HC Deb 25 October 1906 vol 163 cc425-7

I beg to ask the President of the board of Education whether his attention has been called to a statement of the Chairman of the Small Arms Company of Birmingham, that the adoption of a miniature rifle by the Government for use in schools had been notified and that the delivery of such rifles to the schools would commence shortly; and, if so, can he state on what conditions such rifles are to be supplied, whether on application from the school managers only, or whether such school managers will be compelled to accept such rifles and train the boys in warlike exercises; and whether it is proposed that military instruction is to form part of the curriculum of public elementary education.


I have no knowledge of any statement of the kind referred to in the Question, and I can certainly state that so far as elementary schools are concerned, in regard to which the honourable Member asks me, I am quite j sure that no rifle, miniature or otherwise, has been adopted by the Government for use in such schools, nor any arrangements made for their delivery.

MR. J. M. ROBERTSON (Northumberland, Tyneside)

asked whether such a permission to use rifles had been given in the case of secondary schools.


said that he could not answer for what was being done by public school authorities.

DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

asked whether or not the board of Education had definitely sanctioned the use of rifles in elementary schools, and whether serious misadventures had not arisen through the use of rifles by boys, and at least one fatal accident.


said that he was sorry to hear of a fatal accident, but such an accident had oven occurred in regard to chemical inquiries. There had been no general authority given to elementary schools to practise rifle shooting in any general terms. Permission had been given to the authorities under well-defined conditions in certain cases to allow children of a certain ago to be taught how to shoot. But rifle shooting, as it was carried out in these miniature ranges, was by no means a good form of physical exercise, and it was part of the terms that this practice in shooting should not interfere with the most important subject of the physical development of the children.


But the board of Education has sanctioned rifle shooting in elementary schools?


Under certain conditions, yes.

MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

May I ask whether there is any objection in principle to teaching the use of the rifle subject to proper safeguards?


Any hon. Member can answer that Question for himself.

MR KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)

Is the rifle instruction being paid for out of the public funds?


So far as it is part of the public curriculum, it certainly is.


Well done.