HC Deb 10 February 1893 vol 8 c1047

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether there are any grounds for apprehending that numbers of children throughout the country are compelled by law to attend public schools and receive instruction during many hours of the day, while in a state of starvation or excessive hunger due to the poverty of their parents; and, if so, whether he will direct an immediate and thorough inquiry into the matter?


There is no doubt that a certain number of children, if all the schools of the country are taken into consideration, attend school without a sufficient amount of food to enable them to receive instruction with full benefit to themselves. The provision of free meals by voluntary effort to meet such cases is a matter always requiring much care and watchfulness. I feel sure, from inquiries I have made, that in many schools, managers and teachers (who alone know all the circumstances of the cases) do much, by the aid of voluntary contributions, to meet the difficulty with great tact and judgment. I will, however, communicate with some of our largest School Boards in order to ascertain their views on the subject, and the extent to which, in their opinion, such destitution as that alluded to in the question prevails.