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asked the Secretary for Mines whether he is aware that Boldon Colliery is still idle because the workmen refuse to commence a fourth-shift system; and whether he will take steps to urge upon the management to abandon their claim, seeing that this is against the custom prevailing in Durham County?
As I stated, in. answer to a question by the hon. Member on 3rd March, my Department have made every possible effort to bring about a settlement of this matter. A representative of the Department, who spent some days in Durham in connection with this dispute, attended joint meetings of the parties, and in this and other ways tried to secure agreement. I regret that his efforts were not successful, and I am afraid that I can do no more.
Is it not a fact that places must stop where gas has been prevalent for some hours, so that the places can be cleared, and that where firedamp becomes prevalent the places must be stopped? Is the Minister aware that a large number of places have been reported by the local mines inspectors every time they went down because gas was prevalent in the mines?
No, Sir, for a very good reason. If that were done it would release the owners from the obligation to pay the recognised wages. The immediate effect would be to reduce the wages of men in that area by about 2s. 6d.