§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH,
in rising to call, the attention of the House to the extreme destitution and overcrowding in our great cities, especially among the class of unskilled casual labourers, and to move—That it is expedient to establish a system of compulsory industrial training for the children of the destitute classes, in night schools, from the age of 12 or 13 to 16 years, in order to fit them to earn their living either at home or in the Colonics,said: Sir, this subject is one of vast social importance. It springs out of the painful conditions which exist in all our large towns. It may be considered by some almost superfluous to enlarge upon destitution and overcrowding in our great cities, as there has been such abundance of evidence of late years upon the subject, especially in the Report of the Royal Commission on the Housing of the Poor; but I crave permission to call attention to one or two brief extracts from that Report which will vividly bring before hon. Members the necessity 291 for some remedial legislation of the kind I am about to suggest. One of the most important points brought out in that Report is the prevalence of overcrowding and the existence of a large class of the population living in single rooms. It has been estimated by Mr. Marchant Williams, one of Her Majesty's Inspectors, who has been investigating the condition of a large section of the East End of London, that there exist in the Metropolis at present fully 60,000 families who live in single rooms, and that these families must represent at least 300,000 persons. In regard to life in these single rooms, I will read a few lines from the evidence of Lord Shaftesbury before the Royal Commission, who says—The effect of the one-room system is, physically and morally, beyond all description. In the first place the one-room system always leads, as far as I have seen, to the one-bed system. If you go into these single rooms, you may sometimes find two beds; hut you will generally find only one bed, occupied by the whole family, in many of these cases consisting of father, mother, and son, or of father and daughters, or brothers and sisters. It is impossible to say how fatal the results of that is. It is totally destructive of all the benefits derived from education. It is a benefit to the children to be absent during the day at school; but when they return to their homes they are such that in one hour they unlearn everything they have acquired at school during the day.I think most hon. Members will agree that these painful statements are only too true; but I would also refer to the disastrous physical effect of this system upon the energies and industrial power of the people. Lord Shaftesbury says on this point—Some years ago the Board of Health instituted inquiries in a low neighbourhood, to see what was the amount of labour lost in the year, not by illness, but by sheer exhaustion and inability to go to work. It was found that, upon the lowest average, every workman and workwoman lost about 20 days in the year from simple exhaustion, and the wages thus lost would go towards paying an increased rent for a better house. There can be little doubt that the same thing is going on now, perhaps even to a greater extent. That overcrowding lowers the general standard; that the people get debilitated, depressed and weary, is the evidence of those who are daily witnesses of the lives of the poor.These two paragraphs will bring to the mind of the House the sad condition in which a large part of the population of the Metropolis is now living. I think I am not over-estimating the number 292 when I say that 500,000 people in the Metropolis virtually belong to the semi-pauper class. In the old days of profuse out-door relief these would have been counted as State paupers; but, under the present system, whereby the workhouse test is applied with great rigour, we are year by year reducing the number of State paupers, and thereby giving a false impression of the condition of the poorer part of the population. I have been startled to find, from the figures of the Local Government Board, that in the last year for which we have a Return, rather more than one-fifth of all the deaths in the Metropolis occur in workhouses and hospitals, much the greater portion being in the workhouse. Some of these are, no doubt, the deaths of patients from the country who have come up to the great hospitals; but there can be little doubt that the great mass of the deaths are the result of the wretched lives of people in the Metropolis, who are virtually paupers, and who are obliged to die in the workhouse or the hospital, because they have no home of their own. Similar instances may be drawn from circumstances connected with the School Board. It has been proved over much of the East End that something like a fifth of the children come to school without breakfast, and the 1d. dinner system is to a large extent a failure, because, in some schools, not even one-half of the children are able to find that small sum. There is no city, I believe, in Europe or America that contains anything like the amount of wretchedness which exists in this Metropolis, and it is a tremendous social danger. But London does not stand alone; the same state of things exists in all our great cities, though, perhaps, not to so great an extent; but, speaking for Liverpool, I will say we have just as great a proportion of the population living on the verge of starvation as there is in London. If you have a seventh or an eighth of the people here virtually paupers, I believe we have at least a sixth or a seventh in Liverpool. Taking the Island of Great Britain alone, there are at least 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 people verging on pauperism, who in the old days would have been reckoned as paupers, and probably another body of the population about as large who are just a very little removed from these. The statements furnished by the Statis- 293 tical Society as to the condition of the working classes in no degree apply to the lower stratum, of society. The lower stratum is as poor, as wretched, as demoralized, as helpless now as it was 50 or 100 years ago. ["Oh! oh!"] Well, I can only refer hon. Gentlemen to the mass of evidence by which these statements will be amply supported, and, certainly, my experience has led me to the opinion I have expressed. The depression of trade which has lasted for 10 years is adding to this evil. In all the great industries, masses of people are only partially employed, and in the agricultural industry, in particular, the state of things is deplorable. It has been reckoned that over 600,000 persons have passed from the rural districts into the large cities within the last 10 years, and a great portion have come into London, adding very much to the difficulty of life among the lowest class of labourers; and when we remember that our population is increasing faster than ever before, the gravity of the case must be apparent. During the present century, the population has almost trebled itself, for within that period it has risen from 10,500,000 to 31,000,000. The life-saving tendency of our improved sanitary arrangements is so great and marked, that, in this present century, the population has increased in actual numbers two or three times as much as in the 700 years preceding it. Indeed, the same rate of increase will carry our population next century to 120,000,000. Remember, too, this is taking place in spite of a very large emigration. The population of the Metropolis has increased five-fold since the beginning of the present century, and if we proceed at the same rate, this portentous result will be reached—that by the end of next century, London and the suburbs will contain 30,000,000 of people. This prospect is little short of appalling. It points to a fearful struggle for existence in this country in the future; for, by the end of the next century, somewhere about seven-eighths of the food of the country will have to be imported. It is only by a rapid increase of our foreign trade in years to come that we can hope to be able to pay for the supply of food our ever-increasing population requires, and of such an increase of trade we have no prospect. The outlook, at present, is a starving proletariat 294 I at no distant future. This subject is far more important than those with which our time here is mostly occupied. It is, I consider, high time the best and highest thought of this nation should be given to these tremendous social problems which will have to be solved in the future. The first and natural question that occurs to us to ask ourselves is, Why do we not use more largely the enormous safety-valve of our Colonial Empire? That seems the natural outlet for our superabundant population. Well, the remedy is already largely used by the self-reliant class of the population. The vigorous and intelligent artizans, the agricultural labourers, and the middle class, have sent out 10,000,000 people in the present century. From those classes have been built up the United States of America, and, more or less, all our Colonies; and I am not afraid but those that classes, in the future, will be quite able to look after themselves. What I want to bring to the attention of the House is the fact that the pauperized classes of our population cannot avail themselves of emigration. They are too poor, and worse, they are helpless and shiftless. They have learnt no trade that is of any value in the Colonies. I have myself tried to send them out as emigrants, and have been baffled by the fact that amongst the great mass of poverty-stricken and semi-starved people there is almost an absolute incapacity to use their hands in any useful manner. The Colonies will not receive such people. They will become paupers in any country they go to. The London Emigration Societies tell only a tale of failure. Those Societies number nearly 30, and are conducted by many able, energetic, and philanthropic men; and yet, last year, scarcely 3,000 adults were sent out of London, although 103,000 people were added to the population. The true reason of the failure is mainly that the London poor are not fit to emigrate. Here they must remain rotting in our midst—a constant festering sore in the community. We have heard a great deal about State-aided emigration. Well, within certain limits and for certain purposes, I am an advocate of State-aided emigration; but we fail to deal with the pauper class in that way, because they are not fit for it. The gist of my case, then, is to invite the House to consider some means 295 of fitting this class of the population for useful life, either at home or in the Colonies. I wish to ask whether it would not be possible to pass these people through a kind of moral sieve, and so turn them into useful material. Our poor population are made utterly unfit for ordinary life by their wretched upbringing in youth, after they have left school, by their roving life on the streets without any parental control, learning habits of idleness, entirely unfitting them for industrial life hereafter. Generation after generation this pauper class reproduces itself; and I think the time has come to break through this hereditary entail of vice and crime. The State has laid down for a good many years past that children shall not be allowed to grow up in absolute intellectual ignorance, and, the time has come when it should go a little further and decide that children shall not be allowed to be brought up in such utter helplessness as to make them a burden to the community. I have taken the trouble during the last year or two to get the opinion of competent authorities on this subject, and I am surprised to find that among educational leaders, among the heads of industrial schools, among all clergy who labour amongst the poor, and among all people who examine the economic condition of the poorer classes, the unanimous opinion is that the real remedy is a system of industrial training. We may be told that we have already an excellent system of industrial schools and reformatories. Quite true. I have had much pleasure recently in going over some of these schools, and I would recommend those who wish to study the subject to pay a visit to some of these well-conducted institutions. If they do, they will find they are little hives of industry and cheerfulness, where children lead happy and useful lives, and get a special training for ordinary life, who would otherwise be a useless burden on the community. We have also an immense number of private institutions, among which I would specially mention the case of Dr. Barnardo's Homes in the East of London, where many hundreds of children taken out of the very cesspools, so to speak, of the city, are being turned into useful citizens. These schools are worked on what is known as the half-time system, half the time being given 296 to head-work and half to hand-work. That is an excellent system, and nothing can be more striking than, the health which the children enjoy under it. The fact is that human nature, being a complex machine, requires to be dealt with physically as well as mentally, and I believe that the system of half-time for intellectual work and half for hand-work is far more in harmony with the laws of Nature, and far better for the children and the State, than a system of exclusive mental training; but the enormous benefits of these institutions are limited to a mere handful of children. There are only 25,000 in the certified schools of the Kingdom, the cost of which is about £500,000 a-year, and, supposing the private homes bring the number up to 60,000 or 70,000, there are probably 500,000 of the same class out-of-doors. It is, therefore, quite impossible that a system of this kind could be extended to all this class, for the cost is far too great. But these 500,000 are just as destitute and going just as much to waste as were the 70,000 children before they were rescued from the mire. Is not the time come for extending to all the immense advantage of an industrial training? Why should the boy who has committed a small theft get the benefit of industrial training, while his brother, who has not committed any crime, is left on the streets to lead the life of either a knave or a fool? My plan is that the State, which now has control over the education of children, should not let go its hold of them at the age of 13. Once having got these children under the control of an Inspector, with their names registered, it should keep its hold of them till the age of 16 at least. I do not recommend that these children, as a mass, should be put into day schools, and have to attend them until they attain the age of 16, for I know that it is necessary for most of them to be doing something for their living; but I recommend that we should require them by law up to the age of 16 to attend night schools for industrial training. I would open in all large cities a certain number of night schools where, say, from 7 to 9 o'clock, the same kind of teaching should be given as is already given in our reformatories—such as carpentry, tailoring, shoemaking, printing, and any other rudimentary trade which boys can easily 297 learn. We might, to a considerable extent, use our existing schools, which, with some slight alterations, would be suitable for the purpose. I propose that this scheme of attendance at these night classes should be made compulsory; be-cause, without that, we should never get the attendance of the very class of children whom we have in view, their parents being too careless and ignorant to send them, and themselves being too wild to come. My belief, however, is that, in a very short time, little compulsion would be required. There is nothing children enjoy so much as handling tools. They like using a hammer, as much as playing cricket. In a short time, then, a boy accustomed to useful work would far rather be at the school than running about the streets. It is, of course, much more difficult to reach the girls, and yet girls in large towns need such training even more than the boys; and it is the want of that training that lies at the root of many of the evils of our social system. The wives and mothers of the poorer classes are, to a large extent, slatterns; they keep such miserable homes as account for much of the drunkenness of the people; therefore, girls must be trained in useful domestic work, if those homes are to be made less wretched. I would propose that the schools for girls should be devoted mainly to such things as sewing, laundry work, and cooking, and perhaps to the rudiments of some of the lighter trades, for there are a considerable number of trades requiring dexterity of hand which women can carry on as well as men. I do not mean that the State should undertake to convert the population of the slums into first-class mechanics; and I quite admit that even if that were desired, these night classes would not furnish the means for doing so. That would be too much. All the State should undertake by them would be to give the boys a rudimentary training, and above all to teach them habits of industry and discipline "which would produce a liking for steady, useful labour, which, in itself, would be a prodigious gain. If those children were kept in hand till the age of 16 under the discipline of intelligent men, they would then be able to go to work, and to understand and to know something of the desirability of doing something 298 for themselves in the future, to form higher views of the duties of life, and they would not be content to settle down to the wretched life of the slums. They would form to themselves ennobling resolutions as to the future, and many of them would emigrate. I may be asked bow I intend to draw the line between those who are semi-paupers and those who belong to the working classes? The latter, I do not propose to force into these night schools; but, at the same time, it will be highly desirable to keep a hand upon thorn, and I hope the time will soon come when it will be possible to do so. At present, I propose to apply this system only in such cases where the Inspector is not satisfied that a child is properly employed by the parent. Where a child is apprenticed to a regular trade, or to an employment where he gets regular wages, I do not propose to interfere. With the very large class of children who pick up odd jobs in the streets, I would employ compulsion and gather them into the night schools. In all large towns, it is most lamentable to see the deterioration of these wretched children in a few years after they leave school. They leave school with habits of cleanliness and regularity, they are bright and happy; but in a short time they lose all their brightness and intelligence, all the habits of regularity which they have been taught at school. The critical period is from 13 to 16, which is the period when a child acquires habits which last for life; and it is the same with the upper classes. The time at which, of all others, children require a steady hand to guide them is from 13 to 16. I think our whole educational system has much too little regard to manual training. I wish to supply the want on the part of the large class which stand in need of it. Instruction is given too exclusively in literature, and on the basis of mere mental training. In the so-called middle classes, there are a large number of young men unable to obtain a living, most of whom can only use their pen but not their hands. Many who are sent into offices descend to utter poverty, and are entirely unfit to help themselves; and if they go to the Colonies, they fail on account of their helplessness. For every vacancy for a clerk, there is a shoal of applicants. I believe that an inestimable boon would be con- 299 ferred on this country if in all classes of society manual training were added to the school curriculum. We should then see the unhappy men in large towns, now unable to earn a living, get plenty of employment. Any man who could use tools could make £2 or £3 a-week in the Colonies in ordinary times; none need starve. The British people, as a whole, have a greater number of dependants than any other civilized State. Even in the middle classes, multitudes of fairly educated young men are, as I have said, unable to make a living; they are capable of using their pen, but utterly incapable of using their fingers. There can be no doubt that all the trades and professions which live by brain labour are overstocked, and the purely mental training of our youth has a tendency to draw the population into this one direction. On the other hand, when trade is brisk, many of the departments of skilled labour are not fully supplied. It would be well if, like the Jews, each man learned a trade; and we shall never see the end of the present state of things till we make education more practical. Another point I have to bring before the House is the question of health. I believe three hours of brain work is as much as can be given to many children with advantage. All beyond this is purely wasted time. If manual training was given half the day, there would be a much stronger and healthier population. In connection with this point, it should be remembered that in the industrial schools the Standards are passed nearly as soon as in schools where the children have nothing else to learn. I therefore contend that the training of the hand and eye ought to form a more important part of education than it has done in the past. Our Continental rivals are far ahead of us in this respect. Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and other Continental nations give a training to the hand and the eye which is very much in advance of what exists in this country. I am not pleading so much for technical education, although I should like to see the system largely extended. What I do wish is to give that amount of industrial training to our poor children which will enable them to fight more advantageously the battle of life. The scheme which I propose is simply a rough sketch, and 300 I hope that many hon. Members, who understand the subject better than I do, will fill in the outlines. If the House likes the sketch, and if my suggestion bears fruit, it is quite within its power to organize a system within a few years which would almost change the social condition of the country. I believe that no reform of the present day would be so fruitful of good results to the nation as a general system of industrial education for the young. It is a question of vital importance, which will excite the greatest interest in the constituencies. [The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.]
§ MR. JAMES STUART
said, he had much pleasure in seconding the Resolution, because he regarded it as merely a portion of a very great question, of which he believed the Resolution was but one of the earliest echoes of which they were now beginning to hear. He conceived that, with a wide franchise, they would have the question of secondary education—of that education which was to go beyond and come after our primary education—considered for the whole population. He trusted it might be at no late period of the history of the new Parliament, that they might see some system worked out, if not entirely established, for the evening education of those persons who had left our primary elementary schools, and to carry further the education which they had received. He would be the last to take any part in supporting a Resolution of this kind, if he thought that its tendency, or its object, was to diminish the efficiency, or to diminish the amount of the elementary education in our schools. On the contrary, he had himself seen, in many instances, young boys and girls who, leaving school with a wonderfully fair amount of elementary education, had gradually lost the power of applying it, because they had not been placed in circumstances in which such application was either encouraged or rendered necessary. He hoped that they might see a system established somewhat similar to that which was found in Switzerland, although better adapted to the needs of this country, in which the general science of the world, which was now so comparatively familiar to the wealthier classes, could become familiar to the poorer classes. He 301 maintained that every person ought to be acquainted with the common facts of this science. They ought to be the common possession of mankind; and without calling in the aid of Inspectors of Nuisances, the people should know whether their houses were healthy or not. There was no doubt that the children to whom the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) referred got much less benefit from our elementary schools than, children belonging to the better classes in society. The reason of this was hunger. The children of the poorer classes attending our schools in the East End of London—the number, he believed, in some schools was quite one-tenth of the whole—were insufficiently fed and insufficiently clothed. It was certain when they left the school each day they returned to poor homes, where the benefits obtained at school were soon lost. He supposed this question was starting from below, and assumed that it was for these little children who went out merely to roam in the streets after finally leaving school, that the hon. Member wished to apply his Motion. One of the principal things to be observed about the abject poor was their want of "handiness," and he believed it to be the object of the hon. Member to try to make the children of these people a little more "handy" after they left the primary elementary schools. The position of the children of casual labourers was one of deep misery; and in this connection, he (Mr. J. Stuart) had taken part in an experiment some time ago at Cambridge. He thought it would not be out of place if he were to mention the statistics regarding that experiment. This undertaking at Cambridge grew out of a similar movement where they endeavoured to provide handicrafts for the sons of the rich, and in which the necessity for giving some handicraft education to those richer young men who were emigrating to the Colonies was one of the strongest reasons for undertaking the experiment. Feeling it to be a necessity in the case of the rich, he was struck much more with the necessity of a similar experiment in the case of the poor. This experiment at the present time consisted of 17 boys. The time of their attendance was from 7 to 0 o'clock on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and the age of those boys ranged from 302 12 to 16. Latterly they had paid a small fee of 2d. per week. There was no charge beyond that for. The articles made were sold to defray the expense, and the cost of carrying the school on was 6s. a-week. Of course, that cost would be very greatly diminished were they able to increase the number of pupils. The expense of the experiment he had described would be reduced by making use of some of the elder scholars as pupil teachers. The children might be described as those of the unskilled labourers of Cambridge, and some of the children were employed during the day in running errands—an occupation which might sharpen their wits, but failed to give the general handiness that was so necessary for emigration and for success in life. The object of the training was to make them handy at home, and to facilitate their acquiring a trade if opportunity should offer. There was no attempt made to teach them any trade. Among the things taught were carpentering, rough carving, French polishing, japanning, soldering, and other branches of the mechanic's work, and the experience and skill they thus acquired it was hoped would render them useful in their own future homes when there was anything to be done in the way of alterations or repairing. The boys were kept there for a year, and there was always a competition among candidates to enter the school. The cost was very moderate, the expense of the plant having been about £50; but that had included the provision of two lathes, so as to give the children some acquaintance with machinery. If use was made of the London Board Schools, all the things could be easily cleared away, and the expenditure need not be so largo proportionately as it had been at Cambridge. One objection that might be made to the proposal of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) was that it would involve an increase of inspection and of Inspectors, and an intrusion into the private life of families; but having the names of the children on the school records, the necessary inquiries as to whether they were employed or not could be carried out without the introduction of anymore machinery than already existed. The plan, therefore, could be carried out without additional Inspectors. It was well to ascertain whether each 303 pupil intended to follow a trade or not. The system had proved attractive at Cambridge. There was scarcely anything so valuable to a young man as facility in using his hands. The great attraction of many games was not only the physical exercise, but also the pleasure of doing anything with accuracy. Look at the mass of our proletariat, and ask how many of them could do anything with accuracy or with delight. There was an absence of accuracy in their actions and of pleasure in their lives. The very beginning of what was proposed would be attractive, and development would increase the attractiveness. It was said that there was a difficulty with regard to girls; but girls, as well as boys, might benefit from instructions in the laws of health, and the difficulty might be got over by properly instructing them with regard to cookery. Indeed, he believed that 20 per cent might he added to the wages of the working classes if only the women were taught to cook properly. There was nothing alarming in the Socialistic aspect of the question, arising from the gift of the free instruction of the kind shadowed forth by his hon. Friend, and he (Mr. J. Stuart) had no fear of its being in any way advanced through the adoption of the Resolution. It was the duty of the State to endeavour to render its population capable and efficient. He accepted so much of Socialism as to maintain that it was the duty of the State to endeavour to produce a population efficient, enter-prizing, and self-reliant. The State had the right to bring about the state of things in which its interference should become less necessary; and that should be the tendency of State interference in education. By doing what was proposed for the poorer classes, we should only be paying them part of the debt we owed them in respect of advantages of which they had been deprived by being left too much to the natural evolution of things. They had been deprived of their naturally fair share of the advantages produced for the nation by the nation, because of their incapacity, and in this they were too largely the victims of our imperfect institutions.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is expedient to establish a system of com-
pulsory industrial training for the children of the destitute classes in night schools, from the age of 12 or 13 to 16 years, in order to fit them to earn their living either at home or in the Colonies,"— (Mr. Samuel Smith,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. PELL
said, there was a difference in the character of the speeches made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) who had moved, and the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Stuart) who had seconded, the Resolution. The hon. Gentleman the Mover had shirked some difficult points; but the Seconder had dealt with the question less in the abstract, and more in the concrete. The hon. Member for Liverpool had drawn a pitiable picture of the condition of the country; and the question naturally arose, whether the fact that there were 500,000 children growing up in the country in a state of destitution and absolute ignorance—a statement which he (Mr. Pell) had heard with surprise—was the outcome of the efforts of the Church and of the setting up of a complete system of elementary education. It was surely, if it was true that there was so much destitution, a confession of the failure of all these influences, and an indication of the uselessness of that sort of effort. His experience of emigration as a remedy for the evil complained of had not been very encouraging, and he thought a great deal of good might be done in the poor districts by individual duty and by individual action. He believed that when boys and girls got to be 13 years of age, the less they came in contact with the Government Inspector, the better for society at large. If they could get rid of some existing institutions and bring the rich people of the West End of London into legitimate communication with the poor people of the East End, he had no doubt that good would result from it. By legitimate communication, he meant that communication which existed between the owner of property and the occupiers. Speeches at the Mansion House and music parties were all very good in their way; but the rich could not shirk the question in that manner. If they desired to do their duty, and improve the condition of the lower classes, they must go 305 among them in a legitimate way as the owners of property. Complaints were made of houses in the poorer districts being injured by the tenants; but he submitted that that was not the case, except in houses that were jobbed and let for the purpose of making high rates of interest by concessions to immorality. If the rich would, out of their superfluous wealth, take the trouble to provide good house accommodation with perfect sanitary arrangements for the working classes, he was sure they might make a fair percentage—5 per cent— and they would be received with respect and attention and interest by the people. Let any one of them buy a street, put the houses and drains in proper order, see that the property was thoroughly kept in repair, and that the rents were paid, and he would do more than by any other means to improve the condition of the people. Ho wished to raise his voice in favour of individual duty and action, as against a mistaken philanthropy and the Inspector, and to invite all those who took an interest in this subject to go down into the poor districts, and see for themselves what could be done to benefit the people. Above all, he did not think it expedient to introduce the compulsory element into the Question. He doubted the practicability of the scheme of the hon. Member for Liverpool as a cure for the serious state of things that no doubt existed.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
said, he was sorry to say that, although he agreed with very much in the Resolution, he was not able to support it as it stood; because he objected to compulsion in the matter, and to the expression "the destitute classes." He agreed a great deal more with the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Seconder of the Resolution (Mr. J. Stuart) than he did with the wording of the Resolution itself. It was not, he thought, expedient to introduce a compulsory element into any question of this sort. One of the points of the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) was that, at present, our general elementary education was too purely theoretic and mental, and that there was too little handicraft and physical education. There was a substantial element of truth in that charge; but, surely, the remedy was one which should be applied to the whole body of persons subjected to our 306 present system of education. There was too much of a penal taint in the mixture of the old ragged school and the reformatory in the speech of the Mover of the Resolution. He could not altogether agree with the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) in the extreme spirit of individualism and isolation which characterized his remarks. Of course, nothing good could be done without individual efforts; but he (Mr. Lyulph Stanley) felt perfectly sure that the present evils would never be met by mere isolated efforts of individual philanthropists or reformers. What they wanted was the spirit of philanthropy in its true sense—the sense in which the hon. Member for South Leicestershire spoke when he referred to the legitimate connection between the rich and the poor. It was no good to show a spirit of patronage, or the spirit of Lady Bountiful benevolence; what they wanted was a spirit of common citizenship and common humanity. To bridge over the period of transition between the elementary school and wage-earning, there must be some organized effort based upon some public resources; and if that was to take effect, it would involve a large expenditure of public money. It was said that the education of the children was too intellectual, and not sufficiently physical; in fact, they were told that the children did not know how to play. But if they wanted to develop the physical powers of the children, they ought to have not only playgrounds, but gymnasiums where they might receive a regular training. Then it was suggested that in addition to the intellectual and physical training, there should be some training for the eye and the hand. He was glad to say that we had now in the Code a more distinct recognition of drawing. When drawing was recognized as an ordinary part of the curriculum of schools, it would be found a great relief to the children as regarded their intellectual training. But if they had these things it must cost money, and hon. Members who were prepared to welcome the results must be prepared to accept the means by which the results would be accomplished. We were behindhand in England as compared with other countries, even with such a poor country as Sweden, which had an intelligent harmonious school system for the develop- 307 ment of ail the faculties of school children. In Sweden there was a system of training the children to produce adroitness and skill in the use of the hand and eye, so that they might become afterwards intelligent workmen. In London the School Board was endeavouring in a small and tentative way to introduce the same system. On Saturday mornings some 20 or 30 boys attended an instruction given by a lady who had spent some months in Sweden studying the Swedish system. He repudiated the idea of regarding this as a criminal interference with the children of criminal or semi-criminal parents. If the system was good for some it was good for all. He objected to its being left exclusively to individual efforts. If it wore to be done at all, it must be done by national effort.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir R. ASSHETON CROSS)
said, he should like to make a few remarks on the subject before the House, as he had listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith). For his own part, his attention had for many years been called to the state of the people of London and other large towns; and he could confirm the truth of the picture which the hon. Member for Liverpool had drawn of the state of the poor of London. He would wish, however, to say that, in comparing the present state of London with what it was 50 or 60 years ago, Lord Shaftesbury, while admitting the great misery and poverty which still prevailed, had stated that London was a paradise now compared with what it was at that time. Although its condition might have somewhat improved during the last 50 years, there was still much to do; and he hoped that the investigation into its condition, which had lately taken place, would bear good fruit. When he introduced the Bill with which his name was connected, now some 10 years ago, he felt bound to say, and he would now repeat the statement, that we must not look for too great results for a long time. The state of London, for instance, was the growth of many generations, and we could not, as by the stroke of a magician's wand, remedy all the evils which prevailed; but by the continuance of good work much might be done. They could only hope to do so by great perseverance, and 308 after many disappointments. Still, if the good work were continued, he believed that success would eventually crown our efforts; and he would only further touch on this part of the subject by expressing a hope that the House, when the Bill which was the result of the labours of the Royal Commission was presented, as it would be within a few days, would allow it to pass, even within the short remainder of the present Session. He agreed with the hon. Member for Liverpool that it was perfectly idle to talk of emigrating the class of people to which he alluded. They would not know what to do abroad. They would not be able to earn their living there; they would be a burden to the country to which they were transported, and they would have to be brought back again to this country at great cost and expense. Emigrants were of no use unless they were properly trained and wore fit for the work they had to do. It was, therefore, a great matter, before they left these shores, to fit people for their calling and for the life they would have to lead if they were to go abroad. He would like to point out that something had been done in the way suggested by the day industrial schools which we had. A very great improvement had taken place in those clay industrial schools, and the teaching carried on in them. We now had very large and good day industrial schools in Liverpool, Sunderland, Leeds, Bristol, and other large towns, and the education given in them was very good. He quite agreed with what had been said as to the value of mixed education, as it might be called—an education by which the children should not be kept at their books the whole day, but should be trained during some part of the day so as to fit them for industrial pursuits. In the schools to which he referred three hours a-day were devoted to education and three or four hours to industrial training. Anyone who had examined the Reports on these industrial schools would see that the industrial training did the physical condition of the children so much good that the education they got had a better effect upon them than if they had no industrial training: and, for his own part, he believed that if this system were carried out in our other schools, a much better effect would be produced than at present. If the education given in the 309 elementary schools of the country were more mixed in its character, it would be very advantageous. A great deal might be done with regard to the education of girls. He agreed with the hon. Member opposite that cookery was one of the most valuable arts which girls ought to know. Needlework, he was glad to see, had now entered largely into the education which they were given, and altogether the training which they now received was much better than that which they formerly had. It might then be asked what was it he objected to in the Resolution of the hon. Member for Liverpool? Well, he objected to two things —the compulsory part of it, and the extensive powers which it was proposed to confer on the Inspectors. There would, he believed, be great objection to extend the age at which the State had hold of the children in the manner proposed by the hon. Member for Liverpool. In his opinion, the time had not arrived for taking such a step. It might be true that, in many cases, parents did not look after their children as they ought to do; but he was not sure that if the compulsory system were carried out in its entirety parents would not feel that the State was taking upon itself a great part of their responsibility, and that they would not be glad to part with their responsibility. An article written by the hon. Member for Liverpool a short time ago suggested that legislation should be accompanied with a more strict enforcement of parental obligations; but the scheme which the hon. Member had propounded that day was one which would release the parent from his obligations to a great extent. Then, what was the Inspector to do? According to the hon. Member's proposal, he was not merely to inspect the schools, or the children in them, so as to see whether they were properly taught, but he was also to inspect the families of anything like destitute parents, and to decide whether the children were to be taken out of the house or not. Now, he thought that the people of England would hardly stand such a step as that. He did not know whether the hon. Member intended that the parents were to contribute anything to the support of their children or not. He understood indeed that the education was to be free; but if the children were taken away, the 310 parents would lose the services of their children at an age when those services were of great advantage to them. In his opinion, a parent was entitled to have the advantage of the earnings of his children when they arrived at the age of 14 or 15. On the other hand, if a boy was working for his parents all day long, it would be rather hard that he should be taken by the Inspector and compulsorily sent to a night school, without having the opportunity of being at home in the evening. What he would suggest was that, so far as industrial schools were concerned, the Home Office would be prepared to make arrangements, for persons who so desired, to use them as voluntary night schools in the evening for the purpose of such training as the hon. Member for Liverpool thought desirable, such, for instance, as they were told could be obtained at Cambridge. He saw no reason why we should not endeavour, by voluntary contributions, to offer the people of this country the advantages which the hon. Member desired to confer upon them. It had been said that if such schools as he had described were offered they would be very attractive and very useful. He quite agreed in that view, and his only desire was to offer the hon. Member for Liverpool, and those who agreed with him, every opportunity to make use of the day industrial schools for this purpose, if they would only meet those who had charge of them with some voluntary assistance to meet the necessary expenses. He should be exceedingly glad to see industrial night schools for children established; but differing, as he did, from the manner in which the hon. Member for Liverpool proposed to attain that end, he trusted the Resolution would not be pressed to a division, although, at the same time, he would say that the discussion had been a very interesting one.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
Sir, we are very much indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) for raising this interesting, instructive, and suggestive discussion, a discussion which, at least, brings this plainly before us—a point upon which, in my own mind, my conviction, is strong and growing daily — that if you are to deal with the wretched, thriftless classes of this country, you 311 must begin with the children. When these have passed beyond the age of parental control, when they have become young men, it is hopeless to attempt to deal with them in the way suggested. If they have been neglected in their childhood, taught no useful trade or occupation, they have no enterprize, no incentive to help themselves, and are really a curse and a burden on society. This one good thing my hon. Friend's Motion has brought out—that the root of the evil is parental neglect of children in early life. I do not, however, agree with all the statements and all the conclusions he has submitted to the House. I am inclined to concur with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Sir R. Assheton Cross). I believe in the statement by Lord Shaftesbury, that the condition of the masses of the people in this country is infinitely better than it was 40 or 50 years ago. They have much larger means of securing, and much more sense and appreciation of comfort, less pauperism and misery, and some intelligence. That there is much more thrift is shown by the growth of the Savings Banks Returns and the increase of temperance. Indications of this are not wanting in all directions around us; but I do not want the House to come to the conclusion that it is possible by legislation, or by anything this House can do, to train up the neglected classes among our people in useful handicrafts. I cannot conceive anything much more dangerous than to suppose that these 500,000 children are to be selected from the other portions of the community, and trained to industry at the expense of the ratepayers or taxpayers. The real way to deal with the whole question is to begin early and wiser, with day and industrial schools as the first step. Much more legislation and encouragement are wanted for industrial schools. We have before the House the Report of the Industrial School Commission, and an excellent Report it is. The recommendations of this Commission are among the questions the House ought to deal with as soon as possible. I hope the now Parliament will deal with them in a largo and liberal manner, sparing no determination to encourage day industrial schools. The mischief begins when the child becomes truant, when he begins to associate with 312 bad characters, when he runs about the streets, lanes, and markets, and lapses into a condition from which he never emerges. The right course is to lay hands upon the child at once; and if the parents cannot be made responsible for him he should be made to attend a day industrial school where he would obtain manual training simultaneously with educational training. The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. J. Stuart) has made a most useful suggestion as to night schools; and I may say that there are many school boards in the country who are trying a little supplementary manual instruction—but not in handicraft instruction, in the use of tools, the file, the saw, the plane, the axe—and they make this instruction a reward for good conduct in the school. At present this is not incorporated in the Code. The time has not come. We have not had enough experience of the working of it to justify me in asking for a special grant for giving manual instruction. But really and truly there is no country in Europe—I except Belgium —where the term of training children is so short as in this country. In many countries the compulsory training continues to ages from 13 to 16. I do not propose that we are not prepared for it; but, unhappily, we do not get the children up to the ago of 13. In the rural districts largo numbers of children pass from school at the age of 10; and in hundreds of rural parishes children are employed, contrary to the requirements of the Education Act. They have not passed the Third and Fourth Standards; but as soon as a child is able to earn a shilling, he is allowed to slip from the attendance officers and the schoolmaster, and much of this is winked at by school committees. There are large districts in England, I do not hesitate to say, where the Education Act has not come into force at all, where, although you have the machinery — a school attendance committee — nominally a school attendance is practically not enforced, and you find the result in largo measures of ignorance still in various parts of the country. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) spoke of 000,000 who passed from the rural districts during the last 14 years to the great centres of population. Now, I do not think all the helplessness in London is the creation of London itself. Into 313 cities like London, Liverpool, and others, the helpless portion of the population have, in a great measure, drifted, for various reasons, to escape their wretched surroundings, to find employment, some because they have lost their character and cannot remain in the place where their fault was committed. London is not altogether responsible for this state of things; but in London and other large towns the condition of things which has so painfully been brought before us is the result of generations of neglect. It is not the fault of the Education Act of 1870. Some hon. Members speak as though we had had 15 years of compulsory education in this country, when, in truth, we have only had four. The Act was purely optional up to 1881. Besides that, the supply of schools was altogether insufficient then, and indeed we have not yet overtaken the requirements. There is a state of things which I commend to the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. E. Stanhope), and if he remains long in his present Office I hope he may find a remedy—I mean the low Standard of education necessary for employment in thousands of parishes, sometimes as low as the Third Standard, and often Fourth, when children between the ages of 10 and 15 are at work in the fields, or on the farm. In large towns, however, the work of education is tolling marvellously, not only on the intellectual but on the physical and industrial condition of the population. The last Report of the Factory Inspector for the present year—from Chief Inspector Henderson—says—The most interesting testimony is submitted to me daily of the great and beneficial influences of the Education Act in England and Scotland. Employers and others are unanimous in acknowledging a marked improvement in the intelligence, behaviour, and character of the children. They are more amenable to discipline and much less mischievous.There is also a long statement, with which I need not trouble the House, showing the result of the Education Act upon the industrial condition of the population. The town of Preston is specially referred to, and the beneficial effect of the Act upon the factory people there. The children, who passed a good preliminary Standard, made, with half-time education, half-time employment, as much progress as children who passed 314 the whole day at school. But the condition precedent is this—that the child should have passed a good Standard before he begins that half-time. Thus it was with the factory people in the Lancashire towns, where such half-time children of 13 and 14 passed the Seventh Standard, beginning half-time at 11 years of age. If we raise the Standard all over the country, and declare that no child shall begin half-time until he has passed the Third Standard—and that is low enough, surely—and that ho shall not begin full-time employment until he has passed the Fifth, and, until he passed that, making it obligatory to attend a night school, we should make our educational system much more complete, more effectual, with more result for the money we spend so lavishly. In saying this, I am not setting up a very high Standard. Germany and Switzerland have been quoted to the House, where children must attend full time until they are 12 or 13 years old, no matter how engaged. In Prussia it is 12 years. After that they may go to work half-time, but must attend half-time at school until 14 years, and then, if the education is not completed, they must attend a continuing school for two years more. The result is, you do not have the complaint there of classes who cannot use their hands, who cannot find employment, who are shiftless and helpless, and wretched dependers on charity or pauperism. Scotland is another illustration. You do not find the same wretched dependers, a class hanging like a millstone round the neck of the country, or, if you do, they are not natives to the manner born. The only way to get rid of this curse is to take the children in hand promptly and early. By developing the intelligence of the whole population, enter-prize is infused into them. As to the industrial school system, I have always been of opinion that the right way to begin is to begin with a truant school. Up to the age of 10 or 11 years, a child can earn no wages, and therefore when a child can be at school and is not at school, then is the time for compulsion. I am not quite sure of the meaning of the remark of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as to the encouragement of night schools supported by voluntary 315 contributions. I would refer again to Colonel Henderson. I remember him saying—We used to be reducing the stream of wretchedness at its mouth; we are now attacking it at its source.And I believe it is only by the existing industrial school system, you can get a hold over the children, giving them intellectual and manual training, but not attempting to teach them trades. The workshop is the place for that. I know there are schools where trades are taught in Paris, where £12 or £14 per head is spent per annum on each boy in teaching a trade, one school having 300 or 400 boys thus taught at the expense of the rates. But, in the result, they produced no better workmen than our industrial schools. No child learns so quickly and can work so well as an English child. Comparisons are odious; but experience among Continental children—in Italy, in Germany, and in France—has shown me that our boys have more energy, more go in them, than any others in Europe. The girls especially are most rapid workers, as they have so much deftness of eye and hand. All that we want in many cases is to keep some of these children from their own parents. Upon this subject I was glad to hear the last remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman opposite to the effect that he would be glad to see a greater enforcement of the parents' responsibility. This lies at the root of the whole question, for in Germany and almost every country but our own it is made penal for a man to neglect his children. In this country, a man may half-starve his children and not send them to school, but he is not responsible for his conduct and his neglect. I was glad to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), of the help that the rich people of the West End of London were giving to the poor people of the East End over this matter. I think that this is a very good sign. I have often heard of the good that the rich Jews living in the West End do for those residing in the East End. In the East End of London there are about 40,000 poor Jews, many of them refugees, yet no Jew is ever found applying to the Guardians for relief.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
But the relief is paid for entirely by Jews. I am thankful to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) for having brought this matter before the House. I have great sympathy with his Resolution; but I should recommend him to withdraw it, because I feel that I could not vote at once to make a selection in this matter of the poorest from amongst the poor, and to grant to, say, 10 per cent of the community, what is denied to the rest because they are better off. I think the right thing to do is to follow upon the lines upon which we are already going. A great deal has been done in the education of our children in the direction of domestic economy. The sewing of the girls has wonderfully improved, and I believe that English girls are being taught sewing in a way that will make them the best hands at sewing in Europe. Then, again, thousands of girls are being now taught cookery, which will be of the greatest advantage to them. I think that one of the most important things that can be taught to boys is drawing. I mean not pictorial drawing, but drawing that gives accuracy of eye and hand, and which is useful in every condition of life. I have been spending my Whitsuntide holidays in the country, where I came across a Scotch gardener with half-a-dozen boys. In reply to my question, this man told me that he had had all his sons taught drawing, and that he considered it of the greatest advantage to them. There is nothing so useful to a boy as good mechanical drawing. Another thing I think should always be taught to boys. They should be taught the geography of the Colonies. In saying that, I do not mean that they should simply be taught the physical geography, but that they should be taught the resources of them. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool drew an alarming picture as to the results of the growth of our population. That growth has been caused, in my opinion, by the better feeding of the poorer classes, by better clothing them, and by the better sanitary arrangements made for them. There is no doubt that better education will produce a class of men who, if they emigrate, will do well, and will not allow those whom they leave behind to be a burden on the community. I feel that a successful emigrant is not only a bless- 317 ing to himself but a blessing to those be leaves behind, and whose manufactured goods he consumes in the Colonies.
§ MR. ECROYD
said, he also thought the House was much indebted to the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) for raising this discussion, which might do something to prepare the public mind for a solution of several social problems. It was a good thing to have their attention drawn to these matters, for, though no practical results might immediately follow, such discussion of social questions drew forth their sympathies with the great mass of their poorer brethren in their difficulties and miseries. He [Mr. Ecroyd) placed the highest value upon every kind of education; but he would associate with it a certain amount of industrial employment during some portion of the day. He did not believe a remedy could be found for the great evils described by the hon. Member for Liverpool, and those which had been discussed the previous night, without first recognizing that they arose to a great extent in large cities like London and Liverpool from the complete divorce of the wealthy and industrial classes. It was by directing attention to the great need of establishing industries outside, but within some reasonable distance of those great cities, that they might take a first step towards the solution of this difficult problem. Following out the plan so successfully adopted by Sir Titus Salt, when he established Saltaire, they must take out the people of these congested regions to places within some reasonable distance, where they could have more constant employment at remunerative rates, and obtain decent houses at a moderate price, No amount of philanthropic effort would attain the end. They must clear the ground, in the first instance, by recognizing the fact that a population partially and fitfully employed and inadequately paid could never be respectably and decently housed. Therefore, if they would remedy those vast congestions of misery, they must, in the first place, turn their attention to the real root of the mischief, which did not lie so much in the want of education, as in the want of sufficient employment and adequate remuneration for the work which was done. Labour in the East End of London was not adequately paid. Let society discharge its just debt in this respect; 318 let them pay the poor women for making their shirts before they began to treat the matter from a philanthropic point of view. So long as poor women were allowed to make shirts in the East End of London at a third of the remuneration to which they were fairly and reasonably entitled, it was impossible for them to provide themselves with healthy homes, and it was inevitable that many of them would be tempted to add to their miserable pay the wages of immorality and shame. There was one element in this problem which was too little kept in view by those who discussed it. The adoption of mechanical aids, the general progress of industry, and the division of labour had continually concentrated their great industries in certain localities. That process was still going on, and there was something like a survival of the fittest localities with respect to special industries. In his own county, it was instructive to notice that among a population generally intelligent, and of an eager industrial character, Oldham was rapidly absorbing to itself the great business of cotton spinning. In the same way North-East Lancashire was rapidly absorbing to itself the weaving industry. Thus, even in strong and energetic industrial communities, the strongest and fittest survived. Those who failed in the race did not remain in the prosperous neighbourhoods, but drifted away to the congested masses of misery in our large towns; and the lesson he wished to press home was this?— if they would understand the cause of the enormous development of the melancholy and disgusting social evil which they discussed the previous evening, and of the inadequate housing of the poor, they must go to the root of the difficulty and recognize that, after all, whatever might be the apparent gain to portions of the community by an opposite policy, the duty of the State and of individuals was to care for and to nurse their industries, in the first place, and to look anxiously to the employment and well-being of the productive population. By so doing they would enable them to earn their own living and preserve their independence, and would foster the spirit of self-reliance, by giving them a reasonable remuneration for their labour, and putting them beyond the need of charity.
319 He was convinced, therefore, that to find honourable, fully-paid employment for the people was the only possible way by which the slums of our great cities could be improved. When they had realized that fact they would see the necessity of encouraging national industries. He held that the mistaken legislation which had destroyed the silk industries of Spitalfields, and the cruel national policy which in times past had destroyed industrial occupations in Ireland, was largely responsible for the misery and destitution which existed. With reference to the proposals of the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) in regard to a peasant proprietary, he (Mr. Ecroyd), said there was no man in the House who felt a profounder desire to see a larger proportion of the population enjoy healthy life and employment on the land as cultivators than he did. If he was unable at all times to follow the hon. Member in the particular methods by which he proposed to carry out his scheme, he would say, at the same time, that any agency of a sound and healthy character, possessing conditions of permanence, and likely, therefore, to accomplish this desirable end effectually, would not fail to receive his cordial support. He thought that unless they could find some means of enabling a larger proportion of the population of this country to exercise their industry upon the soil, with profit to their employers and themselves, and to the owners of the soil—for they all hung together—they would fail to stop one of the greatest causes of the existing misery. As for emigration, he knew the value of their magnificent Colonies; but the mischief was, that the conditions at present existing were making larger and larger masses of the population unfit for emigration to those Colonies.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, many hon. Members on his side of the House could subscribe to the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Ecroyd). All these difficult questions came back to the immense mass of poverty which existed among the people; and he was glad the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith) had ventilated the subject, though he had only touched upon the fringe of it. He (Mr. Jesse Collings) hoped that it would continue to receive 320 more and more attention on the part of the House, and that Parliaments, in the future, would conceive it to be their duty to spend a much larger amount of time than they had hitherto done in the contemplation and solution of these social problems. The hon. Member for Liverpool had a great notion of training up children individually, and he (Mr. Jesse Collings) agreed with him in all the ideas he had put forward, except in that of sending them abroad, as he believed we had facilities enough for keeping them employed at home. The hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) replied to the hon. Member for Liverpool, relying on individual effort; but he (Mr. Jesse Collings) would ask the hon. Member whether individual effort was ever more active than it was at present? The solution would come when the people of the East of London saw how they lived in the West; and he demanded an answer to the question, How it was that in the richest country in the world—in a country with riches incalculable—there should be an amount of poverty unexampled anywhere else; and, how it was also that by the side of a comparatively small number of highly opulent individuals, there was a proletariat so enormous? The last Census showed that these inequalities were still on the increase. The Census Returns showed a very largo increase in the total population, amounting to 14½ per cent. That increase was the more remarkable, because nearly all the rural districts, like Wilts, Dorset, and Devon, showed a decrease. Emigration had had very little influence on the question, and the conclusion was that the rural population had migrated into the towns. In prosperous times, the towns had always been able to absorb the surplus labour flowing into them from the country, but they had long ceased to be able to absorb it. The hon. Member for Liverpool wanted to train up the children to industrial handicrafts. But for what handicrafts or industries did he intend them? They were all overdone already. But there was one industry which was not overdone; and he said boldly that the only industry which, at that present moment, was capable, with profit to the workman and the nation, of absorbing this surplus population was the agricultural industry. In Birmingham they had an 321 industrial school with 150 boys eight or 10 miles out in the country, so that they might be brought up in the technical details of the agricultural industry. They did not bring them, up as brass-founders, because they knew there were now five brass-founders where four were wanted, and the same with other trades. He would recommend that training schools should be established in every village and in every parish in connection with the rural schools, for the purpose of giving technical training in matters connected with the rural industries. The boys could be taught fruit-growing, bee-keeping, and the care of poultry, &c.; while the girls could be instructed in general daily work, such as the making of butter and cheese, great quantities of which we now imported from abroad. The result of the establishment of such schools would be to keep the youth of the country upon the land, where they might enjoy all the simplicity of country life, combined with the advantages of education, and so lessen the labour competition in the large towns. He hoped attention would be directed to these subjects hereafter, as he was certain it was upon those lines that our village life was to be restored.
§ MR. SALT
said, he considered that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) had suggested two very remarkable solutions of the social problem with which they had to deal. The first —namely, that the East End should see how the West End lived—was quite incomprehensible; perhaps the hon. Member would on another occasion explain exactly what he meant. The next solution was almost as remarkable. The hon. Member said the agricultural system was capable of indefinite expansion for the benefit of those who lived by it. That was just what they had all been looking forward to in vain. How was that to be attained? No one but the hon. Member knew how his magnificent scheme for the development of the agriculture of the country was to be carried out so as to yield those profits which he anticipated, and he (Mr. Salt) could not help thinking that it was rather selfish of the hon. Member to keep this great secret to himself; and he thought the House, therefore, had some cause of complaint against the hon. Member. He (Mr. Salt) had listened 322 with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith); but he was afraid that the hon. Member took too sanguine and hopeful a view of the results he anticipated from the adoption of the proposals he made. He had shared the hon. Member's surprise at the statistics relating to the condition of the poor, which gave such satisfactory results, at a time when one's own experience of facts led one to know that so much misery prevailed. But the explanation might be that, during the past 25 years, the people who lived by manual labour had been dividing themselves into two classes—the prosperous and the unfortunate—and the satisfactory statistics as to the improvement in the dwellings of the working classes and the increase in the savings banks' deposits were furnished by the prosperous class. There could be no denying that the condition of a large number of the class who lived by manual labour had been deteriorating owing to carelessness, or ill-health, or great depression in some special branches of trade. The hon. Member had spoken of emigration. Many agencies were at present at work, doing much good; but he thought they were in a very confused state, owing to the want of some directing hand. What was wanted was information; and it might be well if this work was undertaken by some Government Department, which would furnish, month by month, information as to the class and amount of labour required in different Colonies. He sympathized altogether with the spirit in which the hon. Member for Liverpool had made his suggestion; but he was afraid that the innate goodness of heart which actuated the hon. Member tended to lead him into the region of hopeful speculations, rather than into the sphere of practical possibilities. He (Mr. Salt) could not see that the proposal of compulsory industrial training for night schools was, on the whole, either practicable or desirable. If they could establish a system of training that was partly physical and partly intellectual, they would teach young children quite as much and lead them to like the schools, and they would not require the power of compulsion to force them into night schools. He was glad to hear what had been said by the right hon. Gentleman opposite the late Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) as 323 to the system of industrial homes. That system, ho thought, might he very usefully extended so as to maintain, at far less cost and with much benefit to the children themselves, many poor children who were wandering about the streets uncared for. In conclusion, he would appeal to his hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool to be satisfied with the valuable discussion that ho had elicited, and not to press his Motion to a division.
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Mr. E. STANHOPE)
said, he thought they must all have been interested in that debate, which had ranged over a great variety of topics, and had drifted away from the scheme proposed by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith), and introduced to their notice almost every possible subject which could be discussed in reference to education. He had risen chiefly because a special appeal had been made to him on one or two points. Amid the various suggestions that had been made, a very substantial agreement appeared to exist on one or two main points. They were in that House all heartily agreed as to the desirability and the importance of trying to improve the technical education of the children. The hon. Member who introduced this subject had proposed to attempt this object by the establishment of industrial night schools. Well, he should like to see the experiment tried. But he himself did not look very hopefully upon it. He was rather inclined to think that the view of the right hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) was the correct one, and that it would be well if they could establish in all the large towns day industrial schools, a system which might receive every reasonable development. When he himself served upon the Commission on Industrial and Reformatory Schools, the evidence led him to the conclusion that it was hopeless to expect, and useless to attempt, to teach children the particular trades which they would have to carry on in after-life. What they had to teach them was some trade or other, in order to quicken their intelligence and fit them in a general manner for their duties in after-life. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) had put forward a scheme of wide application, and would add an agricultural de- 324 partment to the schools in the country. But what were the boys in the agricultural districts now doing? Why, they were withdrawn from school, generally speaking, at about 10 or 11 years of age; and it seemed to him that at that early age they need not think much about industrial training. They should rather endeavour to make the best use of the opportunities they had for giving the children a sound education in elementary subjects which would stick to them in after-life. The case of girls was different; and now considerable efforts were made to give them industrial training in elementary schools. He did not speak of sewing only, but of cooking, training in which, he was glad to say, was extending. Seventeen years ago he found in a village in Shropshire—Stokesay—instruction in cottage cooking being given on a system that was then novel; and since that time the system had gone on developing to a very large degree. He would do everything in his power to encourage that training in cookery, because he believed that by it, perhaps, more might be done for the happiness of the population than in any other way. Those, however, were subjects on which he should have more to say next week; and he now desired simply to make an appeal to the hon. Member for Liverpool in regard to his Motion, with the objects of which they all sympathized. The hon. Member for Liverpool had done good service in bringing so important a subject before the House; and he would appeal to him to be content with the discussion, and not to press the Motion to a division.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, the right hon. Gentleman had understated the fact. There were 500 centres of instruction in cooking; but there were many schools at which cookery was taught connected with some of these centres.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that he had often observed that the breaks in the Party organization of the House which changes of Administration produced afforded scope for free and friendly interchange of opinion. In this debate everyone had recommended education as a remedy for the poverty and the social evils described by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. S. Smith). It was proposed to make education compulsory, and to make this a charge, not upon the 325 rates, but upon the Imperial Revenue. What were they coming to? The proposal meant an enormous charge upon the Revenue, brought about by the displacement of a great industry, and by the removal of a large part of the population, not to the Colonies, but to the large towns of this country, where the people found employment almost as deficient as in the country districts which they had left. He had always feared, and he had not been ashamed to say it, that ho had long foreseen, and declared his opinion, that the policy of free imports would turn out more expensive to this country than the policy which it superseded. Ho (Mr. Newdegate) was not solitary in that opinion. It was now generally known that the German Empire had recently adopted a Corn Law, and that the French Republic had still more recently adopted a similar measure; while England was obliged to cast forth a population so unprepared for labour, that the United States had passed a statute to the effect that no such people should be allowed to immigrate into that country. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) had stated that farmers should turn their attention more than they had done to dairy produce. The hon. Member ought to know something about Birmingham, but seemed not to be aware that through poverty in Birmingham itself, or from the extent that land had been laid down in the Midland Counties for dairy purposes, that the price of milk in that town had fallen one-third, while the superiority of the quality of English cheese was gradually driving American cheese out of the market. He (Mr. Newdegate) submitted that the Legislature had no right to enforce compulsory education until they had the knowledge to inform scholars from 13 to 16 years of age where they might employ their industry. He contended that it was cruel and impolitic to force this advanced education upon lads without furnishing them with information as to whore they could obtain spheres for its use. The Government of the day alone possessed, or could promptly obtain, this information from foreign countries and from the Colonies, and ought to publish it monthly. With respect to the training of girls, he was of opinion that all girls ought to marry. He himself was a bachelor; but if he were to marry he would have to bless 326 the Government, who had made his wife a good cook.
§ MR. CLARE READ
said, that the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) was perfectly right when he said that for a long series of years the rural population was flocking into the towns. Some 20 years ago this arose from the better employment given in the towns; but during the last 10 years there had been going on a considerable migration into the towns, which resulted mainly from the quantity of land that was laid down in grass. When the hon. Member told them that the salvation of farming would be attained by the production of more cheese and butter, he hardly knew how small a quantity of labour was employed in the production of cheese. There was scarcely anyone employed on the great cheese farms, and the same might also be said of butter; but when they considered the amount of labour employed in growing an acre of wheat, it would be seen that the laying down of land in grass, while much more profitable to the farmer, would be a loss to the country and to the labouring population. A farmer could not grow an acre of wheat unless he spent something like 40s. in labour upon it, while 10s. would be ample when the land was laid down in grass.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members wore not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. CLARE READ,
continuing, observed that the hon. Member for Ipswich had said that there was a very successful future before the farmer; but that future must depend upon the production of fruit, butter, and cheese. Why, butter had been selling at from 9d. to 10d. per pound, and milk at 6d. per gallon. Fruit was never more cheap than at present, and vegetables were absolutely given away. He saw a bill the other day for three cartloads of rough vegetables sent into Birmingham, and all that the man received for them was 14s. 6d. Cabbages were actually sold for 1d. a-dozon. If they were to grow corn, mutton, and beef, they would have a very much larger quantity of labour employed than at present, and they would stop the migration into the towns. The hon. Member said that they ought to have in all the rural schools an acre or two upon which the 327 boys should be taught agriculture. He would ask the hon. Member whether the boys could tend stock, or girls make the cheese, on this acre or two? Many practical suggestions had been made in the course of the debate; but those which had been put forward by the hon. Member for Ipswich would not tend much to the benefit of the rural population.
§ MR. RANKIN
said, he was prepared to give a general support to the Motion. He thought that more information should be given to persons intending to emigrate than was given at present. It would be well if an Office could be established which should collect all the information on the subject, and diffuse it throughout the country. He would suggest that that might be done without difficulty through the instrumentality of the Post Office. He agreed with what had been said as to the importance of industrial training for the children of the country. Though it might be almost impossible, as his hon. Friend who had last spoken observed, to make a profit out of small items, yet these might form an important element in the industrial life of the rural labourer. Though the labourer might not be able to sell his vegetables, he might be able to consume them himself very profitably. A great deal was being done by voluntary effort for emigrating children to Canada from industrial homes; and if those homes were encouraged by a Government grant a much greater work might be done. If children physically and mentally fitted for emigration were selected from the schools and sent to Canada, where the demand for young emigrants appeared to be inexhaustible, much good would be effected. Considering how magnificent a Colonial Empire we possessed, it seemed a great pity that our surplus population should remain at home instead of going to Dependencies, where energy and intelligence were highly valued.
§ MR. SAMUEL SMITH
said, he was perfectly satisfied with the instructive discussion that had taken place upon the matter, and, therefore, would not ask the House to divide.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."