§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that in the ease of Frederick William Francis, aged under 16, who was confined in the Devon and Exeter Reformatory, Brampford Wood, the term of the lad's detention would in due course have expired in August next, but that on the 12th April last the master of the school, by direction of the directors of the Reformatory, notified Frederick Francis, the father of the lad, that it was proposed to send his son, Frederick William Francis, to Canada; that, although the father in writing refused to assent, the directors, without the knowledge of the father, obtained an order from the Secretary of State for the discharge of the boy from the Reformatory at an earlier date than the expiry of the term, and actually shipped the boy to Canada without the knowledge of, and in direct opposition to the expressed wish of the father; and, whether he will state under what authority this was done, and whether 386 the action of the directors has his—sanction?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
Yes, Sir; the facts are as stated, except that Francis was 16 years old last January. The practice of the Home Office follows a circular issued in 1885 to the effect that a parent of bad character should not be permitted to exercise a veto on the disposal of a child who has been brought up in a reformatory or industrial school. This boy was sent to Canada, where there was an opening for him, as a reward for his good conduct in the school. He was very anxious to emigrate; he was discharged by my authority three months before the expiration of his sentence to enable him to go. I satisfied myself that the father-was a man of drunken and dissipated habits, who had thrown his other children on the parish, and had only contributed 4s. to the support of this boy during the whole time that he was in the school. The boy, moreover, positively refused to go back to his father, who, as he alleged, had ill-treated him. I may add that when the boy wrote to his father to inform him of his intention of emigrating he received no reply.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to make further inquiries in order to ascertain whether he has not been misled in regard to the communication with the father?
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the father not only denies having received such a communication from his son, but complains of the boy having been sent away without any communications having been made to him?