§ ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can state the result of the official inquiry held on board the industrial school ship Wellesley respecting the charges reported in the local Press to have been brought 783 against the commander of the ship by the Chairman of the Committee respecting the maintenance of discipline by illegal punishments, and especially whether there is any ground for the charge of cruelty brought against the commander; and whether any inquiry has been also held at the Whitley village homes for girls into the truth of alleged illegal punishments carried on there, and reported to have been sanctioned by the aforesaid Chairman of Committee; and, if so, what is the result of the said inquiry?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The inquiry held on board the ship Wellesley has resulted in a voluminous Report, and it is difficult to compress the result within the limits of an answer. I may state, however, that the Inspectors report that, having gone over the punishments during five quarters, they cannot find one instance in which during that period, the commander exceeded the legal maximum of punishment; and that the charges against him of excessive severity have not been proved There appear to have been many causes, to which I need not refer in detail, which had a mischievous effect on the general order and discipline of the ship, and led to a regrettable amount of disorder, and of consequent punishment; but I am glad to say that the Inspectors report that matters have much improved in the school since the beginning of this year. No official inquiry has been held as to the Whitley village homes; but, it having been brought to my knowledge that an instrucalled the "tawse" was occasionally used for the enforcement of discipline, I called the attention of the Chairman of Committee to the fact that no corporal punishment was sanctioned by the rules of the homes, and requested that the use of that instrument might be abandoned.