52. Mr. GEORGE BARKER
asked the Secretary for Mines if he is aware that in the Cardiff area there is now no Welsh-speaking inspector of mines; that a Welsh-speaking divisional inspector who has just retired has been replaced by a person who is unable to Speak the Welsh language; that a senior inspector has just been appointed who is also unable to speak Welsh; that these appointments have created considerable bad feeling among the mining community of South Wales; that Section 97 (I) of the Coal Mines Act stipulates that in the appointment of inspectors of mines in Wales and Monmouthshire among candidates, equally qualified, persons having a knowledge of the Welsh language shall be preferred; and that there are qualified senior inspectors speaking the Welsh language who have been passed over in making these appointments; and will he carefully reconsider the matter, with a view to rectifying what appears to be an ignoring of the Mines Act in filling these vacancies in the Welsh inspectorate?
The SECRETARY for MINES (Mr. Bridgeman)
I am, of course, aware that Section 97 of the Coal Mines Act directs that in the appointment of inspectors of mines in Wales and Monmouthshire, among candidates otherwise equally qualified, persons having a knowledge of the Welsh language shall be preferred. But I do not understand how the hon. Member finds in this stipulation ground for criticism of the promotion of Mr. Carey to be divisional inspector. Mr. Carey was appointed an inspector in the district 10 years ago, and has some knowledge of the Welsh language. Nor is the hon. Member correct in suggesting that there is no Welsh-speaking inspector in the Cardiff area: there are certainly two who speak the language well. Of the three inspectors recently appointed to the 29 district only one, the senior inspector, is ignorant of Welsh, and he is learning it, and I am satisfied that no one otherwise equally qualified was passed over in his favour. I gave the whole question of these appointments my most careful personal attention and have been scrupulous in observing my statutory obligations.