HC Deb 16 April 1896 vol 39 cc1013-6
SIR CAMERON GULL (Devon, Barnstaple)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, what are the duties of the Educational Inspector of Poor Law Schools, and to what extent he can communicate his views to the managers of the schools?


I am afraid my reply must be rather long. It is the duty of the school inspectors to examine the teachers and children in Poor Law Schools for the purpose of ascertaining the efficiency of the teachers, and of advising the Board what certificates should be granted to them, and what sums should be paid to the guardians in respect of their services, and of determining in what standards the children can be passed, and in what cases certificates of efficiency can be given. They have to report to the Board on the Schools as regards desks and furniture, books and apparatus, order and organisation, and the state of the school generally. They have to inquire and report as to industrial training of the children, the nature of the instruction, whether it is of a bonâ fide character, whether the children exhibit sufficient skill in. the subjects of instruction, the number of children, and whether any award is recommended to be paid to the guardians in respect of the instruction. The Inspector is also, in his Report, to make any observations or remarks he considers desirable on any of the matters which have come under his attention. The Board, in a letter addressed to School Inspectors in 1878, stated that it was of great importance that any recommendations by the Inspectors which might be brought under the notice of Boards of Guardians should be such as could be supported by the Board; and that all matters of importance which the Inspector considered required the attention of the guardians should, in the first instance, be communicated to the Board, and not directly to the guardians, by the Inspector.

MR. H. H. BEMROSE (Derby)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether considerable numbers of children have been retained of late in several of the London workhouses for want of school accommodation and for other reasons; whether the arrangements made for the accommodation of those children are in many cases unsatisfactory; whether reports to that effect have been made by the Inspector and confirmed by the Inspector-General; and, why no change has been made?


The Local Government Board are aware that considerable numbers of children have been retained of late in London workhouses, and that the arrangements where they are so retained are not in all cases satisfactory. Questions as regards school accommodation for Poor Law children have necessarily been much in abeyance pending the inquiry of the Poor Law Schools Committee.


, on behalf of the hon. Member for South Kensington (Lord WARKWORTH): I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether it is a fact that owing to the system prevailing at the Local Government Board the Chief Inspector General of Poor Law Schools was not aware that children of nine years were being worked as half-timers, though Mr. Holgate, the Educational Inspector, had reported that he found children of nine working as much as ten hours a day?


The Assistant Secretary of the Board, who is also Chief General Inspector, would not be aware of cases where children were improperly dealt with as half-timers or working an unduly long number of hours, unless the facts were reported by the School Inspector. When the Board are informed of irregularities in this matter they would communicate with the guardians. I am not aware that Mr. Holgate, the Educational Inspector, has stated that he found children of nine years working the number of hours mentioned.


I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, whether any explanation can be given for the complaint made by Inspector Holgate before the Poor Law School Committee, that he had been for six years trying to get the Local Government Board to issue a new general order, defining what should be the limit of hours during which the children should be put to labour; and, whether the matter is still under consideration?


Mr. Holgate recommended the issue of an order which, among other matters, would have denned the hours of labour of children, and the question having been considered, an order was drafted. The draft was the subject of communication with the general inspectors and school inspectors of the Board. There were differences of opinion among the inspectors, and, subsequently, after some personal conferences, a new order was prepared, and was under consideration at the time of the appointment of the Poor Law Schools Committee. Subsequently, as it was probable that such matters as those with which it was intended that the order should deal would be considered by the Committee, the question of the issue of the order was deferred. Since the Report of the Committee has been made, directions have been given for the preparation of an order in connection with which regard will be had to the recommendation of the Committee.