HC Deb 09 February 1857 vol 144 cc418-20

said, the other Bill which he should ask leave to introduce had for its object to facilitate the establishment of reformatory schools in England. The House was aware, that the reformatory schools recently established under the authority of the Act of Parliament depended for their support entirely upon voluntary contributions. The Secretary of State was at present authorised to pay a certain sum for the maintenance of children placed there instead of being sent to prison, and also had the power to enforce payment for their maintenance from the parents if he saw fit to do so. As, however, these institutions owed their support purely to voluntary efforts, no children could be sent there except with the consent of the managers. Now, great credit was due to those Gentlemen who had devoted their attention to the important subject of endeavouring to arrest crime at its source, and the Bill was not intended to interfere with their voluntary exertions. But reformatory institutions, although increasing, were still comparatively few in number, and were not sufficient for the wants of the country. Under these circumstances, it was pressed upon him last Session that it would be most desirable to introduce a Bill authorising counties and boroughs, out of the county and borough rate, or other funds at their disposal, to establish reformatories of this kind; and the object of the present Bill was to enable them to do so. The measure was a permissive one only. Counties and boroughs might, if they pleased, establish separate institutions of their own; or there were provisions under which they were empowered to unite for this purpose, and thus to establish by joint action a reformatory on a larger scale, and more complete in its arrangements than could be formed if they acted alone. This, how- ever, would of course be quite optional. The provisions of the law under which children would be admitted to reformatories would remain the same as at present, except that, where these institutions would be supported out of the county or borough rate, it would no longer be optional on the part of the managers to refuse to receive children who might be sent there, unless of course they happened to be full. Justices were also empowered to aid schools by grants, either by sums in gross, or by periodical payments, subject to such arrangements as might be agreed upon between the managers and the justices as to the reception of children. The Bill contained a great many details, into which it was not at present necessary to enter; but the object, he repeated, was merely to enable the authorities of counties and boroughs to establish these reformatories subject to the provisions of the existing law.


wished to know whether the Bill extended to Scotland?


replied in the negative. It would be necessary to introduce an entirely distinct measure for Scotland.


suggested that a clause should be introduced into the Bill, by which the power at present vested in the Secretary of State for the Home Department, of compelling a parent to contribute to the support of a child in a reformatory school, should be transferred to the Court which had sent the boy to the establishment. It was evident that the Court must be better acquainted than any public official with the merits of the case they had tried, and the nature of the responsibility which devolved on the parent.


expressed the great satisfaction with which he had heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman respecting this Bill. He had long felt convinced that the reformatory system could not be so extensively applied as was necessary without some measure of this description, and, whatever might have been his objections to the measure which the right hon. Gentleman had first brought before the House this evening, he could certainly entertain none to the principle of the Bill just introduced. This was not the time to discuss the details, but he thought the suggestion of the hon. Member for East Kent (Mr. Deedes) might with propriety be adopted. There was no point upon which greater unanimity existed than the necessity, as a matter of principle, of making parents contribute to the support of their children while in these reformatories, and he thought it would be much better that the discretion on this point should be lodged with the Court before which the case was tried, than with the Secretary of State.


thought the House acted lavishly with regard to these institutions while it was very parsimonious on the subject of education, and contrasted the money annually spent upon 100 criminal children—namely, £1,800, with the sum of £65, which the State spent in providing education for 100 non-criminal children, that was to say, every child who received education at the expense of the State cost only 13s. a-year, while each criminal child cost £18. He thought, that one of the most effectual means of diminishing the number of juvenile criminals was to give a more generous support to the educational institutions of the country.

In reply to Mr. ADDERLEY,


said, that a great deal of money had been collected under the provisions of the Act of 1854 from those parents and step-parents who were able to contribute towards the support of their children in reformatory schools. Mr. Sidney Turner, whose appointment to the office of inspector of those schools was owing to the great attention which he had devoted to the reformation of juvenile criminals, had been instructed to make the best arrangements possible for enforcing that portion of the Act.


said, that he thought it desirable that the Judge who sent a child to a reformatory should be empowered to say what amount should be paid by the parents; and he was sorry that that part of the Bill of 1854 had been struck out. He could have wished that the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman had attempted a consolidation of the law relating to reformatories; but perhaps that would come better next year, after the system of inspection had been in operation. He thought that the inspectors should make reports.


They are bound to do so.

Leave given.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Sir GEORGE GREY and Mr. MASSEY.

Bill read 1°.

The House adjourned at a quarter after Eleven o'clock.