§ On the order of the day for taking into further consideration the report of the committee on the Bill to amend the laws respecting Parish Apprentices,
§ Sir Samuel Romilly
said, he thought the Bill would be the means of doing much good. The greatest abuses arose from the practice of binding children at a great distance from their relatives. There was a clause in the present Bill which might have very salutary effects, he meant that which appointed the indenture to be signed by the magistrates of the parish from which the child came, and that to which it was taken. He hoped that magistrates would conscientiously attend to their duty, and inquire not only into the mariner in which the child was bound, but respecting the person to whom it was bound, as they were empowered to do; that they would consider themselves as in the situation of fathers to those unfortunate children. He was astonished at the fact which had come out in the course of the inquiries which this Bill had given rise to, that magistrates often signed indentures blank, without knowing any thing of the masters, and that it frequently happened that there was no other formal party to the indenture but the magistrate; and magistrates of the county of Surrey were expressly named as having acted in this manner. He hoped the law in this respect would be attended to, for it was no use to pass laws if they were not carried, into execution.
Mr. Serjeant Onslow
thought, that magistrates too often confounded judicial with ministerial functions. He knew the individuals alluded to, and was convinced of the purity of their intentions. The mistake, however, was a most mischievous one, and he hoped this mention of it in the House would call the attention of magistrates to the subject.
The report was taken into further con- 697 sideration, and the Bill ordered to be read a third time on Thursday.