HC Deb 13 June 1893 vol 13 cc902-3
MR. J. ROWLANDS) (Finsbury, E.

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether his attention has been called to a letter in The Times of the 12th June, by the Chairman of the London School Board; and, if so, whether it is his intention to take any steps to secure that the provision for free education in Pimlico shall be such as the parents who signed the Memorial desire?


I beg, at the same time, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that, on 10th May last, the Chairman of the Accommodation Committee of the London School Board addressed the Education Department fully regarding free education in Pimlico, in answer to the reference from that Department of 11th March last; whether he is aware that the Department acknowledged the above address from the Board on the 15th May; and what, if the above facts be verified, is the ground of the statement that the Board had failed to supply the information asked for?


My attention has been called to the letter mentioned. I regret that my answer given on the 8th was not more full. I ought to have said that the School Accommodation and Attendance Committee of the London School Board did, on the 10th May, send to the Department the statistical information and map asked for in paragraphs one and two of the Department's letter of the 11th March. This information, I assume, was readily available to the Board, and might, had the Board so pleased, have been supplied immediately. It showed a considerable apparent deficiency of free school places in the district. In acknowledging this letter on the 15th May, the Department pointed out that the matter still remained to be investigated, and urged the Board to give it immediate attention. But the really important part of the Department's letter of the 11th March was the third paragraph, which asked for the Board's observations on the representation. No observations of any kind have yet been received from the Board on the representation, nor have they intimated to the Department that any free places are in course of provision, or that the demands of the Memorialists have been inquired into. The Board thus occupied two months in obtaining and sending in a mere formal Return and a map. As regards the five weeks' Easter Recess mentioned in the letter, it is not contemplated by the Education Acts, and the Department can take no cognisance of it as a reason for delay. The procedure of the Board up to the present time contrasts unfavourably with the more prompt action taken by other School Boards to whom similar letters have been addressed. As an instance, I may mention the Liverpool School Board, who having, on the 13th November, received a letter similar in its terms to that sent to the London Board on the 11th March, replied on the 3rd December, not only supplying full statistical information, but also dealing carefully with the whole situation. I can hardly suppose that the delay of three months caused mainly by the inaction of the School Board is in accordance with the wishes of the parents who have claimed free plain's for their children. I have directed the Senior Chief Inspector of the Department to inquire as speedily as possible into the whole matter.