HC Deb 29 August 1895 vol 36 cc1144-5

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the case of 148 children poisoned at Forest Gate School in 1893, of whom two died; whether it is a fact that the superior officer responsible for the supply of the poisonous meat, and of certain grave irregularities in the accounts, has not yet been in any way punished or even censured by the Local Government Board; whether the subordinate officer who gave evidence of the condition of the meat, and against whom there is no charge but that of misdirected zeal for the children, has been practically dismissed; whether any censure has been passed by the Local Government Board on their inspector for the state of the school; and whether there is at this moment any better guarantee than before that the children in such schools receive a proper supply of proper food.


My attention has been called to the fact that in June 1893 a large number of children at Forest Gate School were seized with illness and that two of them died. The Poor Law Medical Inspector for the District visited the School immediately he became aware of the outbreak of sickness, and as the result of his inquiries he came to the conclusion that the occurrence was due to the consumption by the children of some pickled meat which had been used in making soup. The Managers and not the Superintendent of the School were responsible for pickled meat being supplied under contracts for the use of the children, and at the inquest which was held touching the deaths of the two children the Jury added to the verdict an expression of their confidence in the Superintendent. The Superintendent incorrectly entered in his accounts the provisions supplied to the children on certain days, and the Board expressed their dissatisfaction in the matter; but there was no reason to suppose that the matter had been more than one of inadvertence on his part. No evidence was given by the subordinate officer referred to as to the condition of the meat which is believed to have occasioned the illness of the children, but the officer in question brought certain charges in connection with the food on other occasions which affected the Superintendent. The Managers suspended the officer referred to and requested that an Inquiry might be instituted by the Local Government Board. An Inquiry was held accordingly, with the result that the Board were satisfied that the facts were much overstated, and that although it was not clear that the officer might not have to some extent been actuated by zeal in the interest of the children, he was distinctly influenced by animosity against the Superintendent. The Board considered that the welfare of the children required that the two officers should not both retain their appointments, and that there was no reason for requiring the Superintendent's resignation; the Board have seen no reason whatever for censuring their Inspector in connection with this matter. At the instance of the Board, the Managers of this School have ceased to contract for pickled meat.