HC Deb 09 March 1883 vol 276 cc1910-35

in rising to direct attention to the operation of the Factory Acts in Soctland, in so far as they affect Elementary Education in that Country; and to move— That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that the want of harmony which practically exists "between the Factory and Education Acts in Scotland he remedied by legislation at the earliest opportunity, said: I desire to show that this want of harmony exercises a very injurious effect on the system of education in Scotland. It imposes unnecessary and vexatious duties upon those who are charged with factory superintendence; it imposes additional responsibility on the school boards; it interferes in many cases with the legitimate claims for the supply of labour; and, not unfrequently, it imposes a very great amount of hardship upon those parents of the working classes who have taken the most efficient means for the education of their children. I think, in order clearly to apprehend the condition in which we are in Scotland in this matter, it is necessary to consider, in the first place, the terms of the Acts of Parliament which regulate education and employment in that country. You have, in the first place, the Scotch Education Act of 1872; in the next place, an Amendment Act relating to education in 1878; and, in the third place, the Factory Act of the same year. The clauses of the Act of 1872 are very clear and explicit. The 69th clause provides that all children between the ages of 5 and 13 shall be educated. The 72nd prohibits anyone employing a child under 13 who has not attended school regularly for three years, or until he can read and write, and renders the employer of such a child liable to fine and imprisonment; and the 73rd requires a certificate of ability to read and write and of a knowledge of elementary arithmetic granted by an Inspector of Schools in order to exempt parents and employers from any legal proceedings. The Act of 1872 was considerably modified by the Act passed in 1878, the 5th section of which Act forbids the employment of children under 10, and allows those between 10 and 14 to work only if they have a certificate in the terms of the Act of 1872, unless any such child is employed and is attending school in accordance with the provisions of any Act or Minute of the Scotch Education Department; and the Factory Act of 1878, by the 20th section, prohibits the employment of children under 10; but by the 26th section it allows a child of 13, who has passed a certain Standard of education—which Standard is to be fixed by the Secretary of State—and has made a certain number of previous attendances, to work full time as a young person under the terms of that Act. These are the Acts of Parliament which bear upon the point. But, besides these Acts, there is permission to the Education Department to pass certain regulations, and in accordance with that Act the Scotch Education Department, on the 16th of December, 1878, resolved that the Standard of education allowing the partial exemption of children above 10 from the obligation to attend school should be the 3rd Standard prescribed by the Scotch Education Code, and that the Standard of educational ability to give full time work after 13 should be the 5th Standard. Those are the Acts and Minutes which regulate the question of education and employment. On the question of how far these Acts and Minutes are reduced into practice, we have some facts that are quite certain and undoubted, and others upon which a certain amount of doubt and uncertainty arise. With regard to the former, it is certain that, both under the Factory and the Education Acts, no child below 10 can, under any circumstances whatever, engage in remunerative employment. In the second place, it is certain that no child under 13 can work full time at all, no matter how much he knows; and, in the third place, it is certain that every child over 14 can work full time, no matter how little he knows. Now, besides these cases upon which no dubiety exists, we have two cases in which the same amount of certainty is not quite so clear. We have first, the case of children between 10 and 13 who are permitted to work half-time. Under the Acts to which I have directed the attention of the House, and under the Minutes of the Scotch Education Department, children between the ages of 10 and 13 are allowed to work half-time. Before the month of August, 1879, no Educational Standard was required for half-time work; it was sufficient that they were attending a certified school; but after that date the Minute of the Scotch Education Department came into force, and the 3rd Standard was laid down as that which was required to enable children to work half-time. Then we have the case of children between 13 and 14 years of age. These children can work half-time, under the same regulations as affect the case of children between 10 and 13; and they can work full time as "young persons," in a technical sense, under the Factory Act, in the first place, if they have a certificate of having passed the 5th Standard; or, in the second place, if they have a certificate of "due attendance," as defined by the Scotch Education Code of 1880—namely, that they have made 250 attendances after five years of age, in not more than two schools, in each year for five years, whether consecutive or not. These are the facts which result from the operation of the Acts of Parlia- ment and the Minutes of the Education Department. There is no doubt, I think, that the intention, both of the Acts and the Minutes, was that, for the purpose of half-time employment, the 3rd Standard should be the Standard of educational efficiency in Scotland; but, in point of fact, that regulation is now practically in abeyance, and the difficulty we have to contend with has arisen from the peculiar wording of the 5th clause of the Act of 1870. That clause says— Such a child shall not be employed, unless attending school in accordance with the provisions of any Act of Parliament regulating labour, or of any Minute of the Scotch Education Department. I understand that a legal doubt arose in reference to the peculiar phraseology of the latter part of that clause; and I believe the matter was so doubtful, that the opinion of the highest legal authority in Scotland was taken on the point, and that opinion showed such dubiety that no school board felt justified in bringing the case before the Superior Courts to be settled. The matter has rested in that very unsatisfactory state from the time that opinion was given until now. On the particular gravity and importance of this question, and its practical effect upon education, I might adduce a vast amount of testimony which I have been favoured with by persons who take a deep interest in the matter; but I think it will be for the convenience of the House, and will meet my own case, if I lay down simply four statements. The first is found in the 27th page of the Report for 1881 of the Chief Inspector of Factories. The Inspector for the Edinburgh District, there says— Cases frequently arise in my district, of children under 13 years being granted certificates from the School Board, permitting them, as a reward for proficiency, to work full time, sometimes accompanied with a proviso that they shall attend a night school. A child armed with this authority naturally thinks it very hard that the Factory Act interferes and nullifies the advantages he has gained by his own industry and good conduct; the parents are also aggrieved, and the employer is naturally much annoyed, and expresses his disgust at the discrepancy between the two Acts in no measured terms. Again, the School Board of Glasgow, in their Report for 1881, says— The is a want of harmony between the Factory Act and the Education Act. Some children who have not the requirements of the Education Act may, and frequently do, leave school about 12, but cannot legally work full time until they are 13; while others who have attained the age of 13 are free under the Education Act, but not having passed Standard 5, nor made the necessary attendances, they are not allowed to work full time until they are 14 years of ago. And, in their Report for 1882, they repeat this statement, and add— It is a striking and significant fact that while there were 8,375 children between the ages of 12 and 13 at school in 1881, there are only now 6,438 children. Children under 13 cannot be employed full time in factories and workshops. There is only a limited demand for them in offices, and there is a strong temptation to them to take irregular work, or hang about the streets until they are of proper ago. Then I find the School Board of Paisley, who have also great experience on these particular points, giving' an opinion in very much the same terms. They say— We find that the numbers are on the increase, and that out of the 809 under this Act, 266 have not passed the 3rd Standard. These children will, as a rule, be far behind in their education when they leave school, so that we do not wonder that the half-time movement is one which has never commended itself to the public. There are three schools in our town into which half-timers only are admitted, although there are schools under the Government Inspector, where half-timers are likewise admitted. We think that if there was more harmony between the Factory and Education Acts, and if healthy children about 12 years of age, who have passed Standard 5, could be employed to work full time in healthy places, there would not be the same inducement to parents to send their little ones to work on half-time at 10 years old—a custom which is rapidly extending. They add that there are 600 children in Paisley, under 13 years of age, who have met the requirements of the Education Act and are not attending school, but who could be much better employed than in hanging about the streets. Therefore, they feel that some alteration must be made now, or very soon by the Government. The only other extract which I shall quote to the House is from the school board with which I am myself connected, and which fairly represents the average of a great number of country school boards. It is a mining, manufacturing, and agricultural district, and this is the opinion of one of our most experienced officials— What is wanted is a definition of the standard of education necessary to enable a child between 10 and 13 years of age to work half-time, which would be recognised both by the factory and education inspector. There is a difficulty also with regard to children between 13 and 14 years of age. The Factory Acts do not allow these to work full time until they have passed the 5th Standard, while school hoards have no right to interfere with children above 13 years of age. The effect of this is, that while these children have to attend school in order to be allowed to work, the school hoard officer has no control over them. Now, Sir, I do not think it necessary to take up any more time upon this point, although, if I liked, I might lay similar testimony before the House from almost every part of Scotland; but, under the present circumstances, I do not feel justified in doing more than is absolutely necessary to prove my point. I should like now, very briefly, to bring under the notice of the House one or two only of the very peculiar cases which arise from the practical working of these two Acts. In the first place, Sir, I will point out that the definition of "child" is different under the Education Acts to what it is under the Factory Acts. For the purpose of education, a "child" is a person between the age of 5 and 13. After a child is 13 years of age, the power of the school board ceases by Act of Parliament; and in Scotland, when a child under 13 years of age has passed the 5th Standard, the school board has practically no further control over him; and, therefore, the child ceases to be a "child" for educational purposes. On the other hand, the Factory Act defines a "child" to be a person up to the age of 14 years, and an important distinction of that sort leads to very many difficulties when we come to reduce them to practice. In the case of a child who had passed the 5th Standard, as I have said, the control of the school board over it ceases; but there are very many children who are over 13 years of age, but who have not passed the 5th Standard, nor have made the necessary number of attendances to entitle them to the "due attendance" certificate, and, therefore, if they are allowed to work at all, they are only entitled to work as half-timers, and if they do, they must attend school in order to satisfy the requirements of the Factory Acts. They are, then, in this position, they are attending school without the school board having any control over them. Again, you have children who have passed the 6th Standard before the age of 13. They can only work as half-timers; as half-timers they must attend school; but by the Education Act, with the consent of the school boards and the wish of their parents, they are relieved from attending school when they have passed that Standard. Under the Factory Acts, in order to be able to work, they must attend school, and if they do not, those same parents are liable to fine and imprisonment. There is another case which frequently occurs. A boy has a "due attendance" certificate, and is 13 years of age, and he may work in a factory or workshop under the Act full time, having scarcely any education; but another boy who has passed two subjects in the 5th Standard, and therefore has a respectable amount of elementary knowledge, is not allowed to take employment in a shop or warehouse where his work is practically educational. Then, as often happens, in country districts, where there are no factories or workshops, a child between 13 and 14 who has not passed the 5th Standard, and who has not got a "due attendance" certificate, cannot work half-time because there is no opportunity for doing so; the school boards cannot touch him because he is over 13; he cannot legally get employment otherwise; and, therefore, that child is placed in an enforced state of idleness, at an age of life when it is especially necessary that he should be taught habits of industry. I think it is unnecessary to quote other cases, because those who know the Acts know very well the variety of cases there are that are constantly rising up. I have now laid before the House the proposition which I first laid down, and it would be improper for me, under the circumstances, or under the scope of the Resolution, to do more than indicate the particular direction which legislation might take; but there are two points which, I think, are especially worthy of attention. In the first place, it is very necessary there should be some Standard of educational efficiency, which should be recognized both by the Education Acts and the Factory Acts. I am aware that, in some districts of Scotland, higher Standards might be required than in others—the 4th Standard being recommended in some—but I am not prepared to say what Standard would be the most advisable and necessary for the whole country in the circumstances of the case. My opinion, however, is—and it is based upon facts coming within my own knowledge—that the 3rd Standard would be probably sufficient, and that it would meet all the requirements of the case. But I do not wish to place that before the House in any other shape than merely as my own private opinion; but I am satisfied of this, that whatever Standard of education may he laid down as that without which half-time employment cannot he entered into, it would require to be very carefully guarded, so as, in the first place, not to interfere with those who have already, without that educational requirement, been so far legally, or by the ordinary custom, engaged in half-time occupation. I think also that it might be necessary to follow the example and precedent of the English Act, and in some cases, at any rate, to provide for possibly a temporary or local exemption. I am perfectly aware that the case of exception to Acts of Parliament is one which would be gladly and properly avoided; but when you come to deal with practical and existing circumstances in various localities, I think we must make a choice either between an exception or an evasion; and if you have to take that choice, it is better to have exceptions rather than evasions. Then, Sir, I think also it would be very advisable, in any measure which may be in the future laid before the House, that some means should be taken for bringing the Standards and years somewhat nearer than at present. I have received a copy of an opinion of the School Board of Glasgow on this point, which I believe represents the unanimous judgment of a body very competent to deal with the point. It is in these terms— That the parent of a child of 13 years complete shall, as at present, be free from prosecution under the Education Act; and that, at the same age, the child should he entitled to be employed full time under the Factory and Workshops Act and the Education Act of 1878. I think, taking into consideration the great experience which the School Board of Glasgow have had in the work of education among people where this particular point arises—for I believe it has come before them more than in almost any other part of the country—I think that opinion is worthy of consideration, although I will not say that I agree to it to its full extent. I am quite sure, if the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council is able to hold out any encouragement that this matter will receive the attention of the Government at as early an opportunity as pos- sible, and that the experience which the various Departments have had will be brought to bear in bringing forward the measure, it will render much more easy the work of national education in Scotland In conclusion, I have only to thank the House for the kind attention given me in dealing with a subject necessarily dry, and should my Motion be practically agreed to, and should a measure of this kind, in course of time, be brought in, I am confident it would be productive of the greatest benefit to the whole community. The hon. Gentleman then proposed the Resolution of which he had given Notice.


in seconding the Motion, said, that, in his opinion, his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) had succeeded in showing the want of harmony between the Education Acts and the Factory Acts as now enforced in Scotland. It appeared to him (Mr. Bruce) that the inconvenience resulting from that want of harmony came principally under two heads. The first and most important evil was that half-timers—children of 10 years of age and upwards—were employed in factories, without having previously passed any educational Standard whatever. He believed there was no doubt that was the case, although it was directly in the face of the provisions of the Education Act of 1878, and of the Departmental Minute of that Act. According to the Departmental Minute, no child ought to be employed as a half-timer in a factory or workshop who had not previously passed the 3rd Standard; but, owing to some defect in the wording of the Act, he believed that proposition was not operative, and, as a matter of fact, children were employed long before they had reached even that small educational Standard. He agreed with the hon. Member that the 3rd Standard would be the best to select as the minimum, without reaching which a child should not be allowed to take employment. But, at any rate, whether it was the right Standard or not, he trusted that the Government would be able to see their way to lay down that there should be some educational Standard, up to which every child must come before being employed as a half-timer. The other principal question to look at was the position of children between the ages of 13 and 14. These children were in a somewhat peculiar position. They were no longer compellable under the Education Acts to attend school; but, on the other hand, under the Factory Acts they were not allowed to be employed full time in factories unless in certain cases—namely, when they had got a certain certain certificate of education, or of attendance at school. The consequence of that was, that there wore a number of children who could no longer be obliged to attend school, and, at the same time, were not allowed to take full-time employment in the factories, and who very probably might spend their time not in the most advantageous manner. There was also the case of these children under the age of 13 who had passed the 6th Standard, and who were no longer compellable to attend school. They, too, by the Factory Acts were prevented from taking full-time employment, and they might for a time be left in enforced idleness. Now, he believed it was suggested that, as regarded the difficulty of children between the age of 13 and 14, it might be got over by altering the definition of a child," and defining a "child" to be a person between the age of 13 and 18, instead of between the age of 14 aid 18, as in the Factory Act. It was, however, observed that if that were done, it would remove the stimulus that at present existed, and which encouraged the child to obtain the 5th Standard certificate at the age of 13 in order to be qualified for work. Before sitting down, he would just ask the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to one other matter of detail. It had been pointed out that the certificates that were necessary for the employment of children were very numerous, and referred to both physical and educational fitness; and he would like to refer the right hon. Gentleman to Section 27 of the Factory Acts, where he would see that a surgeon had to give a certificate of fitness, which should be to the effect that he was satisfied by the production of the certificate of birth and "other sufficient evidence" that the person named in the certificate was of the age specified. He was informed that under cover of these words "other sufficient evidence" a certain amount of laxity existed in granting these certificates, and he thought it was obviously of great importance, both that these certificates should be made as simple as possible, and that they should honestly represent the facts which they purported to certify. He hoped, therefore, the Government would be able to give some encouragement to his hon. Friend, and that he would secure that amendment of these Acts which he had so ably pointed out.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that the want of harmony which practically exists between the Factory and Education Acts in Scotland he remedied by legislation at the earliest opportunity,"—(Mr, Cochran-Patrick,) —instead thereof.

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


said, he was quite sure that all those who were interested in the cause of education in Scotland were very much indebted to the hon. Member for North Ayrshire (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) for having introduced this subject to the House. To the general proposition which he had made, he (Mr. Henderson) did not think any possible objection could be taken. It was exceedingly desirable, and very necessary, that the two great Acts regulating the education and labour of children in Scotland should work together in perfect harmony, and, where-ever it could be shown that defect existed, it was of great importance that it should be remedied as early as possible. What he was particularly interested in was the question of insisting on an educational Standard for the employment of half-timers, and he was sure the House would excuse him if he entered somewhat into detail upon this matter, because the town he had the honour to represent was much more deeply interested in the question of half-timers and their relations than any other town in Scotland. From the nature of the staple industry of Dundee, it admitted of a very large proportion of unskilled child labour being employed. He believed the number of operatives engaged in the jute manufacture represented rather over than under 40,000; and when he mentioned that of those there were not less than 4,500 half-timers, hon. Members would at once perceive the importance of the subject to the constituency he represented. He believed that number represented more than were employed throughout the rest of Scotland. He understood that Glasgow with its varied industries, and with four times the population of Dundee, had less than 1,000 half-timers; and in Paisley there were less than 600; so that the House would at once perceive this was a matter of great importance to Dundee, and therefore any regulations made by any future legislation must be a matter in which Dundee must take a great interest. As early as possible after the passing of the Education Act of 1872, and after providing for the necessary school accommodation that was required, the School Board of Dundee had their attention directed to the question of the half-timers. He was a member of the School Board at that time, and of the sub-committee delegated to inquire into the matter. They were then under the impression, afterwards fully borne out by their investigations, that a very large number of the half-timers were educated at schools over which there was no inspection whatever, and that they were, in reality, getting no education at all. He had heard it often stated within the last few days that there was an impression that the manufacturers of Dundee were neglectful and remiss in their duty in sending the half-timers to school. He was very glad that he now had the opportunity of directly and emphatically denying that allegation, because nothing was more gratifying to the committee than to find that on every hand the employers of these children were anxious to find means to co-operate with the School Board, whereby they might be sure of the education of the half-timers. In consequence of the investigations of the committee, a half-time school was established by the Board in one of the districts of Dundee. That school still existed, and the employers of the neighbourhood most willingly contributed to the expense. He believed it was from the beginning a source of profit, and not of loss to the ratepayers. So successful was the experiment that the School Board had added two more schools, there being now three schools under the management of the School Board inspected by the Government Inspectors, and furnishing education to half-time children. There were also private schools connected with factories, and they found a great many of the employers of half-time children take a pride in the efficiency of their half-time schools. He would give them the Report of the Inspectors of one of the half-time factory schools, and one under the control of the Board. At the inspection of the one under the control of the Board in 1881 the Inspector said— The work all over the school was remarkably well done, and the results are far beyond what could have been expected. The note to that by the Chairman of the Board was that the school provided by the Board was a boon to the community. The Report from the half-time factory school, where 250 half-timers attended, was to the effect that the school had been remarkably successful, and in the Report for 1882 the Inspector said there was nothing new to report; all the arrangements were admirable, the teachers worked heartily and effectively, and the results were really astonishing, and much beyond the average of schools. He had read those Reports to the House, to show that in the large majority the education of half-timers was good and successful. Ashe understood the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cochran-Patrick), he did not pin himself to the 3rd Standard, but would allow discretion to be used in that respect, according to the varying circumstances in different localities. The school board officer reported that application of the test of the 3rd Standard disqualified more than one-half of the children now employed in Dundee, and would disqualify 99 per cent of the applicants. He (Mr. Henderson) had no doubt the question would be asked—" What are the causes which contributed to bring about this state of matters in Dundee? "Well, there was one cause which was quite apparent. There were in Dundee at present 2,068 children—and he believed these children were mostly under 10 years of age—because, if they were above that age, they would seek employment as half-timers—2,068 children now being educated in the ordinary day schools, which were not inspected. There were also 1,000 children, engaged as half-timers, being educated at schools which were not inspected; so that they had, in the first instance, 2,000 children growing up to half-time age, getting what might be called the name of edu- cation, and nothing more, at ordinary uninspected schools, to come up and swell the ranks of the ordinary half-timers; and then they had 1,000 half-timers also being educated at those uninspected schools. He believed a large number of those ordinary schools were held in rooms wholly unsuited for the purpose of education; and when the half-timers came in the afternoon, at I or half-past 1 o'clock, the practice was not to put them in the same room, but to turn the ordinary scholars out into the street to play, in order that the half-time children might get such education as was provided for them. So that these schools which were not inspected were one of the greatest difficulties with which the school board had to deal in these matters. They had no power to inspect them. [Mr. MUNDELLA dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman shook his head; but the school board, he knew, had no power to examine those schools, which were really doing a great injury to both classes of scholars. But they relieved the parents from any charge of wilfully neglecting the education of their children. It had been asked—" What has the school board been doing during the 10 years that the Education Act has been in operation, when such a state of things could exist? "He could speak very confidently of what the School Board of Dundee had done during those 10 years. Perhaps no board in Scotland had been constituted so favourably for carrying out the Education Act in its proper spirit as the School Board of Dundee. They had had the advantage of having on the Board the late Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and also, at the same time, the Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland. They had also had the Bishop of Brechin, who was distinguished for his efforts in promoting the social well-being of the people; and they had had the oldest Procurator Fiscal of Scotland, who had been deeply interested in the cause of education, and was one of the contributors of £50,000 for the establishment of a College in Dundee; so that every class of opinion was represented and combined in an object which was to carry out the Act of 1872 according to its spirit, and make it a success. Well, that Board spent about £1,000 a-year in enforcing the compulsory clause of the Act of 1872. Nearly one-fourth of the total fees contributed by the City of Dundee had been expended in enforcing attendance. In addition to that, the members of the Board had voluntarily subscribed to a fund to provide clothing for those children who were not so provided, in order that the parents might have no excuse. When the Act of 1878 was passed, he had no doubt the right hon. Gentleman and many others thought a great step would be made, and that now no difficulty whatever would arise in enforcing the compulsory clauses. In Dundee, at least, these expectations had not been realized. At the commencement of the Session of 1879 there were 2,534 children on the default register, and the daily attendance was only 63 per cent. In 1880, there were 496 on the default register, and only 61 per cent in daily attendance. In 1881 there were 2,457, and a daily attendance of 65 per cent. In 1882 there were 2,929 on the default registers, and an attendance of only 61 per cent; and he noticed that, in the month of February this year, the officer reported that the daily attendance was still only 61 per cent. In reference to the particular Motion now before them, the School Board of Dundee had passed a resolution, dated last month, declaring that, "instead of advancing the cause of education, such a motion as this would seriously retard it." The short of the matter was that there were thousands of children at present in Dundee, educated in the half-time schools, who probably would not otherwise have got any other education at home; and the imposition of a hard-and-fast educational test would, on the authority he had stated, disqualify one-half at least of those who were at present working half-time, and disqualify 99 per cent of the children who applied when they were 10 years of age for admission as half-timers. They must have some regard to the special and exceptional position of Dundee. With regard to the children who were attending ordinary day schools undergoing inspection, he had his own favourite remedy, which he, of course, did not expect the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to accept. That was to abolish the exaction of fees from the children attending schools, and open the school door to them. But that, he feared, was not to be thought of at present; but, at all events, in any now legislation, they ought to give power to the school board, or to the Government Inspector, to inspect those schools which were not under inspection, not to allow any school to be opened for the purpose of giving elementary education to children which would not be obliged to submit to the inspection of a qualified Inspector. With all deference to the right hon. Gentleman, he was still of opinion that school boards had no power whatever to enter these schools, or to insist upon their receiving the visits of the Inspector; but he was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman had had the power all those years, and had not exercised it. There was no doubt, he thought, that the Act of 1878 imposed a duty on the Inspector, to see that every child employed at half-time work should be, for a certain time, at an efficient school; and the same clause provided that the Education Department should declare and publish in the district what they certify to be an efficient elementary school. So far as he was aware, there had been no test applied by the Inspector to see whether the child had been at any school whatever. There had been no effort made, so far as he was aware, to ascertain whether the half-time schools which were not under the Inspector were efficient schools for the purposes of the Act. So that he did not think the Education Department could altogether absolve themselves from all share of the discredit which must attach to such a state of affairs. He readily admitted that some standard of education ought to be imposed as a test on half-time children. He believed it was impossible, in the face of what was being done in the manufacturing districts in England, to contend against such a proposition in Scotland. But what he would impress upon the House was that if the test were applied to Dundee, situated as Dundee was, it must be applied very gradually. As he had shown, many of the children who at present attended, as half-timers were not able to pass any Standard at all; and he would suggest that, for a year after the passing of the Act, the 1st Standard should be the test for the education of these children. In the following year they might raise the Standard to the 2nd; and then after a couple of years they might pass on to insist on the 3rd. Unless they proceeded in some such method, he was perfectly convinced that the passing of the 3rd Standard as an educational test would result not merely in crippling a great industry, which provided sustenance for many thousands of people, who otherwise would have to be supported out of the poor rates, but would enormously increase the difficulties which the school board experienced in enforcing the compulsory clauses of the Education Act; and, at the same time, it would indefinitely prolong the period during which many thousands of poor children were kept in a state of poverty and ignorance, and in many cases, he was afraid, effectually prevent their ever escaping from it.


I will only say a few words on the question before the House, for I know how important it is that Supply should be reached. The subject is, however, of great importance to the welfare of Scotland, and we are much indebted to the hon. Member for North Ayrshire (Mr. Cochran-Patrick) for having introduced it to the attention of the House. The difficulties to which the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Henderson) alludes are, no doubt, formidable as regards that town, and have been clearly stated by him. But they are difficulties of the same kind as those which have been surmounted in a frank and manly spirit by all the factory towns in England, especially those of Lancashire and Yorkshire. These towns have adjusted themselves to the educational conditions imposed by this House, no doubt with some considerable inconvenience to themselves in the first instance, but with much ultimate benefit to the general population, and with positive industrial advantage, by disciplining and increasing the productive powers of the children engaged in the factories. The educational condition in itself is reasonable. No child can be employed before 10 years of age as a half-timer, as the object of the Factory Act is to insure that before they enter employment they should pass a Standard which can be readily attained by a child of nine. The purpose of this is very clear. If children came unprepared to the half-time schools at 10 years of age, these schools degenerate into giving the mere elements of education, while their object is to carry on children from Class III. to Class VI. before they reach 13 and become full-timers. The hon. Member for Dundee contends that the town of Dundee, though it makes efforts for the education of its own population, cannot insure that of the Irish population, which comes in an uneducated state to seek for employment in that busy manufacturing town. No doubt that, to a certain extent, is true; and I pointed out that danger to Scotch towns when I addressed the House a few days ago on the need of compulsory education in Ireland. It is quite true that many Irish emigrants are thrown upon our large towns in a deplorable state of ignorance, without having learned to appreciate the benefits of education for their children. The difficulties in dealing with these Irish operatives are great, and have to be overcome. But I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee throws upon the Irish much more responsibility for the result than he is justified in doing. He estimates, as I understand, the Irish population at 50,000—about one-third of the whole population of his town. If anything like this is truth, there must have been a startling change since 1871. In that Census—for, as yet, we have not the result of 1881—there were only 14,200 Irish born inhabitants in Dundee. If they have increased in proportion to the population, there should be 17,000. No doubt, the children born in Dundee of Irish parents give a much greater proportion of the Irish race in Dundee than that number; but for this the town of Dundee is responsible, and ought to provide for their education. As the whole school children represented by 17,000 would be less than 3,000, the actually imported Irish children of school age could scarcely reach 1,000, or, at most, 2,000. Now, there are about 5,000 half-timers in Dundee, three-fourths of whom, we are told, could not be employed if the low education test of Standard III. was shut in their faces, as a gate, before they could enter the factories. If this be true, it is a melancholy fact; but it is one for which the town of Dundee is responsible in the growth and care of its juvenile population. I do not believe, however, that any such numbers would be excluded. Even in 1871 there were 71 per cent of the children of school age in Dundee found in the schools, and the proportion must have much augmented since that time. If the Factory Acts of England and Scotland are assimilated, parents will very quickly learn to give their children that educational pass which is necessary for employment. If children do not pass Standard III. by 10 years of age, how is it possible to expect them to pass Standard V. or VI. by 13, when they may become full-timers? I have treated the question chiefly as limited to Dundee, because that seems to be the only town which exhibits a panic at the proposal to assimilate the law. No town in the Kingdom has been doing more for secondary and higher education than Dundee has in recent years. For primary education it has also made liberal, though not yet sufficient, provision. I am sure that a little reflection will induce the public-spirited citizens of Dundee to accept the educational test for labour which other factory towns have worked out in an energetic and patriotic spirit. The population of that town is, undoubtedly, a difficult one to educate from its mixture of races. But the children who go to the factories are chiefly born in the town itself, and their education will render them more orderly and law-abiding citizens. At all events, Dundee must see by the spirit in which this Resolution has been considered by this House that there are very few Scotch Members who are not ashamed that Scotland is not under as stringent a Factory Law as England, and that they will do their best to assimilate the laws in both countries, and thus procure for the factory population of every part of Scotland those educational blessings and productive advantages which have followed the application of laws regulating the employment of juvenile labour in the manufacturing towns of England.


I think the hon. Member for North Ayrshire is to be congratulated on the debate which has resulted from the sensible and admirable Motion which he has put on the Paper. The hon. Member never introduces an educational question to this House without speaking in the most useful and practical spirit; and I must recognize the very good service he has done before to the cause of Scotch education, whenever we have had this question under consideration. The Scotch Act of 1872, no doubt, made no provision whatever for half-timers. The 5th Standard provided for full time by the powers conferred by the Act of 1872 upon the Education Department; but in 1875 the Board of Education in Scotland reported bow important it was that some means should be found of dealing with the question of half-timers. In that Report, which we have had under consideration, I find that the question whether the Education or the Factory Acts were paramount had been frequently under the consideration of the Board; and they had come to the conclusion that in consequence of the indefinite wording of the Act of 1872, the Factory Acts were paramount, and, consequently, that children could enter on half-time labour in Scotland without passing any Standard; but they could not enter on full-time labour under 14 years of age unless they had passed the 5th Standard. They recommended a very strong measure indeed, and one very much beyond what the hon. Member for North Ayrshire has recommended— We respectfully submit, in the interests of all classes of the community, that the Legislature will confer a great benefit on the country by providing that after, say, three years from this date no person under 14 years of age shall be employed either in factories or otherwise, or allowed to earn wages in any form, until they have obtained a certificate that they have passed a satisfactory examination in at least the 5th Standard of the Scotch Code. That would, undoubtedly, be a very large step in advance, and one which I think, in the present state of employment in Scotland, would not be practicable. In 1878, in order to meet these difficulties, an amended Act was passed, providing the 4th Standard for half-time employment. In December of the same year the Education Department fixed Standard III. as the Standard of half-timers employed throughout Scotland. I cannot agree with the hon. Member opposite that Section 5 of the Act of 1878 leaves the matter at all in doubt as to whether the Factory or the Education Acts are paramount. I believe the hon. Gentleman opposite and Lord Watson inserted words expressly providing that the Factory Acts should be paramount for the employment of children in all the steam factories which came under the control of the Factory Inspectors; and, consequently, the position in which that left the factory children was something like this—that all the half-time children, except those employed in factories, were required to pass the 3rd Standard; but the children employed in factories might enter upon labour with- out passing any Standard at all. There are in Scotland some 35,000 half-time children. 27,000 of these children are employed in shops, or employed on errands, and must pass the 3rd Standard of the Scotch Education Code; but the 8,394 children employed in the mills of Scotland need pass no Standard at all. In certain places this is very unfair as against other kinds of employment, because it opens a gate whereby children who escape the Education Act will always find employment in the mills when they cannot find employment elsewhere. The number of half-time children in Scotland is, after all, very small compared to what it is in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and other parts of England. The number of children on the register in Scotland in September, 1881, was 544,982, and the whole number of half-timers was only 35,000. The effect of this in Dundee has been related very graphically by the junior Member for that important burgh. He has shown that large numbers of the half-time children in that burgh receive no education whatever, except the education they receive after they enter upon their labour. The result is, that you are passing into the population a very large number of children who are either very imperfectly educated or totally neglected.


What I said was, not that there were a large number of children who got no education, but that they got no education worthy of the name. We have 2,000 educated in non-inspected day-schools there. I take it they do not receive a good education.


I take it in the sense that a large number of children receive no education worthy the name before they enter the factory, and then a considerable proportion of these children are not in attendance or inspected when they enter mills and factories, and, as a result, they pass into full-time labourers, and get no education worthy of the name. That is a very deplorable state of things. The hon. Member agreed that some measure should be taken to prevent the continuance of such a state of things; but the hon. Member seemed to think that the school boards had no power whatever under the Education Acts to put an end to these private adventure schools. Well, it is quite true that they cannot put an end to them, but they can enter and inspect them. They can inspect and examine the children in the schools. They can examine the register, and they can make application to the School Department, and declare them non-efficient. My hon. Friend seems to doubt; but if he reads the 30th section of the Act he will find it is the case. Any class of schools can be examined and inspected, and the scholars, too, can be inspected; and you may ascertain whether the school building is suitable, whether the teaching is efficient, whether the registers are properly kept—and, failing this, the school board has power to declare the schools inefficient. I am sorry to say the School Board of Dundee has been too content to allow these private adventure schools to go on in a non-efficient state, and I hope that this will no longer continue. The hon. Member for Fifeshire (Mr. Preston Bruce) pointed out the evils which exist in respect to the children of 13 and 14 years not being under compulsion either to work or attend school. I think that is a great evil. If children of 13 can pass the full-time Standard they ought to be free to go to work. If children of 13 or 14 are not going to work, then they ought to be compelled to attend school. But there is another point to which he referred, which cannot be dealt with under any amendment of the Education Act, and that is the Inspectors' certificates. That is a matter that must be dealt with by the Factory Acts. I was very glad to hear the hon. Member (Mr. Henderson) say, on the conclusion of his speech, that he admitted that some Standard, after all, ought to be set up. Now, I should like to explain what was the position in England and Wales before the Act of 1880. We had a similar state of things in this country to that which now exists in Scotland. There were conflicts of opinion on the Acts between Factory Inspectors and Inspectors of Schools as to which Act was paramount with regard to half-time children. To put an end to that doubt, in 1880 we made the bye-laws paramount. There were the same difficulties to encounter as those referred to by the hon. Member. No doubt, in Liverpool, Manchester, and Salford, and all over the Lancashire and Yorkshire towns, there is a large Irish immigration, and we had to meet the difficulties of children coming from Ireland, not being properly instructed, and not being qualified immediately to enter upon labour. In England the bye-laws are fixed by the school board, or the school attendance committee, with the consent of the Education Department; but they are not fixed by the Education Department itself. If they were, I think we should fix one uniform Standard for every class of labour throughout the country. In nearly all the flourishing towns of England, Standard III. has been thought far enough; in some Standard IV. has been adopted, and I am assured that where Standard IV. has been adopted it has worked admirably. Huddersfield is a case in point. It has Standard IV. for half-timers, and Standard VI. for full-timers, and the Act is carried out with the strictest impartiality. Liverpool, Manchester, and Sal-ford have Standard III. In 1,500 school board districts in England, Standards III. and IV. are Standards for half-timers, and in only 175 districts has Standard II. been adopted—What is the effect of this in England? We hear every day reports from our Inspectors—the most gratifying reports—of having a Standard of education for half-time employment. Here is a typical report of a factory district in England. The town of Stockport had its school board four years ago. Stockport has no board school, and pays the highest fees of any town in England. The 2nd Standard is adopted for half-time, and this is the result. In the last Report, September 29, 1882, they say— We have now 60 half-timers who are still working in Standards I. and II., a considerable proportion of these were working previously to August, 1880, and therefore could not he interfered with. That is explained in this way. When we passed the Act of 1880, naturally we did not make it retrospective, so as to include those children who were already at work. We said the children must go on and complete their work. We could not turn out all the children in Dundee. In October, 1874, there were 2,856 children working half-time in the mills of Stockton. Of these, 145 children were under Standard I.; 824 in Standard I.; 661 in Standard II.; 669 in Standard III.; 383 in Standard IV.; 146 in Standard V.; 28 in Standard VI.; and none over that Standard. Now, we come to September, 1882, after having applied the half-time test, and the parents having been educated. Now they must educate them before they bring them to labour, and they must not neglect them afterwards. There were no children under Standard I. in 1882; in Standard I. there were 11; Standard II. there were 49; Standard III. there were 460; Standard IV. there were 691; Standard V. there were 615; and in Standard VI. there were 322, against 28 in 1874. Now, do we want a better illustration of what comes of having a test Standard, which every child shall be required to pass before he enters on the half-time movement? If the parent knows he cannot bring his children to the workshop or factory until they have passed some Standard of education, that parent will begin to educate his children at five years of age. But when the parent knows that there is no test, what is the result? He sends his children to those miserable adventure schools to which my hon. Friend has referred. I have some account of these private adventure schools in Dundee. There are such schools, holding from 40 to 200 children, carried on in kitchens, and taught by persons having no kind of education or qualification for teaching. They are simply schools to evade the Education Act and the Factory Acts. This is only branch of a very important question. A question was brought before us early last Session by an hon. Member in respect to the difficulty of enforcing compulsion. No doubt, the term "gross neglect," which requires to be proved against the parent, is exceedingly ambiguous, loose, and indefinite; and, as a result, the magistrates do not sometimes enforce attendance. We propose to amend those words, and amend that part of the Act. It is quite certain we ought to amend this part of the Act. Having had proof, having tested what can be done in England, having satisfied ourselves what can be done without imposing hardships on the children or employers, we ought to amend the Act so as to put the Scotch Act on all fours with the English Act in that respect. We ought also to amend it in the direction indicated by the hon. Member for Fife-shire with respect to children from 13 to 14. Having said this much, I have said everything I can. The Government is fully alive to the spirit of the Resolution which the hon. Member has presented; but if I say to him that I should prefer that we should at once vote that the Speaker leave the Chair in order to get into Committee of Supply, I hope he will not take that as an unfriendly act towards his Resolution. I can promise the hon. Member that at the very earliest opportunity—and I hope it will be this Session—I will endeavour to amend the Scotch Education Acts of 1872 and 1878, both in respect to the defects pointed out by the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and the hon. Member for Fifeshire.


thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he had met the Motion of the hon. Member for North Ayrshire; and hoped that the hon. Member would now be disposed to withdraw his Motion, and allow the House to get into Committee of Supply.


said, that the Motion of the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Ayrshire was one in which they could all agree; but there was something in his speech which he certainly hoped the Education Department would not agree to. It was where the hon. Member referred to boys having passed Standard VI. before they were 13 years of age, and suggested that they might then commence work. [Mr. MUNDELLA: No; we cannot have that.] He sincerely hoped that no permission of the kind would ever be granted.


said, he sincerely hoped that in any change which would be made in the Factory Acts, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Education Department would take care to provide means by which half-time schools might come to be as much used in Scotland as in England. It appeared to him these were the best means of education, and that opinion was held by many of the most eminent educationalists, especially by the veteran authority, Mr. Chad wick. There was very great reason to believe that children were not benefited by being kept too long at school, and that at half-time schools they could get almost as much and as good education as in full-time schools. From a moral and educational and a physical point of view, there were great advantages in a system under which a child was half the day at industrial work and the other half at school improving his education; and he hoped other manu- facturing towns in Scotland would endeavour to follow the example set by Dundee, and increase these half-time schools.


said, that before they passed from that subject, he had an appeal to make to his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Collings), with reference to a Notice which stood in his name on the subject of peasant proprietorship. The convenience of the House, and almost the necessity of the case, warranted him in making an appeal that the hon. Member should be satisfied to postpone the discussion he proposed to raise to another day. That course would certainly be of great advantage to the House in enabling them to proceed promptly with the Business of Supply. In Committee of Supply there were various subjects that would be discussed, and which the Government must frankly admit ought to be discussed. It was not because the Government gave the Motion an unkind reception that he made the appeal; but he did it simply with a practical object, which he felt sure the hon. Member would appreciate.


said, it was impossible to resist the urgent appeal of the Prime Minister in this matter. He had been very anxious to bring on this Motion, for the reason that there were so many of the labouring classes especially who were most anxious to see his Motion discussed. But he thought he should not be acting for the best, even on their behalf, if he were to bring it on now, as it could not possibly receive the full and fair consideration which it deserved.


observed, that, after what had fallen from the Vice President of the Council, he considered he had really gained all he desired by the Resolution. He had asked the attention of the Government to the subject, and they had promised to take an early opportunity of remedying the defect in the law. On that assurance he was willing to withdraw his Amendment if the Government wished. ["No!"]

Question put, and agreed to.