HC Deb 25 March 1870 vol 200 cc639-40

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to the case of Alexander Gillespie, a boy of ten years of age, who has been committed as a vagrant to the Rottenrow Industrial School, Glasgow, although innocent of any crime, and being at the time resident in the home of his parents; whether it has been brought to his notice that such committal took place summarily, and without his parents being even aware that the child was in the hands of the police; and, whether he will not, under the circumstances, exercise the power conferred upon him by the Industrial Schools Act, and order the restoration of the boy to his parents, who, although in humble circumstances, are respectable persons, and able and willing to maintain and educate him?


in reply, said, his hon. Friend had been misinformed as to the facts of the case to which he called attention. Inasmuch as a great deal of intemperate correspondence had taken place on the subject, he would be too happy to avail himself of the opportunity of explaining what the real facts were. On the 9th of November last two boys were apprehended on a charge of robbery, one of them being Gillespie, who was ten years of age. They were taken, first of all, to the police station, and, having ascertained their parentage, the officer called upon Gillespie's father, a most respectable man, and informed him of the nature of the charge, and intimated that the case would be brought on at the court on the following morning. The boy was taken home in the meantime; and a similar notice was given to the mother. The father said he was sorry to hear of the charge, and that the boy's brother had received five years' penal servitude for having committed a similar offence. Neither father nor mother attended at the police court next morning, when the boy pleaded "Guilty," and the magistrates, wisely exercising their discretion, instead of proceeding to a conviction, acted under the 15th section of the Industrial Schools Act, and sent the lad to an Industrial School, where he has been ever since. A communication had, however, been made to Gillespie's father, informing him that if he chose to appeal to the magistrates, they might exercise the power they possessed of making an order for the boy's release from the school, and his restoration to his parents, if the magistrates were satisfied such a proceeding would be for the boy's welfare.