Wales

Commons pays tribute to miners in Gleision tragedy

The four miners who died: Charles Breslin, Phillip Hill (top) and Garry Jenkins and David Powell (bottom, left to right)
Image caption Tributes were paid in the House of Commons to the four miners who died

Tributes have been paid in the House of Commons to the miners who died when a Swansea Valley pit flooded last month.

Shadow Welsh Secretary and Neath MP Peter Hain said lessons could be learned from the Gleision tragedy for the future of mines safety and rescue.

He also said during Welsh Questions that the appeal fund set up for the families was approaching £400,000.

Police are working with the Health and Safety Executive to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths.

David Powell, 50, Charles Breslin, 62, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, died after the mine was engulfed by water on 15 September. Three other miners managed to escape.

The last of the miners' funerals took place last week.

Mr Hain thanked emergency services and workers from two other coal mines in south Wales, Aberpergwm and Unity, for their efforts in the rescue operation.

Normal political hostilities were also put aside as Mr Hain thanked Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan after the UK government agreed to pay the equivalent of Gift Aid to the appeal fund - adding 25% to the total.

"I believe there are a number of important lessons from the Gleision tragedy for the future of mines safety and rescue," he said.

"I'm asking the secretary of state to delay the report by Professor Löfstedt, due by the end of this month, on regulations covering mining amongst other sectors, so that account can be taken of a submission I plan for her and her cabinet colleagues."

Collections

Prof Löfstedt is leading a review into health and safety legislation as part of changes to support the UK government's "growth agenda" and to cut red tape.

Mrs Gillan said the report was being written and, because it was independent, it would be "inappropriate" for ministers to delay its publication.

But she added: "I am sure any lessons that can be learned from the investigation into the tragic events at the Gleision mine will be incorporated into any recommendations from Professor Lofstedt's report that are taken forward by the Health and Safety Executive."

Mr Hain also revealed an appeal for the family of the four miners, which he helped set up with the South Wales branch of the National Union of Mineworkers, was approaching £400,000.

Cash has come from a wide variety of sources including members of the public, collections at sporting events and donations from businesses.

On Wednesday, about 40 curry restaurants and takeaways across south west Wales are holding a fundraising night for the appeal.

Half the proceeds from the evening will go towards the fund.

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