HC Deb 23 February 1899 vol 67 cc275-6
MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education whether he is aware that at Burnham, Bucks, the children at the National school have been repeatedly taken on Saints' days in procession from the school into the church at nine o'clock in the morning to witness the celebration of the Holy Communion; whether this enforced attendance at these children's eucharists is legal, either as a substitute for, or as an addition to, the ordinary religious instruction in the school time-table; whether, on the occasion of the Feast of the Purification, on Thursday 2nd February, the parents of a number of the children sent to the schoolmaster formal objections to their children being taken to this service; whether, in spite of the parent having thus directed, two children named Lane were ordered by the schoolmaster to join the procession, and go to the service in the church, and one of them, Ada Lane, was thus compelled to attend; and whether he will warn the managers that the grant will be withdrawn if these violations of the 7th section of the Education Act, 1870, are persisted in?


Yes; a great deal of information upon this subject has been sent me since last week by the honourable Member and others. The practice of occasionally taking scholars to places of public worship during the time set apart for religious instruction has never been objected to by the Committee of Council, and is, in their opinion, legal. On the occasion referred to many parents had objected, and I have been informed by the head teacher of the school that none of their children were taken to church. But, as the case of Ada Lane is specifically mentioned, the Committee of Council has directed a specific inquiry about her case. No complaint from any parent has reached the Education Department, and there is no reason to think that any violation of Section 7 of the Act of 1870 has been committed.


Is the right honourable Gentleman able to state whether these special services have been inserted in the school time-table, and have been approved by the inspector?


I must ask for notice of that Question.