§ 20. Mr. LUNN
asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that in 1925 no less than 75 per 1,000 of the ponies employed underground in Yorkshire were killed by accident, whilst the average for the whole of the mines in Great Britain was 44 per 1,000; whether he is satisfied that the regulations in the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1911,, regarding ponies are being properly carried out in Yorkshire mines; how many cases have been reported of cruelty through roofing, lack of supply of good drinking water, or overwork; whether any of His Majesty's inspectors, other than pony inspectors, ever report on the treatment of ponies; whether any of the pony inspectors visit the actual part of the mine in which the ponies work; and whether the Government are prepared to increase the number of inspectors, in order to see that the regulations operate effectively and to decrease this rate of mortality?
§ The SECRETARY for MINES (Commodore Douglas King)
As this question necessarily entails a long answer, I will with the hon. Member's permission circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Can the Secretary for Mines explain why there has been an increase in the death-rate in Yorkshire as compared with the rest of the country; is it due to a deficiency of inspectors?
§ Commodore KING
No, sir; I do not think it is due to a deficiency of inspectors. As the number of ponies is decreasing every year, there seems to be no occasion for an increase in the number of inspectors.
§ Following is the answer:
§ The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. With regard to the second and third parts of the question, the inspectors this year have found cause for some complaint in the matters mentioned in about 50 cases. But none of these was of a serious character involving actual cruelty to the horse, and I am fully satisfied from the inspectors' reports that the requirements of the Coal Mines Act in regard to pit ponies are on the whole well observed in 'Yorkshire. I am glad to say that there has been appreciable improvement since 1925, the figures for 1927 corresponding to those quoted in the question being 65 and 37 respectively. I am, however, seriously concerned at the unusually high death rate from accidents in this district, and decided some months ago that special steps should be taken to endeavour to effect an improvement and since then the matter has engaged the special attention of the inspectors and, at their instance, of the managements at collieries where the death rate has been abnormally high.
§ With regard to the fourth part of the question, it is always the practice of H.M. Inspectors of Mines, other than horse inspectors, to report any apparent contraventions of the Act in regard to animals employed underground.
§ The answer to the fifth part of the question is in the affirmative in all case.794
§ With regard to the last part, I am confident that, with the support and cooperation of the Industry, the steps which my Department is taking will lead to an improvement in the accident rates without the necessity of an increase in the existing staff of the inspectorate.