HC Deb 11 May 1893 vol 12 cc628-9

I beg to ask the Vice President of the Committee of Council on Education whether his attention has boon drawn to the fact that a leaflet which has been extensively distributed to parents of children being educated at St. Peter's School, Birkenhead, in which parents desiring perfectly free education for their children are recommended to copy out and sign an application to be forwarded to the Vice President, stating that they desire and cannot get schooling without fees; whether he has in consequence received any complaint as to the absence of free education at St. Peter's School; and whether he is aware that, as a matter of fact, free education is given at St. Peter's School to the children of all parents who ask for it, and that 400 children are being educated free there now; and, if so, whether he will take steps to put a stop to the circulation of such leaflets, as being calculated to injure the voluntary schools?


I have not seen the leaflet to which the hon. Member refers. The Department have recently received a large number of applications for free education from parents in Birkenhead, and have, in pursuance of their duty under the Act, made a very careful inquiry into the number of free school places available in the district. It appeared that, at the time of this inquiry, St. Peter's National School provided 346 free places, of which, however, only 40 were for older children, the remainder being for infants. I have neither the wish nor the power to put a stop to the circulation of any documents informing parents of their rights under the Act, nor do I suppose that it was the intention of Parliament, in passing the Act, that its provisions should be concealed from the persons whom it was meant to benefit.


Arising out of the question, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman does not consider it his duty to stop the circula- tion of a leaflet which distinctly says that free schooling is not provided in voluntary schools, when, as a matter of fact, any parent can get it for his children if he only asks?


Judging from what appears in the question as to the contents of a leaflet which I have not seen, I can only say I see no objection to it.