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

Volume 529: debated on Thursday 1 July 1954

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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.]