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

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 1 July 1954

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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.