HC Deb 12 March 1856 vol 141 cc2-19

Order for Second Reading read.


Sir, I would most earnestly claim the attention of the hon. Gentlemen who have the conduct of this Bill, and of the right hon. Members who represent the Government in this House as I desire to lay before them and the House the claims of those on whose behalf I now appear as an advocate for common justice. Those in whose behalf I am interested, and whom I now represent, are the Irish Catholics resident in Scotland. But before I enter into their case, I think it only due to myself, in the first place, to state, as clearly and succinctly as possible, the opinions which I held with respect to the system on which reformatory schools are founded. There is not in this House a more warm advocate or a move earnest supporter of the principle of reformatory institutions than I am; and I freely admit that those gentlemen who, by the establishment of such institutions, attempted to solve the difficult problem of the reformation of the juvenile criminal population of the country, are entitled to every credit for their wisdom, benevolence, and courage; but there, I regret to say, I am compelled to stop. Whatever religious opinions may be entertained by hon. Members, I believe they will admit that the best and most successful agent for the reformation of vagrant children, and of those who have actually entered on a career of crime, is through the instrumentality of religious teaching. But in order to render the influence of religious teaching effective, and therefore successful, it is necessary that it should be in strict conformity with those doctrines and that creed in which the child had been instructed, or which he had been accustomed to respect as true. In fact, to render religious teaching what it ought to be made, there should be a perfect identity of religious feeling between the teacher and the person taught. Now, my complaint is this—that this sound principle is not adhered to in the Scotch reformatory schools, which, whatever the motives and intentions of their founders, are converted to the most ungenerous and unworthy objects. I shall explain to the House why it is imperative that the system of religious teaching which I advocate should be adopted in Scotland. The Irish population in Scotland amounts in round numbers to somewhere between 250,000 and 300,000. It is scarcely necessary to say that the vast majority of those people are Catholics, and that they live by labour. Many of them are the very poorest of the poor. The great body of them had left their own country under the pressure of poverty, and sought an asylum and a means of subsistence amongst a people with whom, unfortunately, they could have but little sympathy. Devoting themselves to the rudest kind of labour, the Irish in Scotland are, of all others, the most liable to all the evils which arise from the fluctuations of trade and business. The stoppage of any great work, nay, oven a contrary wind, may reduce thousands of poor Irish to the deepest distress. It is the children of the Irish population who are most likely to come within the designation of vagrant, and, therefore, within the operation of the Act, of which the present Bill purports to be an amendment. Let me put a case to the House, such as must of necessity frequently occur. Take an Irish labourer who has been four years in Scotland; he is suddenly thrown out of work, and in a short time reduced to a condition of the deepest distress. No Irish-born person can claim the privilege of non-removability unless he has resided as many as five years in the same parish in Scotland, and that without ever having applied for parochial relief. Then this poor Irishman of four years' residence dares not apply to the parish, for he is well aware that he may be sent back to Ireland; and in his desperate circumstances it may happen that his children have recourse to begging as a means of supporting life. In their case, this surely is no serious offence—it is a mere infraction of a police regulation; yet for this law-made crime the child of the Irishman is liable to be taken before a magistrate, and by him committed to gaol for fourteen days, and then sent to a reformatory school for a period of five years. Remember, that the father and mother of this child are Catholics—that the child himself is a Catholic—that from his infancy he has been taught to believe the Catholic religion the true religion, and to respect and reverence its ministers. It is not because this poor child has been convicted of begging that he is, on that account, without any moral sense or religious belief—that he is what has been termed a "home heathen," or an "Arab of the street." Let me ask hon. Members from Scotland, what provision is made in their schools for the religious teaching of this Catholic child? I answer, none whatever, unless that teaching be Presbyterian. I distinctly state that the treatment of Irish Catholic children in these schools—with one solitary exception—is unmanly, bigoted, and unchristian. This is my distinct accusation; and this I shall proceed to prove. By a return of the 7th of February, I find there are eleven schools for vagrant children in Scotland, with 1,799 children confined in them. Besides these, there are eight other schools. But I shall confine my observations to Glasgow, in which there are three schools, containing 738 children, of whom at least one-half are Catholics. I ask you, then, what provision is there made for the religious teaching of those children? When Catholic children are committed to these schools, they are compelled to receive Presbyterian teaching—they are compelled to become or profess themselves Presbyterians—they are given over, without any protection whatever, to the undisputed authority of men whoso open and public boast it has been, that they would never be satisfied until Popery was extirpated from the land. These wretched children are thus exposed to one or other of two evils. If those Presbyterians cannot succeed in their efforts to change the Catholic child into a Presbyterian, they may succeed in making him a hypocrite, and thus render all chance of reform impossible; but if they do succeed in their unworthy attempt, they succeed in bringing up the child in hatred of his father's creed—and what a fearful curse is thus in store for the poor Catholic home when the child is sent back to those whose faith he has been taught to deride and hate—what an abiding source of discord for the family of a poor man, which, above all others, requires unity of object and sympathy of feeling to enable it to battle against the difficulties of its hard position in life. I confidently appeal against such a system as this, which I hold to be the meanest tyranny and the most shameful intolerance, to hon. Gentlemen who are so loud in their indignation whenever they hear of the slightest violation of religious liberty in a foreign country. They are ready to rush over to Italy to intercede for the Madiai, and to interfere with the decisions of foreign tribunals, perhaps without caring to comprehend the entire merits of the case. There are no sacrifices of purse or eloquence which they will not make in favour of religious liberty abroad; and yet they are unaccountably insensible to religious persecution at home. Now, I tell those Gentlemen that, however much I may consider their zeal indiscreet or their conduct Quixotic, I respect their ostensible motives; for if there be an act of oppression committed against conscience, whether at home or abroad, or by whom committed, I hold it to be worthy of the indignation of every generous-minded man; but I implore of those hon. Members to spare some of their zeal for religious liberty in their own country. I shall now proceed to show what unfairness is practised in the name of humanity, and under the sanction of this reformatory system. I hold in my hand a letter which I received some short time since from a gentleman residing in Glasgow, on whoso authority I must place the most implicit reliance. That letter is dated the 21st of February, 1856; and, amongst other cases, it states the following— A few weeks ago, a girl named M'Laughlin came to me and told me that she had just come out of the Female House of Refuge, of which she had been an inmate for three years. She was not long in the house till it was discovered she was a Catholic. At that time she was about fourteen years of age. She was told that she must be a Catholic no longer. For a few days coaxing was used, in order to prevail upon her to give up her religion. This mode of procedure proving ineffectual, she was locked up in a dark room for three days and three nights, and fed only upon bread and water. At the end of three days her courage gave way, and she yielded. A mild mode of conversion truly! My correspondent goes on to say— It is true, the Female House of Refuge was not then a Reformatory School, as I believe it is now; but I have no reason to think that any change of system, in as far as Catholics are concerned, has taken place. If the statement of the girl M'Laughlin be correct, it makes the matter worse; for if, when it was a purely voluntary institution, such a stretch of tyranny was exercised, what may not be expected now that despotic power is placed in the hands of its managers, through the operations of the law under which it is at present placed? The second case to which I shall refer is that of a boy— Some time ago a boy named O'Donnell was taken up for selling lucifer-matches in the street. He was tried and sent to the Industrial School for five years. Shortly after he received sentence his mother went to see him, when he begged of her to take him home, because, he said, he was not allowed to make the sign of the Cross, nor to say the Hail Mary. The mother came to me in deep affliction. I drew out a petition to Sir George Grey, in the name of his father, for his liberation, offering the security required by the Act, that he should never again appear in the streets as a vagrant. The right hon. Secretary returned, for answer, that he declined interference in the matter. I could give other cases, and quote from other letters, to the same effect, to prove that the other reformatory schools of Scotland, however benevolent the intentions of their founders, are at the present moment turned to the worst of purposes—namely, that of proselytism. Proselytism is one of the greatest curses of Ireland; yet it is in this unhappy spirit that the reformatory schools of Scotland, if not founded, are certainly conducted. It might be answered, that the Catholics of Scotland could establish reformatory schools of their own. But hon. Gentlemen who are acquainted with the real position of the Catholics of Scotland know that such a permission amounts to a practical mockery. They have not the means—they are too poor. As it is, their resources are taxed to the very uttermost in their efforts to build churches, found convents, and establish ordinary schools with the aid of the Privy Council grants. And to tell them that they can establish reformatory schools of their own, is something like the advice of a sleek, well-fed doctor who, visiting a poor starving patient, would say, "My dear sir, I recommend you something nourishing—a nice chicken, and a good glass of Madeira." I have the best authority for stating that they cannot establish such institutions at present, whatever they may be able to do at some distant time. Therefore, Catholic children must of necessity be sent to institutions founded and conducted by persons who constantly proclaim the deadliest hostility to the Catholic faith. There is only one institution of the kind in Scotland in which fair play is given to the Catholic child, and that is the United School in Edinburgh, which is conducted in the same benevolent and generous spirit in which it was first conceived. Let two matters be clearly understood—the one, that the Catholics of Scotland are not able to found those schools; the other, that of necessity Catholic children must be sent to those which exist, and which are conducted, not by Protestants, who are by far the most tolerant, but by Presbyterians, who are the most aggressive enemies of the faith and freedom of their Catholic brethren. It is not my intention to divide the House against this amending Bill; such a course would, for many reasons, be now objectionable. But I would appeal to the generosity of hon. Gentlemen opposite (the Scotch Members) to extend to Catholics in Scotland a toleration at least equal to that which the British Government, from motives of sound policy, is compelled to exhibit to the Pagan population of India. Every British officer who goes to India, whether in a military or civil capacity, is bound not to offer offence even to the grossest superstitions of the natives, nor in any way outrage their religious prejudices. I ask for the same toleration, not in India, but in the United Kingdom—not to a Pagan people, but to a Christian population. I then would propose certain alterations in the present Bill, so as to make the existing Act in some way satisfactory, and consistent with the principles of fair play. I would propose a clause to the effect that a child might be sent to any reformatory school in the United Kingdom; and also that Catholic priests and Catholic teachers should be admitted to all schools of which Catholic children are inmates, with a view to their religious instruction. But while claiming this right, I would of course consent to every fair restriction, in order to satisfy the managers of such schools that there should be no attempt made by any clergyman to tamper with the faith of a child of a different persuasion. For my own part, I would denounce all such attempts by whomsoever made; and all that I ask for is fair play for all. I would now draw the attention of the House to an opinion expressed by Mr. Recorder Hill, to whom the reformatory system is much indebted, and who will be admitted to be one of its most able and successful advocates. Mr. Hill was written to by Mr. Murray, of Dublin, an ardent supporter of the system, who submitted to Mr. Hill's consideration a draft of a Bill for Ireland. Now, in order to understand the full force of Mr. Hill's observations, it is necessary that I should give the very clause on which they were founded. It is as follows— 2. The reformatories shall be set apart for the exclusive reception of the professors of the Protestant or of the Roman Catholic religions respectively; and all offenders committed to a reformatory shall be considered as belonging to the same religious persuasion as that professed by their parents; and in all cases in which the religion of the parent is unknown, the young person committed shall be considered as belonging to that religious persuasion of which he professes himself a follower. The House will perceive that this section purposes an entirely separate institution for Catholic children—an arrangement necessary in Ireland, but at present impracticable for Scotland. I can state, on authority, that the Bill of which this clause is a section, was drawn up and sanctioned by gentlemen of high position and influence in Ireland, the majority of whom were not Catholics. Here are the remarks of Mr. Recorder Hill upon the proposal of separate religious teaching— I do not look upon the arrangement as boon to the professors of either creed, but as a boon to the State. This State is expending money to reform young offenders—the religion of those offenders may be a potent engine for advancing the object. On the other hand, a, religion which they have been taught to fear and hate, and the move contact with which will disunite them from those of their own communion, will retard the reformatory progress instead of aiding it, and will prove an evil instead of a blessing. This opinion—that, too, of a Protestant gentleman—is surely no slight authority in support of the views which I have expressed, and of the reasonable and modest demand which I respectfully make. May I put the question to hon. Members from Scotland who may be adverse to that demand, how would they feel if the case were reversed?— Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur. Suppose that the Presbyterians were in the minority—that they were a small, a poor, and unrepresented sect—suppose the Catholics were in the ascendant—that theirs was the dominant faith, and that they (the Catholics) founded these reformatory schools, and compelled wretched Presbyterian children to profess a faith which they had been taught to believe one of error, perhaps to abhor, and that no Presbyterian minister was suffered to darken the threshold of one of those schools by his shadow—what, in such a case, would be the result? Why this, that the injured and outraged Presbyterians would appeal to the justice and right feeling of the empire at large, and that from every pulpit and platform in England would ring denunciations of such monstrous and intolerable tyranny, such mean and unmanly persecution. And, let me ask, is the tyranny less intolerable, is the persecution less mean and unmanly, because it is practised by Presbyterians, and not by Catholics? I demand an end to this violation of religious liberty from gentlemen who have frequently, as I have myself, voted for the admission of Jews into this House, and for giving them a right to take part in the deliberations and acts of this Christian assembly. I ask them, if they desire to carry out their own professions, to give free access to the teacher who is best qualified to have an influence on the habits, the mind, the conscience, the heart of the children. Let the Protestant child be instructed by the Protestant clergyman, the Presbyterian by the Presbyterian, and the Catholic by the Catholic. Mere secular education will not accomplish the end you say you have in view—the reformation of juvenile delinquents. The chaplain can do more than the schoolmaster in such cases; for, while the latter may awaken the intellect, the former can best reach the heart, and rouse those earlier and better feelings which misery and crime had rendered dormant in the breast of the neglected child. In the Act which it is now desired to amend there is a proviso, that "due regard shall be had to the faith of the child," which means that on the application of the parent or guardian of a child he shall be sent to such school as may be approved of by the authorities. Practically, this is worthless, because there are no schools in which this "due regard" is had to the faith of the Catholic child. But it is the admission of a principle, and I am the more justified in insisting on the application of a principle which Parliament has itself proclaimed. I ask that a Catholic child may be sent to any school in the United Kingdom—certainly, in Great Britain; and that the Catholic priest shall have free access to Catholic children for the purpose of conferring on them the best means of effecting their permanent reformation—religious instruction. These are the modest demands which I respectfully urge on the promoters of the Bill, and which, if they refuse to accede to them, I confidently urge on the Government, and on that sense of fairness and justice which I believe animates this House; and when the Bill goes into Committee, I shall be prepared to reduce them to form by proposing Amendments to that effect.


thought the speech of the hon. Member for Dungarvan deserving of the attention of the House. He concurred with him in thinking that reforming juvenile criminals was only to be done by religions teaching, which could only be carried into effect by placing the children of different religious opinion in separate establishments, arranged and managed according to their religion, and where their religion was made the means of their reform. The various sects of Protestants might be taught together; but the Roman Catholic religion was so different in its doctrines and practices, that it was impossible the children could be managed on a system calculated to produce any effect unless they were by themselves, uncontrolled by any other religious principle or practice. He conceived that the real principle for which the hon. Member for Dungarvan contended was, that there should be power to send Catholic children to a Catholic reformatory; and if there should not be one in the place to which they belonged, that they might be sent to another district. He (Mr. Bowyer) believed that all attempts of the Legislature to establish those reformatories would be totally fruitless if each denomination were not allowed to reform their own children according to the religion which the children had been brought up in.


I am sure, Sir, the House has heard with satisfaction the remarks which have fallen from the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), and I hope it will re echo all those fervent aspirations for religious toleration to which he has given utterance. I only regret that those aspirations did not find expression in the Legislative Assemblies of Naples, of Austria, or of France, rather than in the Parliament of this country. I was not a little surprised to hear the hon. Member speak with so much zeal against proselytism, and assert that it was the greatest curse that could befall a State, because there is not a single gaol, or school, or other public institution, with which I am acquainted, into which it is possible for a Roman Catholic priest to poke his nose, that he does not thrust it for the mere pleasure, as it would seem, of making mischief. For my own part, however, I certainly agree with the hon. Member for Dungarvan that there is a great deal more harm than good done, upon all sides, by a recourse to the system of proselytism, and I further think that no advantage whatsoever would result to a Roman Catholic child upon being placed under the guidance of a Presbyterian clergyman, and thus, as has been observed, taught to hate the religion of his father. But the difficulty does not stop here, and while speaking upon this point I would call the attention of hon. Members to a letter which was written by Bishop Gillies, of Edinburgh—who must be considered as an authority upon the subject—to the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate, with reference to the Education Bill which he introduced last year. Bishop Gillies observes in that letter, "I shall not join your Bill; nay, more, I shall oppose it in every direction, and though you should leave out the religious question altogether, I shall oppose it just the same." You may say, "Surely we may learn science and geography, and the various other branches of secular information, together, at all events. There cannot be much Popery or Presbyterianism mixed up with geography." "No," writes the Bishop, "we cannot learn geography together, for I find that into your books upon the subject you introduce little pictures, some parts of which are drawn in light colours and some in dark, and I find that you invariably use the dark colours to represent Popish and the light Protestant countries." Now, it is stated, not alone by Protestant, but by Roman Catholic writers, that in proportion as the priests have domination over schools, in the same proportion does ignorance prevail among the people. This statement bears upon clergymen of all religions, but it tells more strongly against those of the Roman Catholic Church, because they have been so long in possession of the privilege of domination in their schools, that it is almost impossible to oust them. But the Bishop goes on to say—and I think the statement must puzzle those who have not had ocular demonstration of its justice—"Not only would I not suffer Protestant and Roman Catholic children to learn geography together, but I would not allow them to play together, because they would be likely to learn bad habits from one another, in as much as the principles in which the are instructed are entirely different." Now, I recollect having passed some time with the family of a very intimate Roman Catholic friend, of mine. There were in the family two young boys, and having missed them one day at dinner I inquired where they were, and expressed a hope that they were not ill? The answer was, "No, but they have been, behaving badly." "How?" I inquired. "Why, one of them went into the drawingroom yesterday and took a lump of sugar, and the other did not tell upon him." "A fine little fellow," said I. "Well, he is the boy who has been punished," was the reply; "the other who took the sugar was not punished at all!" [Laughter.] It is no matter for laughter, believe me, that every soul in a man's family, his wife, children, and servants, should be trained up to spy upon one another. It is no joking matter in France or in Italy. It is the very system that drives men to have recourse to "Rougeism," and all those other desperate means which men adopt in order to free themselves from a tyranny so intolerable. My opinion with respect to reformatory schools is, that you have only one plan to adopt in their regard, and that is, to establish, as was formerly the case, large hulks in all the great seaport towns of the kingdom, in which you will be best enabled to wean young criminals from the bad habits which they have acquired, and from which you can supply your army and navy with very valuable recruits. If you do that, you may in all probability save a great number of boys; but in the system of religious instruction of which some hon. Members are the advocates, I have no faith whatsoever.


said, he trusted that hon. Members would not digress into a discussion upon the question of religious education, which was certainly not raised in the Bill before the House. With regard to the objection of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire), it was clear from the spirit of the clauses of the Bill which it was now proposed to amend, that there was no intention to take advantage of those institutions for the purpose of proselytising. There was a power given to the Magistrates to send any child to a reformatory conducted by managers of its own religious faith, where any such existed, and to the Secretary of State to remove the child from one institution to another, for cause shown. At the same time it should be remembered that there were voluntary institutions, and there was no objection to their being founded exclusively for Roman Catholics, provided the general requirements of the Act in other respects were complied with by the managers. In fact, there were institutions of that nature, and he had hoped that one effect of the opportunity the Act gave for voluntary effort in that direction would have been to keep those religious questions out of the House of Commons, by providing the means of placing children in institutions in which the religion they were brought up in was taught. He had no doubt that wherever it was necessary, and the means existed of doing so, the children who were fit objects for those institutions would be sent to such as were conducted in accordance with the tenets of the religion of their parents, or, on representation being made, that they would be removed to them; therefore, he did not consider that any alteration of the Bill was necessary, and he trusted the hon. Member would not insist upon the introduction of his Amendments.


said, he thought it was not desirable to protract a discussion upon a point which was not immediately connected with the object of the Bill—the enforcement of payment by parents for the maintenance of their children. The religious question had not previously been raised, and it was honourable to the Roman Catholics that they had been the first to start it. He thought that the requests of the hon. Member for Dungarvan were fair and equitable, and that he had sketched a plan which might be adopted, and for which provision might be made in the Bill. At present, a child could not be sent to a school out of the kingdom in which it was convicted. With the limit thus imposed upon the power of removal, the hon. Member by his first proposition sought to do away. Looking at the reformatories already established by Roman Catholics in England, he (Mr. Adderley) thought that they would soon have a sufficient number of schools to make even that provision effectually carry out the objects which the hon. Gentleman sought to attain. Supposing that were not the case, the hon. Member had further proposed that Roman Catholic priests—and he (Mr. Adderley) presumed ministers of other denominations—[Mr. MAGUIRE made a gesture of assent]—should be allowed to visit the reformatories and to give religious instruction to the children of their respective denominations. That practice existed in the largest pauper school in England—that at Manchester—and he was informed that no inconvenience was experienced from it. The difficulty in the present case was, that these being voluntary institutions their managers might object to such a provision. If the hon. Gentleman would make the admission subject to the consent of the managers, he thought that the proposition would be a reasonable one.


said, he was of opinion that liberty of conscience should be respected in education as in all things else, and he would point out in illustration of his view a school in Edinburgh with which he had been long connected, and which was conducted on the principle of giving religious instruction to the Protestant and Catholic pupils at different hours, while secular education was imparted simultaneously to the whole school. The system had worked admirably, the result being equally advantageous to the children and satisfactory to their parents. The eloquence of Catholic Gentlemen from Ireland on the subject of religious freedom was undoubtedly worthy of all admiration; but it was to be regretted that they did not endeavour to inspire their co-religionists in other countries with sentiments equally liberal. Their neglect to do so, however, was no reason why, in this enlightened country, Protestants should act otherwise towards Catholics than in a spirit of perfect toleration.


said, he wished to call attention to No. 10 of the Resolutions proposed by the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) declaring that children should not be compelled to attend any form of worship or receive any description of religious instruction to which their parents or guardians objected. He contended that that sound and salutary regulation, so essential to the liberal management of free schools, was yet more urgently required in reformatory institutions, where the system of administration was necessarily stringent and the discipline severe.


said, he hoped that, as there was no objection to the general principle of the Bill, the House would, without proceeding further with a profitless discussion on an abstract question, at once agree to the second reading. The Bill was simply an extension of a very beneficial measure introduced on the same subject two years ago, and, like it, was founded on the principle that, without giving pre-eminence to any particular class or sect, Government should take advantage of voluntary institutions, and enable them to provide, as far as their means would permit, for the education of vagrant children not yet committed for violation of the law. Admitting the full force of the argument that the powers conferred by such measures ought not to be abused for purposes of proselytism, it was, on the other hand, a little hard that, when Scotch Members attempted to deal with a question affecting the social interests of their own country, objections should be wantonly thrown in the way of their doing so in what appeared to them the most advantageous manner. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. Maguire) complained that the Catholics of Scotland were too poor to found reformatory schools of their own, but surely they might obtain assistance for that purpose from other professors of the same faith who sympathised with the opinions of the hon. Gentleman. The matter now under consideration was not the principle on which Government schools or reformatories should be established. That was a question for which, surrounded as it was with adventitious difficulties, Parliament did not as yet seem ripe. What was now engaging their attention was how to deal with voluntary institutions. The hon. Member for Dungarvan had made two proposals—that Catholic priests should have free admittance into voluntary reformatories, and that there should be a power to remove Catholic children from Protestant schools to other establishments in cases where the parents might desire such removal. With regard to the first of those proposals, he (the Lord Advocate) could not consent to its being enforced by Act of Parliament, for, whatever the motive or intention of such a measure might be, every one who knew anything of Scotland must he aware that the Protestants and Presbyterians who had originated the voluntary institutions in that country would not hear of it. The United Industrial Schools of Edinburgh were founded on a different system, and to those schools Catholic children might freely be sent; but, whatever might be done in Government institutions, it was not to be imagined that an obligation to admit ministers of all descriptions to teach what religions they pleased could be imposed by Act of Parliament on persons who, by their own spontaneous efforts, had established ragged schools, reformatories, and similar institutions. The recommendation that other reformatories in this country should be made available for the reception of Catholic children, whose parents might desire their removal from Scotland, was a more feasible suggestion, and deserved attentive consideration. With respect to the alleged case of oppression to which the hon. Member had alluded as having occurred some years ago in Glasgow, it was to be regretted that, instead of making it the subject of Parliamentary debate at that distance of time, he had not at once brought it under the consideration of the then Lord Advocate.


A statement of the case was sent to the Home Secretary at the time.


said, he could only say that for his part he knew nothing of the case.


said, he viewed reformatory institutions with peculiar favour, as indicating a most laudable desire in all denominations of Christians to make common cause in an honest and earnest attempt to check crime at its source. While cordially concurring in much that had fallen from the hon. Member for Dungarvan, he must be allowed to express a doubt whether the privileges for which that hon. Gentleman had so strenuously contended would, in all instances, be highly prized by those in whoso interest they were solicited. The regulations of a reformatory school in the north of England, with which he was connected, placed religious instruction under the general supervision of a minister of the Church of England, but permitted the visits of clergymen of all persuasions to teach the children of their respective communions. Now, that seemed in the abstract a very salutary rule, yet it was only on very rare and exceptional occasions that a Roman Catholic priest claimed the benefit of it—a fact which seemed fairly open to the inference that Roman Catholic parents were wisely content to have their children rescued from infamy and degradation, and did not care to insist that they should be brought up in their own religion. It was to be hoped that the Legislature, taking a lesson from the zeal and energy of the Scottish Members, would soon sanction the establishment of Union Industrial Schools, where a great amount of juvenile vice might be arrested before it had developed into actual crime.


said, that the words in the existing Act for the protection of Roman Catholics had been adopted with the full concurrence of the late Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas), and other Roman Catholic Members. He wished to refer to the provision made by the English Protestants for the Madiai, and he called upon the Roman Catholics who were in a position to do so to come forward and by voluntary effort to assist their poorer brethren in Scotland in providing the means for establishing Roman Catholic reformatory schools.


said, he was surprised that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate should have denied the right of Members not connected with Scotland to take part in the discussion of the present Bill.


said, he must explain that he had never done so. All he meant to say was, that it was to be regretted that Scotch Members engaged in a voluntary attempt to remedy a social evil affecting their own country, should have to contend with difficulties inconsiderately and somewhat wantonly raised by hon. Members not connected with Scotland.


said, he cheerfully accepted the right hon. and learned Lord's explanation, and at the same time would express his own conviction that the Bill, though only designed to apply to Scotland, would affect all the voluntary reformatories in the United Kingdom, He should have been sorry if the questions raised by the hon. Member for Dungarvan had been mooted in a hostile spirit and with the intention of defeating the Bill; but, raised as they had been with good feeling and good temper, no evil was to be apprehended from the discussion they had occasioned. It was a matter in which Protestants and Roman Catholics had an equal interest, that these voluntary institutions should be conducted in such a manner as to preclude the danger of their being abused for purposes of proselytism. That was a consideration of the highest importance, for if Government went on affording every year increased support to those institutions, without at the same time taking care that they should be conducted with that strict regard to the principles of religious liberty which the spirit of the age demanded, the consequence would be that public opinion would react and the voluntary system would break down. There was at present only one institution in Scotland to which Roman Catholics could conscientiously send their children, and even that establishment was liable to the objection that the system of religious instruction adopted there was a mixed one. It might be said that the Roman Catholics were at liberty to found reformatory institutions of their own; but to this the hon. Member for Dungarvan had frankly and fairly replied that in Scotland they were so poor that they could not afford to do so. That being the case, it was clearly desirable that the voluntary reformatories should be conducted in such a spirit as to be available for their purposes and those of all denominations of Christians, He was not to be understood as saying that he would adopt the proposals of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, but he respected the motive and intention which had dictated the remarks of the hon. Gentleman, and believed with him that it would be possible so to arrange the details of the Bill in Committee as to make the measure more acceptable to men of all religious denominations.


said, he thought that if the power were to be granted of removing children from one establishment to another, it should be coupled with a condition that the removal should take place within a specified time, and before the child had as yet been completely habituated to the system of the institution to which he had originally been sent.


said, he was of opinion that the Roman Catholics of Glasgow were sufficiently affluent and numerous to found a reformatory institution of their own; and if they would make the attempt they should not be without assistance from Protestants.


said, he had waited with some anxiety to hear how the two propositions of the hon. Member for Dungarvan could be applied to the Bill, the Bill being voluntary in its principle. The first proposition, that of compelling the schools to receive ministers of any religious persuasion, was clearly inapplicable to the voluntary principle; while, as regarded the second, the removal of children to other institutions, he (Mr. Scott) wished to know at whose expense it was to be done?


said, he begged to thank the House for the cordial reception they had given to the Bill, and at the same time to express his satisfaction that no objection had been made to its principle. He desired to take advantage of existing establishments which were supported by voluntary contributions, and the Bill provided that, where there were two reformatory institutions within the jurisdiction of the magistrates, parents might choose to which of them their children should be sent. If there should be only one institution within the jurisdiction of the magistrates, they were directed by the Bill to pay due regard to the wishes of the parents on the subject of religion, and were empowered to send children to any school in Scotland. Parents or guardians were also entitled, on finding securities in small amounts, to remove children from reformatories. Ho thought such an amount of freedom was allowed as ought to be satisfactory to Roman Catholics; and although the reformatory institution at Edinburgh was supported in a great measure by Protestants, he had no doubt that an institution of the same kind might be established at Glasgow or elsewhere in Scotland, which would afford ample accommodation for Roman Catholic children. The object of the Bill was one which all had in common—namely, to rescue those poor creatures from ruin. He (Mr. Dunlop), zealous a Protestant as he was, would rattier see those poor children at a Catholic school than in the streets.

Bill read 2°.