§ [ADJOURNED DEBATE.]
* ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
, whose speech on the preceding night had been interrupted by the Twelve o'clock Rule, said, that he was very sorry to be obliged to intrude this question on the notice of the House, having brought it forward three years ago. But he was impelled in the matter by a strong sense of duty, and he hoped that hon. Members would not accuse him of wasting the time of the House if he could succeed in inducing the Home Office to meet his reasonable demands so far as those ships which were under their jurisdiction were concerned. He felt that his demands were not unreasonable, and he must press them upon the attention of the authorities until he got some satisfaction of the grievances which existed, and which, he held, had an important bearing upon the interests of the country, and especially the Mercantile Marine. The question which he now raised directly concerned the welfare of 1749 some 4,000 boys. He reminded the House that the industrial and reformatory system of the country had now assumed huge dimensions. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer when Home Secretary some years ago had promised various reforms in that system, but, so far, nothing had been done. Bills to deal with the subject had been sent down to the House from the Lords, but no action had been taken upon them owing to pressure of business in that House. Worse than that, reforms which might be carried into effect without the need of legislation were not carried into effect. The Chancellor of the Exchequer when Home Secretary certainly did one very good thing. He took steps to prevent boys being committed to prison. In that he had the warm sympathy of every reformer, and of all who took an interest in the humane administration of the law and in the suppression of crime. In referring to this subject, he might say that it was difficult for him, in dealing with this question, to confine himself solely to the reformatory and the industrial school ships, they were so mixed up with the reformatory and industrial school system as a whole, and the Report of the Inspector did not separate the expenditure upon the ships from the general expenditure. Still, he wanted, as far as he could, to deal with this question from a nautical point of view. The reformatory ships were three in number, and 1be industrial school ships nine in number. What he wished particularly to impress on the House was indicated in the terms of the Motion of which he had given notice, but which he was not able to move, namely—That in any measure dealing with reformatory and industrial schools provision should be made for the interchange of boys between school ships and land schools, so that lads deemed unsuited for a sea life should be discharged to land schools and vice versâ and that all training ships under the Reformatory and Industrial Schools Act should be inspected by competent seamen Inspectors.He thought that the proposals in this Resolution wore obviously reasonable, and he hoped that the Under Secretary for the Home Department would accept them. The waste of life in the Mercantile Marine was enormous. There had been numerous cases of shipwreck which had tended to emphasise the unsatisfactory way in which our ships were 1750 manned, and the decay of that great Imperial Reserve Force—the seamen of the Mercantile Marine. The places of these seamen were being largely taken up by foreign seamen. He supposed that in the fierce competition of the shipping trade the shipowners did their best to run the ships at the least possible expense, and foreign seamen cost less money. But, still, they had no less than 15,000 sailing vessels between the United Kingdom and the Colonies, and nearly 7,000 steam vessels. These vessels were manned "nohow." He did not for a moment contend that it was the duty of the State to start training schools to supply the waste in the Mercantile Marine, but he thought that it was their duty to encourage those who were prepared to start such schools. It was with this view before him that he urged that the State should carry out a proper system of inspection of training ships just as was done with the National schools under the Education Department. The National schools were admirably inspected, but the system of inspection of school-ships was very defective and faulty. He did not, in saying this, wish to cast any reflection on the present staff. But they were under-manned. It was stated again and again in the Reports that the staff was inadequate for the work. There were no less than 52 reformatories (including the ships) in Great Britain, and seven in Ireland. There "were no less than 141 industrial schools (including the ships) in Great Britain, and 70 in Ireland. The total was 270. Of course, for the purposes of his argument as to inspection, he must eliminate the Irish reformatory and industrial schools, for they were under separate inspection. He might, however, in passing, say that he thought that it would be some information to the House to learn that these Schools were, till recently, inspected by the doctor of the Prisons Board, who, doubtless, would be well able to look after the health of the children, but could not be regarded as all that could be desired as an Inspector of Schools. Resuming his general argument, he pointed out that the number of children in the reformatory and industrial schools of Great Britain was 24,500, and in Ireland 9,500. In making the criticisms which he felt it his duty to make, he cast no reflection on those engaged in the work of these schools. They were doing splendid 1751 work—angels' work. They should be spoken of with the highest respect. If any hon. Members imagined that in raising this question he was going to find fault with institutions in which they took an interest they greatly misunderstood him. His sole object was to further their good work. He had already alluded to the subject of reform in the way of preventing children being sent to prison. There was still much to be done in this respect. He wished there could be some short measure introduced to put an end to the system. At present no boy could be committed to a reformatory unless he had first been sent to prison. With industrial schools it was not so. This was a change that they must strongly press forward. But there was the interest of the Mercantile Marine to which he had already referred. The late President of the Board of Trade (Sir M. Hicks-Beach) had once remarked that any person who could point out how the Mercantile Marine could be efficiently supplied with seamen would be a public benefactor. But he thought that something might be done in that direction by the reformatory and industrial schools. Since the repeal of the Navigation Laws and the abolition of the system of apprenticeship, the country had drifted and drifted. They could no longer look to the Mercantile Marine as the great reserve in time of war as they could 40 or 50 years ago. They still drew their reserves from the Mercantile Marine; but the present state of affairs was such that they could only do this at the cost of great injury to the Mercantile Marine. He submitted that the reformatory and industrial school ships were not worked in the way that they should be to give the best results so far as the interests of the Mercantile Marine were concerned. He held strongly that boys should not be committed to a ship till they had reached 14 years of age. They ought to be sent to a land school. As it was, boys were committed to a ship when they were under 12 years of age, and were unfit to be sent aloft. No fewer than 1,138 boys under 12 years had been committed to these ships, and 4,025 over 12 years had been committed in five years. Now, how was that to be stopped? He complained of this state of affairs three years ago to the then Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Stuart-Wortley). 1752 He knew the hon. Gentleman had endeavoured to meet his views, but he had had considerable difficulty, he believed, with the Committees, and had probably had more difficulty in sending a Circular to those Magisterial Benches who were in the habit of committing boys to ships. The Magistrates were not the persons to send a boy to a ship, for they could not be judges whether the lad was likely to be a good sailor or not. They did not possess the nautical instinct. Some of these boys, half-starved — and more sinned against than sinning—were sent on a ship when they were quite unfit to go aloft. They ought to be committed to a land school, and the ships ought to be allowed to recruit from the land schools. There would be no difficulty about that. A certain area should be marked out near where a ship was located, and she ought to draw her boys from the land schools within that area. He did not want to go into details, but it was easy to understand that there were land schools in certain counties contiguous to the ships. The committees of these schools should be called upon by the Home Office to allow the ships to draw boys from their schools, and they should encourage the sending of boys who were unfitted for sea life to the land schools. What was needed was to pick out the best boys to make sailors. It was no good sending to the ships lads physically unfit for the hardship of sea life. They were only fit for food for sharks; they would never make sailors. When sent aloft many of them fell overboard and were drowned. But if the ships were to recruit from the land schools there would be hundreds of volunteers, and then the ships would have no difficulty in filling up the vacancies. Indeed, the ships would then be always full. He found that in the reformatory ships there were 3,334 boys against 3,800 places. Were these ships to be kept filled up it would be more economical to work them with the same staff'. It costs less per head when the ships were full than it did when they were incomplete. So on the score of economy he would urge on the Home Secretary to take the step he desired. He well knew, however, of the difficulties to be encountered in carrying out this proposal. He knew the land schools would not like their best lads to be taken away from them. But if it were pointed 1753 out to them, on behalf of the Home Office, what was required, he thought they would see their duty clearly in this matter. People were not aware of the amount of money expended on these institutions by the Treasury. He had taken the trouble to work the thing out. He found that in a year no less a sum than £373,000 was paid by the Treasury to reformatories and industrial schools, of which 12 were ships. More was paid for boys on ships than for those at laud schools. Six shillings per head was paid a week for boys on ships. Therefore, on the score of economy alone, it would pay the Government to recruit the boys from the laud schools at 14 years of age, and to keep them on the ship for a couple of years. Taking all the circumstances into consideration he would ask, Was his request an unreasonable one? He had in his possession some correspondence from Captains of these ships, some of whom were heart-broken at the difficulties they met with in carrying out their duties. They had urged him to press this matter so that some reform might be obtained. One Captain wrote to him saying that the vessels were not efficiently manned for safety or utility, and that the Home Office did not care as to the quantity or quality of the staff. There was no system for regulating the staff according to the number of boys in the ship. The number of the staff seemed to depend upon the influence of the Captain with the committee. The same correspondent went on to speak of the want of appliances for putting out fire on board ship. The present Inspector (Colonel Inglis) was an excellent officer, but he knew nothing about the requirements necessary on board ship for putting out fire. A Naval Inspector would see at a glance of the eyes what were the necessary requirements. Of recent years there had been some very serious fires on board these reformatory ships. It was grotesque that a ship should be inspected by an ex-officer of Dragoons. They might as well appoint a sailor to inspect the Life Guards. What was required was that naval officers should be appointed to inspect with regard to nautical matters. His point was, that if they adopted his plan they could got the work done for practically nothing. Naval men wore not persons who were always looking about for a lot of pay. 1754 Around the coast there were district Coastguard ships commanded by officers with skeleton crews. If application were made to the Admiralty, he believed permission would be granted that an officer on board these Coastguard ships should inspect the reformatory industrial ships in their vicinity. There would be no difficulty about this, but he had as yet been unable to get it done. He did not know whether it was because the Department were unwilling to accept suggestions from a friendly quarter or whether it was because Colonel Inglis and his staff wore against having any naval officer within their doors. He did know this: that naval officers were most friendly and cordial people to work with. Naval officers would adapt themselves to any position of things, and they were not always standing upon their rank and station. Personally, he believed it would be better to have an officer set apart to do the work, but it could be done as he had suggested. He did not care who did it so long as it was done. Of course, if the Department wished to have a man entirely under their control to go travelling about inspecting ships he would not complain. He had received various other letters on the subject. One officer wrote—I would sooner be inspected by a chief bo'swain's mate than by the present system.Of course, Colonel Inglis was a gentleman, and he was received on board ship as one. He was always very nice and pleasant. But it was not always Colonel Inglis who went on board the vessels. Civilians often went on board. One captain wrote—Sometimes we have a civilian come on board. He does not know the difference between a post-captain and an Esquimaux. and he treats us accordingly.Attached to every ship there ought to be a playfield on shore. In connection with that they had an illustration in the industrial school at South Shields, where they had an admirable playground. Boys wanted driving from one occupation to another. If one did not keep them always moving, somebody else would get them, and they could not be turned into good men. He held, and all the naval men who commanded these ships held, that there ought to be somebody as second in command superior to the seaman petty officer. In some ships they had such an officer. 1755 There ought also to be some uniformity as to the staff of officers, whose duty it was to instruct the boys. He had with him a Return by which he found that in one ship having accommodation for 250 boys, the staff consisted of 15 only. Another ship, having accommodation for 200 boys, had a staff of 13. That was a very wrong arrangement, and one with which he said the Home Office ought to deal. He quoted from a Return of 1890, and it must be that since 1890 the state of things had been improved in that respect. The Clarence, a reformatory ship, with accommodation for 300 boys, had only a staff of 11. Another ship, the Clyde, with 265 boys, had a staff of 20. The next, with 200 boys, had only a staff of 12; and another, with 219 boys, had a staff of 14 only. Then there was another ship with 400 boys, which it appeared had a staff' of only 17. The Formidable had 340 boys, and a staff of only 18; and the Southampton, with 237 boys, had a staff of only 14. A Naval Inspector going round would see these points, and would press them upon the Committee and upon the Under Secretary, and then a letter threatening them with the withdrawal of the grant would have a very salutary effect he had no doubt. In some cases the Local Authorities took much interest in these ships, and in some they paid fairly well. But he had a case in Scotland which fell very much below the rest. He was sorry for his Scotch friends. There was a statement on the matter in The Times a year or two ago, and there had been no change, because the Inspector in his Report made the same statement. The Times said—In England, it appeared that the Local Authorities generally pay fairly and regularly for the children sent from their districts. But in Scotland the Local Authorities contribute nothing in many cases, with the result that they have no interest in watching the committals to see that none but proper cases are sent to the schools of detention, and that the schools themselves, being often filled with improper cases, are so over-burdened that their managers find it difficult to carry on the work efficiently. The figures given in illustration of this point are very remarkable, in England the total amount of the Treasury Grant for industrial schools in 1889 was £127,082, the Local Authorities contributed £91,000,: the Parochial Authorities £3,499, while £24,132 was received from subscriptions. In Glasgow the Treasury Grant amounted to £19,552: the Local Authorities contributed £6,341—Glasgow having a special Act in force enabling rates to be levied in support of 1756 such institutions—the Parochial Authorities contributed nothing, and private subscriptions amounted only to £552. In Aberdeen the Treasury Grant amounted to £4,969: the Local Authorities contributed only £928, the Parochial Authorities nothing, and private subscriptions amounted to only £479. In the rest of Scotland the Treasury Grant was £31,325: the Local Authorities contributed only £1,003, the Parochial Authorities nothing, while private subscriptions amounted to the comparatively respectable sum of £8,229. These figures speak for themselves. They show that in Scotland the Local Authorities do not adequately recognise their responsibilities for the maintenance of the schools of detention, and we cordially agree with Mr. Inglis when he says 'Such a state of things should not be allowed to continue. The law should lay down a fixed, compulsory minimum sum to be paid by the Local Authorities for each child committed, and they should not be permitted to make any arrangement with managers of schools to take children from their districts for any less sum. In my opinion, the fairest rule would be for the Treasury to contribute to no school where the local contributions do not equal the Treasury Grant.'Those were points worthy the attention of the Home Secretary. These terms had been made to affect all the schools; but they applied with considerable force to all the ships. He wanted to emphasise his point that these schools should be inspected by Naval Inspectors; and in order to show the absurdity of the present system, he was obliged to refer to the Inspectors' Reports upon some of the ships. A captain wrote to him to say that if the Inspectors came on board they paid particular attention to the examination of the boys in their educational standards. A landsman reported of industrial schools—They are good models of instruction; the boys are taught the use of the lead, and to steer.Of course—The rule of the road, the use of the rocket signal, and to distinguish the lights on the British coast.They could not distinguish lights unless they went to the coast to see them.The quadrille is taught them; there are good bands. I saw the boys drill aloft, lower the yard, lower the fore-topmast, and lower the jibboom.They did not lower the jibboom; they hauled it in. The Report went on to say—The boys are trained in all that a sailor ought to knew in the early stage; the training is suitable and sufficient.That must be taken on trust—There is a class for tailoring; the boys make their own clothes.1757 Of course they did. Coming to the Report on the Clarence, he found that that said that the boys did their work before the Inspector, and that the nautical teaching was of a superior kind, especially with regard to the teaching of sailing and steering. And then there was a cumbersome sentence which sailors would laugh at. The Report on the industrial training of the Clio said that the boys received careful nautical instruction, and that the naval teaching was a success, the boys going aloft in the spring and summer. We should think they went aloft in the autumn as well. This was nonsense. He would pass that by and come to the Report on the Cornwall. There was there a great deal about education. Who read these Reports? Had hon. Members read them in that House? They formed a very bulky Blue Book; but if hon. Members had read it, they should call attention to this defect, and then ask the Homo Secretary to remedy it. Unless they did so, they would have failed in their duty. The Report said that at present no extra subjects were taught, and that boys discharged from a ship ought to have some knowledge of geography and navigation. That showed another necessity for a Naval Inspector. As to industrial training, the Report went on to say that there were 30 boys employed in the tailor's shop, 10 boys in the shoemaker's shop; that there were models for instruction, and that the usual nautical drills and exercises took place. The poor man who made the Report knew nothing about his subject, for he said nothing about sailing. Coming to the next ship, the Wellesley, the Report said that there were 24 tailors and a good band of performers. To read these Reports one would think that the object was to give us tailors, shoemakers, and bands; nothing was said in them about the result of the nautical training, about which something more was wanted. The Report then said that musical drill was taught. They did not want that. Then it mentioned that there were boats in which the boys learnt to row. It must be taken for granted that there were boats for that purpose on all these ships. Next, he would take the Shaftesbury, which was an admirable ship and an excellent worker. The Inspector said that the boys there received careful and regular instruction in the 1758 elements of nautical knowledge, that he saw the boys under competent seamanship instruction, that the requisite appliances for teaching seamanship were provided, and that the boys went aloft. That was the first word said in these Reports as to the boys going aloft and being exercised in that branch of their work. The Inspector proceeded to say that he examined the boys in cutlass drill; that there were 24 tailors and 22 shoemakers, 16 carpenters, and that gas was manufactured on board. That was a good ship. Now he came to the case of the poor Havannah! He found that she was not intended as an industrial ship. It was, in his opinion, to be regretted the Admiralty had not given her to be a ship school instead of a shore school. Nothing could be worse as a school than a ship, unless it were to be employed for teaching sailing. It was far better to have boys on shore. With regard to the next ship, it was stated that the boys went through their course of nautical instruction, and were made familiar with all branches of the Service, and that the port watch went through their exercise intelligently. The inference was that the starboard watch did not, because nothing was said about it. There were two watches—the port watch and the starboard watch—but the Inspector spoke of only one. He (Admiral Field) wanted to know what became of the starboard watch? The Inspector said that there was a competent staff of naval instructors, and that 30 boys were employed in tailoring. There was always something about tailoring. It also mentioned that six boys were employed as shoemakers, and that there was an effective band. The band was always coming in. Good performing boys' bauds were not necessary to learn boys sailing. Then they were told that 13 entered the Naval Reserve and 64 went to sea. They ought all to go to sea. Unless he could drive that into his hon. Friends opposite nothing would be done. With regard to the training ship Southampton, at Hull, they were told that every boy was taught to make his own clothes; that there were tailors, shoemakers, and that the Inspector saw the port watch at musical drill. But these ships did not exist to turn out tailors and shoemakers; sailors were what they wanted from them. The use of the rocket apparatus was taught; that was good so far as it went. As to the Cumberland 1759 industrial training ship, they were told that the boys were taught to make their own clothes. That went without saying, for wherever a ship was commanded by a naval officer, the boys were taught these things. It was then added that there were eight tailors; that the boys were taught the use of the cutlass, the rule of the road, to cut and splice a rope, and the use of the lead line. That was the first time lead line was mentioned. Of the next ship, they were told that there were 20 boys in the tailo'rs shop, four in the carpenter's shop, and a band. There was always a stress on the band. It was then said that the boys were taught the use of the cutlass, the rocket apparatus, and the rule of the road and knotting and splicing. He thought he had said enough to show his point. If they had a Naval Inspector they would have something more in the way of the Reports, and data would he forthcoming which would give them some idea of the nautical work which was carried on. He had failed to point out one great point he wished to emphasise—that was, the number of boys that came to us from these ships. By his Return, in five years out of the whole number of boys discharged from the reformatory ship—namely, 950— only 577 went to sea. Out of 5,204 boys discharged from the 12 ships, only 2,797 went to sea at all; that was to say, a little over 50 per cent. The point he wanted to press upon the Under Secretary was this: that every one of these boys in these ships under a proper system ought to go to sea—every one of the 5,000 in five years. If the ships were filled up with their full complement, only 3,800, by entering boys from the land schools at 14 years of age, and keeping them for two years, they would be able to turn out more boys by nearly half than was done now. Two thousand boys a year ought to be turned out if they were kept two years. That would not only be the best, but the most economical method of conducting these ships. He omitted to mention that the number of merchant seamen had fallen the last 15 years no less than 20,000—that was to say, there were 20,000 bonâ fide fewer British seamen than there were 15 years ago. That was a vital matter. Everything in this country depended on our sea power, and everything which would help us to improve the morale of 1760 the Mercantile Service by sending good lads into these ships—as might be done with a little trouble—would confer an inestimable blessing on the whole body of men in this country. This ought to be a matter worthy the attention of the Under Secretary and other politicians, to see that these ships, from which so much good might emanate under a proper system—to see that that proper system should be brought to bear upon them with the least possible delay. He had shown the enormous cost we paid for these ships, and that they cost 6s. per head for boys, and that only half the boys came to us at all. How long was this system to go on? Taking the money point of view—which was the lowest from which the question could be regarded —we did not get a return for our money; and if the boys did not come to us at all, they had far better be educated on shore, because, amongst other reasons, it was more difficult to detect offences committed by boys on a ship. The only excuse for having ships was to manufacture British seamen and to keep them to it. There was no difficulty about absorbing all the sailors the ships were capable of turning out; and he earnestly begged the Under Secretary to turn his mind to this question and see if he could not get some good out of this expenditure. He urged the sending of circulars to Magistrates who-were in the habit of committing these boys to these ships, urging them not to send boys of tender age, or at any rate under 13, though he maintained the age should be 14. Boys under those ages should be sent to the land schools. A circular should also be sent to the managers of the land schools urging them to work only in the best interests of the country and of the boys themselves. They all knew that at one time or another almost every boy longed to go to sea, either as a result of reading books or seeing ships, and it would be well for them to take advantage of that desire. But they must have strong and healthy lads who were physically fit for sea-life, and able to bear the hardships they would have to encounter. He felt sure that if the Home Secretary would only give his attention to this subject it would be a great blessing, and would throw new heart and life into the captains of these ships. But they must have a naval officer to inspect these vessels. The present 1761 system was a grotesque absurdity. A soldier could not inspect these ships to the satisfaction of anyone; find as regarded Colonel Inglis, the work put upon him was more than he could properly carry out.
said, he might have; but the assistants were not proper men to inspect these vessels, and Colonel Inglis, though he might be a good man, was not a suitable man to inspect ships, that took up the subject of nautical training, such as it was, for the money paid. The change would cost them nothing, for all they had to do was to make application to the Admiralty, who would, no doubt, grant one of their officers. Or the captain of the district Coastguard station might be called upon to inspect these ships, or to send an officer to inspect them for him. He apologised for the lengthy statements he had made to the House; but it was a very important matter, and he felt that he was only doing his duty in calling attention to it. He hoped The Under Secretary for the Home Department would give him some favourable reply which would carry consolation to the captains in the discharge of their onerous duties—men who loved their work, but wanted encouragement, and who asked to be inspected by someone competent to judge. He hoped that some good would come of it in spite of the objections of the Department, or he should be obliged to make himself very nasty and troublesome when the Vote came on again. He did not wish to do that; but unless he got a satisfactory reply, he should certainly move the reduction of the Vote, and raise another discussion on the subject. He only wanted good to be done, and he hoped the House would pardon him for having taken up so much of their time.
§ *MR. LENG (Dundee)
said, as he had for many years taken a personal interest in the management of one of the industrial training ships to which the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Admiral Field) had referred, he might interpose for a few moments between him and the Under Secretary of State (Mr. H. Gladstone.) The hon. and gallant 1762 Gentleman dealt chiefly with the nautical aspect of this question; but there was the point of view of the managers, subscribers, and the public at large. He cordially agreed with the hon. and gallant Gentleman in his contention that the Inspectors of those ships ought to be nautical men. The fact was, that they had too many retired half-pay officers of the Army intruded into many classes of work for which they were not especially fitted. There was a remarkable instance of that in the appointments a year or two ago of Inspectors of Cattle by the Board of Agriculture. For some reason unknown to the rest of the world it was supposed that to be a captain or a major of a regiment was a special qualification for dealing with the inspection of cattle. In default, however, of nautical Inspectors, there had been really no lack of nautical interest in the management of those ships. On the committee of the vessel in which he was more deeply interested they had had two excellent and distinguished naval officers who took the strongest personal interest in it, and spent much of their time on board the Mars training ship, and did as much as could be possibly done by any Admiralty Inspector to keep everything shipshape, and to give the youths on board the best possible preparation for becoming well-equipped seamen. Then the local managers of those ships were generally shipowners, shipbuilders, and retired shipmasters, who made a personal hobby of the management. It was also to be remembered that the captains of the ships were not landsmen, but officers who had served in the Navy—some of them with distinction—in all parts of the world. The gallant Admiral was, perhaps, not aware that a couple of years ago a number of those gentlemen came up to the then Under Secretary of State, and remonstrated against his proposal that the age should be raised to 14, and they satisfied the Under Secretary that it would be unwise to alter to the extent proposed the age at which boys were admitted. It was quite clear that much was done to prepare the boys for sea service. The Inspector's last published Report said—There is a brig of 140 tons in which the boys cruise and are instructed in practical seamanship. The boys are taught all the usual nautical exercises and drills, such as the use 1763 of the lead-line, compass, and rocket apparatus, steering, the rule of the road, knotting and splicing, and carbine and battalion drill.The hon. and gallant Gentleman had led the House to suppose that he would demonstrate that the management of those ships was both extravagant and wasteful. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman thought he had done so, but he (Mr. Leng), for one, doubted it, The whole aim and drift of the gallant Member's remarks had been to the effect that those ships ought to be placed much more than they were at present under Admiralty control, and conducted on the same system as the training ships for boys for the Navy. It was to be remarked that he had not given the House one word as to the expense of that system compared with the system under which the boys were trained at present. He had endeavoured, by studying the Naval Estimates, to discover what was the cost of the Naval training ships, and he had seen enough to satisfy him that the cost, head for head, was much greater than in the industrial training ships. The gallant Admiral had said that the Local Authorities were not contributing so much as they should. He overlooked that that was compensated for by the very liberal and generous subscriptions from the public, and it would be most unwise to do anything to alienate public sympathy. If they made those ships mere Naval and Admiralty drill ships, they would divorce from them that public interest which it was so desirable to maintain.
I never for one moment suggested that. I should utterly oppose putting them under the Admiralty. I only asked for a Naval officer to inspect.
§ *MR. LENG
said, he was very glad to hear it, and he cordially agreed that the inspection of those ships should be placed as soon as possible under a qualified Naval officer, although it was quite unnecessary to add greatly to the expense of the country with regard to it. There were different points of view with respect to the question of age. One of the main objects of our industrial and reformatory system was to take boys from the streets, where they were apt to drift into crime, and to prevent them from being sent to prison. Statistics showed that there had been during the last 20 or 25 years a most remarkable increase in the 1764 number of boys and girls now sent to those industrial and reformatory schools who would formerly have been in prison. As to the expense to which the gallant Admiral referred, that expense simply came in place of a much larger prison expenditure which would have to be made. The gallant Admiral knew the rule, "Learn young, learn fair." Several of the captains of those vessels believed they could scarcely get hold of the boys too soon, and statistics showed that the results of beginning to educate boys at 11 years of age were quite as good as from educating them at 12. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that no one should be admitted under 14; but if that rule were enforced many boys would have to be sent to the laud schools. No alteration was required to provide for an interchange of boys. The Committee of the Southampton, the industrial training ship at Hull, said—We have always had, and now possess, every facility for the mutual interchange of boys between our certified industrial school ship Southampton and the land schools, of which we have availed ourselves whenever the circumstances arose necessitating the same. No difficulties whatever have ever been raised to this by the Home Office; but, on the contrary, we have received every facility in accomplishing the same, and no alteration is required or needed in the existing Home Office Regulations on the subject. It is impossible to ascertain precisely which boys are best fitted for sea life until about the expiration of their terms on board, and it is found that the physique of the boys, consequent upon the discipline and training of the ship, are much better than the land schools.To that extent the proposals of the hon. and gallant Member were unnecessary.
§ MR. LENG
said, he had no doubt other ships would have the same experience if they adopted the same system. The Reports of the different training ships showed most excellent results. In 1888, 1889, and 1890, of 399 boys discharged from the Mars 356 turned out well. It was true that only some 60 to 70 per cent. of them went into the Navy or into the Mercantile Marine; but the others became good, industrious landsmen. Scores of lads in all parts of the world had shown themselves full of gratitude to those in command of the ship. The hon. and gallant Gentleman wished that these ships should be used more for supplying boys for the Navy.
§ MR. LENG
So far from receiving any encouragement to draft these boys into the Navy, every discouragement had hitherto been placed in the way of doing so; and, in fact, so many objections had been raised, that it had been found perfectly useless to attempt to put them into the Royal Navy. As to the question of expenditure on the Dundee, Hull, Bristol, and Clyde ships, the cost of these boys was only £20 per head, and that cost had been exceeded in several instances by the land institutions. As to the question of age, that was a very disputable matter, and he trusted the Under Secretary of State would not commit himself to going anything like the length which the hon. and gallant Gentleman proposed of preventing boys entering these ships before they were 14 years of age.
In the Navy you do not take boys until they are over 14½— in fact, I believe the ago is now raised to 15 in our training ships.
§ *MR. LENG
said, as to the interchange of boys between the land schools and the school ships, there was nothing to prevent that being done already, and he thought that on this point there was much to be said in favour of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's proposal. As to having competent seamen for Inspectors, he was at one with the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He did hope that full credit would be given to the managers of these institutions, most of whom were moved by philanthropic motives to act as they had done, and who had conducted these institutions hitherto with the greatest success.
§ *SIR E. HILL (Bristol, S.)
said, his hon. and gallant Friend had stated that the loss of life in the Marine Service was enormous. No doubt shipwrecks did take place with loss of life in the Mercantile Marine, as they also took place in the Navy. Such occurrences were very deplorable; but, so far as the Merchant Service was concerned, the loss of life was a diminishing quantity. That result was being brought about by the transference of the carrying trade from sail to steam, the latter being a 1766 much safer mode of conveyance than the former. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had also said that shipowners took foreign sailors in preference to British seamen because they were cheaper. He was aware that that was not the fact. Foreign sailors were paid exactly the same amount as British sailors. Although foreigners were very good men, sober, industrious, and hard-working, still, if there was a large supply of British sailors and the British shipowner had the opportunity of doing so, he would, no doubt, give the preference to his own countrymen. The question of industrial schools was one in which he had taken a great interest for many years. He had in his own constituency the Formidable, which was commanded by a post-captain of the Navy, a most admirable man, who took no common interest in the vessel. He had for many years been on the Committee of the much-abused Havannah School at Cardiff. His hon. and gallant Friend had rather mixed up the question of industrial ships with that of vessels whose sole object was to train sailors for the Royal or Mercantile Marine. The origin both of the Formidable and the Havannah was this—Some philanthropic individuals thought it would be extremely desirable to have an industrial school where waifs and strays could be placed, and they borrowed from the Admiralty these two vessels, which they fitted up by public subscription for the purpose for which they were required. The public subscribed to these vessels, which also received a grant, and between the subscriptions and the grant they were maintained. The cost of their maintenance, he ventured to think, was very small. He believed in the Formidable, which was a training-ship where boys who went to sea were instructed in the higher nautical branches, the cost was about £17 per head. The Havannah was a rather humbler kind of school, and the cost there was about £13 per head for clothing, feeding, and educating the boys. He could not help saying that he had never more pleasure in the execution of his magisterial duty than when he was able to send a poor waif and stray to that ship for three or five years. He visited the Havannah every year, and he ventured to say that anybody who visited it and saw the results that were 1767 obtained at a small cost could not but feel rejoiced that such a vessel existed. He considered that to impose the age limit of 14, which had been suggested, would be extremely injurious in the case of these industrial schools. He did not at all quarrel with the suggestion that there should be a Naval Inspector to go round these vessels. There could be no difficulty about it. So far as the Formidable and the Havannah were concerned, the boys received as much naval instruction as could be expected. It was true that all the boys did not go to sea, but a very considerable portion of them did. These boys made excellent sailors, and many of them wore only too glad of the opportunity of going to sea. But should the Royal Navy and Mercantile Marine be satisfied to draw their seamen from such sources exclusively? He had called attention to the deficiency of sailors on the Naval Estimates. Thousands of boys would gladly go to sea if they had the chance. Ships should be stationed along our coasts; the cost of the training would not be large, and be thought some arrangement might be made between the two branches of the sea service to bear some portion of this cost. The Industrial School Ships were doing good work, and no better use could be made of public money than by assisting in that work and giving it every possible encouragement.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. HERBERT GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
said, the House would appreciate the motive of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and would have general sympathy with the object he had in view. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had gone at considerable length into a very wide field—considerably wider than that covered by the Motion which stood in his name. He did not propose, therefore, to go at this time into detail on the various points which the hon. and gallant Gentleman had mentioned in connection with the general management of reformatory and industrial training ships. The hon. and gallant Member had spoken about the education of the boys, their diet, and other things, and had criticised the management. He could assure him that his remarks would have full consideration. With regard to one point which had been touched upon, it 1768 had been met by the hon. Member for Dundee—namely, as to the age of the boys. He agreed with his hon. Friend that that was a point which involved great practical difficulties and considerable differences of opinion. All he had to say was that that point was now under the consideration of the Home Secretary, who would come to a decision on the matter in a very short time. Another point mentioned in the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman—namely, that the industrial and reformatory training ship system was an extravagant and wasteful one, had been dealt with in a very cursory manner by him, and had left very little opportunity for reply. He thought, therefore, they might leave that part of it to the hon. Member for Dundee, who had given figures showing that even in the ease of land schools the expenses per head were higher than in the case of boys on training ships. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had raised this subject really upon the question of the desirability of improving the Mercantile Marine. That was a question which every hon. Member in that House had naturally a great interest in, and any proposal to improve in any way the Merchant Service of the country would always be received with respectful and sympathetic attention and consideration. But he would point out to the House that was a subject which was rather beyond the jurisdiction of the Home Office; and although the Home Secretary had a great many things to look after, the Merchant Shipping of the country was not exactly in his province. There were two main points which had been brought forward by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. First of all, there was the interchange of boys between the land schools and the ship schools; and, secondly, there was the question of inspection. He would point out that the Government responsibility in this matter was not as the hon. and gallant Gentleman would have the House think. The hon. and gallant Gentleman told the House that this question was entirely under the jurisdiction of the Home Office. But hon. Members would remember that these schools were all under their own managers. The managers wore under obligations to the subscribers and the general public, and the responsibility of the Home Secretary was limited virtually to inspection, and 1769 to seeing that the conditions which it was generally understood should exist were carried out in consideration of the grant which the State made in support of these schools. The ship schools could not be dissociated from the system of industrial and reformatory schools throughout the country. The primary object of these schools was the improvement of the children committed to their charge; but whether or not there should be a nursery was too important and too large a subject to be dealt with in connection with the question raised by the hon. and gallant Member. In looking at these schools, the first point to consider was reformation, and next nautical training. As far as the reformation side of the question was concerned, the results were extremely satisfactory. He agreed that it was very difficult to trace the boys and find out what had been their conduct after they had left these institutions. But, so far as they could be traced, it seemed that 80 per cent. of the boys from the reformatory and industrial training school s turned out very satisfactorily. Then they came to the question of nautical training, and the figures of the percentage of those who went to school from the reformatory and industrial ships for the last three years were in the case of the reformatory ships 68 per cent. and in the case of the industrial ships 56 per cent. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman would see, in the case of the reformatory ships there had been an improvement of 9 per cent. since he (Admiral Field) brought his original Motion forward in the House, and perhaps that result was due to the action which the hon. and gallant Gentleman then took. If so, he was sure the House would congratulate him upon it, and he hoped the same results would follow from the present discussion. The hon. and gallant Gentleman wanted to raise the percentage of those who went to sea; but the question was how they could do it.
§ MR. HERBERT GLADSTONE
But, even supposing they did that, they could not force all the boys who were put on these ships to go to sea.
§ MR. HERBERT GLADSTONE
He agreed they might improve the percentage; but they could not insure that the whole number should go to sea. The hon. and gallant Gentleman knew quite well that when many of these boys grew up and became useful at different occupations, the parents, who perhaps had been neglectful in earlier years, urged that they would be of great use at home, and thus an influence would be exerted in the direction of wishing the boys to come home and not to go to sea. That was a state of things which they must look to, and no suggestion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman could touch that part of the subject. He quite agreed that it was most desirable to make the best of the boys they had got. Then there was the question as to whether anything could be done in the way of interchange. The fact remained that the managers of these land schools had a very great objection to the system of interchange, because interchanging meant the giving of new lamps for old, giving the best boys and taking from ships the worst. That was not a process which commended itself to the minds of judicious managers of land schools. The managers had an unwillingness to fall in with the scheme suggested by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, and the Home Secretary had no power to compel them to consent to such a system of interchange. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said it was a very easy matter, and that all the Home Secretary had to do was to threaten to withdraw the grant if the managers declined to accede to the demand made. He was not at all sure what the House of Commons would say to any responsible Minister of the Crown who used that kind of throat to people in the position of responsible managers such as the managers of industrial schools. What did it mean? It would mean that they would go to these managers with regard to the supply of men for the Mercantile Marine, and practically say to them—"We do not consider your position. We do not consider you at all. If yon do not do what we want we will bring the industrial school system to a standstill until you consent." Was it worth while running that risk? The hon. and gallant Gentleman knew quite well that, even if they brought pressure to bear upon the managers, in all proba- 1771 bility it would only raise the percentages something like 10 or 20 per cent. Would a possible gain of 10 or 20 per cent. be such as to justify the Home Secretary in taking the drastic course suggested by the hon. and gallant Member? He quite agreed that if anything could be done in reason it ought to be done by the Government to encourage and increase this system of interchanging; and he could assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the Home Secretary would only be too glad to avail himself of every opportunity to use his influence in the direction indicated. He now came to the question of inspection, and he quite admitted there was a good deal of force in many of the comments made by the hon. and gallant Member. The hon. and gallant Gentleman suggested that distinguished Naval officers should be appointed to carry out a system of inspection. There were, at the present time, in command of the training ships distinguished Naval officers, and no complaint had been made of the way they performed their duties. In fact, he thought it was generally admitted that they discharged their duties in a most satisfactory and admirable way. The officers in command of these ships included Commanders, Post Captains, Captains, and Rear Admirals. Who was to inspect the Rear Admiral? It would be rather a difficult and delicate task to inspect a Rear Admiral. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said there was no difficulty in the matter, and that if they applied to the proper quarter there were many gallant sailors who would give their services to carry out the duties required in inspection. But the duties of inspection at the present time were carried out in a very satisfactory manner. He was glad to find that no complaint had been made so far as the reformatory and industrial side of the matter was concerned. He agreed that a certain case had been made out by the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but, as far as he know, there were no charges brought against the reformatory and industrial system as such. It was not alleged that the system was a bad one, or that it turned out boys unfit to be sailors. Quite the contrary. He took it that the boys who were turned out as sailors turned out extremely well, and made efficient seamen in the Mercantile Marine. He would say that his right hon. Friend the Home 1772 Secretary had no objection to the appointment from time to time, as occasion might arise, of Naval officers in high positions to go round these ships and report on their condition; and that, he thought, would meet the views of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He could assure him that, both in regard to the question of inspection and the more general question of the interchange of boys, the Home Secretary would be very glad to do all in his power to further the object the hon. and gallant Gentleman had in view.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E. R., Holderness)
said, as he understood the contention of his hon. and gallant Friend, it was that, the principle of evolution having gone so far as it had in connection with these establishments something, might be done in regard to a larger number of these waifs and strays with a view to developing their taste in the direction of the sea. With that object in view, his hon. and gallant Friend had suggested, among other things, that some attention should be paid, if possible, to the nautical training of boys on board the various training ships; and he thought that the concession the Under Secretary had just made, that from time to time Naval officers should proceed to these ships for the purpose of inspecting the nautical part of them, was a very valuable concession which his hon. and gallant Friend would gladly accept. Another point to which his hon. and gallant Friend had drawn attention was the fact that only about 60 per cent. of the boys ultimately wont to sea, and he very properly suggested as a reason for this that many of the boys sent to these ships were not sufficiently strong or healthy to undertake sea life. For his own part, he would suggest the advisability of a greater extension of the present system; and as the age limit was to be extended, might it not be possible to get two or three of these ships kept for the boys who really intended to go to sea? Of course, there were difficulties in the way of carrying out that suggestion, but he thought such difficulties were not insurmountable. He thought the Home Office would be doing a great service if, in conjunction with the management of these various ships, they could devise some scheme by which the available material they had in such largo quantities might be more generally 1773 used for turning these boys into useful sailors. He thought the House would be grateful to his hon. and gallant Friend for having brought this subject before them. He had made it his especial question for a considerable time, and it might be true, as the Under Secretary had said, that the slight increase of boys who had entered into the Marine Service was due to the solicitous interest his hon. and gallant Friend had taken in this matter, and he hoped his continued interest would tend to the benefit of the Marine Service. He thought that his hon. and gallant Friend had every reason to be satisfied with the result of the discussion so far as it had gone.
§ *MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
thought his hon. and gallant Friend had reason to be well pleased with the nature of the discussion which his Motion had elicited, and not least because it had drawn from the present Under Secretary a declaration of very sound doctrine. It would be a mistake to suppose that they had in these ships, either in quantity or quality, any very ideal material for the Mercantile Marine. The boys who went to these ships were drawn from a class whose moral and physical beginnings were not such as to produce the endurance and strength of mind and body which went to make an ideal sailor. His hon. and gallant Friend complained that in many of these institutions the staff was inadequate. But the numbers of the staff was not settled by the State, but by the managers of the ships themselves. What they saw in the Motion, apart from the hon. and gallant Member's natural and pardonable desire to give increased employment to retired naval men—[Admiral FIELD: No, no!] —if there was such a desire—no one present would find fault with it. But, apart from that, there was a desire to force the hands of the managers in respect of the expense of supporting these establishments. It might be desirable to improve these institutions; but possibly they would improve them out of existence. If they insisted on making them ideally perfect, they would, by these unreasonable requirements, drive them out of existence, and they would have to substitute for them an elaborate system of State-managed institutions, and would 1774 alienate thereby all the great fund of philanthropy and munificence by which such excellent results had been achieved. He could not but think it would be well to leave to the public-spirited individuals who managed these ships, to a large extent, the discretion which they now used so well, and so much for the public good. Of course, it was difficult to secure a greater number of the boys for sea service, because, as had been stated, there was a great deal of prejudice. These boys were not sent to the ships by the choice of their parents. Indeed, the committal might be contrary to the wishes of the parent, and a prejudice existed against sending the boys into the Marine Service. He was glad to hear that the Government had seen their way to making some concessions to his hon. and gallant Friend. In those days of rigid economy when the late Government was in power, he (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) was obliged to present to his hon. Friend on the occasion of his previous Motion a very much less favourable front. Of course it was obvious that it would be better for some purposes to have a Naval inspection of Naval institutions. But it must be remembered that there were schools on land equally special in their character. He wished to ask the Government a question. He supposed that the proposed inspection by a distinguished Naval officer, should it be brought about, would not mean a permanent increase of the establishment, but that it would be an inspection ad hoc, and would not supersede the inspection by the existing Inspectors. Personally, he set great store by the experience gained by the officer who inspected all schools alike.
§ *MR. STUART- WORTLEY
said, he objected to the inspection by the Coastguard officer of some establishment close by, for it was obvious that the local and limited knowledge which he could bring to bear would be of extremely small value. They wanted the trained experience of a man who had studied the system in all its workings all over the country.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S. E)
said, there was a considerable number of training ships in his constituency, and in the execution of his duty he had obtained a good acquaintance with many of them. 1775 He entirely agreed with the suggestions made by the hon. and gallant Member for Eastbourne and also by the hon. Member for Holderness as to the interchanging of boys from sea to land, and in the desire that there should be some change made in the system of inspection. He was the last man to say a word against the efficiency as Inspectors of ex-officers of Dragoons, as he happened to be an ex-officer of Dragoons himself; but he could quite understand the hon. and gallant Admiral when he said that future sailors should be inspected by expert seamen rather than by officers of Dragoons or even by schoolmasters. Anybody who had ever inspected any of these training ships must have been struck by the extraordinary smartness and efficiency which always characterised the boys on board the Ibis. This was especially noticeable in the case of the training ship Shaftesbury, which was kept going by the School Board of London. In his opinion, the sailor-like conduct, smartness, and discipline which characterised all on board these ships were due to the supervision of the Naval officers who commanded them, and to the system of inspection which his hon. and gallant Friend objected to, but which be, for his part, hoped would not be altered.