HC Deb 09 March 1891 vol 351 cc471-2
MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether his attention has been called to the statement of Mr. Kynnersley, Her Majesty's Inspector, published in the last General Report of Mr. Blandford, Her Majesty's Inspector (Blue Book, 1889, p. 270), that— It is now only in Birkenhead and Runcorn that we have really objectionable buildings, and to the statement recently made by the Chairman of the School Attendance Committee of that borough that— The number of school places in the Public Elementary Schools of the Borough of Birkenhead, measured at eight feet per child, is 15,665; or, if not, what is the correct number; whether he is aware that the population of Birkenhead, as estimated in the Registrar General's Returns for the year ending 27th September, 1890, is 105,049; whether, on the calculation of the Department that school places are required for one-sixth of the population, there should be 17,508 school places in Birkenhead, and whether there is therefore an actual deficiency of at least 1,843 places, which, if the Voluntary Schools were measured in accordance with the Luton letter of the Department (Parliamentary Return, No. 173, 1889), would be increased by about 2,000 places; and whether he will obtain from Her Majesty's Inspector a Report on the school supply of Birkenhead, both as to its amount and quality, having regard to its suitability as to fee, and take steps to secure that adequate provision be made for the education of the population of that town?


I have seen Mr. Kynnersley's statement; but if the right hon. Gentleman had pursued his investigations a little further, he might have observed that the Inspector goes on to notice the extraordinary fluctuations to which the population of Birkenhead is liable. That being so, I prefer to await the result of the forthcoming Census before expressing an opinion as to the accuracy of the Registrar General's estimate. The number of school places in Birkenhead is 15,668, but the highest weekly average during any part of last year was only 14,389. The circumstances of the town are wholly dissimilar from those which gave rise to the Luton letter; and I am surprised that my right hon. Friend, if he has read that letter, should have fallen into the obvious error of citing it as applicable to the present case. So far as my information goes, no complaint of any deficiency has reached the Department; but it is part of their ordinary duty, which they are prepared to fulfil, to see that adequate provision is made for the education of the population.