HC Deb 25 July 1881 vol 263 cc1744-5

asked the Vice President of the Council, If he is correctly reported in the "Times" of July 12th to have stated to a deputation that, if "any voluntary school refused to receive ragged children, he would at once cut off the grant;" and, if so, whether he has considered how far such a penalty inflcted upon voluntary schools would be consistent with section 97 of the Education Act of 1870, which provides that the conditions under which grants are made to voluntary and School Board schools shall be identical?


The noble Lord asks me whether I am correctly reported in The Times of July 12, where I appear to have stated to a deputation that if any voluntary school refused to receive ragged children I would at once cut off the grant. My answer to this part of the Question is that I made that statement advisedly, and that I adhere to it, and that I should apply it equally to board and voluntary schools. The circumstances under which the statement was made were these:—A large deputation in opposition to the payment of school fees by Boards of Guardians under Section 10 of the Act of 1876 was introduced to me by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Birley), who sits opposite. Several members of the deputation, especially those from the borough of Warrington, urged that school attendance committees should be endowed with the powers of school boards in the matter of providing schools for ragged children, inasmuch as although there was ample school accommodation for all the children of the district, the voluntary schools re- fused to admit those whose clothes were ragged, and whose appearance indicated neglect. Now, I have no desire to force upon a school children who are in a diseased or filthy condition. They may be reasonably excluded, and the parents made responsible for sending them in proper condition; but I must either require voluntary schools to receive poor children who may be insufficiently clad, or I must order a school board to make suitable provision for them in accordance with the terms of the Act. To allow the ragged and neglected to be excluded from school would be to perpetuate raggedness and neglect. We have abundant evidence that the civilizing influences of the school affect not only the habits of the children, but the parents and the homes from which they come.