responsible.

    Nevertheless, there is a real problem here which week by week causes distress to considerable numbers of people, when there are conflicting opinions and certificates as to the cause of death in the case of persons who may have succumbed to industrial disease. I have in mind an instance in my constituency where a man died who had been drawing industrial injury benefit as a pneumoconiotic. The original death certificate gave the cause of death as pneumoconiosis. Imagine the situation of the widow and her feelings when a further certificate was given stating, with the authority of the assessors of the Ministry of National Insurance, that the cause of death was quite different and that her benefit is to be cut off because she falls outside the scope of our industrial injury legislation.

    There is a real problem, and I make no apology for detaining the House so as to impress upon my right hon. Friend the necessity of a solution being found by discussion among Her Majesty's Ministers, even though my right hon. Friend should advise the House that the best solution is not by the method of Amendment of this Clause.

    I only intervene in this discussion to lend my support to the observations made by the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) and by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I have had personal experience of quite a number of instances where great distress has been caused to families by conflicting decisions based upon medical grounds regarding the cause of death.

    It may well be that one of the real troubles is the procedure adopted in our coroners' courts, where evidence is given as to the cause of death without the proper inquiry or really searching investigation which is necessary in order to bring about reliable conclusions. But whatever the reason, there can be no doubt at all that the present position is highly unsatisfactory and frequently causes distress to people at a time when we should be particularly anxious to avoid any sense of difficulty. I should like the Minister to look again at this point.

    I am far from satisfied that the Amendments will achieve the desired result, but that is only one aspect of the matter, and I think that if the Minister really tried to find a solution to the problem he would be able to alleviate real hardship and suffering in this sphere.

    I think that it may be of assistance to the House if I intervene at this stage, particularly as I believe that what the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) has in mind goes beyond the scope not only of the Amendments but even of the Bill itself. He has almost invited me to offer guidance to the House on the general question of procedure in coroners' courts. I can assure the House that I am going to be exceedingly careful to do nothing of the sort, and I am certainly not going to trespass upon the prerogative of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.

    I think that the point of view expressed by the hon. Member for Cardigan was also expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), but I particularly wish to assure the House that we are acutely conscious of the distress, anxiety and pain which is caused to innocent people as a result of the issuing of dual certificates of a conflicting character.

    I happen to have had a certain amount of experience of that in my present position, and such experience certainly causes one to realise how hardship can be caused as a result of a totally unexpected circumstance. It is probable that when these things first began, no one anticipated the possibility of the worry, anxiety and distress to which they would ultimately lead. But I have seen it, and recognise it, and it is something which, as my right hon. Friend said in Committee, we have every intention of trying to get cleared up.

    There are considerable difficulties about it. To begin with, the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) proposes to insert the words:
    "or by a disease which may have resulted from his employment at."
    The hon. Gentleman went on to talk about pneumoconiosis, but that is only one disease. There are many diseases which might result from employment at a mine or quarry, and that is one of the problems which we have to face. By seeking to impose upon a coroner similar duties to those imposed upon him in the event of death by accident arising in the course of employment in a mine or quarry, we are widening the scope and fettering the discretion of the coroner to a very great extent in cases where death may have occurred from disease.

    The coroner need not, and frequently does not hold an inquest in the case of death from disease. If one puts upon him the statutory obligation to hold an inquest in the case of a death which may have resulted from a disease contracted in the course of employment in a certain industry, an obligation is imposed upon him which would carry the whole burden of coroners' inquests very much further than they go at present.

    That is one difficulty, but perhaps I may refer quite shortly to some of the arguments put forward about the notification of Her Majesty's Inspectors and of workmen's inspectors.

    Before the Parliamentary Secretary leaves this point, I wonder if he will accept from me that the difficulty which he has brought forward is one that does not exist in fact, although it may exist in theory? I hope that he will accept that a coroner faced with the pos sibility of a death resulting from a disease caused by the man's work—whether scheduled or not—always does hold an inquest.

    I am afraid that I cannot accept that as an argument in favour of this Amendment. As the Amendment is drafted, a man may have ceased to be employed for 20 years, and it would be exceedingly difficult for a coroner to make the decision as to whether the death resulted from a disease which may have arisen from an injury in the work in which the man was originally employed.

    What has been said about inspectors has given the impression—it has given me the impression, at any rate—that there is, if not some confusion of thought, at least some misapprehension. Her Majesty's Mines Inspectors do not receive plans or witnesses' statements from the coroner. Coroners are under no obligation to issue, nor in fact, so far as Her Majesty's Mines Inspectors are concerned, do they issue, these particular documents or anything of that sort. Whatever does take place—and I am assured that it is the same for workmen's inspectors as for Her Majesty's Inspectors—is purely by mutual arrangement. They get the information from the witnesses themselves.

    It would not be possible really to depart from the general practice of coroners' courts, nor to impose upon coroners a special procedure with regard to this particular form of inquest—inquests on people who have died as a result of accidents or, if the Amendment were acceptable, from disease arising out of mining or quarrying. It would introduce an entirely fresh classification of the law for one limited purpose into this much wider sphere of dealing with inquests as a whole.

    But does not the Parliamentary Secretary agree that where a doctor feels that a man has died from an industrial disease he calls for a post mortem. He then reports to the coroner, who has regard to the decision given to him by the medical man.

    It is a matter entirely within the discretion of the coroner. The point which I was seeking to make was that at this stage and in these circumstances it would not be right for us to fetter the discretion of the coroner.

    Perhaps I may return to what I have said. As my right hon. Friend said earlier, we believe that the exchange of information—or, as the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) graphically and understandably called it "paraphernalia"—can be arranged administratively, so far as Her Majesty's Inspectors and the workmen's inspectors are concerned. That we are perfectly prepared to try to do. I suggest that it would be a far more practical and satisfactory method of doing it than trying to introduce it in statutory form into an Act of Parliament where it has necessarily got to be hedged about with conditions, qualifications, penalties and all the rest of it. We can perfectly well arrange that in the mining industry by administrative procedure.

    8.45 p.m.

    On the other question which was originally raised by the hon. Member for Bedwellty—this question of the possibility of dual certificates—my right hon. Friend and I said that we would discuss the matter with our right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to see whether we could obtain any suggestion from him which would meet and overcome the point, because we were quite sure that he would be as sympathetic as we were in finding a way to stop the issue of dual conflicting certificates.

    Those discussions have taken place. We have not been idle during the period since we met upstairs, and I can inform the House that the point raised by the hon. Gentleman is being fully dealt with by administrative action in the form of a Home Office circular to coroners. We hope very much that as a result of that. which is the practical way of dealing with the point—because it would be impossible by statutory arrangement to preclude the issue of conflicting dual certificates—we shall have met in substance the point that the hon. Gentleman raised. We are as determined as he is to ensure that these dual conflicting certificates are not issued.

    I should like to know something about the type of suggestion that is to be made to Her Majesty's coroners on this point. The Minister is aware that this problem has not always existed and that it has come to our notice in recent years mainly because of the increase in the number of cases of pneumoconiosis. In the early days, certainly when I first became conversant with cases of pneumoconiosis, in 1928, I never remember a post mortem, followed by an inquest, when a member of the Pneumoconiosis Board, as it was then called—before they were named panels—was not present at the post mortem. The result was that there was full consultation at the time, and thus there was never any question of a possibility of dual certification.

    The Minister must be aware that speedy action is necessary. We have been talking for a long time about the grievances and the hardship caused to widows and dependants when they receive from the coroner advice which he tenders on a certificate, having been advised by a consultant or a medical practitioner or whoever has performed the autopsy that the man has died of the prescribed disease: and then ultimately, when a full and more careful examination is made, including histological examination of the lungs by the Pneumoconiosis Panel to make sure that the case is clear-cut, or by incineration of the lungs to determine the ash content of the lungs, another kind of certificate is issued stating that there has been no such disease

    We are speaking on behalf of the dependants who cannot understand this issue. It is impossible for them to listen to a debate of this description and understand why there cannot be some simple procedure. Obviously, if Her Majesty's coroners are going to withhold certification until all the results of examination have been received and then make up their minds, I can see a solution to this problem. If some advice of this type is to be given, and if we have an assurance that the coroners will take note of it—and I am sure they will if they are so advised—it would seem to us that the problem can be solved. How long it is going to be before this is done I do not know, and I think we ought to have a further reassurance that a solution will speedily be found and that the lapse of time before it is put into effect will be very short. We have been discussing this sort of question for some years now. I hope that we can now have that assurance. If we cannot, I think that we ought to express our indignation at what has been going on by dividing on the Amendment.

    The debate has so far revealed the justification for the action which has been promised by the Parliamentary Secretary. During the last few years many of us have been disturbed by the actions of coroners' courts. We know that the coroner is a law unto himself and cannot be interfered with. I want to refer to one of the many cases with which I had to deal when I was concerned with the industrial side of the matter. There was a man in the Farnworth area who was suffering from spinal injuries. After being on his hack for three years he died, and the doctor was of the opinion that his death was not due to these spinal injuries but to something else.

    All this time the man had been in receipt of an allowance because of his incapacity. The doctor who intimated that the spinal injuries had not caused his death had, rightly or wrongly, been giving the man certificates stating that he was also suffering from asthma and chronic bronchitis. That awakened my curiosity, and immediately I was notified of his death I sought the assistance of the coroner and told him that this was a matter which warranted a post mortem examination. That examination was made, a section of the lung was taken away and sent to the Silicosis Board in London for microscopic examination, and it was revealed that the man's death had been caused by silicosis.

    If we had not taken the trouble to find out the actual cause of death that man's widow would not have received compensation for the death of her husband, because the doctor said that he had not died as a result of his spinal injuries. These cases have been occurring with great rapidity during the last few years. In my own village there are men suffering from injuries to the legs and, at the same time, pneumoconiosis. If, when they die, the doctors decide as they did in the case to which I have referred, difficulties will again arise.

    I am pleased to know that the matter will receive the attention of the Home Office. I agree that the Ministry of Fuel and Power has nothing to do with it. The Home Office has control over coroners' courts, and is the proper Department to instruct coroners and medical men as to the procedure in relation to deaths from industrial diseases. By moving the Amendment we are seeking to secure the attention of the powers that be. So many cases are now occurring which warrant the attention of the Home Office without delay, and we want to see that justice is meted out to the dependants of injured workmen.

    I find myself in a slight difficulty, because this discussion has ranged round English legal procedure, whereas about 80,000 miners in Scotland work under a legal system which differs from that of England. If a fatal accident occurs in a mine or a quarry, there is a inquiry under the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiry (Scotland) Act. It need not deal simply with that accident alone but with half a dozen or a dozen other accidents, and it may not take place until weeks or possibly months afterwards. I should like an assurance from the Minister that this will be clearly noted and that there will be nothing in the Bill by which the position in Scotland will be worse.

    I compliment the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) on raising the question of dual certification. Only this week I had a parlous illustration of what can happen under dual certification. A great Scottish football player who had been certified suffering from pneumoconiosis for a great number of years died. He had contracted the disease in the mines of the Lothians. When he died the Pneumoconiosis Board certified that he died from cancer. There is a poser for the Home Secretary. Everybody knew that man had been suffering from pneumoconiosis, but the authorities get out of their liability by the Pneumoconiosis Board's certifying he died from cancer, so that the widow and children get nothing. I think that I am not being unreasonable when I ask the Minister to take note of these two points, and to see that our people have due protection.

    The Minister has given a very careful reply, and one that, I think, to a certain extent has satisfied my hon. Friends. However, his reply on the mater of dual certification, that the Home Secretary was going to do something about it and that in future all the evidence would be before the coroner and that possibly there would be no dual certification, does not apply to Scotland because of our legal system and the different way in which we deal with these matters. My hon. Friend the Member for Midlothian and Peebles (Mr. Pryde) has raised the matter from a different angle. I have raised it time and time again, not with the Minister of Fuel and Power but with the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance.

    I have a great many miners in my constituency, and on not a few occasions I have had widows of miners come to me to ask for my help. The Scottish branch of the National Union of Mineworkers, as, I suppose, the union has in the rest of the country, argued that in these cases there should always be a post mortem. As it is, the widow is informed only that her husband has not died from pneumoconiosis, and, of course, there is no chance of taking action in a court to get compensation.

    9.0 p.m.

    When the widow has come to me, she has been most disturbed and distressed, and on a number of occasions I have had to write to the pneumoconiosis medical board in Edinburgh to draw its attention to the fact that not only has my constituent been done out of benefit by the decision of the board, but also that she wishes to find out, if her husband did not die from pneumoconiosis—for which she has a certificate—from what, then, he did die. On a number of occasions I have had to get the information from the board and pass it to my constituent.

    The Minister's advice does not in any way help us in respect to dual certification of industrial diseases and its effects upon the widows of miners in Scotland. I hope the Minister will give some attention to this matter before the Bill reaches another place, because the advice which perhaps will be given to the coroner in no way affects the cases which cause us a great deal of concern in Scotland.

    It is clear that we face a serious difficulty. No one must under-estimate the amount of hardship and distress which is likely to be caused to widows at a particularly distressing time. We all wish to avoid it. Yet we find that, to be quite frank, although hon. Members have put down this Amendment, we cannot take this action in the Bill because of the constitution of the coroners' courts. We must, therefore, try to find the best way to make some progress.

    What has happened is that a demonstration has been made, both in Committee and in the House, which has had the effect of bringing this subject to the fore. It has therefore been very useful, although it appears that we cannot proceed by legislative processes. I am advised—because this is in the province of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary—that the way to proceed is by addressing Her Majesty's coroners, and that is done by the Home Secretary, normally by means of a circular. As a result of discussions which we have had with the Home Secretary, following our talks in Committee, my right hon. and learned Friend has told us that he will issue a circular dealing with those points in an endeavour to secure an improvement and to avoid this difficulty. We know that the circular is already in draft. I hope that the results will be good.

    I am a little disturbed by what was said by the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), because I had not heard that this difficulty had arisen so much in Scotland. Previously I had heard that it was a problem more of the English courts, and I am much disturbed to hear that it is also a problem in Scotland. While I have to approach the Home Secretary and the English legal system with great respect—and will always do so—when it comes to dealing with the Scottish legal system, my timidity increases still further.

    As I hope the hon. Lady recognises, I could not, as a mere southern Member, make any statement about the Scottish legal position. The most hopeful thing to do would be for me to approach the Secretary of State in this matter in the same way as I have already approached the Home Secretary. I will also undertake to see that in the formulation of the draft for the coroners, I will bring to attention any additional points which have arisen out of the discussion.

    Before the Minister concludes the debate. I should like to emphasise a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch). I do not want to go into the question of dual certification. The Bill contains a Part devoted to safety, health and welfare. In this connection, dealing with industrial diseases— whether pneumoconiosis or any other disease—presumably the Bill is designed to try to prevent deterioration in the health of the workers in the mining industry. We know that there is not as much knowledge of industrial diseases, even in the medical profession, as there ought to be. We know that, apart from pneumoconiosis, there are in the mining industry many menaces to the health of the workers.

    If this is to be a safety, health and welfare Bill, I think that we should ask the Minister to go a little further into this question of the hazards which confront the health of the workers than merely to pass on to the Home Secretary a request that he should do certain things in regard to coroners' courts. We have here an opportunity to make this an effective Bill in regard to its health section, because the question of the health of our people is just as important as our concern about accidents.

    I do not think that the matter which the hon. Member is now raising arises on this Amendment.

    The question of health is specifically mentioned in the Bill, and also the question of industrial diseases.

    My hon. Friend has mentioned the question of dual certification and the question of industrial diseases, and discussion has centred around those matters.

    The discussion is about the cause of death and dual certification.

    In view of the assurance given by the Minister that the Home Secretary will give some directive to the coroners on this very important matter, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Amendments made: In page 67, line 1, leave out "send," and insert "give."

    In line 2, leave out "a notice in writing," and insert "notice."

    In line 12, after "inspector," insert "for the district."

    In line 17, leave out "send," and insert "give."

    In line 17, leave out "in writing."—[ Mr. Joynson-Hicks.]

    Clause 112—(Site Of Accident Or Other Dangerous Occurrence To Be Left Undisturbed)

    Amendment proposed: in page 67, line 32, after first "or," insert:

    "that the non-compliance has been approved by the inspector and that compliance therewith."—[Mr. Blyton.]

    I wish to refer to the procedure which now ensues upon what has already been agreed by the House. There is now a provision for information to be given of the time and place of holding the adjourned inquest. The information to be given to the inspector may be given by word of mouth, and there is no guarantee that the information or the report has been given. I propose that there should be definite proof that the inspector was so informed, and that the inspector for the district

    "and the person so nominated"
    should receive the information from the inspector.

    The right hon. Gentleman is dealing with an Amendment which has not been called. The Amendment I have called is to Clause 112, page 67, line 32.

    This Amendment deals specifically with fatal accidents and the clearing of the scene of accidents to leave the work of the pit unimpeded. Under the Bill as drafted, if an accident happened at a shaft the manager could simply clear the scene of the accident on the basis that otherwise the work would be impeded.

    We recognise that it would be foolish to hold up the production of the whole pit because an accident had occurred at the shaft. We think, however, that some sanction should be placed upon managers, otherwise they may use the Clause as an argument for clearing away something that happened in a fatal accident which they did not want anybody to see. We suggest, therefore, that if work would be impeded by not clearing the scene of an accident, the manager should first have the approval of the district inspector. The Amendment has been designed to meet objections that have been put forward, and we hope that it will have the approval of the House.

    I beg to second the Amendment.

    Like all Amendments coming from this side of the House, this is a very important Amendment. Sometimes in the course of my painful privilege of inpecting the scenes of fatal accidents I have discovered that somebody has been there before me. It has happened, although not very often, that somebody has already removed evidence which would have assisted me, together with the inspector and the coroner, to decide the cause of the accident. I do not think that that is right.

    If there is any evidence at the scene of an accident, whatever it might be, which would help in the course of investigations and inquiries into the cause, it is manifestly unfair that any man, whether he be mine manager or anyone else, should remove it when, had it been left, it would assist us to determine what should be done to prevent other similar accidents. We are anxious, therefore, that the Amendment should be made.

    It has been my painful duty to examine places that appeared to me to be unsafe, and as practical men we must appreciate the difficulties. If a man is buried by a fall of roof or is trapped underneath tubs, the first concern of the men in the pit is to get him out. Invariably the man dies after he has been extricated, but if in their enthusiasm to relieve him the men disturb something, they cannot be blamed.

    Here we have an opportunity of asking the inspector to assist us. If he is the first man on the scene, then he has a responsibility. That responsibility to investigate the scene of an accident is great, and he would not give any consent nor would he empower any man to remove any of the evidence until he was satisfied in his own mind that he had got the information that was required to assist people at a subsequent date to determine how that accident happened. This is a very modest but important Amendment, and both the Attorney-General and the Parliamentary Secretary will understand why it is that we are concerned to see it accepted.

    9.15 p.m.