HC Deb 12 June 1901 vol 95 cc149-76

As amended (by the Standing Committee), considered.

*MR. RENSHAW (Renfrewshire, W.)

moved as an Amendment on Clause 2, page 1, line 12, to leave out "From the school board of the district." The question involved in this Amendment was, he said, whether or not the managers of voluntary schools in Scotland would, in consequence of the passing of this Bill, be placed in a worse position than they were at present. The existing system, which had obtained for many years, was to grant labour certificates; it was a well-understood system, and had worked efficiently and well. It was regulated by Chapter 5 of the Scotch Education Code, Sections 113 to 117. Power was granted to inspectors to issue these labour certificates after examination, and the examination took place on the special application of a school board or the managers of a voluntary school. Throughout the whole of the clause in the Education Code the school board and the managers of the voluntary schools were placed in exactly the same position. That being so, up to the present time there had been no greater difficulty in obtaining labour certificates on behalf of children in voluntary schools than for children in board schools. It was a little difficult to estimate the number of labour certificates issued in the course of a year, and so far as he knew no return was made of them. According to the Report of the Scotch Education Department for this year, the total number of children in Scotland between twelve and thirteen and between thirteen and fourteen years of age aggregated 192,265, but only 140,588 of these were attending school, leaving 51,677 who were not at school. That showed the total number of scholars who might be affected by the new legislation of this Bill. The returns published by the Scottish Education Department last year showed that there were 81,749 scholars at voluntary schools, and 626,089 at public schools; that was to say, 15 per cent. of the total number of scholars were in attendance in voluntary schools. The question he wished to raise was whether the power of exemption should be given by the school board alone, or by the managers of voluntary schools as well. He had great confidence in the administration of echo I boards, but there were districts wherein the parents of children attending voluntary schools formed a very considerable proportion of the population. They were not of the wealthier classes, but of the class most likely to avail themselves of the exemption. If in those districts the school boards, for some reason or other, pursued a policy under which there would be no exemptions, there was nothing in the Bill to compel them to grant examination for exemption. The consequence would be that there would be a large number of children who would be denied the privilege which the Bill proposed should be placed within their reach. The object he had in view was a very simple one. It was desirable that the managers of voluntary schools should continue to have in this respect the power which they practically possessed at present, and therefore he moved the Amendment.

Amendment proposed—

"In page 1, line 12, to leave out the words 'from the school board of the district.'"—(Mr. Renshaw.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."

MR. MAXWELL (Dumfriesshire)

said that the Bill had been so entirely altered in Committee that a great change had been made in the administration of education in Scotland. The point raised by the Amendment was the relation of the school boards to the voluntary schools. It was quite plain that the board schools would compel children up to the age of twelve to attend school. Hitherto exemption had been granted to children between twelve and fourteen; but before granting exemption inquiry was made into the circumstances of each child. There were two points which had to be considered in regard to the circumstances of the children. First, the position of the parents, and whether it would be a hardship to them if the children were compelled to continue at school; and, second, the standard of proficiency which the children had reached. It was in regard to the standard of proficiency that there would be difficulty. How were the school boards to find out the standard of proficiency the children had reached? At present it was quite easy to do so, for all they required to do was to ascertain whether the children had obtained a labour certificate. But now under this Bill there was to be no labour certificate; and it would be for the school boards to obtain a report from the managers of the voluntary schools as to what standard the child had reached, so that in granting exemption they would be acting, not on their own knowledge, but on the report of the managers of the voluntary schools. Looking to the provisions of Clause 3, where power was given to reduce the time of compulsory attendance, it would be rather hard on the school board to compel them to grant a certificate on knowledge supplied by other people, and to suffer in the matter of grants in consequence. If power were given to the managers to grant exemption certificates, the school board should require the managers of voluntary schools to state why the exemption had been granted. That would place them in exactly in the same position as they were at present.

MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanarkshire, Partick)

said that the Amendment was quite inconsistent with the whole idea of the Bill. There was to be a fixed and rigid standard, but a discretion to modify that standard was to be placed in the hands of an authority. That authority was one which everybody in Scotland believed was well capable of exercising the discretion; but he would not say that the same confidence would be felt in a casual body of voluntary school managers. At present labour certificates were granted to children in voluntary schools, not through the school boards, but as the result of an independent examination by the inspector, and that was the principle on which they were pretty well agreed in Committee upstairs. The question raised by the Amendment of his hon. friend was that a fixed and rigid standard of exemption should not be laid down, and that if exemption were to be granted it should be on the merits of each individual case. That discretion it might be perfectly safe to put in the hands of the school boards, but he did not think that they could have the same confidence in a casually appointed board of managers of voluntary schools—Roman Catholic or Episcopalian. He thought it would have a very, dangerous effect on occasion, and it would certainly have a very great effect on the standing of the children attending voluntary schools. Instead of sending their children to the board school some parents would send them to the voluntary schools, in the hope that they would get a certificate of exemption without examination. He objected entirely to the principle of leaving the discretion in the hands of the managers of voluntary schools.


said that it was, of course, no fault of his hon. friend that he had to move his Amendment on this clause, but it did not conduce to the clear understanding of the House. The Amendment dealt really with the third clause, and not with the second. It was only because there was a mention of the word "school-board" in the second clause that his hon. friend had put this Amendment on the Paper.


said he had to propose his Amendment in order to raise the question.


said he entirely agreed with his hon friend, and in fact was explaining the point. But it was as well to understand that what they were really discussing was not the second clause at all, but the body which was to give the exemption certificate which was dealt with in the third clause. He entirely agreed with the provisions in the Bill, and had full sympathy with them. He believed that the managers of the voluntary schools; were deserving of every confidence, quite as much as one would give too the school boards; but still this general dispensatory power should be given too one recognised authority, and, of course, the proper authority was the school, board. This was to take the place of the labour certificate, and in the past the labour certificate was managed, not by the school board, but through the school board. There had never been the slightest friction with any of voluntary school managers on that account, and there was no reason to anticipate friction in the future with the exercise of common sense on the part of both the school boards and the managers. As to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Dumfriesshire, that the Education Department might cut short the grants to the school boards, that, of course, could only be done in the event of the school boards going in for a general system of exemption, and would not apply to individual cases. Therefore, upon the whole, he

thought the House would do well to accept the clause as it came from the Standing Committee.

MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)

hoped the hon. Member for West Renfrewshire would not press his Amendment to a division, as it affected the first principle of the Bill. The relationship of the school boards in Scotland to the managers of the voluntary schools in Scotland had hitherto been very friendly, and there had been no friction, and therefore the less change there was made in the system the better.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 97; Noes, 49. (Division List No. 247.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W. Rentoul, James Alexander
Allan, William (Gateshead) Haslam, Sir Alfred S. Roe, Sir Thomas
Anstruther, H. T. Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Russell, T. W.
Arrol, Sir William Heath, James (Staffords, N. W. Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)
Austin, Sir John Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H. Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Bain, Colonel James Robert Hermon-Hodge, Robert T. Smith, James P. (Lanarksh.)
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) Soares, Ernest J.
Bill, Charles Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Spear, John Ward
Brigg, John Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Broadhurst, Henry Joicey, Sir James Stone, Sir Benjamin
Brookfield, Col. Montagu Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U Strachey, Edward
Brown, George M. (Edinburgh) Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Taylor, Theodore Cooke
Burns, John Langley, Batty Tennant, Harold John
Caldwell, James Law, Andrew Bonar Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Layland-Barratt, Francis Thomson, F. W. (York, W.R.)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Leese, Sir Joseph F (Accrington Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Colville, John Levy, Maurice Tuke, Sir John Batty
Craig, Robert Hunter Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Ure, Alexander
Crombie, John William Macartney, Rt. Hn. W. G. E. Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir W. H.
Denny, Colonel Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles M'Crae, George Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Doxford, Sir William Theodore M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan
Duncan, J. Hastings Malcolm, Ian Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Morrell, George Herbert Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Elibank, Master of Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Emmott, Alfred Newdigate, Francis Alexander Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Evans, Sir Francis H. (Ma'dstone Nicol, Donald Ninian Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.
Fardell, Sir T. George O'Neill, Hn. Robert Torrens Wrightson, Sir Thomas
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham) Yoxall, James Henry
Fenwick, Charles Paulton, James Mellor
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Percy, Earl TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Goddard, Daniel Ford Plummer, Walter R. Mr. Pirie and Mr. Cochrane.
Green, W. D. (Wednesbury) Purvis, Robert
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Rea, Russell
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. Doogan, P. C. Kennedy, Patrick James
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Field, William Knowles, Lees
Blake, Edward Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Flower, Ernest Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent)
Boland, John Flynn, James Christopher Lundon, W.
Burke, E. Haviland- Galloway, William Johnson M'Govern, T.
Crean, Eugene Gilhooly, James Mooney, John J.
Cullinan, J. Hammond, John Murnaghan, George
Delany, William Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd Myers, William Henry
Digby, John K. D. Wingfield- Hickman, Sir Alfred O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork).
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Sullivan, Donal
O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Power, Patrick Joseph Tollemache, Henry James
O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W. Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyds
O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) Reid, James (Greenock)
O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
O'Dowd, John Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse) Mr. Renshaw and Mr. Maxwell.
O'Mara, James Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Pilkington, Lieut.-Col. Richard Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart

Question put, and agreed to.

*MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

said he wished to move an Amendment to lines 14 and 15. The purpose of the Bill seemed to be to raise the age of compulsory attendance at school from twelve or thirteen to fourteen years of age. There was no doubt that Scottish Members seemed to think that it was almost an impertinence for anyone born south of the Tweed to intervene in Scotch debates.


No, no!


said that, at any rate, English Members must recollect that it was frequently stated in Parliament, when proposals were made for legislation, that the principle had already been adopted by the House of Commons; therefore English Members must beware how precedents were established which would affect England, even if they did not take up the ground he himself did, namely, that all Members had an equal right to discuss every question that came before Parliament. The whole of this subject had been threshed out by the House of Commons only two years ago, when the hon. Member for South Shields succeeded in carrying a Bill to raise the age limit for compulsory attendance at school to thirteen years. In the present Bill they were asked to raise the age limit by another year, and to depart from the principle which was then fixed. He was sorry that the Leader of the House was not present, although he was not finding fault with him for the occasion of his absence. But the right hon. Gentleman had laid down only on the previous day a very sound principle when he said that, in his judgment, it would be distinctly wrong for the Government to seek to establish principles of a controversial character and carry them into legislation by means of a Wednesday Bill which they made, in its later stages, part of the Government programme. He would like to know who was responsible for the present Bill. There were certain names on the back of it, but he was rather surprised that a representative of the Government had risen to defend the clause, and had apparently already become the sponsor of the measure. His right hon. friend the Leader of the House, had he been present, would have seen, that this Bill was a very grave departure from the principle which he had laid down only the day before. He would ask the Lord Advocate whether His Majesty's Government were themselves prepared to take the responsibility of asking Parliament to depart from the principle laid down two years ago, when the age of thirteen was placed on the Statute-book as the extreme limit of this meddlesome interference with the responsibilities of parents. His right hon. friend the Leader of the House had strongly condemned the practice of a Government getting non-official Members to introduce Bills, and getting them through the preliminary stages, and then taking them up.


Order, order! I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to substitute thirteen for fourteen in the clause; but he is, not addressing himself to that point.


said he wished, to know to whom he could address his inquiry as who was responsible for this departure from the precedent set in England only two years ago as to the limit of compulsory attendance at school. He objected altogether to this meddlesome interference with the responsibility of parents. He knew that very likely it would be urged that that principle had been infringed upon in the compulsory attendance section of the Act of 1870; but he had always considered that that was an unwarranted interference with parental control, and was a substitution of the authority of the State for that of the father of the family. He had denounced it then as a very large interference with the liberty of the subject, and had divided the House against the compulsory attendance clause; he had never regretted having done so, and if the same set of circumstances again arose he would do precisely as he had done thirty-one years ago. He wanted to know why the principle laid down by Parliament only two years ago was to be departed from and the age of compulsory attendance at school be raised in Scotland to fourteen years.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

said he would remind the right hon Gentleman that Scotland had always been ahead of England in the matter of education.


said that that practically confirmed his objection to piecemeal legislation. He knew that his hon. friend was in favour of Home Rude, but he objected to the Imperial Parliament, without any guidance or direction, being launched on this course of piece-meal legislation. They heard a great deal about technical education nowadays, but he ventured to say that a child between twelve and fourteen years of age, in a rural district, could learn a great deal of technical work which would strengthen him for his career in after life. His point was that a child at the age of between twelve and fourteen was practically learning in the rural districts the ordinary calling which he would pursue in after life, and if in these years he was kept away from that employment it would be a distinct disadvantage to him. The principle of inducing the children of agricultural labourers to drift away from rural occupations into the towns and obtain a footing in some other class of work ought not to be encouraged. He begged to move that in lines 11 and 15 to substitute 13 for 14.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 15, to leave out the word 'fourteen,' and insert the word 'thirteen.'"—(Mr James Lowther.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'fourteen' stand part of the Bill."


said that the right hon. Gentleman had made his meaning only too clear to the House. He was evidently in opposition to the entire Bill. So far from his having been suborned by the Government to introduce this Bill, it was the outcome of a widespread agitation in all parts of the country, and it was the universal desire in Scotland that it should become law. He trusted that the House would not yield in any way to the factious opposition of the right hon. Gentleman, and that his Amendment would not be carried.


said that as an English Member he might be allowed to say a word on behalf of the southern kingdom. His right hon. friend, who took a very great interest in the Act of 1899, had not quite accurately stated the case. In that Act thirteen years was not the maximum, but the minimum, therefore the comments of his right hon. friend were not well grounded. But even since that time Parliament had been active, though his right hon. friend had not shared that activity, for in 1900 another Act was passed, which enabled the local authorities to make fourteen years the standard. He hoped he might be allowed to express his respectful and profound admiration as an educationist of the manner in which the Scottish Members had attended and taken part in the discussions in Committee. It was most cheering, and encouraging, and hopeful; and he thought that the example set by Scotland should be followed by England. He trusted that the House would not allow any modification of the Bill in any direction.


said that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet, whose great ability in questions of procedure they all recognised, had referred to the principle which had been laid down by the First Lord of the Treasury on the previous day; but the First Lord of the Treasury only spoke of a Government putting up a private Member as a "bonnet" to introduce a Bill, in order to make it a Government Bill afterwards; but that certainly had not happened in this case. Under this Bill they were not making any great change in the law, for the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be unaware that exemption could be made to the age of fourteen. At this stage of the Bill they were only dealing with the standard exemption; and the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment would interfere with the principle of the Bill.


asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


said he wished to move an Amendment dealing with a subject of much importance, and in regard to which the School Board of Glasgow had taken a great deal of interest. He meant the question of casual employment of children in the early hours of the morning. That subject was particularly pressing, not only in Glasgow, but in other parts of Scotland. He did not know that public opinion had ripened so far on the matter that it would be possible to introduce any provisions on the subject in this Bill, but he hoped by raising the question in the House now such an expression of opinion might be called forth that it would be helped on in the country very materially, and that some Bill such as that introduced by his hon. friend opposite would be brought in next year, and, after full discussion by the school boards of Scotland, would be passed, as he trusted the present Bill would be. Of course it was well understood by the House that the employment of children was divided into labour and casual employment. Labour they had already dealt with. Casual employment was defined as vending in the streets or other places any article whatsoever, and also employment of any other kind outside the child's own home. Now, miscellaneous employments, such as selling newspapers or milk, and a great deal of agricultural work in the country, had been subject to definite restriction since the Act of 1878, but the force of these restrictions was being increased by the present Bill. There was a limitation in regard to the hours at night. Under the Bill the casual employment of children attending school was not allowed after nine o'clock at night in summer, or after seven o'clock in winter. He wanted to put a limit at the other end also. Many of the children when they attended school in the morning were already tired out by the work they had done, and were therefore unfitted to benefit by the education they received. The school board desired to ensure that the attendance should not only last for a certain number of years, but that it should be continuous and effective while it took place. There were various points in which they wished to improve the existing law in order to get more effective benefit for the children during the years of their attendance, but as these were outside the scope of the Bill he must not enlarge upon them. On the question of truancy, and in regard to the desertion of children by their fathers, the school boards hoped to have stronger powers put into their hands of moving the sheriffs. The ambition of the school boards was to have more control of the children in different ways, in order to make their school attendance more regular and more effective, and one of the ways in which, in Glasgow in particular, they thought they ought to have more control over the children was in regard to this employment in the early morning. It was a difficult question, and he confessed that he did not think either his own proposal or the proposal in the name of the hon. Member for North Camberwell would be a satisfactory way of dealing with it. His own proposal was, he thought, too weak. But he was anxious not to go too far, and he put it down on the principle of making several bites at the cherry. The hon. Member for North Camberwell had gone a good deal further, and had put down a proposal that no child should be allowed to have any casual employment before the time of morning school. He was quite sure that was a proposal which would not carry public opinion in Scotland. There was a lot of Work, both in towns and in the country, that children could very well do with advantage to themselves, and it would be hardly possible to prevent altogether the casual employment of children before school hours. He thought it would be found that local circumstances differed so much that they could not lay down any hard and fast rule that would apply equally to all parts of Scotland, town and country. They would, it seemed to him, have to go rather on the lines of the principle of this Bill, and give school boards discretion to deal with cases as they arose. They were doing that in the case of attendance, and he thought the real solution of this question would be to give school boards power to forbid casual employment in the morning if it was such as to render a child incapable of properly benefiting by the teaching provided in the school. If it were desired to give further protection, they might allow an appeal to the sheriff, who would decide whether or not there had been an undue interference on the part of the school board. This Bill was a wide and strong measure, one which was getting through the House more easily, perhaps, than it would if it were fully understood in the country, and it might, if it were further widened, raise a good deal of feeling in the country. He therefore thought it would be wiser to reserve any further limitation of the employment of children for a further opportunity. But he felt very strongly that this was the line on which the school boards would desire to act, and on which Parliament ought, either now or presently, to give them full power. He begged to move his Amendment.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 18, after '1878' to insert the words 'before five o'clock in the morning or.'"—(Mr. Parker Smith.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)

hoped the House would not accept the Amendment. If it were included in the Bill it would almost appear to be an invitation to employers of labour to employ young children between the hours of five and nine in the morning. He did not think that they needed to legislate in the sense that employers of labour would employ these infants before five in the morning, and he could not understand why the hon. Member should desire to insert such a provision in the Bill. His, own sympathy was wholly with the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Camberwell. He would be quite ready to assent to the principle that young children should be prevented from being casually employed between the hours of seven or eight and mine in the morning, and his reason was simply this: the casual employment of these young children after school work was over might be defended, but from an educational point of view he could look upon nothing more hazardous, and possibly dangerous, not only to the health of the children, but to their intellectual progress, than that they should be sent to work, more particularly in large towns, and should then go in an exhausted condition to school to have their intellectual instruction proceeded with. What they surely ought to desire was not an Amendment of the character now before the House, but such an Amendment as would strengthen the hands of the local authorities in excluding even from casual employment these young people. He did not say there might not be something in what the hon. Member for Partick had said as to certain districts being distinguishable from others, and that there might be here and there cases in which there might be legitimate casual employment for an hour or two in the morning; but the idea of inserting the hour of five o'clock in the Bill, as if it was the intention of school boards to sanction the employment of children from five to nine in the morning, was one to which he hoped the House would not assent. If the House would accept the suggestion that seven o'clock in the morning should be the hour fixed, he thought it would be a very good compromise.


said he would be exceedingly sorry to see any change made in the existing position as laid down in the Act of 1878. The hon. Member for Partick approached the question from the point of view of the great city of Glasgow. He was not so qualified to speak in that respect, but, as representing a rural district, he ventured to say that if this proposal to limit the hours, either in the direction suggested by the hon. Member for Partick—which really amounted to nothing, because no child was employed before five o'clock—or on the line suggested by the hon. Member for Camberwell, were adopted, it would be a fatal blunder. What was the child labour which was done in the rural districts of the country? His own district was a dairy district, and it was not an unusual thing for children to carry milk in the morning, but the Amendment would prevent a child from carrying a can of milk to a neighbour's cottage or to the village in which he was going to receive his education. He would exceedingly regret, in the interests of education, that they should take a step which, in his judgment, would be prejudicial to the interest of the children themselves and of no possible benefit to their education. What would be the alternative supposing these children had no little occupation of that kind? Very often it was the most mischievous children who were taken out to do this work; it was the only way to control them effectively; and to intrude upon the domestic life of the homes in Scotland by a proposal of this kind would be unwise and, in the interests of education, undesirable.

DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

said he was very glad this question had been raised. He looked upon this as constituting one of the gravest national scandals that cried aloud for reform. He would endeavour to justify that statement, and he hoped the advocates of the eight-hours day for miners would be patient with them, because by this Bill they were endeavouring to regulate the hours of labour for children, and to secure that they should not work fourteen and twelve and ten hours, as in so many cases they did at the present time. There were no official figures for Scotland, but they had an official Return for England and Wales, which was presented in 1899, and that Return disclosed a measure of suffering which to him constituted a bitter and ironical comment upon our greatness as a nation. The Vice-President of the Council made it the theme of his speech in introducing the Estimates on 28th April, 1899—more than two years ago. Although the right hon. Gentleman then said that the Return cast a lurid light over the social condition of the artisan classes of the country, absolutely nothing had been done. He himself had had the privilege of being asked by the School Board for London to summarise and compile a Return of the state of the facts for London, and he never remembered the facts which came under his notice then without a feeling of shame and indignation that such things should be permitted to continue. In addition to twenty-seven and a half hours a week in school, little youngsters of the most tender age were subjected to the most exacting physical toil for fifty, sixty, and sixty-five hours. He found school-teachers stating that children fell asleep at their desks because of the rigour of this employment before school-hours. He found that children were taken out of their beds at two or three o'clock in the morning and subjected to all sorts of toil, sent to school at nine, leaving at twelve, and engaging in two hours toil at mid-day, going back to school at two, leaving at 4.30, and then continuing till midnight at newspaper selling or other work. The Glasgow School Board had prepared a Return dated 18th February, 1901, and he commended the figures to the hon. Member for Renfrewshire. That Return showed that there were 4,628 children engaged in certain labour after they had been twenty-seven and a half hours a week in school. As to the ages of the children, fourteen were between six and seven, fifty-eight between seven and eight, and 157 between eight and nine.


Can the hon. Member tell me what the occupations are?


I propose to give them. With regard to the education qualification of the children, 42 were in the infants' department, 186 were in Standard I., and 371 were in Standard II. As to the occupations, 2,164 spent their time in distributing milk, 899 in carrying round and selling newspapers, in many cases, of course, right up to midnight, 530 were engaged in grocers' shops, 144 in butchers', 108 in barbers', 214 in bakers', and 569 in miscellaneous occupations. As to the hours of employment, in addition to the twenty-seven and a half spent in school, 719 worked from twenty to twenty-five hours a week, 461 from twenty-five to thirty 313 from thirty to thirty-five, 167 from thirty-five to forty, eighty from forty to forty-five, twenty from forty-five to fifty, and in one or two cases they went up to sixty. The number working from two to three hours in the morning was 467, from three to four hours 338, and twelve worked from four to five hours With regard to the question of poverty and the contention that it was the people in straitened circumstances who made use of casual employment, a statement was made by the clerk to the Glasgow School Board, at a conference held in Edinburgh during Whit-week, to the effect that their experience in Glasgow was that the children engaged in selling on the streets were not by any means to be regarded as the children of parents in desperate poverty, and that it was rather the careless, thriftless, self-indulgent, often criminal parent who subjected his child to this toil, and such parents existed, he fancied, even in Scotland. As to the proposal before the House, what would it mean? In summer time that a child might work four hours in the morning, then go for five and a half hours to school, and then work for four and a half hours in the evening, or fourteen hours a day; and in the winter time it would mean three hours work in the morning, five and a half hours in school, and two and a half hours work in the evening, or eleven hours a day. Now, if this question was to be tackled—and it must be at a very early date—it would not be on the lines of the Amendment now before the House. If they were going to regulate this thing let them regulate it generously. If the Amendment were carried it would be said by parents that that was the level of their moral obligation, that the Statute-book said so, and they would start their children at five o'clock in the morning accordingly. He had an Amendment upon the Paper saying that no child should work before school hours, and he was prepared to back it through thick and thin. He heard flamboyant references to the greatness of this country, but these children were the heritors of the greatness of this country. Surely it became us to equip them in such a way as would enable them to carry their responsibilities properly. Yet because he suggested that little youngsters of tender years should not engage in physical toil it was said that he was a visionary, and not at all practical. He would rather have the matter left where it was now, with the small proposal with regard to evening work which the Bill contained, and for which he was very grateful, than see the entirely reactionary Amendment of the hon. Member carried.

MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.)

said everyone had listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Member for North Camberwell, who was a very great authority on all educational questions, but, like most experts on educational questions, he allowed his enthusiasm to carry him rather far. He forgot, in the first instance, that this Bill did not deal with London but affected Scotland, where the conditions were totally different in every respect from those existing in the metropolis. The hon. Member said this was one of the gravest national scandals, and then quoted figures from Glasgow affecting children of the ages of six or seven. He had no doubt the hon. Member had every cause to have his feelings stirred by the experience he had gained in London and elsewhere; there were the very gravest scandals affecting small children, but the law in Scotland already dealt with the point raised by the hon. Member. The hon. Member spoke of children of six or seven doing fifty or sixty hours work a week, but that ought to be impossible in Scotland under the existing law. He would refer the hon. Member to the Act of 1878. Under Clause 6 of that Act no child under the age of ten could be employed in any casual employment. What more could Parliament do? If the law was not properly enforced in Glasgow, surely the school board was responsible. But when they were dealing with such matters they could not go in advance of public opinion if they wished to benefit the children themselves. This Bill would raise the age from ten to twelve. Did the hon. Member mean to say that a boy of twelve in a country district was not to be allowed to deliver a pint of milk or a basket of potatoes on his way to school? He did not know what would be the result of education in this country if educational experts were allowed a free hand. There would be a revolt against education altogether. Do let hon. Members be sensible. He had been a supporter of the Bill and had done his best to get it through, and he did not want to see raised against it a hostile feeling on the part of a large portion of the population of Scotland. He hoped the Amendment would not be agreed to.

MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)

I agree entirely with my hon. and learned friend the Member for the Border Burghs that it would be very undesirable for the House to accept this Amendment. As my hon. and learned friend said, it would almost amount to an invitation to a kind of employment which is rare and, I am glad to say, becoming increasingly rare. But I rise for the purpose of making one observation. I entirely sympathise with the spirit that animated the speech of my hon. friend the Member for North Camberwell; but the difficulty in a case of this kind is not so much to frame a law as to enforce it. A great many of the shocking cases referred to by my hon. friend of children, six, seven, and eight years of age, being employed for three and four hours in the morning are absolutely illegal at the present moment. But how are you to enforce the law? That is the real difficulty. In a factory or workshop, or any place where labour is habitually and systematically carried on, the process of inspection which is necessary to the due enforcement of the law is comparatively easy, but when you are dealing with casual employment in the streets or in the fields, unless you have a very much larger army of inspectors and police than the local authorities at present possess, it is extremely difficult to find out the offence, and still more difficult to bring it home to the offender. I have taken a great interest in this question for a great many years, and have constantly pressed it upon the attention of the Government, and my object in rising is not so much to enlarge upon the difficulties as to ask a specific question, because I see a representative of the Home Office on the Treasury bench. The Vice-President of the Board of Education told us a year ago in connection with another Bill which we were considering in the Grand Committee upstairs that a Departmental Committee had been appointed by the Education Department and the Home Office to consider the whole question of child labour in its relation to education and in its relation to what I may call labour legislation also. I desire to ask what progress that Committee has made, whether it has reached the stage now of presenting a Report, whether the Government can give us any kind of indication as to the lines on which that Report proceeds, and whether they are prepared to take any steps to deal legislatively or otherwise with this, which is undoubtedly a most urgent social reform?


I will inquire.


could not help feeling that a case had been made out, not only to-day but on former occasions, in favour of legislation respecting casual labour. It seemed almost an absurdity that we should have laws affecting factories and workshops, but that casual labour should be pursued almost altogether without interference by the Legislature. He hoped that when the Report to which reference had been made was published, and the Government had had time to consider it, legislation would be submitted to the House. In dealing with this difficult subject they must bear in mind that they could not have the same law applicable to every district of the country. The circumstances of the towns differed from those of the rural districts, and even as between towns themselves the conditions differed. Now, Parliament had dealt with casual employment in local Acts. Some of these Acts came before him when he was a member of the Police and Sanitary Committee. That Committee considered the wants of each case, and the condition of each town, and they passed Acts to meet those conditions. The latest decision of Parliament, so far as he knew, on this subject related to the great city of Liverpool. In that case the law was not made rigid. But a clause was inserted in their Bill of 1899 which he believed worked admirably, and had done a great deal to relieve Liverpool from the scandal and disgrace of child labour in casual employments. This clause authorised the Corporation of Liverpool to make regulations as to the hours during which, the places where and the conditions under which, such labour should be pursued. He thought that if they clothed the different authorities with powers of that kind, and defined certain limits of age within which labour should under no conditions be pursued, that would really meet the case in the most effective manner. The House might remember that the restriction under this Bill extended to fourteen years of age. Now, they knew the great difficulty there often was in exercising control, authority, and discipline over young persons between the ages of twelve and fourteen. He believed it was better that they should have some employment, and be under some discipline, and be taught habits of responsibility. He believed employment within moderate limits, properly conducted under healthy circumstances, was a benefit rather than a mischief, and he felt certain that Parliament would not act wisely if by one drastic and rigid law affecting the whole country they interfered with the conditions of labour, which varied so much in different parts of the country.


Nobody is in favour of the Amendment now before the House. The hon. Member for Partick himself admits that it is too weak; the hon. Member for West Renfrew thinks it goes too far, and the hon. Member for Camberwell thinks it does not go far enough. Those who are very anxious in this matter should, I think, accept the considerable step given by this Bill. The right hon. Member for East Fife said the difficulty was not to make laws but to enforce them, and surely the corollary of that is that, if you have a class of laws which it is very difficult to enforce, it would never be very wise to make your laws very much in advance of ordinary public opinion. We have got a sufficient guarantee, I think, that public opinion is with us to the extent to which we have gone, because hon. Members will remember that this clause was passed through the House of Lords more than a year ago, and I am not aware that in any public discussion of the subject, in the press or elsewhere, any serious objection has been offered by the people of Scotland. However admirable may be in theory the changes suggested by the hon. Member for North Camberwell, we should get ahead of public opinion if we adopted them, and then, as the right hon. Member for East Fife truly pointed out, although we should have an excellent law upon the Statute Book we could not possibly enforce it.

COLONEL PILKINGTON (Lancashire, Newton)

said the question of casual labour was a very serious one from the manufacturer's point of view. In factories children learned a particular trade, but casual labour did them no good whatever, and it was a considerable grievance that the position of children in factories should not be the same as that of children in casual employment. Three-fourths of the agitation two years ago on the half-time question arose because children were kept from school by all sorts of casual employment, and yet, instead of finding a remedy by dealing with that casual employment, Parliament raised the age in connection with those employments where the system of inspection was now perfect. He very much agreed with the sentiments of the hon. Member for North Camberwell. In theory he was right, and he hoped, if it could be done, that the rules and regulations that applied to factories and other places where inspection was perfect would be applied to casual work, which really did children no good. He certainly would vote against the Amendment.


said that in view of the satisfactory discussion that had arisen he would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


moved, in Clause 2, page 1, line 18, to leave out 9 and insert 8. The proposal of the clause, he said, was that children should be allowed to work till nine o'clock at night during the summer months. That meant, assuming a child worked three hours in the morning, a thirteen hours day. He proposed that the hour at night should be eight o'clock instead of nine. It was a very small concession, and he hoped it would meet with the approval of hon. Members opposite. Even if it were made, the hours of work would still be quite long enough.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 18, to leave out the word 'nine' and insert the word 'eight.'"—(Dr Macnamara.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'nine' stand part of the Bill."


It is always rather ungracious to have to refuse an hon. Member who appears in such a reasonable mood as the hon. Member who has just addressed the House, and who has, I think, very frankly acquiesced in the general feeling of the House, and not proceeded with his larger Amendment; and it is really, therefore, with sorrow that I must stick to the Bill as it is. I would remind the hon. Member that as regards the question between eight and nine, it is not altogether a question of an extra hour's labour for a child; it is the question also of the time at which it may be convenient to do a particular thing. The difference in the Bill between seven o'clock in winter and nine in summer does not mean that you think a child ought to work two hours more in the summer than in the winter. It simply goes by daylight; and it might be convenient to do a certain thing at these hours. Therefore, my advice would be that the House should stick to the Bill as it stands.


asked leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

*SIR ALFRED HICKMAN (Wolverhampton, W.)

rose to move, in Clause 2, page 1, line 18, after the word "might," to leave out the words to end of line 20. The right hon. Member for Thanet had, he said, thought it necessary, as an English Member, to make some apology for intervening in the discussion of a Scotch Bill. He did not feel that in his case any apology was necessary, because he had an Amendment later which would extend the Bill to England. The 11 made a distinction between employment in summer and in spring, autumn, and winter. But he submitted that in many kinds of employment it was equally reasonable that boys should be allowed to engage in work after seven o'clock at night in October or in March. The hon. and learned Member for the Border Burghs said a difference should be made between country districts and; towns. But this Bill applied to all districts and to all towns. The hon. Member for North Camberwell, in his eloquent speech, said that it was for the most part the thriftless and the criminal parent who sent his child to work at a tender age. But this Bill would apply equally to the case of the poor widow, to whom the shilling a week earned by her boy might mean a very important addition to her income. We all agree that education is a most excellent thing for children, but we must also agree that food is a most excellent thing, and even more necessary than education, and there might be plenty of cases where the few shillings the children earn make all the difference between a sufficient and insufficient supply of food. Employment itself was also education, for the boy was taught to earn something. It was not desirable with legislation of this character to go in advance of popular opinion; it would be a very difficult matter to enforce a rule that a child should not be allowed to go out after seven o'clock at night after the 31st of September, he having been allowed to do so up to that date. He therefore hoped the Committee would accept his proposal.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 18, after the word 'night, to leave out the words to the end of line 20."—(Sir Alfred Hickman.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."


I not only think I am bound to resist this amendment as a question of even justice to the hon. Member for North Camberwell, but I think the hon. Gentleman has temporarily forgotten that this rule is already part of the law at present, and that by accepting the Amendment we should be going back on the existing law.


said the question he desired to raise had been raised by the memorandum issued by the Govan School Board, which pointed out that there would be a diversity of opinion under this Bill unless there was some test examination. The effect of leaving the proposal as it stood in the Bill would be that it would create differences in various parts of Scotland. His Amendment proposed that the power of granting exemptions should still be left with the school board, but that their power should only extend to granting exemptions to those children who were able to satisfy the inspectors that they had attained a certain stage of efficiency.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 27, after the word 'age,' to insert the words 'who have obtained a certificate of ability to read and write, and of a knowledge of elementary arithmetic from one of His Majesty's inspectors."—(Mr. Renshaw.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

SIR MARK STEWART (Kircudbrightshire)

said he hoped the Amendment would not be persisted in, because it would, if carried, produce a great amount of hardship in most schools. It was surely for the school board to determine what standard to adopt. If there was a stupid boy who failed in the examination, it did not follow that he would be stupid in all things, but only in education, and if that boy were the only son of a widow it would be hard to prevent him from earning his livelihood. In the ordinary way he would be learning nothing, and to keep him at school labouring to master the elements of education, which he had shown up to the age of fourteen he could not do, was most unfair.


said with regard to the school board for Govan, which he partly represented in this House, he might say that he was not convinced by the representation which they had sent round, and therefore he should oppose the Amendment. He did not see the cogency of the argument of the school board for Govan that it did not do to have variety, and that it was necessary to have a uniform standard; the circumstances in various parts of the country were so entirely different that it would be much safer to allow school boards to take their own standards, and not to enforce a uniform standard, which must necessarily be a low one. He hoped that in Govan they might go a great deal further. He would like them to demand a merit certificate as the condition upon which children should be allowed to go away from the school, but that would be impossible in all districts. He, however, thought that it would be found that all school hoards would act in harmony and pull together. The school board for Govan did not like the responsibility of deciding in particular cases which was given by the Bill, but that was, in his opinion, the right principle, because a great deal more had to be considered than the requirements of the child. He hoped the school boards, in deciding the question of examination, would be able to look into the character of the child and also into the circumstances of its family and be able to ascertain whether it was imperative that the child should go away and commence work or whether it might be properly kept at school for the benefit of longer education. Those were the considerations which would come forward, and very soon rules and practice would come into being and school boards would lay down certain principles. There was nothing to prevent school boards making different rules, and if they said a labour certificate should be the condition for allowing a child to go to work they could do so. There was, of course, a power of control at the Education Department, and if the Education Department thought the rules were too lax they could reduce the grant, but he was certain the Department would not use that kind of control, He thought the school boards were perfectly capable of using their discretion, and therefore he opposed the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made. In page 2, line 9, by leaving out the words from the word 'exempted,' to the word 'and' in line 11.


said the question he desired to raise by the Amendment he proposed to move was a question of some importance. Under the Bill very great responsibility would be laid upon school boards in granting exemptions, and it would be desirable, therefore, for the Department to keep closely in touch with the school boards to learn how they were acting under the Bill when passed into law. It would be desirable that a return should be made by the school boards to the Department, so that the Department might know how they were acting in this matter. He begged to move.

Amendment proposed— In page 2, line 14, to leave out the words from the word 'that,' to the word 'a,' in line 51."—(Mr. Maxwell.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."


submitted that such a proposal would put a long and elaborate duty upon school boards which they would find extremely onerous. He thought that the Department, through their inspectors and their general powers of inquiry into everything done by the school boards, would have abundant means of ascertaining whether a school board had been unduly lax, and that it would be better to let the provision stand as it was at present.


This clause was framed by the Department, and they evidently thought it sufficient for their protection. The truth of the matter is that there cannot be much exemption going on without their being alive to it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed— In page 2, line 37, to leave out the words 'and Employment of Young Children Regulation,' and insert the words 'children school attendance.'"—(Sir Francis Powell.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill."


called the hon. Baronet's attention to the fact that there was a regulation in the Bill applying to young children.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Another Amendment made.

Amendment proposed— In Title, after the words 'Regulate the,' to insert the words 'Employment and,' and to leave out the word 'Young.'"—(Sir Francis Powell.)


said it was an unconscious stroke of humour on the part of the draftsman to describe the title as "short title." He suggested it should be called the "Education (Scotland) Bill."


thought that such a "short title" would be most inapplicable and inadequate.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be read the third time upon Wednesday next.