HC Deb 04 May 1860 vol 158 cc693-5

said, he wished to ask the President of the Poor Law Board, Whether it may not be advisable to adopt in Union Workhouses a system of Classification of the Inmates, so that the more respectable may be separated from the worse conducted classes; whether a greater separation of the children from the other inmates cannot be effected, and a system of industrial training more generally adopted; also, whether it might not be beneficial to encourage the introduction of small but well-assorted Libraries in Workhouses, together with the practice of reading aloud to those who cannot read themselves; also, whether any Returns could be made, showing how far such or any other recommendations of the Inspectors have been complied with in Workhouses, and what is the present number of District Schools for the education of children apart from the Workhouse, with the results of such separation of the Schools from the Workhouse?


said, that a few years since a Return had been made of the "General Regulations of the Poor Law Board, relating to the Classification of the Inmates of Workhouses;" and his hon. Friend would find there the specific arrangements made by the Board with a view to classification, together with the further order that the guardians throughout the country should, as far as circumstances admitted, subdivide the inmates into three classes, according to their moral character and previous habits. That order had been carried out to a great extent, and the Board had every reason to believe that the desired object would be carried out still further, for they had given instructions that every now workhouse should be so constructed as to allow of the requisite classification. In all the large towns there was now a strict classification with regard to the children. The Board had readily consented to establish libraries, and it was not an uncommon practice for one of the inmates to read for the benefit of the others. The suggestions of the Poor Law Inspectors had, as a general rule, been observed by the Boards of Guardians to whom they wore made. There were now six district schools, formed under the District School Act, and 19 separate or parochial schools, in which there were altogether 7,063 children. They were all taught some trade or other, by which they could subsequently maintain themselves, and the demand for the service of the children educated in these schools was very considerable. There were also 251 paid industrial teachers, and altogether the children educated out of the parish rates were at present 33,579 in number. The system now in progress throughout the country was, of course, more advanced in the Metropolitan district, which comprised 50 unions and upwards of 300 parishes, and it might be interesting to his hon. Friend (Mr. Ewart) to be informed of some statistics contained in a note just made by the Metropolitan Inspector upon the condition of his district. The Inspector stated: — In the Metropolitan district, wherever there is a modern workhouse (and there are many), the guardians adopt every practicable moans of classifying the moral and immoral women; the latter being set to task-work by themselves. With regard to libraries in workhouses, I have taken every means in my power to establish them by conferring with the guardians, and by recommending them in my reports in the Visitors' Books, and I am glad to be able to say that libraries have been established in many workhouses, and are being from time to time now established. There are three district schools, capable of containing 3,289 children, in the Metropolitan district, and the average weekly number educated in them last year was 2,263. There are 11 separate or detached schools, capable of containing 4,399 children, in the district, and the average weekly number educated in them last year was 3,097; so that there wore 5,360 pauper children being educated last year in the above schools belonging to this district. The children are both mentally educated and trained with great strictness to habits of usefulness, industry, and virtue, the result of which is that, on the one hand, there is no difficulty whatever in obtaining good situations for them, and, on the other, very few of them lose their situations through faults of their own. With regard to the Returns alluded to, the materials which his hon. Friend desired would be furnished if he would move for them.