HC Deb 24 April 1884 vol 287 cc456-7

asked the Vice President of the Committee of Council, Whether his attention has been called to the case of J. Abbott, who was summoned, on the 11th of March, before the Bradford bench of magistrates, on the prosecution of the school attendance officer, for not sending his son to school whole time; whether the prisoner produced, in his defence, the following medical certificate:— I have seen and examined Arthur Abbott. Last January twelve months he was trodden, by a horse, on the head, and sustained a severe injury, which compelled him to keep, for six weeks, in the infirmary. Since then the boy has been duller than he used to be, this being, I think, a remote effect of the injury. In my opinion it would be a mistake, and detrimental to his health, to send him to school for more than half-a-day, nor should he do any evening work with his head. (Signed) "A. Rabagliati, M.D.; whether the magistrates, without reading the medical certificate, inflicted a fine on the prisoner; and, if the above allegations are true, whether he will restrain the Bradford School Board from instituting, through their school attendance officer, such prosecutions in future?


I have inquired of the Bradford School Board and of the magistrates as to the conviction of the man Abbott for the non-attendance of his boy at school. It appears that the boy has only passed the First Standard, and, notwithstanding repeated warnings, the father continued to send him to work and to keep him from school. He was defiant to the School Board, said he had money, and could afford to pay fines. When at length he was brought before the magistrates he produced a note from Dr. Rabagliati, which was read by the clerk, and the Chairman of the Bench inquired whether this note had been submitted to the School Board. On finding it had not, and that the boy, who was said to be too delicate to attend school, was sent out to work and to sell newspapers in the streets till a late hour at night, they convicted Abbott, and inflicted a fine of 2s. 6d. Since the penalty was inflicted the man has applied to the Board for permission for the boy to work half time, stating that he had a certificate of the boy's inability to attend school full time. On asking him to produce this, he stated that it had been sent to London, as the matter was coming before the House of Commons. He admitted the boy was employed early and late in selling newspapers. In reply to the last Question of the hon. Member, it appears to me that the School Board and the magistrates have shown great forbearance in the discharge of a plain statutory duty, and I have neither the right nor the power to interfere with the action of the local authorities in such cases as this.