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LABOUR IN PARLIAMENT.

IIN MEMORY OF MINER HEROES.…

YSTRADGYNLAIS COUNCIL. Ii

PREMIER and SURFACE WORKER.

SENGHENYDD SENSATAION.

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SENGHENYDD SENSATAION. WITNESS EXPLAINS HIS SILENCE. The Home Office inquiry into the Senghenydd Colliery disaster was re- sumed on Tuesday, and further sensa- tional statements followed those made at Monday's sitting. The witness was a miner named Thornton, and his allega- tions were of so grave a character that he was strongly pressed to explain his .silence before the catastrophe occurred. He gave two reasons: That he did not think it was neces- sary to speak of what was within the knowledge of the colliery staff, and That he feared victimisation. William Thornton, examined -on oath, said he was a miner employed in the Aberystwyth portion of the Mafeking district. He was not in the mine on the day of the explosion, Oct. 14, but he was there on the 13th, and for some time to time conversations with his mates as to the condition of the roads in respect of gas. It was usually said, "We are going to have something hap- pen here unless we are careful." USE OF THE LAMPS. I The firemen had cautioned them as I to the use of the lamps. He had known accumulations of gas fifteen yards from the face in his own working place, and had spoken of this to one of the fire- men, Frederick Williams, now dead. He and his mates had been told to "brush away" or "waft away" gas. The Commissioner: That is a distinct breach of the regulations. This is a very serious statement, and I hope you real- ise its importance. You are on oath, and I would remind you that these poor men are dead and cannot defend them- selves. You still say firemen told you to "brush away" gas accumulations? Do you not know that according to the regulations when gas is in a place you &re not to enter until an inspection has taken place?—The firemen would say, "Go on; it's all right." Replying to question, ThQrnton went on to describe certain mining opera- tions carried out in his district by a miner called Good Boy Dick, who lost his life in the explosion. This man was driving a hole through into some old workings. He (Thornton) saw gas com- ing through this hole the size of a I man's head under pressure from the other side. Such was the size of the hole on Oct. 13, but after the explosion it was large enough for a man to creep through. He had seen one of the de- puties using a lamp in this place in such a way as to occasion witness to remark, "You will play with it until it bites you." 'CANNOT ANSWER FOR HIMSELF.' I The 'Commissioner: You know the poor fellow is dead and cannot answer for himself ?-Yes. The Commissioner: This a a. very serious state of affairs, if correct. Did you report to the overman?—No; if I had done that I should have been go- ing over the fireman's head. Did you never think of seeing the l manager ?-N o. Did you ever see the under-wianager or tell him ?-No. How recently before the explosion did you see the manager, Mr. Shaw, in this district of the workings ?—About a fortnight before. He came with a fire- man and an overman. Did they make any tests?—No. Was there any conversation ?—No. Did anybody besides the fireman tell you to "brush" out the gas ?-No. MR. R. SMILLIE. I Mr. R. Smillie (assessor): If the fite- man and overman of this district were alive this would be a very serious state- ment, but it is more serious they being dead. You would not make it unless absolutely true ?-I would not. You say there was sufficient accumu- lation to put out a lamp ?—Yes. And you say that a foreman and over- man saw the state of things, and, know- ing it, went away saying nothing about it?—Yes. The Commissioner: You have been 12 years in this colliery, and you have never complained to the management? —No. The Commissioner: Did you appre- hend that if you made a complaint it would or would not be attended to?— II I might have been thrashed for it. Mr. Smillie: You do not mean thrashed in the ordinary sense of that I term? METAPHORICALLY. I The Comm-ssioner: You are speaking metaphorically ?- Y es. j Mr. Smillie: You think it might have been the worse for you?—Yes. The Commissioner: Well, you won't be the worse off for anything you say here to-day, and I hope the manage- ment will convey that to you. Mr. Smillie: You thought you might be viotimised ?-ExACtly. Mr. E. Williams (Assessor): Do you know of any instance of victimisation here?- W elÍ, after the last explosion I was idle eleven weeks; then I was taken back by Mr. Shaw. The Commissioner: Was any reason given for your not being employed?- No Thû Commissioner: You might have complained to his Majesty's inspector and nobody would have been one what the wiser?—I don't know about that; they find things out in a very funny way. (Laughter.) The Commissioner: You might have sent a letter to the Home Office. I see you are a very cautious man. Mr. Nicholas: Giving evidence against the company you feared would be a verv serious thing for yourself ?-Yes. The Commissioner: Did you make your statement immediately after the occurrence ?—Yes. Mr. Nicholas: Was it before the ex- ploration work had been very far ad- vanced ?—Yes. Mr. Nicholas: And you asserted the bodies of the fireman and the overman who were with "Good Boy Dick" would be found in the locality you have in- dicated ?-Yes. Mr. Nicholas: And as a matter of fact they were so found. (To witness): You believe the explosion was con- nected with this very place in Mafe- king?—Yes, with this very place. Mr. E. Williams (Assessor): You say there was a possibility of victimisation. Why ? Could you not have brought the matter before your trade union lodge committee ?—I did not like to do it. You are a member of the Miners' Federation. Why did you not bring it before the Federation committee ?-I did not care to do it. I did not think any report from me was wanted. The examiners would report the condition of affairs. "ABSENT." Mr. Trevor Lewis (for the manager) put it to Thornton that he had been frequently absent from work, putting in 51 shifts out of 158, and asked him why if things were so dangerous he did not absent himself altogether.—If I and my mate had come out there would have been two more taken on in our I place within two minutes. He repented that he did not report what he had seen in the workings to the fireman and overman. He thought it was their place to report to the manager. The Commissioner: "Their place, with the lives of your fellowmen at stake! Mr. Lewis informed the Court that in the explosion of 1901 the damage to the mine was so great that many of the men could not get back for some weeks. He did not understand that Thornton made any complaint about the management of the mine on that occasion.—I told the deputy to speak to the manager at the time. AFTER FIRST EXPLOSION. I Replying to the Commissioner, Thornton said he and his mates carried out their tools because of the firing of holes after the first explosion. He had then been back at work some time. Mr. Lewis: I thought you meant im- mediately afterwards. The Commissioner: So did I. Mr. Kenshole (solicitor for the own- ers) I hope you realise what you are charging Mr. Shaw with? What made you believe that he and the overman knew of this dangerous conditions of things ?-Because the gas had been there so often. Do you seriously say Mr. Shaw and the overman did not make tests ?—They did not in my presence. Mr. Kenshole: You were prepared to risk the lives of these men rather than report to your own committee?— I was running the same risk. Mr. Kenshole: This is the first time we have heard this allegation about "brushing" or "wafting" of gas. MR. CLEMENT EDWARDS. I Mr. Clement Edwards, M.P.: We cannot allow that statement to go un- challenged. Mr. Nicholas: And I raised the point in another place. Mr. Smillie: Do you know of any workmen who have complained to the management of gas accumulation?—No Mr. James Winstone, vice-president of the South Wales Miners' Federation gaveevidence as to his having taken a statement from Thornton in substan- tial agreement with his sworn testi- mony. Several survivors gave an account of their rescue. Mr. Winstone returned to the wit- ness-box to speak as to his inspection of the mine after the explosion. He was not satisfied with the system of mines inspection, and the men were losing conifdence because it had been decided in a recent case- that- no inspector was bound to produce before a judge any report made by him without the ex- press authority of the Secretary of State. Mr. Nicholas and Mr. Edwards ar- gued that this matter came without the terms of reference, and was a point of supreme importance. The Commissioner: I must rule against you. The point is directly ap- plicable to and should be raised in "another place." The Court adjourned until Wednes- day.

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