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SENGHENYDD PITi DISASTER.

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SENGHENYDD PIT DISASTER. Mr Wm. Brace's Demands BETTER LEGISLATION WANTED The final stage of the Senghenydd in- I quiry was reached on Friday, in London, when the addresses for the various parties were delivered at the Home Office. The Commissioner, Mr R. Redmayne (chief inspector of mines) presided, and was ac- c,ompanied by Messis. Evan Williams and Robert Smillie, acting as assessors. MR W. BRACE, M.P. Mr W. Brace, M.P., first addressed the I court, which, he said ha.d the serious and solemn responsibility of giving guidance to the Government and Parliament to in- troduce such legislation as was necessary to prevent such calamitous explosions as that at Senghenydd. He hoped the Court would make a report as soon as possible so that the Home Secretary might insert in his promised Bill a series of drastic conditions which would give miners a better chance of life than they had had in the nast. I jC A LONG LIST Mr Brace advocated the prohibition of naked lamps in gassy mines; that elec- tricity for heating, signalling, and light- ing should be prohibited unless surround- ed by the most rigid safeguards no over- head "sheaves" in gassy, fiery, dry or dusty mines; the general use of electric lamps in all such mines as above; a gas testing lamp in every working place avail- able for use to prevent men being over- whelmed by accumulations cf gas that: the firemen, instead of being employed by the employer, should be elected by the, workmen and paid by the State. The Commissioner suggested that was outside the province of the Court. Mr Brace said he thought not, as it collected a certain kind of insecurity, Firemen at present had not that security of employment which gave assurance of j their always giving a true record. Continuing, Mr Brace asked that all empty spaces that could act as centres for gas accumulations should be stopped up that all main roads, roofs, and sides should be well watered that dust-tight trams should be used in all fiery mines; that emplovers should bring all coal to the bank that no inflammable or combustible i material &hould be used in airways OT allowed to lie about in the roadways; that there should be water zones ini the mines; with the object of checking and prevent- j .ing explosions, also localising them, so that those workihg in other parts might; have a chance of saving their lives in- stead of every man- and boy being swept into eternity. I A DAILY "REST." Mr Brace also said every mine should have a "rest" of eight hours in every 24, which would give it time to cool. He asked, too, that workmen should have a right to take proceedings against the nune manager for breach of regulations with- out first consulting the inspector-the same right that the owners had in regard; to the workmen. The Commissioner said they were not permitted by the law to go into that master. < THE INSPECTORATE. Mr Brace asked that emergency doors. should be of such material as should stand any force of explosion, and that there should be an increase in the num- ber of inspectors of miiie-aii inspector to each 5,000 workmen, to act under the control of a superintendent inspector; whose area should not be too large to en- able him to give personal attention to all matters brought before him. The Commissioner asked if Mr Brace meant that the Senghenydd pit was not adequtely inspected. Mr Brace I say not only Senghenydd, but the whole of the mines in the United Kingdom. j STRICTURES FROM MR NICHOLAS I Mr W. P. Nicholas, solicitor for the South Wales Miners' Federation, said that some reports made by the colliery's servants were "loosely drawn." "A rubber stamp might have performed the functions," he exclaimed. There had been frequent contraventions of the Act, said Mr Nicholas, by men other than firemen performing duties of firemeiu Reserve ifremen were necessary. Mr Robert Smillie, M.P. (an assessor) If the;v were four firemen necessary to examine the pit you would have a hfth ? Yes. Mr R. A. S. Redmayne (commissioner) It would be only a matter of organisa- tion. Mr Nicholas We think the Act re- quires strengthening. We are not satis- lied that a longer time than five ho.ir-s did not sometimes elapse between the examinations made by the proper fire- men, although they might have been made by men who were partly gangers and partly firemen. Dealing with the work of rescue, Mr Nicholas complained that delay ensuord before the services of the rescue brigade were used. "They performed herculean tasks when they got to work," he said, "but there was delay in getting to the men in York pit. Attempts ought to have been made to penetrate the smoke at this point, and the same remark ap. plied to the Britannic pit. "It is interesting to see with what Mr Shaw, the manager-who displayed great personal heroism-was satisfied. ORGANISATION LACKING. "There should have been some system or some organisation, some telling-off of men to different places. When. we think of poor Archie Dean and other men wandering about for days we ask whether some system could not have been estab- lished to meet difficulties such as these. Mr Nicholas went on to say that there should be better provision for flooding mines in case of fire. Timbering should be fireproof and the hours of enginemen should be curtailed. Severe strictures upon the colliery oom- pany was passed by Mr Clem Edwards, M.P., when he addressed the court on be? half of bereaved families. He commented upon the fact that there had been no evi- dence from a director. SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS. ..I "With a- grave sense, of responsibility, said Mr Edwards, "I must say that no more oulpable and flagrant ignoring of the Mines Regulation Act has ever been brought To the notice of such a court as this. There has never been a single im- portant provision which goes to the pre- vention of disa.ster which this company has not violated. There have been 12 or 14 breaches of the Act and, most of them have relation to the prevention of ex- pln,sions. PMr Edwards definitely alleged: Inade- quate ventilation; inadequate testing of the air 100 ya.rds from the first working place; lack cf means for reversing ventil- ation no written appointment of the man in cha.rge of the locking static-n be- low ground; no systematic clearing of the sides and roofs of the roads; absence of a full and accurate report as to pre- sence of gas; districts had been larger than would allow the firemen to do their work thoroughly; examination of gas in cavities had, been carried out by a lamp on the end of a stick and there had be-en failure to report gas to the extent of an explosive mixture. ions at the in- One of the great questions at the in- quiry has been the place oi origin ot the explosion. On this head counsel said that if the theory of the management (that the trouble began at the Lanca.ster level) were correct, the owners would get rid of a grave responsibility, personal an 1 civil. It was significant that they ha,d treated as quite unimportant the variety of theories put forward by the Miners' Federation, and the moment anybody suggested the Mafeking pit, evidence had come fiom the owners' witnesses with the greatest rel uctance. "The gas was of an explosive charac- ter," said Mr Edwards, "and that was only dragged out by the adroitness of Mr Smillie's Scottish mind. The proceedings were adjourned until Saturday. SATURDAY'S PROCEEDINGS THE INQUIRY NOW OVER. The inquiry closed on Saturday, when the Hon. Trevor Lewis, in his final ad- dress on behalf of the manager (Mr E. Shaw), dealt with the accusations which ha.d been made against the management. With regard to the means of ignition, there was no doubt, he said, that such means existed in the lamp-locking station, thus far supporting the manager's theory, but it was difficult to draw a hard-and- fast line, having regard to contradictory appearances. He pointed to the New Tredegar tests as evidence that the sig- nalling apparatus could not have given off a spark of sufficient intensity to fire gas. He denied that there was any evidence to show that any of the firemen had failed to make a fuller report of what they found because of the fear of dismissal. With regard to the stopping of the fan for an hour and a half, he also submitted that there had been no breach of regula- tions. It did not follow that, because the fall was stopped, there would be no ven- tilation. The mere stopping of the fan did not constitute an offence. SEARCHING FOR GAS. As to the method of .searching for gas in cavities with the lamp and rod, it was, he said, entirely a question of angle and there was ample evidence to prove the safety of open cogging for roofs. He strongly objected to the statements made against a dead man that he had been in the habit of merely "brushing away" accumulations of gas. Mr R. Smillie Assuming that it took place, it never was suggested that the manager was aware of it. Mr Kenshole, on behalf of the Univers- al Colliery Company, the owners of the mine, denied that there was anything wrong or defective in the present method of searching for gas, and contended that there had been no statutory breach in the operations of the firemen. Whenever a "cap'' of gas was found the place was orossed off, and he contended that this was a compliance with regulations. »«t»

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