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Mines Act

Mines Act, 1842. Parliament had already intervened in 1774 and 1799 to improve the position of Scottish miners, whose bonds were described as akin to serfdom. In the 1830s a number of investigations into coal-mines revealed the extent of truck payments, employment of women and children, and disregard of safety. The first report on the employment of children in 1842, graphically illustrated, caused a sensation. Lord Ashley (Shaftesbury) took advantage of the indignation to steer through the Mines Act (5 & 6 Vic. c. 99) which forbade the employment of women underground, and of boys below the age of 10. Though inspection remained inadequate, it was an important breakthrough in protective legislation.

J. A. Cannon

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