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12 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

"BARN Y BRODYR."

Mr. J. Hugh Edwards, M.P and…

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SENGiiENYDO IN PARLIAMENT.

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SENGiiENYDO IN PARLIA- MENT. Mr. John Williams' Speech in the House of Commons In the House of Commons on Friday last, in the debate on the Labour Party's Amendment to the Address, Mr John Williams, M.P., contributed an able speech on the question. of safety in mines. .Mr Williams said I rise to support the Amendment, and At the outset I desire to express my re- ,gret at the absence of any reference in His Majesty's Gracious Speech to the terrible calamities that have occurred in South ales during the pa-st few weeks.. I refer to the Senghenydd disaster and also to the calamity which occurred at another colliery in the Principality, Glynea. At both of these collieries there was a large death roll. The chief ob- ject of the Amendment is, in my opinion, to ask the Government, to devise ways and means of preventing the occurrence -of such terrible catastrophes. I speak from a practical standpoint, as I have a right to do, having worked for many years below ground. I have been associa- ted with colliery work for a period of over forty years, so that I am entitled to say something upon these terrible acci- dents. Personally, I believe these ex- plosions are preventable. I believe it is quite possible to make these things im- possible. You cannot have an explosion without gas or coal-dust. These are the two chief factors in colliery explosions. EXPLOSIONS PREVENTABLE No one has heard of an explosion below ground where there is an absence of pul- verised coal—dead-duff as we call it-and gas. But with the presence of these two awful agencies of destruction an explosion is possible. I believe that these two agencies can be deaJt with effectively. There is no reason why gas should be allowed to accumulate in collieries to such an extent as to make the collieries a danger to life and limb. There is no justification, for these accumulations, and I regret to inform the House that I be- lieve that if the provisions of the present Coal Mines Regulations Act and the re- gulations continued in the statutory orders, were observed and enforced, we should; enjoy an immunity from these awful catastrophes. You cannot have an explosion from gas without some other element of ignition. You may have gas present in a large bulk, but so long as it does not come in contact, with a spark or flanie or some other agent of ignition, it is absolutely harmless. But you do not know the moment that the gas will come into contact with a flame or spark. So long as you have no gas everything is safe, but when you have gas in large quantities a.t the collieries you must pay close attention to the regulation of the gas and see hat it does not come into con- tact with a spark from overhead rollers, or from the rope, or from a fire, the result of spontaneous combustion. You must watch all those things. PROPER PRECAUTIONS NOT TAKEN Is that watch carefully kept; Is there a close eye kept upon the operations of the gas in collieries? I say not, and I ø:Yrry to have to say so. The number of inspections made during the last ten years is very small. I do not wish to speak dis- paragingly of our inspectors, but the only inspections of value that are made and tha-t are worthy of the name are made by th-o workmen themselves, and often under •con ditions which I do next like to describe to the Hm-e You may have an ex- plosion when a spark ignites the gas. Care should be taken that no spark should M allowed to be emitted, and that no combustion should take place. I have never known an explosion to take place where you have good ventilation. ;Zro must be something wrong with the ventilation to have an explosion, but I am carry to have to state from observa- tion, from experience, and from evidence adduced a.t our laet conference in Cardiff, that there are collieries in the United Kingdom at the present moment ttirough the returns of which a. man cannot cmw l. UNSATISFACTORY STATE OF I THINGS. That is a very unsatisfactory state of I things, and one that creates a want of can- Ifidenoe in the minds of the workmen as to the management of the collieries. Why should collieries be kept in this condition ? If the provisions of the Coal Mines Regu- lation Act were observed rigidly such a s/tate of thiines, as I hve described, could not exist. I hope that something will be •done to remedy it when the matters which ■were mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for South Glamorgan last night are brought to the notice of the right lion. Gentleman the Home Secretary. Take, again, coal-dust. You may have an expl06ion from ooal-dust, but not from <-oai-d?st Itae?'S<Mnethin? else must 'happen. "e\ c(M.?d-ust must be violently disturbed Zhy some other agency before "Vou 0*70&io"n. For instance, the cna.l-du?tinM?Ybe?isturbe.d by a ex_ plosion oAb% &?b?. In those wnditions it :a i hIe to ?v when an explosion it in l? 1,cle.4 he object of th? Amendment T? '"a? it impo??ble for xplœíort5 to take place bv ?!ng for farther legislation in the direction mdl- cated by the Amendment. AGENTS OF DESTRUCTION I.- But it may be said that it is impo^u^ I to keep a colliery in such an ideal con- dition 88 I would like to describe to the House if time permitted. Suffice it to say that I believe that there are the ?n. of eliminating th^ two elemeuts from up,derground by dealing h_- |£ L' in t? ?ner in, which it should be ??1t with. I do not mean to say for a min.gle rnom-.nt tbit W shaH be :'1hle to S*r evmr pwtide «' *>" S*" th? V lier^ -L but I b?ve that with great pre- l?.buti' ? ?ervation, tM gas c.,ut ?n <-r _? cl?ntrol to such ? ?.  t.o make it t'.fe ? ?? workmen f.n i,?r?,mk in the colliorie,?g. Then if it is not zet ri,,i of tho ga. as we S:??-?  ?n ? rid .f the ?l?,t wb..h ? on the m.m ~ad™Y»' Th,rre? is "» -J* r?son why ? ?cu.mu!?ton of two or three hundred tons of pulverised coal-dust should be allowed to remai-n on the main inroad. I hope that the Under-Secretary for the Home Office will take a note of things that could be remedied. Why should this auxiliary agent of destruction be allowed to remain to accumulate on the main roads ? It is only a matter of small cost to remove it. I would like to see those loads absolutely cleared once every weak. Then, if a gas explosion takes place, it has not another agent to help it in its course of destruction. Again, when we speak about gas in cavities, it may be said that that cannot be dealt with. I believe that in these cavities, in which gas exists all the year round, you cannot ha.ve a current of air right up to the top of the cavity. But this gas can be dealt with and made absolutely harmless by a process of hermetically sealing the cavity, by brickwork masonry, and by arching the cavity in such a manner as to make it impossible in a time of atmospheric de- pression for that gas to exude through the archway, and come down to the main intake and into contact with sparks and defective lamps. I hope that the Home Secretary will try to do something in that direction. I INADEQUATE INSPECTION. I Tho next point with which I wish to deal is this At the present moment the whole mining community is absolutely dissatisfied: with the existing system of inspection below ground. The duties df volving upon a mine inspector to-day are numerous and onerous. Let me describe to the House the duties de^eloving upon an inspector. He has to deal with a huge amount of correspondence, a great mass of clerical work, he has to attend inquests, examine working places, travel by train, coach lawyers, and do a host of other things. These duties make it physically impossible for him to perform his -vork efficiently. I should like to sec two classes of inspectors—one class, con- sisting of the present chief inspectors and sub-inspectors, whose duties in my opin- ion should be, first, organisation secondly supervision; and. thirdly, to deal with only fatal accidents. Another class of inspectors I should like to see would be a class who could devote their whole time solely to the inspection of collieries, Let me describe thot duties performed in the Welsh coalfield by an inspector in the course of a week. Are we to be told that the inspection of our collieries can be carried on efficiently and thoroughly under such conditions as now obtain ? We will assume that on a Monday morning tbo inspector receives a telegram notifying him of a fatal accident at a place Eixty iniles from where he lives. I THE FARCE OF THE PRESENT I SYSTEM. As my horn. Friend the Member for South Glamorgan stated hist night to the House, tho t-raiiis in that district do not run at express speed, so that it takes a whole day to travel there and back. One can judge, therefore, of the amount of time that is left to the inspector to examine the place where the fatal acci- j dent occurred. When he returns home he gets into touch with the coroner, and he arranges for the inquest. He attends the inquest. The inquest may last two days, sometimes more, or sometimes less; but suppose it lasts two dtys, aiid the re- suit is that the colliery company is found to have committed a breach of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, the inspector then writes to his superior and also to the Home Office. He notifiæ the Home Office of the fatal accident, reports there- on, and asks for instructions as to whether he is to engage a solicitor. The instruction is sent on to him, with the result that he goes next day to a solicitor and coaches him for the prosecution. Next day he receives notification of another fatal accident, and the same process fol- lows. What is to become of the inspec- tion of the collieries ? The inspector has been daily engaged in this other business, so that the collieries are not systematic- ally inspected at all, and there is no time allowed the inspector to make a system- ptle. thorough, and efficient examination of the collieries. HUMANITY BEFORE PROFITS I I hope that the two suggestion which I make, along with the list of suggestions given by my hon. Friend the Member for South Glamorgan last night to the right hon. Gentleman, will be taken into serious consideration by the Home Office. I can assure the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs that the workers at the collieries, and also the railway workers of this country are fully entitled to. whatever protection or assistance the Government can give them. I appeal to the Under-Secretary to take immediate steps to prevent, so far as is humanly possible, those catastrophes. The miners of this country are fully entitled to all that can be done for their protection. A large number of delegates assembled at Cardiff a. few days ago, and they drew up those suggestions which have been sub- mitted. They drew up many other sug- g-estions which will come on in due course. They are waiting anxiously to see whs/t will be the result of this appeaL It has often been etated that coal-getting is the staple industry of this country, and that coal is the most important and greatest national asset we possess. Let me point out to hon. Gentlemen that they must know tha-t it cannot be our greatest national asset, for the greatest national asset we po-mess is human life, and it is for every hon. Member of this House to do all he possibly can to preserve that in- valuable asset. —————— 1'8'. ——————

SIR MARCHANT WILLIAMSI

[No title]

SAFETY IN THE MINES. I

| LABOUR MEMBER SCORES.

SENGHENYDD INQUIRY

SAFETY IN THE MINES. I

"BARN Y BRODYR."