HC Deb 27 May 1862 vol 167 cc69-71

Order for Committee read.

House in Committee.

Clause 1 (Guardians may send Children to Schools and Institutions).


said, that guardians of the poor would have under the Bill power to send "children thereinafter described" to certain schools. He thought that the clause should define the class of children. He would also suggest that some words should be inserted which would meet the expense to be incurred in their education and maintenance.


said, that that point had been considered by the Select Committee to which the Bill had been referred, and it had been thought the object of his right hon. Friend would be attained without the introduction of any set form of words into the clause. The intention was that any excess over the ordinary cost of the child's maintenance in a workhouse should be defrayed by private charity.


said, he thought that some limit should be named, such as that the expense should not be greater in these institutions than in the workhouse, for the guardians would take no care except in reference to money which came out of their own pockets.


said, the children to which the Bill applied were principally orphans, and there was little reason to fear the boards of guardians would incur undue expense on their account.


said, he had not the same confidence in boards of guardians, and preferred that some check should be imposed upon them. The clause extended to other children besides orphans, and would give an advantage to parents whose children were supported by the parish over those whose children were supported by industry.


said, that if the limitation was mentioned, in all likelihood it would be adopted in almost every case; whereas, if left open, he thought the guardians, in a matter of expenditure, might fairly be trusted.


said, he concurred in the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley). The Education Commissioners had possessed the public mind with the idea that the workhouse schools were the worst in the country, whereas they were really the best.


said, the Pool-Law Board had no reason to be dissatisfied with the present provision made for educating pauper children, which was, in fact, the bright part of the Poor Law system. That provision was liberal: as an experiment it had been followed by great results, and what was most striking about it was, that the improvement thus effected was progressive. An opposite opinion, however, pervaded the community, and the Bill proceeded on the assumption that the workhouse schools were attended with positive evil. He was inclined to think the measure would prove a dead letter, though some persons of experience were confident it would operate beneficially. As it stood, the Bill was, he believed, a perfectly innocent one, and he was not therefore prepared to oppose it. In the Bill before the Committee, there was a provision that the guardians should not contract with a school unless it had previously been examined and certified by the Pool-Law Board. As the system about to be adopted was an experiment, it might be advisable to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley), and limit the expense.


said, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire would persevere in the course he had adopted.


said, he would propose to insert the following words to meet the difficulty:— Not exceeding the average amount of maintenance and establishment charges incurred in respect to children maintained in workhouses.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 2 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.

Clause 6 (Continuance in School not to be compulsory).


suggested that children, instead of being kept at school till sixteen years of age, should be sent out as apprentices at fourteen. He considered it absurd that children educated in workhouse schools at the expense of other people, should he kept there after other children in the same rank of life were sent out into the world to get their own living.


said, the power given to the guardians by the clause was merely discretionary; and at present they had a similar power in respect of keeping children in the workhouse up to the age of sixteen. He was not, however, adverse to the Amendment of the clause, if it could thereby be rendered more effective.


said, he was in favour of giving the guardians the discretionary power provided by the clause.


said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire, that as a general rule it was not desirable to keep children in workhouses after the age of fourteen, but there were exceptional cases; and if there was a discretionary power in respect to keeping them in workhouses up to sixteen, it would be well to allow the same discretion in the case of the schools. It might meet the right hon. Gentleman's view to leave out the words referring to age.


said, he had no objection to strike out the words with reference to the ago of children, leaving the matter entirely within the discretion of the guardians.

Words struck out; Clause agreed to.

Remaining Clauses agreed to.

House resumed.

Bill reported; as amended, to be considered To-morrow.