Mines (Temperature and Depth).

Oral Answers to Questions — Coal Industry. – in the House of Commons on 14th November 1933.

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Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

11.

asked the Secretary for Mines if His Majesty's inspectors have drawn his attention to the high temperature prevailing in the deep mines, in some instances exceeding 100 degrees; and will he consider amending the Coal Mines Act so as to prevent men working where the temperature exceeds a certain point?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave to his previous question on 11th July, when I said that the question of high temperatures in some of the deeper mine workings is constantly engaging the attention of the inspectors, and is also being studied by the Hot and Deep Mines Committee. It is true that the air—dry bulb—temperature in some deep workings reaches, and may slightly exceed 100° Fahrenheit, but the associated wet bulb temperature seldom exceeds 80° Fahrenheit, and it is the latter that is the more important when considering the effect of temperature upon the health of the workers. The investigations of the Hot and Deep Mines Committee have shown that acclimatised men can work without undue fatigue in wet bulb temperatures of over 80°, and there is no evidence that such work does any serious injury to the men's health or shortens their lives.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

May I take it that the hon. Member holds that men should work in a temperature of 100° Fahrenheit, and that he is telling the House that men can work in comfort in that kind of heat?

Photo of Mr Bertram Falle Mr Bertram Falle , Portsmouth North

May I ask the hon. Gentleman if this is not the temperature in the stokeholds of His Majesty's ships in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I cannot give a general answer to a supplementary question of that kind. It depends upon many circumstances. My hon. Friend will remember that there have been 17 reports by the Committee of the Institute of Mining Engineers on this complicated and very difficult subject, and there is a general statement by Dr. Haldane in 1929, which I shall be very pleased to discuss with him, but I cannot do it by means of supplementary questions.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

When may we expect a definite reply and when will the report be given to the House?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

There is a misunderstanding. This is a committee of experts under the direction of Dr. Haldane and not under my Department. It is a committee set up by the Institute of Mining Engineers that is carrying out research in this matter.

Photo of Mr Tom Smith Mr Tom Smith , Normanton

Does the hon. Member intend personally to investigate these hot mines?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I have no objection to doing so if any hon. Member is interested in any particular mine.

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

Will the hon. Member bear in mind that coal miners sometimes have to work very nearly naked because of the heat, and does he not think that it is very dangerous to work under conditions under which these men have to work?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I am aware that in some cases that is so, and in other cases it is an advantage to have clothing on. It depends upon the circumstances. If my hon. Friend will refer to the report, he will find those things discussed in detail.

Photo of Mr John Tinker Mr John Tinker , Leigh

12.

asked the Secretary for Mines how many mines there are over 500 yards deep, 750 yards deep, and how many exceed 1,000 yards deep; and can he say what is the greatest depth at the working face that any mine is at present working?

Photo of Mr Ernest Brown Mr Ernest Brown , Leith

I would refer the hon. Member to the Tables beginning on page 188 of Vol. 3 of the Report of the Royal Commission of 1925. These give particulars for the years 1913 and 1924 of the tonnage of coal classified according to the depths of the seams worked. I regret that no later general information is available. So far as I am aware, the answer to the second part of the question is about 1,250 yards.