§ *(8.45.) ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I am in sympathy with the hon. Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Bryce) who said he had waited nine years in the hope that he would be able to introduce this House to the mountains of Scotland. I have waited for three years to intro- 1724 duce the House to a most miserable system which has lasted for a long period, in regard to the management of the reformatory and industrial school ships of this country, to say nothing of the reformatory and industrial schools. I desire at the outset to set myself right with all members of industrial and reformatory school Committees by saying, that no one admires more than I do the disinterested zeal and the spirit of self-sacrifice they bring to bear on their work, and the great interest they have taken in trying to train up the poor little waifs and strays of our great cities. I do not desire either to say a harsh word about the Chief Inspector, Colonel Inglis, as I am satisfied that no officer could bring more zeal to bear upon the duty he has to perform, but I say that the system under which he is appointed is bad. I have placed upon the Paper the following Resolution, which, however, the Forms of the House will not permit me to move:—That in any measure dealing with reformatory and industrial schools provision should be made for the interchange of boys between school ships and land school?, so that lads deemed unsuited physically for a sea life should be discharged to land schools and vice versa, and that all training ships under the Reformatory and Industrial Schools Act should be inspected by competent seamen Inspectors.It would occur to every person, no doubt, as a matter of common-sense, that ships would be inspected by seamen Inspectors, but it is not, and it never has been, so. What are the qualifications of the existing Inspector? Colonel Inglis is an ex-officer of Dragoons. I should like to know what the Army would think if I myself, a nautical man, were appointed an Inspector of a troop of Horse Guards, although I can ride a horse and leap a fence, while I doubt whether Colonel Inglis could go aloft or know when a sail was properly reefed or furled. If the reformatory and industrial school ships were properly worked, they would furnish admirable sailors for our Mercantile Marine. It may not be known to many Members of the House what an enormous State expenditure goes on upon our reformatory and industrial school system. The hon. Member for Wigton said the other night in the Debate on Friendly Societies that State aid, if granted, would signify 1725 State control. Well, Sir, we have an enormous amount of State aid in this matter of reformatory and industrial school ships, and we practically have the minimum of State control. I want more State control, so that the control may bear a better proportion to the aid. There are altogether in Great Britain 56 reformatories, including three ships, and the number of children detained there is 5,940. The Treasury grant amounts to £79,586; the County and Borough rates provide £23,999; there are subscriptions amounting to £4,092, and the parents are compelled to pay £5,037. The total expenditure is £118,724. 122 lads only are sent to sea out of 1,325 discharged during the year—that is to say, barely one-tenth of the whole go to sea. The industrial schools number 143, of which 10 are ships, 5 being tenders. The children under detention number 21,059. During the year 3,097 boys were discharged, and of these 440 go to sea. The Army takes 96 a year, and 160 are emigrated. The Treasury grant for industrial schools and ships amounts to £191,905; the County and Borough rates provide £40,157; the School Boards, £62,172; subscriptions,£35,299; and parents £15,521; the total expenditure being £361,817. Altogether nearly £500,000 of money yearly is spent on the rescue of children by means of our reformatory and industrial school system. It is time public opinion was brought to bear on that system. I have done my best to bring about an alteration by interviewing the officials of the Departments concerned, but can get no satisfaction from them. They all think that the system is perfect. Naval men do not agree with them. I have here some very valuable letters from naval men on the subject. Admiral Jones-Parry, who commanded the school-ship at Greenock for 17 years, writes—These vessels are neither efficient nor manned for safety or utility, and the Home Office Inspection is a myth. They do not care cither as to quantity or quality of the Staff.He adds—It really will be a public benefit and most useful to commanders of these ships if you will draw attention to this matter. They certainly cannot afford bands and tenders till they can get funds to obviate this very dangerous scandal…… The Inspector is a soldier, an ex-major of Dragoon Guards, with two civilians as his assistants,1726 I have another letter from an officer commanding another ship, who has nearly broken his heart over this work. He says he hardly knows how he has done it so long. He does not care who inspects as long as it is a seaman, and he would rather be inspected by a chief boatswain than by a landsman. He has no fault to find with the present Inspector, but he wants to be inspected by a seaman. He goes on to say—The spiritual and the nautical work fire ignored to a great extent, and as long as so many per cent. pass the Fifth Standard everything else—discipline, &c—may go to pot. All institutions that have to do with nautical training should have nautical Inspectors.He says also—I have to put up with so much that I sometimes blush to think that I should have allowed half, for the sake of our noble profession. But I am devoted to the work, and would bear a great deal.In another letter he says—The laws want amending and adapting to the times. The same code is enforced for children of 11 and 12 on shore as is employed on ships for young men of 18 and 19.I am one of those who do not desire the Admiralty to have a hold upon these ships, because I think if they were properly worked, they are an admirable nursery for supplying the waste of life in the Mercantile Marine. I find in a very admirable pamphlet by Rear-Admiral Parry, for many years in command of one of the training ships, the writer says—I find that during the six years 1874–79 the five industrial training ships discharged 2,864 boys, of whom 1,760 only went to sea.Then he goes on to say—In 1886 the discharges were 439 to sea, and to shore 362, or out of 800 a little more than half went to sea. The cost of each boy discharged from the Clio, he shows, was £132 10s.; for the Mount Edgcumbe, £171; for the Welkahy, £ 129 15s.; the Shaftesbury, £115; the Formidable, £122 15s.; the Southampton, £149 15s.; the Cumberland, £109 10s.; and the Mart (tender), £113—or an average of £122 per boy.I do not reckon what is expended on boys discharged to shore, because I hold that these ship schools are intended to train boys for the mercantile marine, to supply the waste of life, for it is sad to contemplate that from 4,000 to 5,000 persons are drowned every year. The system I desire to see inaugurated is shortly this:—First, the Magistrate should not send to these ship schools boys under 12 years of age. If under 1727 that age, they should be committed to the land schools; and any sailor who knows anything about the training of boys for sea will at once confirm me in that view. Many of the lads sent to the ships are starvelings, with no physique fitting for the sea. It is useless to send many of them, and to forward them to the ship schools is like sending them to their graves. Only those boys who are qualified for the sea should be sent for training. What I want from the Department is a promise that this matter will be really considered, with a view to seeing whether some remedy can be applied. A circular might be sent to the Magistrates suggesting that they should not commit boys to ship schools under the age of 12 years. Under that age it is a waste of time and money to train them. And if a circular were sent to the Committees of the land schools in the vicinity of the ship schools, I am certain they would encourage the transfer to the ship schools of boys fitted for the sea. There are boys of 15, 16, or 17 years shipped now as ordinary seamen who ought not to be permitted to assume that position. We had a case brought under the notice of the President of the Board of Trade the other day by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, of the illegal shipment of persons called able seamen at Cardiff. It is a gross scandal, and I hope the officers who were guilty will be prosecuted for their pains. If a circular were issued—I do not think legislation is required—the system I advocate would be an accomplished fact in a month. We ought to bear in mind that whatever tends to improve the Mercantile Marine must improve the Navy, as it is on the Mercantile Marine in time of war, that we must rely for the supply of the Navy with men. I now represent the unanimous opinion of all the officers who command these training ships. In another part of his pamphlet, Rear-Admiral Parry says, that if school ships are to remain as at present, there must be Naval Inspectors. That is what I have long advocated, and you could have it without extra charge. You are spending enough money now, but you are getting no result compared with your enormous expenditure. It is anomalous that these ship schools—13 in number, 10 industrial and three reformatory schools, excluding one in 1728 Ireland which is worst of all, and they are all inspected by a soldier, while there are plenty of sailors available who would do the work for a trifle, aye, for nothing, if you cannot afford to pay. But if the Home Office plead expense, I would point out that they have already an officer who is admirably qualified for the work, and was for some years in command of a training ship. Afterwards he became Post Captain, and took, up the work of reformation among boys commanding the reformatory ship at Liverpool for five years. You could not have a better man than Admiral Pen wick. Perhaps you will say that he cannot be spared. Try, you will not find it difficult. I make every apology for the Home Office in this matter, because it is overwhelmed with work. Still, that is not an argument why this absurd system should not be stamped under foot. I believe the Home Office would be perfectly willing to meet my views if they could bring their powerful minds to bear on the subject; but they are so immersed in work that they do not read the Reports of their own Inspectors, otherwise the present state of things would not be allowed to continue. For instance, there is the Havannah, at Cardiff, which ought to be immediately got rid of. Cardiff is a large port, and ought to have a big ship commanded by a naval officer and 300 boys on board, whereas she has only 92. The Inspector, in his Report for the year 1887, says, in regard to the Havannah, industrial school ship—The situation of the ship is undesirable and unwholesome, being damp and swampy. The medical officer has given the most unfavourable Report of its sanitary surroundings. As to industrial training the boys, it is stated, make most of their own clothing under the matron, and are taught clothes making.But these schools are established not to teach the boys to make clothes, but to make them sailors. Then it is said that they go out for housework in the neighbourhood and as errand boys; but they ought not to be employed in such work; they ought to be trained as sailors. In this year's Report it is said that there is a wholesale deposit of town refuse close to the vessel, and that neither site nor so-called training-ship is suitable for the work carried on. The Report further says—The industrial training amounts to very little, there is no progress from year to year,Then I gay shut it up. 1729Much more could be done," the Report goes on, "if proper use were made of the opportunity.Why is not proper use made of the opportunity? The number of boys in the vessel is, as I have stated, 92; the total cost is £1,447, or at the miserably low sum of £15 4s. per bead. The thing is a fraud and a scandal, a deceit and a snare. An officer of Dragoons went round and inspected the ship, but he does not know whether there was a sufficient staff on board or not. The Education Department have no difficulty in getting their system carried out; the Home Office would have none if they appointed a naval officer to inspect the ships. If nothing is done by the Home Office in consequence of my criticism I shall take a Division upon the Vote when it comes on, and I shall spare no trouble to expose this fraud all over the country. The friend who has given me information on the subject has been 17 years in command of vessels, and he says that the second officer is a schoolmaster, and that he ought to be a warrant officer or a retired officer. There was one ship, the Cornwall, at Purfleet, which has a lieutenant, a retired officer acting as second in command, and it is doing well. Only the year before last the Cumberland was burned down to the water's edge, to the great danger of life, having been set on fire by some of the boys. They confessed their guilt, and they would have been punished if a naval officer had been allowed a free hand. But they were handed over to a Civil Court, and the Sheriff summed up against them, but a Scotch jury brought in a verdict of "Not proven," and although I appealed to the Lord Advocate that the boys should not be discharged, but should be sent to some shore school, and at his request repeated that appeal to the Home Secretary, it was found that no Committee on a land school would receive the boys, and ultimately they were allowed to go scot free. Then there was the case of the Akbar, which occurred at Liverpool two years ago; a mutiny arose among the boys on board that ship. The learned Judge, according to the Report, said the boys got the upper hand for a time, that they committed robbery and went ashore, but he declined to punish them because the system on the Akbar was defective, the Staff of officers was defective and inadequate, 1730 and the management characterised by a want of firmness and determination which, if it had been exhibited at the right time, would easily have quelled the disturbance. That is my point. If this ship had been adequately inspected this scandal would have been avoided. I dare say that scarcely a Member of this House has taken the trouble to read this Report, or no one would attempt to justify the present system. I think I have suggested a proper remedy. We want that the training ships shall be considered as recruiting establishments for the Mercantile Marine. They should all be commanded by naval officers, as I believe they are with the one wretched exception of the Havannah at Cardiff; Naval Inspectors should be appointed; certain land schools should be affiliated to the ship schools; and representations should be made to the Magistrates to stop boys under 12 years of age being committed to the ship schools. If these reforms are effected I shall probably not have occasion to call the attention of the House to the subject again.
§ (9.33.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART WORTLEY,) Sheffield, Hallam
I think everyone sympathises with my hon. and gallant Friend in his trouble in getting an opportunity of discussing this question, and also with his desire to realise to the full the ideal possibilities of these reformatory and industrial ship schools in the way of recruiting the Navy and the Mercantile Marine. But in considering this question the House must remember that this class of schools is entirely founded and managed by private philanthropic enterprise and not conducted for the purpose of profit. Their only connection with the Home Secretary is that the right hon. Gentleman has to see to the enforcement of the conditions on which a certain rate of grant in aid is given by the overnment. The actual net result of the training given in these ships has, undoubtedly, been disappointing. There are 11 of these ship schools in England and Scotland, three of them being reformatories, and eight of them being industrial ships. Among these 11 the Havannah does not appear, as she is not regarded as a school ship. In the eye of the law she is an industrial school, registered under the Act of 1866 1731 It is true that of the children who passed through reformatory school ships in the last three years not more than 59 per cent. went to sea; and of those who passed through the industrial school ships not more than 56 per cent. went to sea. But then the children are sent to the ships by Magistrates, over whose decisions the Home Secretary has very little control except by discharging a child out and out. Supposing the Home Secretary wishes to have a child transferred from a land school to a ship school, he can not effect the transfer by the mere exercise of his executive power. The managers of the ship school must declare them salves willing to receive the boy; the managers of the land school must declare themselves willing to part with the boy; and the wishes of the parents must be consulted in cases where the parents are of good character. Therefore, we are unable to effect the transfer so readily as my hon. Friend wishes. The reason is not far to seek. Obviously, the boys best fitted for a school ship are robust boys; and as boys are received into industrial schools with a view to their labour in the later years of their training becoming profitable, and with a view to their later careers reflecting credit on the schools, it is clear that no land school would be willing to part with its more robust boys in exchange for the weaklings. The managers of reformatory and industrial schools are particularly averse—for which they cannot be blamed—to allowing children to be moved about from one school to another in the earlier stages of their detention. My hon. and gallant Friend has hinted at one measure which might be taken, and which is taken, as a matter of practice in a large number of the 11 ships now existing. This measure is that committals to the ships shall not take place before the age of 12 years. I will undertake to inquire if this rule cannot be laid down, and I do not think that legislation will be necessary to give it effect. I will also gladly undertake that the Inspectors shall be instructed to take every possible opportunity of promoting the transfer of fit boys from the land schools to the ship schools. But many persons' consent is required for these transfers, and if the boy himself is unwilling it is generally necessary to consult the parents of the boy if they are living and respectable. 1732 It is impossible for the Government to seek to bring about a better proportion between expenditure and results by lowering the grant as a measure of economy, because to do so would simply kill the schools altogether.
§ *ADMIRAL FIELD
I did not advocate the reduction of the grant for one moment. I only want to secure a supply of boys for our ships.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
The only alternative is to proceed to a system of compulsory transfers, to which course there are obvious difficulties. With regard to the small proportion of boys taken into the Navy from these school ships, I may point out that the Admiralty refuse to take the boys from the reformatory ships, because they have been convicted of some actual offence. That, no doubt, is a proper decision, for they ought not to allow boys of this class to associate with other boys. As regards industrial school boys, the Admiralty requires them to satisfy high physical standards; but I am bound to admit, as regards the industrial school boys, that the physical standard of many of them is not so high as might be desired, and I agree with my hon. and gallant Friend in wishing that the total number of boys who enter the Navy and the Mercantile Marine, from the whole of the schools referred to, were greater than at present, namely, 56 per cent. But there are several difficulties in this, not the least of which is often the wish of the parents at the close of the period of the boy's detention, which may occur as early as 14 years of age, and cannot go beyond 16. It is impossible to deny to respectable parents who still have the right to exercise parental control, a voice in the ultimate disposal of their children's future, and in many such cases their wish is that their children shall not go to sea. It is to be borne in mind, too, that the boys are just at the age, having received a number of years' training and education, to be of use and profit to their parents at home. I admit that the result of the naval training in such schools is not so satisfactory or ample as my hon. and gallant Friend desires. As to the inspection and management of the ship schools, it should be remembered that these particular schools contained only 3,000 children out of about 23,000 in all the industrial and reformatory schools 1733 and for that small proportion it can hardly be expected that there should be a separate Inspector appointed solely for the school ships; but I am bound to say that I think there is great justice in the remark of my hon. and gallant Friend that in appointing Inspectors in future special regard should be had to the fact that the training in these ships is to a very great extent to fit boys for the Navy and the Mercantile Marine. It ought, however, to be borne in mind, at the same time, that every one of these ships is under the command of a retired naval officer, and also that each of the ships being situated in some port of importance, it follows that the committee who manage them is composed mainly of persons who are acquainted with the needs of the Mercantile Marine. I submit, too, that if a naval man were appointed as Inspector, it would be necessary to appoint an officer of high rank to supervise the work of the commanding officers of the school ships, and I doubt even then whether we should be able to get very much better securities than we have already that these establishments shall satisfy the requirements naturally expected by those who wish to see a good result from them in the way of training boys for the Navy or Mercantile Service. It must be remembered, moreover, that training for the Marine Service is net the only object of the schools. Carpentering, tailoring, shoemaking, and other trades are taught in them, and if my hon. and gallant Friend's contention were to be fully carried out, it would become necessary to have a distinct Inspector for each of all those occupations.
§ *ADMIRAL FIELD
I did not suggest that another naval man should be appointed. I asked that the Home Office should use one of their own officers—Admiral Fenwick.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY
And that Admiral is now doing admirable work as an Inspector of Prisons, and it would be very hard to take him away from that duty. However, I have made certain promises to my hon. and gallant Friend, beyond which I cannot go, and I hope he will be satisfied with them, and that in asking us to improve these school-ships, as we shall always seek to do, he will not ask that we should lay them under conditions which might improve them off the face of the earth.