HC Deb 16 February 1899 vol 66 cc1087-8
MR. DRAGE (Derby)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board, what is the number of the children at present in the Metropolitan Poor Law schools, and whether more than 60 per cent, of these children belong to the class known as "ins and outs;" whether such children are taken in and out of the schools by their parents, sometimes with the direct intention, always with the result of depriving them of their education as well as impairing their health and character; whether cases are on record of such children being taken in and out of the same workhouse 62 times within 14 months; and whether he will consider the desirability of bringing in a Bill to deal with the matter?

The honourable Member also had the following Question on the Paper:—To ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his attention has been called to the limited powers possessed by boards of guardians for the supervision of Poor Law children after they have left school; whether the officers of the boards of guardians are only required to visit and inspect such children in their first situations, and up to the age of 16; whether the guardians can only interfere on evidence being given of actual cruel and illegal treatment; and whether, with the view to protect such children from the influence of undesirable relatives and unscrupulous employers, he will bring in a Bill to amend the law on the subject.


Perhaps my honourable. Friend will allow me to answer this Question and the next on the Paper in his name at the same time. The number of children in Metropolitan Poor Law Schools, according to the latest return, is 11,479, but I am aware of no reason for supposing that anything approaching to 60 per cent, of the children belong to the class known as "ins and outs." According to the figures given in the Report of the Poor Law Schools Committee, less than 3 per cent, of the children admitted to these schools during 1893–4 were admitted more than twice. I cannot speak as to the intentions of parents in removing their children, but undoubtedly it interferes with their education. There is the case of one family, I believe, on record, where three children were moved the number of times stated. In regard to the same Question, my attention has been called to the subject referred to. The answer to the second paragraph is in the affirmative, and with regard to the third I am advised that there may be circumstances which would enable the guardians to interfere without evidence being given of actual cruel or illegal treatment. A Bill to give boards of guardians further powers of control with respect to children was introduced last year by my honourable Friend the Member for West Bradford, and notice has been given by him of a similar Bill for this Session. This would cover the first Question raised by the honourable Member, and I will consider the other.