ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1) whether his attention has been called to the report of the Inspector of Industrial Schools in Ireland, vide Report for 1893, page 17, also Report for 1896, page 12, as to the unsatisfactory results obtained from the working of the industrial school ship Grampian, at Belfast, as shown also in Parliamentary Return, No. 256, of 26th June 1896, on Industrial School Ships for five years; (2) whether lie is aware that of 320 boys discharged in five years ending 1895, only 48 were considered fit for sea life; (3) whether he is aware that lads are sent to this ship who are constitutionally wholly unfitted to be trained as sailors, and that the Naval Officer is quite powerless in the matter of rejection of such lads which the committee direct him to receive; (4) whether he is aware that the ship could receive double the number of boys now assigned to her, and if worked on proper principles could train numbers of good lads for the Mercantile Marine belonging to Belfast; and (5) will he apply to the Admiralty for the services of the Inspecting Captain of Industrial School Ships under the Home Office, that he may inspect the Grampian and report upon the class of boys placed on board for training and upon the adequacy of the training staff for the 558 work to be done, in order that the ship may do really efficient work in return for the large outlay incurred, and that unsuitable boys for sea training may be sent to the less expensive shore industrial schools and only healthy lads received on board the Grampian?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. GERALD BALFOUR,) Leeds, Central
My attention has been drawn to the Reports and to the Return referred to in the first paragraph. The facts are correctly stated in the second paragraph. As regards the third paragraph, I may observe that the standard of fitness required for admission to the Grampian is physical fitness for industrial training. Children committed under the Industrial Schools Act, especially those in a large manufacturing centre like Belfast arc, in many instances, neglected waifs with strong hereditary, taints, and such children, as a rule, are not fitted to be trained for a seafaring life. The Naval Officer has no voice in the matter of the admission of children. The ship could accommodate double the number for which it is licensed; but the vessel, I understand, is very old, and considerable outlay is entailed in keeping her habitable. I do not think any advantage would be gained by adopting the course suggested in the fifth paragraph, in view of the fact that the Executive Committee in charge of the Grampian have resolved unanimously to give up the vessel and provide accommodation for the lads on shore, for which, I believe, plans have already been prepared.