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Accidents, Northumberland And Cumberland

Volume 640: debated on Monday 15 May 1961

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asked the Minister of Power if he has received the report of the Inspector of Mines and Quarries for Northumberland and Cumberland concerning the accident rate; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

My right hon. Friend has read this report. While noting the points raised, he does not think it calls for any special action on his part.

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary recognise that the increase in the accident rate, both underground and on the surface, is causing considerable disquiet in this section of the mining industry? Will he not also agree that at present, with the intensive mechanisation of the industry which is now going on, there is a need for a reassessment of the

to give us the specific figures about the amount lost by way of subsidy on coal, will he please ask the Iron and Steel Board to provide those figures so that the House may be fully aware of all the issues involved in considering the matter?

I should like to make two things clear. Very little, if any, of this imported coal went to the steel industry, and I must point out, in order to keep the perspective right, that the losses which the Coal Board made at that time were, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, more than balanced by the premium on the coal they exported from this country.

Following is the table:

safety measures that may be taken? In this connection, would the Parliamentary Secretary consider the introduction of a more intensive educational drive among both employers and employees regarding this problem?

Neither the Ministry nor the National Coal Board is indifferent to any rise in the accident rate, but the rise shown in this case is not significant. In fact, the accident rate in this area is just about the national average. Accident rates fluctuate up and down in mining year by year, but in this case we do not consider that there is any real cause for concern. In reply to the hon. Gentleman's second point, a review is going on all the time into the needs of mechanisation with regard to safety. Exemptions are given for new appliances and the conduct of the industry under these exemptions is carefully watched and, when full experience is achieved, new regulations are introduced. With regard to educational courses, these courses for safety are going on all the time. The National Association of Colliery Managers and the Institution of Mining Engineers and various other bodies are constantly discussing and publicising papers on the safety aspect of coal mining.