HC Deb 04 April 1887 vol 313 cc426-49
MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)

I rise, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for the purpose of calling the attention of the House to the Motion which stands in my name— That it is expedient to relax the restrictions hitherto imposed by the Local Government Board on the emigration of pauper children, and to enter into negotiations with existing emigration agencies of established reputation, whereby such agencies may be empowered to emigrate pauper, orphan, neglected, and deserted children to Canada, or others of our Colonies, subject to reasonable regulations for the future oversight of the children. It is a subject which has engaged my attention for several years. I have been closely connected for 13 years with one of the most successful experiments in the City of Liverpool in regard to the emigration of destitute children to Canada. In the course of that time 2,000 children belonging to the poorest classes have been happily placed and settled in comfortable homes in Canada, and 95 per cent of them have done well, are very much better off, and have succeeded in life far better than it was possible for them to have done if they had remained in this country. It is from the experience thus gained that I am induced to bring before the House the desirability of extending the advantages of organized emigration to Canada to the vast number of pauper children now being maintained by the State.

The average cost of emigration, including the necessary preliminary training and all incidental expenses, averages about £15 per child, while the average cost of bringing up a pauper child in this country is about £100. Allow for the cost of the establishments and the interest of capital sunk in the building, I believe that it is not too high a figure to put the cost of a pauper child in this country at £100, as against £15, which is the cost of each child removed to Canada. Therefore, on the mere ground of the interest of the ratepayers, and on the ground of economy, it seems to me that the plan I recommend has an enormous advantage over the system of maintaining pauper children in this country. It is not, however, simply upon this ground that I bring the question forward, but rather for the reason that the children so emigrated have a vastly better chance in life than they could have as pauper children placed out at home; nor is there any comparison whatever in the prospects of a poor child brought up by the industrious people of Canada with the prospects of the same child planted out in the centre of our large cities, surrounded on all sides by temptations, and exposed to degrading influences. I hold that this is a very large question.

The Local Government Board have under their control some 56,000 children; most of them orphans, or deserted children, who are being brought up in largo district schools. In addition to these, there are over 25,000 children brought up in industrial and reformatory schools —children very much of the same class —so that altogether in England and Wales there are 82,000 children who are brought up at the expense of the State, whose welfare would be promoted very greatly by the scheme I propose. What I have to complain of, and what I have often charged against the Local Government Board, is that, although it has granted its consent to the principle of emigration, it has surrounded it with so many practical difficulties that, to all intents and purposes, the scheme has been rendered nugatory. The amount of emigration is so small that it is hardly worth speaking of. I believe that the total number of pauper children emigrated in four years amounts to 661—a mere drop in the bucket when compared to the 82,000 children under the care of the State. I wish to exonerate the right hon. Gentleman the existing President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie) from any blame in the matter. I believe he is in entire sympathy with our views—that it is his full intention, if possible, to remove the defects which now exist, and to open the way to emigration. What I complain of is, that the action of the Local Government Board, during the last 10 years, has been such as to virtually stop the emigration of pauper children. I have been applied to myself in dozens of cases by Boards of Guardians for information as to how it is possible to obtain State aid in connection with the emigration of pauper children; I have referred them to the Local Government Board, and they have almost invariably written to me to explain that the conditions laid down by that Board have rendered it impossible for them to comply with them, and the result has been that the emigration of pauper children has been almost entirely stopped.

I wish to explain to the House how it comes to pass that the emigration of pauper children to Canada would in nearly every case be advantageous as compared with what takes place in this country. The advantages arise in this way. We have in Canada a thrifty peasantry, the owners of their own land —a farming population spread over a vast tract of country; these farmers, in many cases, have no children of their own, or, if they have children, they have grown up and have left them, having married and settled on their own account; for it is the custom in Canada to marry early. It comes to pass, therefore, that there are thousands of homes in Canada where there is no child, and it is a great object to this class of persons to obtain children, if only for the sake of company. There is no difficulty in placing thousands of emigrated children in happy and comfortable homes much superior to those that are open to them in this country; and in the rural districts, where there are no public-houses or low surroundings, they are removed from those temptations which are so seductive to children of that class. No difficulty whatever has been found—and I speak of my own knowledge—in placing young children, both boys and girls, in comfortable and happy homes in Canada. In many cases emigrated children have been adopted and made the heirs of their foster parents, and many of these poor children, drawn from the most destitute class, have now become possessed of considerable property in Canada. The cases of bad treatment are very rare indeed. The Canadian farmers are kind-hearted, respectable people, nearly all of them church-going, and the children are usually placed under the charge of the neighbouring clergy. They are visited once or twice a-year by ladies who are appointed visitors, and they are placed especially under the care of the clergy. I believe it is almost impossible for cases of bad treatment to occur without our hearing of them. For the few cases of bad treatment which may occur we have provided a remedy. A depot is kept open, and children who are badly treated can be returned to it. We require the farmers to sign an indenture by which they bind themselves to certain conditions as to sending the children to school and to church, and to give them wages after a certain period of service as well as undertaking to keep them well. We believe that, practically speaking, no risk whatever is incurred. In a short time the emigrated children forget their early associations, and by the time they reach manhood and womanhood they are to all intents and purposes indistinguishable from ordinary Canadian citizens, and their past lives appear to them to be little more than a dream. The question has been fully inquired into and examined by gentlemen on both sides of the Atlantic, and, as independent witnesses, they all testify to the advantages of our emigration scheme. Out of 2,600 children who have been emigrated by Dr. Barnardo, only 30 have turned out unsatisfactorily. Dr. Barnardo can put his hands on all the rest of those children and declare that they are getting on well and happily in Canada. I believe that other emigration agencies have had a similar experience, and have equally satisfactory results to give. I am acquainted more or less with nearly all of them, and I believe that it may be stated broadly that from 95 to 97 per cent of the children who have been emigrated have done well, and altogether some 10,000 or 12,000 children have been sent out since the work began. Let us compare this with the scheme of boarding out in this country. In Scotland pauper children have been boarded out with great success for many years. There is hardly such a thing as a pauper school in Scotland; but all the children are boarded out. In England pauper children are now boarded out on a very small scale, and I believe that wherever it has been done it has been attended with a large amount of success; but when we board out pauper children in this country we have to pay 4s. a-week for their board for several years. In Canada we are able to board them out for nothing. The farmers there are glad to get the children, and they soon begin to receive wages. Therefore, the cost in Canada is nothing as compared with this country. Again, in this country the children are boarded out with a very poor class of people—often labourers, who are struggling for existence themselves —whereas in Canada they are boarded out with well-to-do yeomen, owning generally 200 or 300 acres of land. They eat at the same table with their masters, and are treated in most respects the same as their own family. No one can doubt, therefore, that the homes we are able to find for these children in Canada are immensely superior to those it is possible to find for them in this country.

It may be asked—What is the opinion of the Canadian Government on this movement? I am glad to be able to inform the House that the Canadian Government, for many years past, has given the most favourable reports regarding the movement. The late Governor General (the Marquess of Lorne) has spoken highly of it on many occasions; and Sir Charles Tupper, the Canadian High Commissioner, has, in my hearing, again and again expressed the highest opinion of the work. Times without number Members of the Canadian Legislature have expressed themselves most favourably towards this movement; and I am not aware of a single occasion on which an unfavourable opinion has been expressed in regard to it.

There are, however, certain conditions necessary for success; and I would point out to the President of the Local Government Board what those conditions are. It is a matter which requires careful management. We are dealing with young children who require delicate handling; and the point I wish to bring before the House is this—that we must make the children fit to enter good homes, and become good members of society, otherwise the Canadians will refuse to accept them. We cannot shift the overplus of our population to Canada or elsewhere without first of all convert- ing it into good material. If we did otherwise, the result would only be a mortifying failure. It is our duty in this, as in every other honest bargain, to give to the Colonists the article they want; and what they want is children lovable, truthful, honest, and industrious, whom they can live with, and grow up with, and treat as members of their household. Unless we can give them children of that class they will not have them at all. Before we can render these children lovable we must put them through a preliminary training; and the training must be of that motherly kind, which relies most on the culture of the affections and conscience, as is the case with all children brought up in good homes. Unless we do that we shall never succeed. The success of our scheme depends upon this—that we do give this preliminary training in all our emigration homes, and we do not send out a child to Canada until we have satisfied ourselves that he will do credit to us, and that the Canadians will be glad to have him. That is the essential condition of the success of the experiment.

I have explained to the House the advantages derived from emigration to Canada; and now allow me to turn to the counter disadvantage which arises from the training of pauper children in thin country. In spite of the best efforts to train pauper children the results have been very unsatisfactory. I believe there is no person in this House, who has paid any attention to the subject, who will dispute the truth of what I say. I ask permission to call attention to a very remarkable document published some 12 years ago by a lady deputed by the Local Government Board—by one of the Predecessors of my right hon. Friend opposite —to examine into the results of the training of pauper children. I allude to the Report of Mrs. Nassau Senior—a highly accomplished lady of a judicial frame of mind, who devoted a considerable period to the examination of the results of the training of pauper girls brought up in the neighbourhood of London. It never was my lot to read a more melancholy document; it is little else than a list—and a long list— of the most deplorable failures. This lady testifies that not more than one-fifth—or one-sixth—of the girls who passed through these pauper schools really turned out well in after life; that a considerable number turned out what she calls "fair;" but what she calls "fair" most of us would consider very unsatisfactory. An enormous proportion—some 50 per cent of the whole —appear to have turned out thoroughly ill. I would ask the House to read this paper, and I think they will agree with me that it would hardly be more cruel to many of these poor children to put them out of existence altogether than Rend them into the world so wretchedly equipped as wore the bulk of the children who were turned out of the pauper schools of London 12 years ago. I will read a very few lines from the Report of Mrs. Nassau Senior, which, I think, contain the pith of the whole matter. Here is what she says— It must not be forgotten that to girls brought up in the artificial surroundings of Government schools the entrance into life is far more trying than to a girl who has had natural training in a family, and the experience of every day life. It is difficult to realize how ignorant these girls are of things that are familiar to most children of a few years old. I hear it from the girls themselves, from their mistresses, from the matrons of Homes and Refuges, often even from the matrons who have done their best to train the girls in school. No artificial training, however careful, can teach a girl what she learns in family life without any apparent teaching at all. I have been told by mistresses that their own little girl of seven or eight is more handy, and can be better trusted to do an errand or make a small purchase, than their servant of 15 or 16 from the workhouse school. I mention this to show that great patience is often needed on the part of the mistress if the girl is to turn out well; and it follows that the utmost trouble should be taken to find mistresses likely to train and instruct their little servants with intelligence and gentleness. In many cases the girls displayed an utter want of any sense of responsibility, either in regard to the value of property or the value of money; they had never been accustomed to handle money, and their conduct in many other respects was simply abominable. Now, I wish to state that at the time of Mrs. Nassau Senior's Report there was scarcely any supervision exercised by the Local Government Board over pauper children after they left school. But it has been most imperative in demanding a supervision over emigrated children, insisting on conditions almost beyond the power of any society to observe. As I have stated, at the period when this Report was written there was nothing in the shape of supervision worthy of the name, and it is a well-known fact, often told me by the Guardians of the Poor, that a large number of these girls went on the streets, and that of all the hopeless cases which penitentiaries had to deal with, those which came from workhouse schools were the worst.

I do not wish the House to suppose that I am charging all those evils on the system as it now exists. On the contrary, the publication of this Report led to a complete change. The girls belonging to the London workhouse schools have been placed under the charge of the Metropolitan Society for Befriending Young Servants—a very excellent institution—and within the last 10 years considerable supervision has been exercised over them. Therefore, a great change for the better has taken place since the period when Mrs. Nassau Senior wrote her Report. But, notwithstanding this fact, the testimony of the ladies who look after these pauper girls, who try to keep them from going wrong, and who follow thorn for several years after they leave the school—the testimony of all of them is to the effect that the equipment with which they enter the world is a very inadequate one, and that after all the training they have undergone they are less fit for the struggle of life than girls who have been brought up even in the poorest homes. I venture to read an extract from a letter of the Rev. Brooke Lambert—Chairman of the Metropolitan Association for Befriending Young Servants—a benevolent gentle-man, whose special attention has been directed to this matter. He says— I am quite with you in wishing to see the children of paupers sent out of the country. The depletion of the labour market by the removal of these children would, quite apart from the benefit to the children themselves, do much for England. I have lately prepared a paper on the evil influence of parental control in the case of this class of children. Children are deserted and thrown on the rates until they come of an age when they can he usefully employed— that is, employed to earn money for their parents who have before abnegated the duties of parents—they are allowed to claim them, to the ruin of the children, and to the undoing of all the work done by the schools. But these (pauper) schools at best are a necessary evil, and your system is an undoubted benefit. The effect of pauper training upon boys is not so bad as upon girls. The boys are able to stand knocking about in the world better; but even upon them the training is very unsatisfactory in its results. At an entertainment which was given in the East End of London some time ago, to about l,900 lads of the destitute or unemployed class, those who came from pauper schools were asked at the close of the entertainment to stand up, and it was found that there were 1,400 lads who had been in pauper schools and are now loafing about the streets of London. Now it would be impossible to find in the whole of Canada so many destitute and unemployed lads. This fact illustrates the great difficulty we have to contend with in dealing with pauper children in this country. The difficulty we have to cope with is this—we have such an overstrained idea of parental rights and parental control that we allow these children, when they leave school, to return to the care of, and to associate with, tramps, thieves, prostitutes, and other degraded characters. Everyone connected with industrial and reformatory schools knows perfectly well that after spending, say, £100 upon a child in getting it trained and instilling into it proper principles, when it gets out of school it goes back again, in too many instances, to its old haunts of wickedness, and in the course of two or three years it is as bad as if it had continued there all its life. The great advantage of our scheme is that it places the ocean between the children and their degraded relatives. It entirely removes them from this country, where bad associations abound, and after a few years the children grow up as pure in their minds and habits as the ordinary Canadian children. The fact is that in this country pauperism is hereditary. Paupers beget paupers; the same conditions go on for generation after generation, and our system of dealing with this class of people perpetuates pauperism. And this state of things will go on from age to age unless Parliament takes it in hand, and determines to put an end to such a wretched and miserable failure. I have said already that the great evil we have to contend with is that we allow degraded relatives to get hold of the children as soon as they pass out of the schools. It is a strange things that in this country, such is our regard for parental rights, that we permit, in many cases, vagabonds and scoundrels to get hold of these children, with the consequence that they are utterly ruined for the rest of their lives. In America they have a far more rational plan. I can testify, from having read the laws of several of the States, that in America the neglect of duty which we find so common in England is punished by taking away from the parent the control of the child. In the United States the State does interpose, and it becomes the guardian of the child if the parent neglects his obvious duty. Thus the pauper children of 13 or 14 years of age, whom we surrender to the charge of degraded relatives, are in America put under the care of the State until they reach the age of 21. In the State of New York 51,000 children have thus been removed from vicious surroundings, and sent to the Western States, where they are found to do well. I wish to see extended to this country the same common-sense laws as are acted upon in America, and I hope the time is not far distant when we shall make some rational changes in that direction. Degraded and criminal parents ought no longer to have these children committed to their care.

I think I have said enough to show the enormous advantage of emigrating these children instead of pouring them out into our over-crowded towns to compete with a half-starved population, as we have been doing for so many years. In Canada there is a great demand for the labour of children, while there is nothing to correspond with it at home.

I wish, now, to say a word or two as to the largeness of this question; it is much larger than many people may suppose. The total number of pauper children maintained by the State in whole or part in England and Wales at the present time is 255,000; of course, the bulk of these are outdoor paupers; but, adding indoor and outdoor children together, they reach this enormous figure. There are also 25,000 in industrial and reformatory schools, 36,000 pauper children in Scotland, and probably 70,000 or 80,000 children of a similar class in Ireland. Therefore, the total number of children maintained at the present time at the expense of the State, in whole or part, in the United Kingdom, is nearly 400,000. In addition to this there are a great number of private institutions which maintain by benevolence more than 100,000 children in addition to the 400,000 maintained by the State. Therefore there are in this country altogether about 500,000 children who are being brought up at the expense of the community at a cost of not less than £5,000,000 or £6,000,000sterlinga-year. It will consequently be seen that the question is one of great magnitude, and I am sure that it must impress upon the House the importance of dealing with it in a statesmanlike spirit. If we had possessed the power, within the last few years, of emigrating these children in the way we are doing at present with the few we are permitted to deal with, what a difference it would have made in the state of the country! What an immense amount of crime, misery, and pauperism we should have prevented! The chronic condition of our large towns is that they are full of half-starved and destitute people. In the last few years the poorer classes have experienced a great increase in the difficulty of obtaining the means of living so far as our large towns are concerned. The pressure of life is becoming increasingly heavy. A very large class are dependent on charity. Everyone knows that in London destitution has been greatly increased within the last 10 years, and yet we go on pouring this enormous mass of pauper children into our towns, instead of scattering them wisely and thoughtfully over the thinly - populated Provinces of the Empire. At the present rate at which our population is growing in these Islands, if it continues until the end of another century, it will amount to 130,000,000; and in London itself, 100 years hence, there may be 25,000,000 inhabitants! Surely, then, we ought to welcome any means of spreading our population over our Colonies. I see great difficulties in the way of the State undertaking adult emigration on principles which would be safe, and which would avoid pecuniary loss; but I see no great difficulty in the way of dealing with these children, whom you can send to the Colonies, whom the Colonies are willing to receive, and who will assimilate themselves to the Colonial populations. There is no inherent difficulty in planting out almost any number of children in the Colonies of this vast Empire. Already private benevolence has sent out of the country' and planted in good homes in Canada over 10,000 children; and one of the chief reasons why I feel so deep an interest in this question is that I see in the plan which we advocate a great relief to our over-crowded community.

Now I ask the Local Government Board to help us. I have been appealing to them for several years in connection with this matter, and their reply has always been the same. They have always professed to be in favour of the emigration of these children; but they have done very little to promote the work, the total number of pauper children emigrated being hardly worth talking about. I say that the Local Government Board is bound effectually to take up this work, and to find out a modus operandi. It is not for them to lay down impracticable conditions; but to find out how they can make the machinery work so as to send out to Canada within the next few years many thousands of these children. That is what I expect the right hon. Gentleman to do. If one Code of Rules will not answer, let him try another until the thing is done. There are two Rules in particular which hinder this work. The Local Government Board insists that the Canadian Government shall report annually upon all pauper children emigrated. Though only a few hundreds of those children have been sent out, yet a long delay elapsed before the Report was received. I am glad to know it is satistory. But I will undertake to prove that we have done far more in Canada for the inspection of our children than the Poor Law Board have ever done in this country. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board this—that the Guardians shall be allowed a discretion in this matter; to make small grants for the purpose of emigrating pauper children; that the restrictions I have referred to shall be removed, or, at least, that some Rules that will work efficiently shall be substituted. I am convinced that until this takes place nothing will be done; but we shall have one generation of pauper children in our great towns rearing another generation indefinitely. Then there is the Regulation under which children are only allowed to go to Canada direct from workhouse schools. My experience is—and it is the opinion of all who have had anything to do with pauper children— that there is nothing which has a more prejudicial effect on emigration work than this Rule, and that unless it is removed the whole scheme will be shipwrecked. I say let the Guardians be authorized to remove the children out of the workhouse schools, and place them in homes where they will be treated in a kindly and motherly way, and where their moral and religious nature will be developed prior to emigration. If that is not done there will be many failures which will prejudice the work in Canada. I hope that no children will be sent out of the country who have not been trained in such homes, and that all will be rejected by the emigration societies who are not found fitted for Colonial life.

My contention then is this—that, in the first place, the restrictions I have referred to should be removed; in the second place, that the children should be taken from the workhouse schools and sent to voluntary emigration homes where they will receive proper training and attention; and, finally, that the Boards of Guardians should bear the expense of this, which need not be greater than what is now paid in the case of workhouse schools with such indifferent results.

I thank the House for the attention with which they have listened to my appeal; and while I regret that I could not bring forward my Motion at an earlier hour, I am glad that I have been able to lay before the House a subject which has engaged the attention of some of the most wise and practical philanthropists in our country, whose plans I do not think the Government can do better than adopt. I hope we shall find that the Local Government Board will issue thoroughly practical instructions with regard to this question of child emigration, which I am convinced will do more to dry up pauperism at the roots than anything else that can be devised. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

MR. RATHBONE (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)

I strongly endorse the appeal which has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) to the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Ritchie). I have been engaged, like my hon. Friend, in this work of emigration, and I think it is very valuable, especially in the case of girls. I would point out to the President of the Local Government Board and the House that if the real aim is a practical one they may safely leave the management of the undertaking to those voluntary societies already enrolled. My hon. Friend has described the kind of children which alone the Canadians would consent to receive, and the fact that the Canadians take these children into their homes and retain them as they do is, in itself, a proof that the voluntary societies have done their work well. But I go farther and say that when this work was begun, 25 years ago, we were unable to carry it forward with the same precautions as we are now. But I felt then, and I told the President of the Local Government Board of that day, that even without these precautions the children were exposed to much less danger, and had a greater chance of a prosperous and virtuous life, than they had in this country. These children are taken away from surroundings which cannot be considered healthful or beneficial to them and placed in others which afford them a reasonable chance of a comfortable and virtuous life. What hope of marriage is there for girls of this class afforded hero? On the other hand, it is well known that their marriage is in Canada almost a certainty. To anyone who considers the conditions from which these girls are taken, I say it is clear that their prospects in Canada are infinitely better than they are in this country. It is within reach of such ad vantages that we should place these children; and, therefore, we contend that the Local Government Board should withdraw restrictions which prevent the attainment of this desirable object. Then there is to be borne in mind the effect which the emigration of pauper children will have upon those of the class who remain in this country. I have myself observed how the removal of even a moderate amount of labour has enabled those who remain to rise far higher than might have been inferred from the percentage of those who left. I will not detain the House at greater length than to urge upon the Local Government Board the removal of whatever restrictions are interfering with the work of the societies for the emigration of girls to Canada. If these are removed a very large number of children will be taken from what are called homes in this country, and placed in real homes in Canada. Sir, I beg to second the Motion of my hon. Friend.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it is expedient to relax the restrictions hitherto imposed by the Local Government Board on the emigration of pauper children, and to enter into negotiations with existing emigration agencies of established reputation, whereby such agencies may be empowered to emigrate pauper, orphan, neglected, and deserted children to Canada, or others of our Colonies, subject to reasonable regulations for the future oversight of the children."—(Mr. Samuel Smith.)

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


Sir, I am sure the House will thoroughly appreciate the greater portion of the remarks of the hon. Member for Flint-shire (Mr. S. Smith) in laying his facts before the House; and I am also sure that the purity of the hon. Member's motives in bringing this subject forward will not be disputed. It is the desire of the Department which I have the honour to represent, as far as possible, to encourage the emigration of pauper children to Canada. The hon. Gentleman says he does not speak on mere hearsay, and anyone who knows the interest which he takes in matters of this kind will be aware that he does not speak simply as a theorist. He is essentially a practical man, and has, therefore, the right to discuss this matter. There is another thing in which the House will agree—that, under proper regulations, great advantages follow from the emigration of pauper children. Not only is this beneficial to the children themselves, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) has said, it is beneficial also to the community in getting rid of a large amount of labour which, in this country, cannot be profitably employed. But notwithstanding the manifest advantages which follow the course that the hon. Gentleman advocates, I think the House will agree that it is essential that the regulations with reference to the emigration of children should be so framed as to secure the benefit of the children when they get to the other side of the Atlantic, and that every precaution should be taken against the abuses which are likely to arise in the absence of such precautions. It is needless for me to point out what those dangers are. They must be perfectly well known to all who have studied these matters; and I am sure I shall carry with me the entire sympathy of the House when I say that although there ought not to be any restrictions which would unduly interfere with the emigration of these children, yet it is the bounden duty of the Local Government Board to see, in the interests of the children themselves, that certain conditions are complied with. The hon. Member for Flintshire spoke of the large number of children who are in our workhouses, as compared with the small number of children emigrated; he spoke of there being 56,000 children in the workhouses. But that at once raises a very important question. The immense majority of these children are neither orphans nor deserted, and the question which arises is as to whether the Local Government Board shall encourage by its regulations the emigration of children without the consent of their parents. For my own part, I say at once that I could not undertake to initiate any legislation which would have the effect of enabling the Guardians to emigrate pauper children in defiance of the wishes of their parents. I can sympathize with the opinion of the hon. Gentleman, that in a vast number of cases it would be for the benefit of the children that they should be taken away from evil surroundings, and from the evil influences of bad parents; but, on the whole, I think it is the lesser of the two evils to allow these children to remain here rather than to emigrate them without the consent of their parents, thus destroying that parental authority which, however abused, I believe the great majority of the people of this country desire to see preserved. I believe that if Parliament were to give power to Boards of Guardians to emigrate children without the consent of their parents, it would lead to such scandal as would be detrimental to the cause of emigration itself; and I am, moreover, persuaded that such a course would be repugnant to the feeling of the people generally. But, so far as the emigration of orphans and deserted children is concerned, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my sympathy is entirely with him in this matter, and that anything I can do as President of the Local Government Board to put an end to unnecessary restrictions will be done. I think, however, that the hon. Gentleman is rather hard on the regulations imposed by the Local Government Board. The hon. Gentleman points to two regulations as being especially objectionable. One is the regulation which provides for the inspection of children by the Canadian Government; and the hon. Gentleman said that so long as we insisted upon inspection by the agents of the Canadian Government, so long would this emigration be entirely, or almost entirely, nugatory. I am bound to say that I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman there. It is perfectly true that in consequence of the Local Government Board not receiving Reports from the Canadian Government as to the children emigrated thither within the last year or two, they some time ago stopped the emigration of pauper children; but, as a matter of fact, owing to the season of the year, that action did not prevent the emigration of a single child, because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the period of emigration was at an end. When the emigration season again set in, the Board had received the Report, and the bar which they had previously placed upon the emigration of children was then removed. Now, we consider that this Re-port of the Canadian Government is a very valuable one, inasmuch as it is altogether the independent Report of the agents of the Dominion. The Canadian Government express their entire willingness to undertake an annual inspection of all these children, provided their names, ages, and addresses are furnished to them. The regulation which the hon. Gentleman says interferes so much with the emigration of children is simply this, that the names, ages, and addresses of the children shall be sent to the Department of Agriculture of the Canadian Government, which shall report to the Guardians as to the condition of the children, and that the Guardians shall forward these Reports to the Local Government Board. Looking at the fact that the Canadian Government express their willingness to undertake this independent inspection, I think it is of considerable value that we should receive Reports from the Canadian Go- vernment by means of their agents, who make personal inquiries at the abodes of the children, and see whether they are well oared for. It is, therefore, unnecessary for us to do away with this regulation so long as the Canadian Government are willing to make that inspection. If there were a systematic attempt on the part of the Canadian Government or their agents to withhold these Reports, and if, in consequence of the Reports not being sent, we were to refuse to permit the emigration of children to Canada, then I admit the hon. Gentleman would be justified in the remarks he has made. But, as matters stand, we consider that the regulation has worked well, and led only to good results; and I do not anticipate that a single child will be prevented from emigrating in consequence of the regulation. The hon. Gentleman has referred to another restriction, and I am bound to say that there I think he has a better ground for objection. The second regulation which the hon. Gentleman points to requires that the children must have six months' training in pauper schools, I am by no means prepared to endorse all that the hon. Gentleman has said with reference to these pauper schools. It is true that the hon. Gentleman has quoted from statistics given by Mrs. Nassau Senior, in a Report which extends as far back as 1873, to show that the result of the training in pauper schools is not satisfactory. The results for the last year, however, show the existence of a greatly improved state of things. Of the children trained in these schools, 86 per cent are reported as "good and fair," 11 per cent as "unsatisfactory," and only 3 per cent as "bad." I think these are statistics of which the managers of the schools have every reason to be proud. When you have a number of children who are trained in the pauper schools, and it is found that of these only 3 per cent can be reported as bad, I maintain that it is not only a not unsatisfactory, but an altogether satisfactory state of things. I must take complete exception to the terms which the hon. Member applied to the training of children in these schools, when he said that they were not trained like human beings. The hon. Gentleman must know that the managers of the schools take an immense amount of interest in seeing that the training of the children is as good as it can be. The hon. Gentleman gave, by way of illustration, a statement of Dr. Barnardo, that out of 1,900 gutter lads assembled in his Refuge on a certain occasion, 1,400 declared that they had passed through pauper schools.


I said that there were 1,900 lads present, and that at the end of the entertainment Dr. Barnado asked those to stand up who had been at pauper schools, and that 1,400 stood up.


The hon. Gentleman said that 1,400 of these lads stood up, and the inference he desired to be drawn was that the training in the pauper schools was bad. But does the hon. Gentleman believe that out of those 1,900 lads 1,400 had undergone training? Is it not rather that a vast number of those lads may have been for a very short time in pauper schools—that the mothers and parents of those children having gone into the workhouses for a short time, in the meantime their children received some kind of instruction in pauper schools, but that they were not regularly trained there? I think it is impossible to say that these 1,400 lads can, in any sense of the term, be spoken of as having been trained in pauper schools. Now, with reference to the general question, I should like the House to understand clearly what is the position of the Local Government and Boards of Guardians in this matter of the emigration of pauper children. The Boards of Guardians are at perfect liberty to emigrate as many of these pauper children as they please, and through any agency which they please, so long as that agency complies with certain regulations of the Local Government Board. The Local Government Board does not directly interfere in the emigration of the children; they leave it, as I think they ought to do, to the Boards of Guardians, who are the proper authorities, to judge as to the agencies through which the children are emigrated, and to see that the regulations laid down by the Local Government Board are complied with. I have now dealt with the two regulations of which the hon. Gentleman complained. I repeat, as far as the regulation with reference to the Report from Canada are concerned, that I do not believe it has interfered with the emigration of a single child. I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman can give a single instance of a child being prevented from emigrating in COD sequence of the regulation which requires that Report should be obtained from the Canadian Government. [Mr. S. SMITH dissented.] The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I shall be glad if he will communicate to me the case of a single child who has been prevented from emigrating in consequence of that regulation. With regard to the other regulation, I think there is much more to be said. It is to this effect— A child before being sent to Canada shall have been under previous instruction for at least six months in a workhouse or a district school. Now, if that regulation is taken to imply that a child must have been in such a school for six months immediately prior to his emigration, then I think there is a great deal in the argument of the hon. Gentleman. I have spoken about training in workhouse schools, and I am prepared to defend it as being an admirable and excellent training; but I am pre-pared to admit that there is a workhouse taint upon those children who have been emigrated direct from a workhouse school. I certainly think it is possible and probable that those children, when they get to Canada, may be at a considerable disadvantage in consequence of having been emigrated direct from workhouse schools. That regulation I propose to amend. I propose to remove a further restriction upon Boards of Guardians which constitutes one of the objections to which the hon. Member alluded—namely, the restriction as to the number of children emigrated. That restriction was only intended to apply to the year in which it was issued—the year 1883—but as no other edition of these regulations has been issued since, I can quite understand that the Boards of Guardians may have thought that the restriction was still in force. I propose, therefore, to remove that restriction altogether. Then I propose to inform Boards of Guardians that they are at liberty to contract with any emigration agencies that apply to the Local Government Board and obtain a certificate as to the efficiency of their schools, so that the Boards of Guardians may send pauper children to those train- ing schools for any time they think fit, and pay for their maintenance out of the rates. It is quite clear, so far as the ratepayers are concerned, that it is immaterial whether the education of the children is paid for at the district pauper schools belonging to the Union, or paid for at the schools of the various emigration agencies, while the advantage to the children themselves is obvious, for they will be able to obtain a certain amount of special training for emigration, and being sent out in conjunction with other children who have not been in the workhouse, they will be, so to speak, entirely without that workhouse taint which I think might be a great bar to their progress when they get to Canada. I think, so far as our proposal on that point is concerned, that it meets the objection of the hon. Gentleman. I believe also, when the powers of the Boards of Guardians are made known, the emigration agencies will take care on their part to make the Boards of Guardians acquainted with the facilities they offer; and, under these new conditions, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will see a very large increase in the number of children emigrated to Canada. I believe I have touched upon the various points to which the hon. Gentleman has alluded; I have shown that I am in absolute sympathy with him in the object he has in view, and that I intend to do my best to promote the emigration of these children under proper conditions, which will not restrict emigration, but will, on the other hand, afford a reasonable prospect of securing their welfare and prosperity.

MR. E. R. RUSSELL (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

The right hon. Gentleman has made two important concessions, and he has done so with expressions of sympathy such as might be expected from his character and from the responsibility he must feel in the Office he holds. I will venture, however, to express a hope that the right hon. Gentleman may be induced to advance a little further; because it is most necessary, if anything substantial is to be done in the direction mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire, that there should be more elasticity in the Rules of the Local Government Board, and there should also be a disposition to advance in the matter of somewhat disregarding parental control. On a reference to the Rules of the Board, a great change will be found necessary with regard to inspection. The families where the children are placed object to a dual series of inspection. If the right hon. Gentleman will take a freer view of the matter, and be more disposed to rely on those institutions which are engaged in the work of rescue, for which he has expressed so much sympathy, he will soon see his way to a relaxation of the Rules. My hon. Friend the Member for Flintshire is, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, a really practical man, and it is of the greatest importance that Ministers of State, in dealing with men who have practically devoted themselves to the consideration of such subjects, should see with their eyes the difficulties that occur, and should make some concession to meet each case. This applies equally, though under circumstances of greater difficulty, to the larger principle of the sacredness of parental control, which I understood the right hon. Gentleman to assert almost, if not absolutely, without exception. It is a very large demand upon us to expect us to believe that under no circumstances can parents in this country forfeit the right to control the destinies of their children. Many of them have to all intents and purposes forfeited that right. I have myself passed through the right hon. Gentleman's present stage of feeling. I have gone into the matter, both in Liverpool and in the City a Division of which I have the honour to represent, with pro-conceived ideas both that to relieve parents of their children would tend to generate pauperism, and that to remove children from their parents' control is flying in the face of nature; but the more I looked into the matter the more I found that this is a mere chimerical difficulty which will have to be faced and got over. If the right hon. Gentleman will consult those who have to do with the work of rescue in Liverpool and in Glasgow, he will find that they do not appreciate the great difficulty of ignoring parental control. They believe that in such cases, with small assistance from the State, it may be got over; and that so far as the parents are concerned the great majority of them are—where it is necessary for the State to interfere—cases where parental feeling has died out, or, at any rate, has fallen into a condition which does not require much consideration at the hands of the State. I asked a gentleman in Glasgow whether penal consequences might not be brought to bear upon the parents with success. He told me that it could not; that the parents spend much of their time in prison, and simply regard a visit there as a sort of sanitary operation from which they derive benefit and are enabled to resume their deplorable kind of life. When dealing with such people it is carrying consideration too far not to try to find out some way to carry on the experiment in which my hon. Friend and other philanthropists have had so much success; and I believe that the Local Government Board may easily invent methods for making greater progress in inducing parents, or even in over-ruling their objections, where so much depends upon it for the future of the country.

MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

It seems to me the discussion, so far, has only proceeded on one side of this question, and that hon. Members who have spoken have altogether failed to take into consideration the circumstances of the Colonies to which it is proposed to emigrate these children, and what may be the effect of continued artificial emigration to these Colonies from this country. The hon. Member for Flintshire has spoken of the enormous number of children who are in this sad and deplorable state of pauperism; he says that there are 500,000 in the United Kingdom, and that if the population of London continues to increase in the next century as it has hitherto increased it will amount to 25,000,000. But if the system of emigration which he proposes be carried out, we shall find that the population of Canada will become a population or colonization of paupers. There are, no doubt, too many pauper children in the country, and the question is how that evil is to be remedied. I doubt that the country is equal to acceptance of the Utopian theory of the hon. Gentleman at the present time, and I am, therefore, of opinion that some other remedies must be adopted. It seems to me that the proposal of the hon. Gentlemen is to take out of the country those who have as good a claim to remain there as any other portion of the population. We forget that the Colonies to which we propose to send these children are already very crowded, and that many persons cross into the United States because they cannot find employment in Canada; and that the large cities of Australia furnish a parallel, but in a smaller degree, of the state of things which exists in London. I have myself seen persons who, having emigrated to Melbourne and Sydney, have been obliged to sleep without cover in those cities because they were unable to find employment. It is most unjust and absurd to emigrate these children. If the State could find some employment for them, such as would be practicable under a tobacco monopoly, for instance, it would be better than a general scheme for getting rid of the surplus population of the country. The children are reduced to their present condition mainly owing to the neglect of their parents, and you say that, therefore, the parents have forfeited all claim to have control over them. But what are the laws of the Colonies? They provide in almost every case against the immigration of paupers; and although those laws are sometimes relaxed, they will be stringently enforced as soon as it is seen that a system of private or State emigration is established here. The suggestion of the hon. Member for Flintshire (Mr. S. Smith) appears to me to be altogether insufficient, and the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board has practically left the matter where it was before, for I do not apprehend that the relaxations which the right hon. Gentleman promises will encourage the new system of emigration. They may remove a few restrictions; but I am glad to observe that the Government does not see its way to go into any enlarged emigration system, which would certainly be resented by the Colonies to which the children are proposed to be sent.


I wish to say that I am much indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he has met us. Although I cannot agree with all his remarks, I desire to make this acknowledgment, and will now ask leave to withdraw my Resolution.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question again proposed, "That Mr. Deputy Speaker do now leave the Chair."