HC Deb 15 June 1898 vol 59 cc358-61

House went into Committee on this Bill.

On clause 1 (Provision for Relief of Children out of Workhouses)

MR. J. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N. R., Thirsk)

I desire to move an Amendment in line seven, to leave out the words "orphan, or deserted." I do this for the purpose of obtaining some explanation from the promoters of this Bill as to why it is limited, as regards its first clause, to orphan and deserted children in the workhouses. It appears that all parties are agreed upon this Bill, and it is therefore desirable that while they are so agreed the Bill should be made as generally beneficial as possible. If the boarding out system is a good system, as I believe it is, I should like to know why the advantages of that system should be confined to orphan and deserted children. There are, of course, children in the workhouses who do not come under the definition of orphan and deserted children, and I do not see why they should be debarred simply because they have one parent alive. I do not know whether there is any legal definition of the term "deserted child." If the parents of a child desert it and go to America, or to England or Scotland, that child is a deserted child, but if one of the parents should return, then the child would become not deserted, and would be deprived of the advantages of the boarding out system. In order to get some explanation I move the omission of the words "orphan or deserted."

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

In the early part of the day, thinking that the Bill was likely to come on, I took the opportunity of asking the Chief Secretary for Ireland whether he approved of the Bill as it stood, and he replied in the affirmative. In the point raised the clause follows the English law, and to introduce this Amendment into the Bill would effect a radical alteration in the Poor Law system. I do not say that this might not be desirable, but this is not the time for discussing it.


The opinion of my right honourable Friend the Chief Secretary has great weight with me, but it should be mentioned that there is great objection to the limitation in the English Poor Law, and there is an organisation in existence for promoting the extension of boarding out to all workhouse children. Under this Bill there is a chance for Irish pauper children to obtain a great advantage which is sought to be obtained for English pauper children, and to say that the Bill follows the English precedent does not seem, to me a sufficient answer.


The Amendment raises the whole question of parental authority, and the discussion of such a question should be taken in relation to the general law.

MR. STRACHEY (Somerset, S.)

I hope my honourable Friend the Member for the Thirsk Division will press his Amendment. I cannot see any objection to an Amendment of the law as affecting Ireland, especially as it is admitted that such an Amendment would be of great advantage in England. The Government have not shown themselves averse to legislative experiments in Ireland, and I think this should be tried as an experiment. If it proved satisfactory it could very well be extended to England.

* SIR J. COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)

The honourable Member who has just sat down said this Amendment should be tried as an experiment. The object of this Bill is not to try any experiment at a11, but to give to boards of guardians in Ireland the same powers as are possessed by boards of guardians in England. I think it would be unwise to open up this question now. It will be very easy, when the English system comes to be altered, to make the alteration apply to Ireland. At present I think the mover of the Amendment might give way.

MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

I hope honourable Members are not going to destroy this Bill by academic discussions. Every section of Irish, opinion supports the Bill; every section wants it, and even Dublin Castle wants it. We only wish he law of Ireland to be assimilated to that of England, and I hope there will be no attempt to choke the Bill by raising academic objections.


At this hour the interruption of the honourable Member is wholly uncalled for. There is ample time for a reasonable discussion. I do not think we should be passing any special compliment to Ireland if, without consideration of the various points, we were to hurry this Bill through.


I do not wish to press my Amendment, as it is not received with general support; but my honourable Friend the Secretary to the Local Government Board made one remark to which I think I ought to reply. He said that in proposing this Amendment I was raising the whole question of parental authority. Sir, that question is raised in other parts of the Bill. It is in this clause, and one other, that the advantages are confined to "orphan or deserted" children. However, I beg to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

The other clauses were agreed to, and the Bill reported without Amendment to the House.


May I appeal to the House to allow the Third Reading to be taken?

Question put.

Bill read a third time.