HC Deb 27 July 1866 vol 184 cc1606-13

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Certified Reformatory Schools.

Clauses 4 to 9 agreed to.

Clause 10 (Power to make Rules, &c.)


proposed an Amendment to leave out the latter part of the clause, declaring that the rules shall not be enforced until they have obtained the approval of the Secretary of State. It was most expedient to leave the managers the utmost possible freedom of action in the regulation and government of these institutions.

Amendment proposed, in page 3. line 28, to leave out from the, word "Act" to the end of the Clause."—(Mr. Powell.)


said, that Scotland had been the cradle of the reformatory and industrial schools, and the secret of their extraordinary success was that they had not been too much swathed in "red tape." If the Committee valued the good opinion of the managers they would leave out the words which fettered their discretion.


supported the Amendment. There was a strong feeling in Liverpool against too much interference on the part of the Government with the managers of these schools which had already done much mischief.


also supported the Amendment, and said that the managers of the reformatories were to a man in its favour.


said, he could not agree in the observations of hon. Members. These schools were originally founded upon the voluntary principle, but they had become in some degree State institutions, and were partly maintained by public money. The hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. M'Laren) could not be aware that the same clause existed in the Scotch Act, and that the rules of the managers were not valid until they had received the sanction of the Lord Advocate. It was necessary, when the public money was voted for a public institution, that some control should be exercised by the State in order to see that the money was properly applied. In nine cases out of ten, however, the power of interference exercised by the Secretary of State would be practically a dead letter.


supported the Amendment. He thought that unless it could be shown that some inconvenience had arisen from improper conduct on the part of the managers it would be better to leave them responsible for the discipline of the school.


believed that the interference of the Home Office would be of so mild a character that the Committee might well agree to the clause.


said, that many of the schools in Scotland had refused to take Government grants because they would thereby expose themselves to the interference of the Government.


said, that this was a Consolidated Bill, and the words proposed to be left out formed part of every Act on the subject.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 48; Noes 22: Majority 26.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Commitment of Offenders to, and their Status at, a Certified Reformatory School.

Clause 12 (Offenders under 16 may be sent to Certified Reformatory Schools.)


moved an Amendment limiting the preliminary term of imprisonment to ten days instead of fourteen days. The effect would be to give a different class of diet in many gaols.


supported the clause as it stood.

After discussion, Amendment made by inserting the words "for ten days or any longer term," leaving the matter in the discretion of the magistrate.


proposed an Amendment to the effect that the religion of the child should be deemed to be that of the parents, and not be left to be decided by the magistrates.


admitted that the matter was one of considerable difficulty; but there would be great difficulty in ascertaining the religion of the parents of these children. It would be better to leave it to the magistrates to ascertain the religion of these children by the register of baptism or the best evidence they could obtain.


said, his object was to prevent the children of Protestant parents being treated as Roman Catholics. It was the practice of the Roman Catholic priests in large towns to get hold of the children of the lower classes, and, without the consent of the parents, to submit them to the rite of baptism. The performance of this rite was, however, declared by the noble Lord the Member for Arundel (Lord Edward Howard), in an Amendment he had put on the paper, to be sufficient evidence of the religion of the child. If that Amendment were agreed to, it would be sufficient to take these children by scores before the magistrates and send them to the reformatories as Roman Catholics.


rose to order. The hon. Member ought not to speak to an Amendment not yet before the Committee. The hon. Member was also out of order in speaking from the front Opposition Bench, which, by the rules of the House, was reserved for Privy Councillors and those who had been Members of the executive Government. He appealed to Rule No. 90 of the Rules and Orders and Forms of Proceedings, for the guidance of Members of the House as regards public business. Rule 90 was in these terms— The front Bench, on the right hand of the Chair, is reserved for Members holding office under the Crown; and the front Bench, on the left hand of the Chair, is ordinarily occupied by Privy Councillors and other Members who have held office under the Crown. The hon. Member was too much in the habit of taking up the time of the House by remarks which gave great pain to Members of the Roman Catholic persuasion.


declined to enter into a personal discussion with the hon. Gentleman, and then proceeded to justify the Amendment which he had moved by referring to the circumstances of a trial which had recently taken place before Mr. Justice M. Smith.


rose to order, and said, a trial at the Old Bailey could havo no possible relation to the Amendment which the hon. Member had moved.


thought he should be able to show that it had,. There existed among the Roman Catholic priests an organization for the persecution to ruin—and almost to death—of any person who dared to expose this system of proselytism. The case to which he referred—which had been frequently before the police courts, though the London journals had systematically suppressed it—was that of a woman who had been persecuted for years for protesting against the surreptitious baptism of her children according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church.


entered his protest against these religious discussions being introduced by the hon. Member, especially at this late period of the Session.


desired to add his voice to the appeal which was being made to the hon. Member for Peterborough not to persevere in matters of this kind—and especially at such length. It was quite plain from past experience that many Members who were in doubt as to the vote they should give would vote against the hon. Member for Peterborough merely because he had made the Motion and advocated a particular side. Such a fact as this was to be regretted, because it was calculated to prejudice the fair consideration of the questions which were to be brought forward, and it tended to prevent Members from acting upon their convictions. He also objected to the assertion of the hon. Member that he professed a better kind of Protestantism than other people. He (Mr. M'Laren) held that he was himself as good a Protestant as was the hon. Member for Peterborough, and he likewise objected to the kind of argument which that hon. Gentleman followed, and which wounded the feelings of other hon. Members of a different religious faith.


said, he would recommend the Committee to agree to the section of the clause as it stood. It was wide, and gave full power to the magistrates to ascertain the religious persuasion of the youthful offender in the best manner they could, and to select a school as much in accordance therewith as possible.

Amendment negatived.


who had an Amendment on the paper, that In the failure of other evidence, a certificate of the baptism of the child, authenticated by the minister who has lawful custody of the register in which the baptism of such child has been recorded, shall be deemed sufficient evidence of that child's religion, said, that as be had reason to believe, from what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley), that his Amendment might fetter the investigation before the magistrate, he would withdraw it. His object was by no means to proselytize, but simply to retain Roman Catholic children in their own persuasion.


moved an Amendment as follows:— In page 4, line 32, after the word "justice" to insert the words "and the managers of every School shall, on receiving a youthful offender into their custody, enter his name and also the religious persuasion as aforesaid in a book to be kept for that purpose.


opposed the addition, on the ground that it unnecessarily interfered with the managers of schools.


said, it was proposed that the magistrate should endeavour to ascertain the religious persuasion of these little vagabonds; but everyone knew that the court could not ascertain the religious persuasion, because two-thirds of them belonged to no religious persuasion; and no magistrate could ascertain that which did not exist. It could only be put down if it was ascertained. The Amendment would therefore want amending by inserting such words as "when ascertained." He submitted that the best thing they could possibly do was to leave the clause as it stood, without inserting the proposed words.


objected to the Amendment as being useless, because all Roman Catholic offenders were sent to Roman Catholic reformatories, and Protestants to Protestant reformatories.


said, there were no reformatories for offenders of the Jewish persuasion, and therefore an entry of the religion in such a case as this was very desirable, in order that it might be properly known, and thus prevent all dispute.


thought the religion of the child ought to be recorded, as proposed by the Amendment.


considered that the Amendment applied to children of his own persuasion, and therefore would support it.


said, that each denomination had the means of establishing its own reformatory schools.


regarded the proposal as a reasonable and proper one. It was only reasonable that the fact ascertained by the magistrates under the clause should be recorded and kept in a book in the school. It would be necessary to add the words "so specified," and the proviso would then read as follows:— And the managers of every school shall, on receiving a youthful offender into their custody, enter his name, and also the religious persuasion, so specified as aforesaid, in a book to be kept for that purpose.


said, that the boys were to be sent to a reformatory of their own persuasion, and what need was there, therefore, of a register? This was a prison rule which the hon. Gentleman proposed, without the least necessity, to introduce into the reformatories.


asked if the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) would agree to the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire?




suggested that the Amendment should be agreed to if it were thought that it would give any security. He could not see that the Amendment would have any bad effect.

Amendment made to the said proposed Amendment, by inserting after the word "persuasion," the words "so specified."—(Mr. O'Reilly.)


considered that all the magistrate should have to do was to inquire to which of the reformatories he should send the child. He therefore objected to this registry.


agreed with the hon. Member for Edinburgh, that the Amendment should not be adopted.


submitted that when there was only one reformatory means should be taken to show the religion of the different children in it.

Question put, "That those words, as amended, be there inserted."

The Committee divided:—Ayes 27; Noes 38: Majority 11.


moved to omit from "a minister" to "the school," line 41, and insert— It shall be lawful, upon the representation of the parent, or in the case of an orphan then of the guardian or nearest adult relative, of any offender detained in any such school, for a minister of the religious persuasion of such offender, at certain fixed hours of the day, which shall be fixed by the managers or directors for the purpose, to visit such School for the purpose of affording religious assistance to such offender, and also for the purpose of instructing such offender in the principles of his religion.


supported the proposition to omit the words from the clause. It was said that by putting in these words they would preserve the law as it is, but he reminded the Committee that though that might be true with respect to England, this was a Consolidated Bill applying to the whole of the United Kingdom. If the Scotch model was a good one he could tell them that the Scotch law had no such provision as that proposed to be omitted. He was not actuated by sectarian feeling. On the contrary, he had subscribed for many years to the Catholic and Protestant schools in Edinburgh, and he knew they were doing a great deal of good. After the boy was sent to the Roman Catholic school no Protestant or other minister could go there to interfere with its management; and after a boy was sent to a Protestant school no Roman Catholic or other minister of religion could go there to interfere with its management. It was not by the clergy of any denomination that good was done to this class of offenders, but by the exertions and example of the teachers, who appealed to their hearts and consciences, and instilled into their minds the principles of morality and religion.


regretted to perceive that what was printed in the Bill was about to be given up, but, if so, they must agree to it.


said, that the clause which it was proposed to omit would give to the Roman Catholic priest the right to enter, and it was objectionable to give to any minister of religion a right that should be limited to some officer appointed by the Government and responsible to the Government.


asked if the children were to be left without religious education.


as a magistrate, could say that in general the religion of the parents of such children was no religion at all.

Amendment agreed to.

Words struck out, and other words inserted.


proposed to add a proviso, that No child receiving religious instruction from a Jewish minister shall be compelled to attend church or chapel, or be taught doctrines inconsistent with the Jewish faith.

Amendment negatived.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Clause 14 (Power of Parent to change School.)


said, there would be a good deal of discussion on the clause, and therefore he suggested that it would be better to direct the Chairman to report Progress.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again this day.