HC Deb 04 March 1857 vol 144 cc1850-75

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

MR. ALCOCK moved, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months. In his opinion the Bill was a superfluous piece of legislation, because, as the law now stood, it was the duty and practice of the police to take and see properly provided for any destitute children wandering about without the means of subsistence. Within the last few years there had been established district schools, not only for maintaining and clothing children, but also for the purpose of teaching them some trade, by which they might earn a livelihood. Some of the children were trained up in agricultural pursuits. These schools were of a superior kind, many of them having cost £30,000 or £40,000; and they were well looked after by Government inspectors. Such care did the guardians bestow upon the establishments in question that the average expense for the children per head per week was 8s. 8d.; and now the hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote) suggested by his Bill a cheaper method, and put, as the basis of his plan, the average cost per head per week at 3s. If schools were established under the present Bill, what would be the course pursued by the guardians of the district schools, now paying an average cost per week of 8s. 8d. for the children? Was it reasonable to suppose that they would continue to pay that sum when they would have the opportunity, if the present Bill passed, of sending their destitute children to these new schools for 3s. a week each? They would, of course, avail themselves of these inferior schools. It was assumed, he imagined, that some charitable contributions would be made to the schools, or otherwise they could not be supported at the rate he had mentioned. The second object of the Bill was to provide for vagrant children; but, as hon. Gentlemen were aware, there were reformatory prisons already in existence, and a Bill had also been proposed by the Home Secretary for facilitating the establishment of reformatory schools. The measure would be a superfluous piece of legislation, and on that account he should oppose it. But his chief objection to it was that it seemed to have the effect of raising ragged schools into a position of importance and permanence. The very term "ragged schools" was a disgrace to the country: nothing of the kind was to be found on the Continent. These schools had been first suggested by Dr. Guthrie; and when it was objected to that they would offer a premium to parents for neglecting their children, he admitted the force of the argument as regarded the existing generation: but said that under his system the people would be so much improved that they would scorn to be guilty of such conduct. He was ready to give full credit to Lord Shaftesbury and other benevolent persons who had established ragged schools. It was quite right to promote them some twenty years ago, when the subject of education in this country was in a transition state; but it was most unwise to attempt to place the ragged-school system on a permanent basis. He feared that the scheme embodied in the present Bill would be one of rivalry to the existing system of education, which he approved in the main, though he thought it required some modifications, and that a, larger grant should be made from the public funds. Could they expect that poor men would pay a penny a week at the old schools, when they could have their children educated gratis? It was said that a similar Bill had produced very good effects in Scotland; but things there must have been very bad indeed if they could be improved by such a measure. One fact was remarkable, that the poor rates in Scotland had doubled within the last ten years. He did not know whether it was the wish of the hon. Baronet the promoter of the Bill to compel every child throughout the country to be educated, with or without the consent of the parents; but that was a course which could not possibly be pursued in this free country. It was quite right to endeavour to induce parents to give to their children the blessings of education, but compulsion could not be adopted. The provision for reimbursement was a most important part of the Bill. The magistrates who ordered a child to be sent to one of these industrial schools was empowered to make an order on the guardians for the payment of 3s. per week; which was to be recovered from the parent. But did any one suppose that they could recover such a sum from a person who was perhaps unable to pay even one penny a week for each child educated at a superior school under the Privy Council system? The proposition was altogether preposterous, and reimbursement was utterly hopeless. If the measure should be acted on, the result would be that the working man might say he would leave this despotic country and go to the United States or Australia. In that case, if he left his children behind the State would be obliged to provide for them, without having an opportunity to demand reimbursement.


seconded the Amendment. He did not like the constant liberty taken with property in this country. Tax was sought to be laid upon tax; it was a very cheap mode of being charitable at the expense of others. In Manchester, for example, the warmest advocates of a rate for the purposes of education were men who lived outside the borough. If these gentlemen would exercise their personal influence among the lower orders, there would be very little reason to complain of ignorance in this country. It was a great mistake to look to the House or to the Exchequer for the education of the people. Let them look to the result of compulsory education in Prussia. He was of opinion that the advocates of compulsory education were producing evils of the most serious character; while it was his conviction that great advantages were already secured in the matter of education by the voluntary efforts of benevolent people.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."


expressed his regret that the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Alcock) should have opposed the principle of the Bill. He admitted that the details and machinery it proposed to establish were in many points open to criticism; but as to the principle he begged on his own account and on behalf of the Government to express the most cordial approbation. The arguments of the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) were far more applicable to the question involved in the second reading of the Bill of the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), which was about soon to come before them, than to the Bill now under consideration. The 5th section of this Bill stated that it was to apply to children found begging and wandering in streets and highways, or sleeping therein, and not having any home, settled place of abode, proper guardian, or visible means of subsistence. Everybody knew that in our large towns there were many children wandering about the streets, unknown and uncared for. Three years ago he had the honour to be chairman of a Committee appointed to investigate the painful subject of these destitute children; they had taken a large amount of most interesting evidence, which he would recommend to the attention of the hon. Member for East Surrey before he came to discuss the Bill in its other stages. It appeared in the evidence of Mr. Thompson, a magistrate of the county of Aberdeen, that a plan was adopted in Aberdeen in 1845, substantially the same as that contained in this Bill, and that it had produced the most beneficial results. The magistrates had availed themselves of the powers of a local police Act to send destitute and vagrant children to the school, and the evidence showed that the result had been of the happiest description. It also appeared that a similar result had attended the establishment of such schools in the large and populous city of Glasgow. Mr. Ingersoll, the then Minister of the United States in this country, had given most intelligent and interesting evidence as to the effects of the system in America. Since then the Legislature had recognised the principle on a more extended scale by passing the Bill of the hon. Member for Greenock (Mr. Dunlop), 17 & 18 Vic., c. 74, and he had the authority of that hon. Member for stating that it had produced the happiest results. If this Bill proposed to make an untried experiment, he thought the evidence taken before the Committee would justify the House in assenting to it. But it was not untried. The principle had already been acted on with the most complete success. He had reason to believe that the hon. Baronet (Sir S. Northcote) would be glad to receive any suggestion as to the details which would tend to render the Bill worthy of its noble object, and he therefore hoped the House would give its unanimous sanction to the principle of it, by now reading it a second time.


said, that, having taken an active part in one of the largest schools of this description, he wished to make some observations on the objects of the Bill. At the present moment it was unnecessary to say anything in favour of ragged schools, and he was astonished to hear the hon. Member for East Surrey assail them. The safety of the country required that they should lay hold of those children before they became hardened in vice. There appeared in some quarters a tendency to overlook the great cause of the success of these schools, and substitute Government control for the voluntary efforts which had hitherto produced such beneficial effects; but the Bill before them, he was glad to say, was not open to this objection. If they received children in these schools without discrimination, they would hold out a premium to parents to send their children and thus make the schools a curse instead of a blessing. Putting these schools entirely into the hands of Government would only make them an adjunct to our gaols and penitentiaries. In Scotland the schools had operated with great efficacy in checking juvenile delinquency, and the result showed that voluntary associations had adequately met the wants of the country. He could himself testify to the working of the industrial schools in Dundee and Arbroath. Dundee contained nearly 100,000 inhabitants. A few years ago it was impossible to walk along its streets without being importuned for alms by juvenile beggars of both sexes and all ages, shivering in rags, degraded in appearance, bearing every feature of suffering and neglect. In the year 1846 no fewer than 212 children under fourteen years of age were apprehended by the police, having been guilty of crime; in 1847, following the example of Aberdeen, a few benevolent gentlemen in Dundee formed an industrial school; the following year 150 children assembled within its walls, and juvenile crime immediately began to decrease. At the end of 1851 the superintendent of police wrote to the secretary as follows— The return, as you will observe, shows a most gratifying result in the diminution of juvenile delinquency as compared with former years. It will be seen that the number of juvenile offenders during the past twelve months is only as one to four compared with the number in 1846, being the year in which the Industrial School in Dundee was instituted. On former occasions, when called upon to make a return of this kind, I invariably took an opportunity of stating my conviction of the great good that had been effected by the institution in saving many wretched children from beggary and crime, teaching them useful knowledge, and training them to habits of industry. I have much pleasure in repeating that my opinion remains unaltered on this subject. And how stood the case now? Why, at the close of 1855 the number of juvenile criminals had decreased from 212 to 72, and this in a town rapidly increasing in size; and, what was still more remarkable, the number of scholars in the institution had fallen off from 150 to 106, without there being the least perceptible increase in the number of vagrants on the streets, proving that this voluntary society had adequately met the wants of the population. Dale Street Industrial School, in Arbroath, a town about a fourth as large as Dundee, presented similar results. The only difficulty experienced in enabling the managers of these institutions to meet the wants of society was the absence of any power on the part of a magistrate to send vagrant children to the schools. This power was given by an Act carried by his hon. Friend the Member for Greenock. It had been found to work well; and they were now asked to extend its provisions to England. That he understood to be the object of the hon. Baronet's Bill. He (Mr. Baxter) wished to impress upon Gentlemen interested in these institutions the importance of economy. Parents or unions might be called upon by this Bill to pay 3s. a week for the maintenance of a child in the school. Some of the schools already established in England cost a great deal of money. The whole cost of the school in Arbroath, including food, wages, price of material for industrial department, and all other charges, was only 1s.d. per week per child—the expense of their food alone being 9¾d. per child per week; and from personal observation he could testify that in no school in the country were the children healthier or better taught. Making every allowance for difference of situation and circumstances, he could not help thinking, therefore, that his southern friends might learn a lesson from the north in the matter of economy. He hoped that the Bill would be passed into a law, as it would extend a system which promised to render brighter the future of this country by stemming near its fountain-head the alarming stream of crime.


said, he doubted whether this Bill or any other had much chance of passing through all its stages during the present Session; but he considered the principle of the Bill to be thoroughly sound, and should support it accordingly. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Hadfield) had opposed it on the principle which actuated his opposition to most measures of a similar tendency; but he could not help thinking that part of his observations had been prematurely delivered, and had more reference to the general scheme of education about to be proposed by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) than to the special provisions now under discussion. He did not think that the defence of this Bill required comparisons between a voluntary and a state-supported system of education; the case for which it provided was one purely exceptional. The hon. Member for Sheffield had spoken of the hardship of throwing the cost of maintaining vagrant children on the public; but he seemed to forget that lesson which experience had taught us, that, with regard to persons likely to become criminals, whether old or young, it was cheaper to pay for prevention than for subsequent punishment. The hon. Member for Surrey had pointed to the danger of parents being induced by this Bill to abandon their children, with the view of having them maintained in industrial schools. That danger certainly required serious consideration; but how stood the case? If the parent had any fixed residence or occupation, part of the cost of maintaining his child could be recovered from him by a clause inserted for that express purpose. If the parent was a pauper, the public would have, in any case, to maintain the child. If the parent was a vagrant, and chose to abandon his child, there was, unhappily, no difficulty in his doing so, whether this Bill passed or not. If the parent belonged to the criminal class he would be more disposed to prevent his child from entering an industrial school than to send it there, because it was unfortunately a matter of notoriety that the children of such parents were trained by them to plunder, and this became a source of profit instead of expense. "But," said one hon. Member, "this Bill will complicate the law with regard to reformatory I schools." Now it was precisely because they had legislated on the subject of reformatory schools that a necessity arose for taking some further steps in the same direction. The great difficulty with regard to reformatory schools, and one which weighed much upon his mind, was this, that the Legislature at present seemed to give to criminal children advantages which it withheld from those who had not been convicted. This Bill, however, proposed to give to children still unconvicted, but who, from their circumstances, were liable to fall into criminal habits, the same advantages, with better hope of a satisfactory result, as were given to children who had already been placed at a bar of justice. As to the objection that this Bill might interfere with the operation of schools already established for the same purpose, he was sorry that as yet there were not many such schools in existence, only eight, he believed, in England and Wales, Nor need there be interference: for this Bill was permissive and not compulsory: intended to stimulate, not to supplant, the exertions of private benevolence. The total cost to be thrown on the public would be no more than 3s. a week per child, even if the guardians could recover no part of the sum from the parents. It was supposed that this sum would cover the expense of maintenance—the children must be fed, whether they were educated or not—and the cost of education would be defrayed from other funds. Thus the parish would only be required to pay in one shape what it must otherwise have paid in another. These were the principles of the Bill. There was one clause, the 13th, to which he entertained an objection. It was that clause which gave authority to send children who were suspected of being the associates of thieves to a reformatory, as an alternative to sending them to industrial schools. Considering that a certain stigma necessarily adhered to every person who in youth had been sent to a reformatory school—a stigma similar in kind, though dissimilar in degree, to that which imprisonment affixed on the person sentenced to it—he thought that detention in such a school ought not to take place on mere suspicion, nor without the previous decision of a legal tribunal. With that single exception, and such modifications as might seem desirable in Committee, he should be prepared to give his most cordial support to the Bill.


said, he should support the second reading of the Bill. He could testify to the beneficial influence of the Aberdeen Industrial School. In 1841, when the school was first established, the committals of juvenile criminals were sixty-one, and in the following year they decreased to thirty. In the next year, from a difference arising in reference to the working of the schools, and its operations being restricted, the committals increased to sixty-three. After the school was placed on its former footing, and its working extended, the committals again diminished, and in 1848 they had declined to fifteen, and in 1851 amounted only to about five, which was the present average number. These facts showed that there was a connection between these schools and the decrease of crime.


expressed his grave doubts with respect to the principle of the Bill. He admitted the philanthropic and benevolent intentions of its supporters, but he questioned the policy of enabling magistrates to send children to these schools simply because they might be found in the streets, and of further enabling them to send children to reformatories. Reformatories had hitherto been held as alternatives for the prison, and he hoped the House would not agree to a Bill which confounded mere want of tuition with criminality. He did not say that it was not wise to establish industrial schools; but he utterly objected to depriving parents of that authority which they ought to exercise with regard to the custody and education of their children. He saw no reason why the workhouse schools could not be improved, and if the same power were given to magistrates to send children to these schools that were proposed to be given in respect of these industrial schools they would avoid the absurdity of enacting that children should be sent to schools which might perhaps never come into existence. Nevertheless, he thought the intentions of the promoters of this Bill were purely benevolent, and he should be glad to see the existing schools for the reception of the poor improved.


said, that he had no doubt that the object of the framers of this Bill was a useful and a laudable one; but there were so many objections both to the principle and to the details of this measure that he could not consent to its second reading. The police were to have power to take into custody all children wandering about the streets after nine o'clock at night; and although this was guarded by many restrictions, yet as these children would have no one to speak for them, their parents being poor and afraid to interfere with the police, no doubt many would be dealt with under this Bill whom its framers did not intend to subject to its operation. It was true that by the 11th clause it was provided that the parent might, under certain conditions, have the child sent to the school which he approved. This was important to Roman Catholic children; but as the parent must prove that the managers of some other school were willing to receive his child, and must give security for the payment of any expenses which might be caused by his objection to the school selected by the magistrates, this provision would, in nine cases out of ten, be inoperative. The practical effect of the Bill would be, that large numbers of Irish Roman Catholic children would be sent to industrial schools, where they would he educated in a religion different from that of their parents. The parents would be afraid to come forward, and they had no power of removing the child from want of means. This objection would apply with increased force to the sending of a child to a reformatory school, where it would have fixed upon it the indelible stain of having been classed by authority with the criminal and dangerous population. The objections were so serious in principle that they ought to be considered carefully and rationally; but certainly the present moment was not favourable to the consideration of such a measure. The Ministers had run their heads against the great wall of China, and had endorsed the bill of Dr. Bowring, which had on the previous night been dishonoured. As a result of this, the Members of that House had been told that they were to be sent to their constituents, and all the time spent in considering the Bill would consequently be lost. He thought that it would be better to leave this matter to be dealt with by the new Parliament. For these reasons he should certainly divide the House against the Bill.


said, that, so far from agreeing in these last observations, he thought it would be a consolatory reflection to an expiring Parliament that they had finished what they had so well begun for the care of these poor children. When the hon. Member went to his constituents it would not be the best thing for him to have to say that the last thing he did had been to divide the House against such a Bill as this. Hitherto he had considered that the opposition to the Bill had neutralized itself, from the conflicting motives alleged for it. But just now, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had objected to the Bill because it constituted vagrancy an offence, and sought to place children in industrial schools that did not exist. The Bill, however, did just the contrary of both these things. Vagrancy was already an offence by statute; and by this Bill it was for the first time proposed that vagrant children should not be treated as criminals. They had tried this method, and it had failed; and they were now trying to educate vagrant children instead of so treating them. The Bill did not send children to the reformatory schools; its principle was to send them to another class of schools. Again, industrial schools did exist, and the hon. Member ought to have known that in the principal town of the county which he represented there was perhaps the best of such schools in the kingdom. The principle of the Bill was to prevent vagrant children from running about the streets, and that the parents should be sought out, and if able to take care of the child should be compelled to do so. If not, the State would undertake the duty. The hon. Member for Sheffield advocated the voluntary system, but this was the voluntary system assisted by a State grant, the only kind of voluntary system in existence, and the mode now established in this country. As to the opposition of the hon. Member for East Surrey, he had said that the Bill was superfluous; which amounted to saying that he was satisfied with the existing state of things. The hon. Member walked through the streets, was constantly pestered by begging children, saw them sleeping under the doors, and yet was content. He (Mr. Adderley) was not content. At present there were neither funds, nor organization, nor power to meet the case. The police could, in some cases, take up such children, and the best chance before them was the workhouse school. Was the hon. Member content with the workhouse school? [Mr. ALCOCK said he was content with the district school.] The exception proved the rule. The district schools were created to supply the defects of the workhouse Schools. The hon. Member was content, not with the disease, but with the remedy. But unluckily the remedy failed in its supply. In thirteen years, since the Act passed, only five district schools had been established, and the reason was, that the Act would not work. A unanimous vote was to be got from every guardian throughout all the Unions of the district, and perhaps just as this was obtained the year would expire, and a new set of guardians would have to be dealt with. Where any district school had been established, it was by the same machinery as that adopted by the Bill. The very best district school in the kingdom had been established by Mr. Woolrych Whitmore, and the effect of this Bill would be to encourage the system which Mr. Whitmore had begun with so much success. The hon. Gentleman objected to ragged schools. He (Mr. Adderley) concurred in the objection—he objected to the term "ragged"—and thought it most undesirable that the poorer classes of children should be collected together separately from other classes. They should be mixed with others. But by the Bill ragged schools would be merged in the proposed schools, and this would put an end to this objection. If every class was to have separate schools provided, the expense would be enormous, bat the Bill absorbed various experiments that had lately been made, and grouped several classes into one. This would be of great service to national education by simplifying it. He denied that their schools would be rivals to national schools. Why should not both be identified, as they had been in Scotland? The national school would thus get the advantage of an additional national grant, and that for taking charge of the class primarily intended for them, the neglected children of the poor. National schools, with lodging and industrial department, together with reformatories for those who had fallen into crime, might embrace the entire subject, and greatly reduce the present staff of masters and inspectors. As to the objection of the hon. Member for East Surrey, that the Bill tended to pauperise education, he could not understand it. The Bill provided that parents should pay 3s. a week for the maintenance and education of their children, when the national school demanded only for their education a penny. How could the Bill act better than by inducing a parent to perform his proper functions by sending his child to a national school? He allowed that there were details of the Bill capable of improvement. Though his name was on the Bill, he was not bound to all its provisions, but this was matter for Committee. The hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer) said that the Bill would have a proselytising effect. Now, the greatest care was taken in the Bill to prevent this. Most of the children Would have natural guardians in their parents who might choose the school to which they would be sent, or by their own care supersede altogether the action of the Bill. A clause in the Bill provided that children without a home should be taken care of. He would pay this compliment to the ministers of the religion of the hon. Member, that the priests of no religion looked so carefully after the destitute children of their communion as the Roman Catholic. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman would not rather have children in the street than allow thorn to enter this kind of school. He had no doubt that the wealthy members of his religion would take care of the bringing to such schools the children of their persuasion. [Mr. BOWYER: The priests have no power under the Bill.] Practically they have, as he knew from experience of the similar provisions in the last Reformatory Act, which enabled lately a procession of priests in solemn order to take away some children who had been placed in a reformatory with which he was connected, and who belonged to Roman Catholic parents. The Romish priests have more power in relation to these institutions than in any other in this kingdom. He trusted that the House would be of opinion that the existing state of things ought no longer to continue, and would read this Bill a second time; and though the House was threatened with a dissolution, there might yet be time to pass this Bill through a Parliament which ought, if possible, to be allowed so to complete the series of useful measures which it had begun on this subject.


bore testimony to the value of these industrial schools, of which there were probably more in Edinburgh than in any other city or town in the United Kingdom. Before they were established the number of idle children in the streets was not only a serious annoyance to the inhabitants, but it was a disgrace to our civilization. When he was chief magistrate of Edinburgh he was distressed by the number of juvenile delinquents in the prisons, where they became trained criminals. After the establishment of the schools, year by year the evil had been lessened, and the number of juvenile criminals had been reduced to less than one-half, or even one-third of its former extent. A short time ago Dr. Guthrie, to whose benevolent exertions these schools owed their origin, proposed to give a soirée to those who had been brought up in them. There was a very large attendance. The persons present were all respectably dressed, and it was obvious that, from being pests, they had become useful members of society. He (Mr. Black) had no words to thank the hon. Baronet (Sir S. Northcote) sufficiently for introducing this Bill, and he should give it his most cordial support.


observed, that, after the long discussion which had taken place, he should not have felt inclined to trouble the House with any observations had it not been for the allusions made by the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer). He could assure his hon. Friend that he had done him injustice if he supposed he would lend himself to making this a proselytising Bill. Had the Bill borne anything of that character it would have received his decided opposition; but he saw nothing of the kind in it. If, however, when the Bill got into Committee, his hon. Friend could point out anything having that tendency, he should command his support. He wished to say that in one observation of his hon. colleague (Mr. Newdegate) he entirely concurred—namely, they must take the greatest care not to mark destitution with the brand of criminality. What was the great object of the Bill? It was to give power to magistrates to send children whom they found wandering in idleness about the streets to school, where they would be removed out of the way of committing crime, and where they would become useful members of society instead of vagrants. That was a more practical way of dealing with those poor children than attempting to reform them after they had actually become criminals. The hon. Member for Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) had gone so fully into the particulars of the question that it might be a waste of time for him to continue the discussion; but he could not avoid mentioning that his hon. colleague had not made himself acquainted with the school in Birmingham which had been established by the rector, the Rev. Grantham Yorke, which had received the cordial support of the ministers of religion in that town. Already that school had trained up over a thousand children, many of whom had been rescued from vice, and placed in a position to become useful members of society. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor for the Duchy of Lancaster that the Bill would require modification; at the same time, he felt assured that it would come safe out of Committee from the support it would receive at the hands of the Government. If they wished really to amend society at large, they must commence with the young and destitute; take them out of the reach of temptation in which they were placed by the conduct of their parents, give them a home, and give them guardians. He believed that they would thus greatly lessen the expenses of criminal prosecutions and the support of the poor, besides bringing up a large mass of the population as useful members of society.


said, he was too fully aware of the destitution that existed in the public streets to offer any objection to the Bill now before them. He thought that that man was well worthy of the support of his countrymen who grappled with a difficulty which was at once a national disgrace and a national loss. So far, therefore, as the Bill applied to towns, he had neither cavil to make nor objection to offer to it. But with regard to the mere agricultural portions of the country, the Bill, notwithstanding its excellences, would inflict severe hardships upon many families. The preamble of the Bill stated that various industrial schools had been established in various parts of the kingdom by voluntary contributions. He was not sufficiently aware where those industrial schools were, but he believed they were to be found in the great towns only of the kingdom. But if, after so many years, the progress of those institutions had been so slow where charity was always at hand, and where the exertions of philanthropy could always be commanded, how, he would ask, were they to find, with their limited resources, the means of establishing such institutions in agricultural counties? First and foremost, the Bill did not provide any means of building and endowing the schools; in the next place, the fund by which the children were to be supported came out of the town and county rates. Now, really, it was a matter for consideration, both for the House and the country, what further demands they would impose on the local rates. Already they were subject to the charge for lunatic asylums, gaols, and the police, and many others; so that the local rates very nearly equalled the Imperial taxation. There was this hardship in the Bill which he desired to notice—Clause 20 gave to justices of the peace a power of making orders upon families for the maintenance of children to an extent not exceeding 3s. per week. Let him suppose a case where a father and mother had brought up a family without any assistance from the parish; that they had struggled through hardships and sickness, but, confident in that Providence which had supported them in their trials, they had maintained their good name; nevertheless a child of theirs becomes a vagrant and the associate of thieves, and the justices of the county may, if they think fit, charge the family to the extent of 3s. per week for the maintenance of the child at an industrial school. Now, the rate of wages in agricultural districts, although it had increased of late years, did not, after all deductions for rent, &c., far exceed 8s. a week, so that if you take 1s. only a week from that amount, you deprive the working man of his every little comfort, and probably prevent him from subscribing to the medical club in his neighbourhood—perhaps, even you might drive him into all the temptations of want; and all that for the sake of an urchin of whom the laws of this country might otherwise have relieved him. He must, therefore, enter his protest against that portion of the Bill, and he hoped his hon. Friend would so modify it as not to press with such hardship upon agricultural counties. As far as the principle of the Bill went it was an honourable effort to overcome a great national difficulty; he knew it had been brought forward with the highest feelings of benevolence, and that no other feeling could have induced his hon. Friend to have assumed the lead in the establishment of industrial and reformatory associations. He regretted, however, to say, that he did not consider Motions of the kind the right way of grappling with a great national difficulty: he would rather see the whole question of education taken up by men who had the confidence and support of the country; for, depend upon it, until the country was awakened by a great measure, they would never uproot the evils of the existing system of want of education and destitution.


said, he was strongly in favour of industrial schools as long as they were supported by voluntary contributions; but there his zeal for them ended. The principle of a rate would swamp and destroy the whole of our voluntary efforts, and instead of advancing would really throw back the great cause of education. The establishment of industrial schools was not new; but the proposal to take children out of the streets, and send them to those schools to be maintained out of the poor rates, was entirely new; and he was surprised that any Member of the Government should sanction so dangerous a principle. It would actually hold out a premium to parents to abandon their children, while it would also pauperize education and render it odious in the eyes of the people. The offer of food to the children attending ragged schools was known in some instances to have had the effect of emptying neighbouring day schools, the scholars of which had previously paid for their instruction. This Bill would, in his opinion, produce results equally baneful, and he should therefore oppose its second reading.


Sir, I wish to state in a very few words the course which I intend to follow with reference to this Bill. I desire, however, in the outset to say that I will not be led by what has just fallen from the hon. Baronet into a premature discussion on the general question of education. I will only state that that voluntary principle of which the hon. Baronet seems to me so much enamoured, has not prevented the fact that all our great towns are swarming with these destitute, miserable, and vagrant children, whose miserable position renders it necessary that some legislation, such as that aimed at by the hon. Member for Dudley (Sir Stafford Northcote), should take place. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir George Strickland) seems to contend that those evils should be left unchecked, and that we should allow this swarm of destitute children still to swell that criminal population by which our gaols are filled. I understand this Bill to be directed towards one of the most interesting portions of that great question—the present social condition of the humbler and labouring classes of the community—that greatest of social questions which is growing year by year, which must continue to force itself more and more upon the attention of the public, and which it must sooner or later be the duty of Parliament to deal with. I confess my opinion is, that if the Parliament of England had grappled with the question of education upon a largo principle, the necessity for these partial measures would never have existed. But we must deal with the facts as they stand before us, and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire, that this Bill is by no means free from objections; but that is no reason why we should not adopt its general principle and vote for its second reading, which I am prepared to do. One of my objections is very similar to that stated by my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Adderley). I am afraid the Bill would have the tendency of directing the jurisdiction of the magistrate towards a class of children who ought to be inmates of national schools rather than reformatories, if any sound system of national schools existed. I doubt, therefore, the policy of what my hon. Friend seems to aim at—the establishment of three distinct classes of schools: first, national schools for untainted children; secondly, reformatory schools for our criminal children; and thirdly, industrial schools, to be intermediate between the national schools and reformatories. Now, I desire myself to see a system under which every school for the working classes shall be an industrial one. I think under a good system of national education every boy ought to be taught the elements of some trade, and every girl taught how to sew. I believe, therefore, it is an error on the part of my hon. Friend to endeavour to make this distinction in establishing what he terms industrial schools. Most heartily, too, am I inclined to join with my hon. Friend the Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner) in saying that we ought to be most cautious how we make a confusion between poverty and crime. Certainly not; I will be no party to any such attempt to mix up poverty and crime; but, then again, I think the hon. Member for North Warwickshire falls into a mistake. We must remember that this Bill deals avowedly with a class of society that has already contravened the laws; they are vagrants; therefore, as regards a great portion of this Bill, there is no confusion between poverty and crime. My advice, however, to the hon. Member for Dudley would be, if he means to proceed with this Bill, to very much simplify its enactments. I think it not only encroaches too much upon a system of national education, but also upon what is properly the province of our poor law; but I go heartily with my hon. Friend in this, that we ought to adopt some means of dealing with that intermediate class, between the honest poor and the convicted criminal, a class which Miss Carpenter—one of the most distinguished women in this country—has well designated in her work under the title of "the perishing and dangerous classes." We know that all our towns are filled with this class of children, which have not hitherto come under the grasp of the law, but which are upon the point of doing so. I believe the main principle of the Bill is directed towards this class in order to snatch them in time from the vortex of ruin, and therefore I heartily support its second reading, reserving, as I may fairly do, for Committee the consideration of those clauses to which I have adverted. Before I sit down I cannot refrain from saying, that we are here but following the example of our enlightened neighbours in Scotland, who, with a sagacity and benevolence that put us to the blush, have taken the lead on too many of these great social questions. They have set us an example with regard to national education which we are slow to follow; they also led the way to reformatories for the guilty; and now, under the Act of my hon. Friend the Member for Gtreenock (Mr. Dunlop), they have been pioneers to us in reclaiming this intermediate class, in whose behalf this Bill is introduced. Sir, their example I am anxious to follow, and, therefore, again I say I cordially support the second reading of this Bill, thanking my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley most heartily for the attention he has devoted to the subject.


said, he believed that the Bill, so far from increasing the rates in agricultural districts, would diminish them. The cost of our criminal population was as much as would indoctrinate their children with sound principles, and it was certainly cheaper to prevent crime than to punish it. The hon. Member for Devon (Mr. Palk) had contended that poor parents would be fined for the fault of one black sheep in their families. On the contrary, this black sheep would be checked by the operation of the Bill at the outset. One reason why he should support the Bill was, that it was introduced by those who had given great attention to the subject, and who had greatly interested themselves in the question of the poorer children, and who were, therefore, the best authorities upon it. He felt bound, therefore, to vote for the second reading. If we only spent on our children half what was spent on dogs and horses, we should see multitudes of children, who were now trained in crime, educated to useful purposes.


Sir, it gives me great pleasure that I am able to support the principle of this Bill. Let me state shortly to the House what I consider that principle to be. I think this Bill ought to be regarded, if I may use such a phrase, as a supplement to the Reformatory Bill. No doubt the reformatory system had certain defects which must be carefully watched and guarded against. The defects had been clearly alluded to by the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord Stanley), when he warned us to take care lost we held out a temptation to parents to place their children in these different institutions, instead of looking after them themselves. It has been said that this Bill gives a sanction to the principle of an educational rate. I do not think it does anything of the kind. If it proceeded upon that principle, I need hardly say, no one could give it a more strenuous opposition than myself. What do we find in the Bill? It professes to deal with a class amenable already to the law—a class designated under the category of vagrants. When we get into Committee probably I, for one, shall be disposed to confine the operation of the Bill to that class; at all events, for the present. That, however, is a question of detail; it does not touch the principle of the Bill. With the exception of that one point, I know no other objection that can be urged against the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Devonshire has spoken to us of the effects of the Bill upon agricultural districts. I confess I do not share in his alarms in the least. I do not see how the hardship which he supposes can arise, for the amount to be paid by a family is quite discretionary with the magistrate, after full consideration of the means of the parties. Every one of the great schemes of education which we have had before us has omitted to deal with what has been denominated our "Arab population!" None of them condescend to stoop so low as this unfortunate class of children, and I, for one, therefore, must thank the hon. Baronet for the introduction of this measure. I believe that this Bill goes so far as at all events to lay hold of some of those "Arabs" that are wandering about our streets. It would no doubt be most desirable to lessen by any degree that class of persons, at least the most difficult of them to deal with, and the others can then be more easily absorbed into our national schools, which are at present quite unable to receive them. I believe that the tendency of this Bill is to take hold of the worst description of those unfortunate children; and that it is the only attempt that has ever been made to deal with that class. The tendency hitherto of our educational measures has been rather upwards, and to leave uncared for the lowest and most miserable class. Now, I think that this Bill is a step in the right direction. Let us, then, go into Committee and honestly try whether we cannot remove any or all of the objections that may be urged against the details. At all events, we ought to endeavour to induce parents whose children wander about the streets to remove their children into those institutions. I do not see how this Bill can commit any man to any principle that has not already been sanctioned by the House. It is, in fact, only the extension of the reformatory system to that class of children who are not quite amenable to reformatory laws. If the parents cannot afford to pay for their children in those schools, I for one do not object to the mode provided by the Bill under such circumstances for the support and maintenance of the children; because if they were sent to prison, they would really be paid for out of the same fund. If these children, instead of being transferred to these institutions, were sent to prison for punishment, besides the danger to their morals generally, they would each cost for their support in gaol about 8s. or 9s. a week. If I thought that the measure had any injurious tendencies which could not be well guarded against, I would be the first to oppose it; but I do not think it has any such tendencies. I shall support the second reading, believing that all the difficulties objected to can be remedied in Committee.


said, he regretted to find himself differing from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) upon the principle of the present Bill. He felt as strongly as any one the moral duty of sweeping the streets of this class of juvenile vagabonds, who, under pretence of begging, were engaged in or in training for crime, but it ought to be carried out by voluntary efforts, and not by taxing men who had already enough to do to support their own families. His great objection to this Bill was that it was compulsory both as to the manner in which the funds were to be raised, and also as to the withdrawing of children from parental control. It was contrary to all precedent that a single magistrate, without any responsibility, should have the power of taxing the ratepayers for the maintenance and education of these children, and it was even more objectionable that a single magistrate should have the power of sending to one of these establishments for an unlimited period—for there was no limit in the Bill except the age of fifteen years—a child who had been guilty of no criminal offence whatever. It was said that society ought not to give these children a bad character, which would stick to them for life, by sending them to prison; but what difference was there between sending them to prison and to one of these places? They were to be committed, too, to the charge, not of responsible officials appointed by the State, but of any persons who might have established one of these schools. This was a breach of the constitution to which he could not give his assent. The Bill was a superfluous piece of legislation, for at present children who had committed any offence against the vagrant laws might be sent to the reformatory schools. He deprecated these interferences with the working of the voluntary system, which but for them would have been carried out to a much greater extent. For those reasons he should oppose the second reading of the Bill.

SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE rose to thank the House for the manner in which this measure had been discussed. His share of the merit of bringing it forward was exceedingly small. He had only endeavoured by it to call the attention of Parliament to the efforts of other persons of much greater weight than himself, many of whose labours had already become part of the law of the land. He would refer the House to measures that had been applied to Scotland, and to one which Lord Shaftesbury had introduced relative to London. Committees had discussed the proposals, and a large number of societies in London, Birmingham, and elsewhere had rendered material assistance in framing the Bill. His object had been to present the subject in such a shape to the House as would be most convenient for raising all the various questions which were involved in it. Though there was no principle contained in the Bill which had not already received the assent of Parliament, he was by no means prepared to say that every provision of it was the best which could possibly be framed, and he should be very glad to receive and adopt, if possible, any suggestions which might be made in Committee for its improvement. The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Alcock) maintained that legislation on this particular subject was unnecessary, because the police had at present power, and that it was their practice, to arrest all these young vagrants and send them to the workhouse. He doubted very much both the power and the practice; but, even if the hon. Member were right, it was impossible that the workhouse could accommodate them all; and the class of children for whom this Bill was intended were not fit for the national schools. The Bill introduced into the other House by Lord Shaftesbury in 1853 on this subject, which was confined to the metropolis, and which provided that vagrant juveniles should be sent to the workhouse, broke down on the ground that the workhouse could not receive them. The hon. Member's next objection was that the Bill was superfluous, because there were already reformatories for the reception of these children; but he lost sight entirely of the fact that it was intended to meet the case of an intermediate class of vagrants, for whom, in some way or other, an intermediate class of establishments between the reformatories and national schools must be provided. The national schools could not deal with them, as was abundantly shown in the reports of the school inspectors, and as for the reformatories, every child sent there cost the public purse 7s. a week, which was far more than the cost would be according to the calculations which had been made in these industrial schools. It might be a very legitimate expenditure of public money to pay 7s. a week for the reformation of a child who had already broken the law; but if a child who had not yet become a criminal could be prevented from falling into that class, and could be taught to earn his own living at a much less expense, the arrangement would be very much better for the country. This would be done in these schools. In many places these children were entirely passed over by the police, for they did not know what to do with them, and so they were left to go on from bad to worse until they became criminals. Some hon. Members seemed to be overcome by the number of the children who would have to be dealt with, but that was a baseless apprehension. The Scotch Act had been in operation about a year and a-half, and during that time, in the populous city of Glasgow, only 141 children had been brought under its operation. Not a vagrant child was now to be found in Glasgow, and the amount of juvenile crime was likewise very much diminished. Some Gentlemen complained of the expense, but whatever expense the measure entailed on the public purse it would save in diminished prosecution expenses and poor rates. As regarded education, or rather tuition, the Bill was founded on strictly voluntary principles. The expenses of teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, and so on, would be defrayed out of voluntary subscriptions; but these children needed more than that—they needed to be disciplined, to have their moral perceptions awakened, and to be taught habits of order and of labour; and to do that it would be necessary to find them food and, in most cases, lodging. The expenses must be borne by the State, for it certainly would be a great temptation to parents to abandon their children if they knew that they would be immediately taken care of by private charity. The State would have the power of saddling the parents, in cases where they were able to pay, with what properly belonged to them—the maintenance of their own children, and, in cases where they could not pay, by the common law the child was entitled to a maintenance out of the poor rates; so that, in fact, no additional expense would be caused to the public by these institutions. Complaints had been made that this Bill infringed on the liberty of the subject; but this was not the first by very many cases in which the law infringed on the liberty of the subject where there was reason to apprehend that harm would ensue without interference. He would not for a moment admit into the Bill one word which should tend to promote proselytism, and he would readily strike out in Committee anything that might be open to that objection. On the whole, he was very well satisfied with the discussion which had taken place, and he had every confidence that it would do much to advance the object which he had so much at heart.


expressed his gratification at the manner in which his efforts in connection with the Industrial Schools Act had been spoken of. The share which he had taken in promoting the establishment of those schools in Scotland would be the act to which he should look back with most pleasure in his Parliamentary career. He rejoiced, therefore, that a similar Bill should be introduced for England. He approved cordially of the principle of this Bill, and would give it his hearty support. Every Member from Scotland would testify to the efficient working of the measure in Scotland, and he had no doubt it would work equally well in this country.


observed, that the almost unanimous feeling of the House seemed to be in favour of the principle of the Bill, and he thought the objections to its details might be most conveniently considered in Committee. It was, in his opinion, most important that they should avoid affording any ground for the idea that the plan was proposed with the slightest view to proselytism; but he thought the measure ought to be acceptable to Members of every sect for its broad principles of reclaiming a vast mass of young children from the influence of misery and crime.


said, he would support the second reading of the Bill, reserving to himself the right of proposing any alterations in Committee which he thought necessary to remove the slightest imputation of prosclytising intentions.


said, he would like the Bill a great deal better if it frankly proposed that the schools to be established should be Church of England schools. There could not be the least doubt that most of them would be Church of England schools, and so he thought they ought to be, because the majority of ratepayers in this country, or at all events those who paid the largest amount of rates, were members of that Church. If the children received into these schools were not instructed in religion they would leave the schools in a worse state than when they entered them, and he would much rather that they should he taught the religion of the Church of England than that they should receive no religious instruction at all. If it was declared that the religion of the Church of England should be taught in the schools, arrangements might he made by other religious bodies for affording instruction to the children of persons professing their respective creeds.


apprehended, under the provisions of the Bill, that it would be competent to persons of any religious denomination to establish schools of this description.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn,

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°, and committed for To-morrow.