§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. THOMAS SHAW,) Hawick Burghs
This measure was introduced in a speech so brief but yet so clear and succinct that it seems almost impossible to add now to that exposition. The Bill, nevertheless, is one of considerable complexity, and many of its provisions are of a novel character. The subject as a whole is essentially a non-party one, but one can see that considerable friction may arise at future stages of the Bill. The prospects on all sides at the present time are so favourable that we are hoping to secure a speeds passage of the Second Reading. There was a time in the history of this House when a Bill of this kind would have been treated as a most revolutionary measure; and, half a century ago, if such a measure had been introduced it would have been said that the British Constitution was being undermined. Now a Bill of this kind finds itself in smooth water 1252 from the outset. This measure is not the development of the political ideas of one party, but the gradual development of a quickened sense on the part of the community at large of the duty it owes to the children. Many high-minded men and women, and many philanthropic societies, have been working upon this subject, and of recent years one is glad to note a large development of scientific knowledge. All these facts, together with two notable things which have recently occurred, namely, the Report of the Committee on Physical Training and the Report of the Commission on Physical Deterioration, have made out the case for this Bill from no political point of view, but rather as a gathering together of the general sentiments of the country. Consolidation under this Bill has been carried out on the usual lines, and the Government hope that the effect of that consolidation will be found to be useful to all local authorities in the administration of the Act. There are one or two points to which I desire to call the attention of the House, not referring to the consolidation part but to the new clauses.
I wish to make one or two brief observations with regard to those provisions of the Bill which deal with the protection of infant life. One new provision occurs in Clause 3. If hon. Members at their leisure will peruse Section 3, they will find very important provision in the statute with reference to the subject of places where children are housed. Hitherto, this business of baby farming has been carried on with insufficient attention from the State, but there is provision under Section 3 applicable to the case of children being housed under dangerous or insanitary conditions, where there is overcrowding, or where the person in charge of the child has been declared by the local authority to be unfit. I am bound to say that upon this head the Bill makes a much-needed advance, because those persons are disqualified for ever from, being charged with the duty of carrying on the business of child farming under Head 2 of the Bill. The provisions as to the conviction for offences are so strong that in future if a baby farmer has been convicted of cruel 1253 treatment that baby-farmer is disqualified for ever from the possibility of carrying on a business of that kind. Then there are provisions dealing with the very serious cases of children who are burned or injured through being left in rooms with open fireplaces and the cases where children have lost their lives through overlying by the parent or the guardian. In those cases where it is established that any person in charge of a child so farmed has been guilty of any of these offences such person shall be disqualified from carrying on the business of child-farming. I think that the House will agree that in the interest of the State itself an emphatic provision of that kind in this Bill is certainly well warranted by the facts of the case. There is a provision in Section 5 which says that if these persons have been found guilty of negligence, cruelty, or drunkenness, or if they have been found in a condition of inebriety in such a way as to be marked down in their reports, it will have the further effect of disqualifying these people from carrying on the business of the bringing up of children. That is so far as regards the protection
There are a series of provisions, from 13 to 15, which are, I admit, somewhat novel, and those have reference to the prevention of cruelty. It is right that we should call attention to these, because undoubtedly they are new provisions. There is one provision in Section 13, which substantially is this: If a child loses its life in consequence of being left in a room with an open grate, an offence is committed against that section, so that, although it appears at first a strong interference with the liberty of the subject, there may be a guarantee in future that all children shall have the protection of protected fires in the room in which they are left by the parent or guardians for the time being. These things seem, on the bold black type of the Bill, somewhat strong orders, but there are records in regard to these matters of the most alarming character. My colleagues from Scotland will remember that only the other day, in Edinburgh, a terrible case occurred. I will narrate to the House what the case was. In one of 1254 the large tenements in the Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, a part called Milne's Court, there was a poor woman, Mrs. Denholm, who had three children. She left them there in the attic of a six storey building. To keep company with these children a Mrs. Brown left an infant of three years of age. They went off to visit Leith. There is no record whether this was a right visit or a wrong one. No doubt there is nothing to suggest that it was anything but in the ordinary course of their life. But shortly after they left, this attic room was discovered to be on fire, and what happened was this. It was broken into and one of these little children was found dead, another was brought out from the room in a dying condition and carried to the infirmary, but it expired before it reached there. A third child, after great exertion, was discovered in the burning bed, and finally the fourth child was discovered while they were raking out the embers of the almost extinguished fire. The corpse was found among the debris of the conflagration. That is a case for which there is no provision under the ordinary law, apart from the case of manslaughter, or, as we call it in Scotland, culpable homicide. Cases like that would fall under this clause to which we hope the House will address itself with emphasis and not with undue criticism as to interference with the liberty of the subject. Here is a case in which four little children are left in a house apparently without protection and really in great danger. There was an open fire almost in their midst, they began to play, no doubt, with the embers in the grate, and the result was that in a few hours the four infants lost their lives. I think it is not too much to put on the humblest in the community the care of infants, who, as I have said, are citizens of the State, obligations such as will prevent lamentable accidents of that kind. I will only on this head say in conclusion that the statistics in regard to it are of the most overwhelming character. I understand that in one year no fewer than 1,600 infant deaths arose from this cause. I trust that I have made clear to the House that this provision is well worthy of support. There is a provision with reference to the subject of infants' overlying by the mother or the woman sleeping with them. 1255 In that case also the figures are of an appalling character. The House will hardly believe that in London alone in a single year 1,600 deaths have arisen from that cause. That is an alarming statistic and we think it well warrants Clause 14 of the Bill.
As to Clause 15 I feel bound to say that I do not think it requires argument. If any person having the custody, charge or care of a girl between the ages of seven and sixteen, allows a girl to reside in a brothel, from that moment an offence shall be held to have been committed, because it is a social moral and legal offence. It is equivalent in the legal degree to cruelty of the most hateful kind. We provide in the Bill the power of inspection, not only of homes, which is all-important, but of the institutions in which there may be a combination of the agencies working in the interest of children. That provision says that the governors of these institutions shall have a certain amount of surveillance on the question of inspection. There are in regard to the protection of the lives of children, persons who, apart from places, want supervision. Not exactly in this portion of the Bill, but later on, the responsibility for children will be continued in the case of a deserting husband. I will explain to the House how that matter stands at present. There would be great danger of any prosecution of a deserting husband failing on the ground that he personally had nothing to do with the cruelty, neglect, or wrong committed to the children in his home. Now the law, we hope, will step in and say that if a man deserts his wife and family he must consider the case of the children so left behind. In the ordinary case his desertion is for a justifiable cause, namely, on account of a drunken wife, and what we say is that the law ought emphatically to declare that if a man justifiably deserts his wife, he shall not thereby plead that as an excuse for leaving the children to her sole and unaided care. If he deserts his wife and family, it is all the more important to continue his responsibility for those little ones who were left without proper care. I think I have exhausted the personal aspect of the question so far as the children are concerned.
1256 There is a part of the Bill which may cause probably a little trouble. That is the portion beginning with Section 37, as to juvenile smoking. I confess that when I read these clauses myself I did think they were going somewhat far, and I daresay that anyone who has not gone fully into the records will come at once to that opinion. I found it to be my duty to go fully into the question, and I must say that the investigations conducted by the authority of Parliament on this subject are of rather a serious' kind. As this matter may be the subject of much discussion, will the House permit me to refer to the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration? In that Report these sentences occur, and this is really the substantial foundation for these provisions in the Bill—There appear to be two ways of dealing with the matter which might be of good effect and could be made the subject of a very simple Act of Parliament: (1) To prohibit the sale of tobacco and cigarettes to children below a certain age. All the witnesses were agreed in advocating this step, but there was some difference of opinion as to the age which should be selected. The Committee think that it should at least be sixteen. (2) To prohibit the sale of tobacco and cigarettes in sweet shops and other shops frequented by children.But there was a very important Report presented by the Royal Commission on Physical Training. That is a thing which hits us all, for that Commission had in view not only the actual conditions so far as children are concerned, but the conditions from the public point of view, almost from the Imperial point of view, as to what was to be the result to the State itself of having children brought up under habits of this kind. That Royal Commission reported in these terms—Tobacco smoking before maturity is reached has a most prejudicial effect on physical development, and this evil and increasing practice cannot be too strongly denounced.We have made this effort, and we commend it to the House, hoping that it will have a beneficial effect.
I now come for a moment to a very thorny branch of the question, though we are not dealing with it for the first time, namely, the reformatory and industrial schools question. That has been the subject of legislation for a period of 1257 over forty years. Since 1866 right up to the present there has been a crop of legislative effort, sometimes culminating in statutes and sometimes not, on this very complicated subject, and the House will understand that this Bill links together the whole scheme of reformatory and industrial schools in the most useful manner. I call particular attention to one point which I think, though I am not sure, is a new development, and that is the auxiliary home. At present it sometimes happens that there is no accommodation in an industrial school for children who ought to be sent there in ordinary circumstances; in such cases there is power in the Bill to add to the local or national equipment by way of auxiliary homes. These institutions are annexed, so to speak, to the general scheme of reformatory and industrial schools in the country. On all these questions of the treatment of children, whether by imprisonment, penal servitude, reformatory treatment, or industrial treatment, may I say that the keystone of the Bill is to be found in Section 96, in which it is emphatically and broadly insisted that no child under fourteen years of age shall be subject to imprisonment. That is a strong and well-warranted step, and especially the following section, which provides that no young person under sixteen years of age shall be liable to be sentenced to penal servitude. If the House would wish to see at one glance what is to be substituted for the old hard and fast cast-iron methods of treating children, they will find it a very excellent conspectus of the new system under its various heads in Section 98. In the first place, it is perfectly clear that no magistrate with Section 98 before him will ever dream of disposing of child cases in anything like the old harsh system which is to be abolished by this measure. The magistrate has placed before him a series of alternatives, the object being to treat these children not by way of punishing them—which is no remedy—but with a view to their reformation. There is suggested discharging the child under recognisance, or under the supervision of a probation officer—a most excellent new scheme—or sending 1258 the offender to an industrial school or to a reformatory school or by ordering him to be whipped. Personally I do not care about the whipping alternative, but I do care a great deal about Sub-sections (g) to (j)—by ordering the offenders to pay a fine, damages, or costs, or by ordering the parent or guardians of the offender to pay a fine, damages, or costs. We think the latter is a most commendable provision. It is well that parents or guardians should know in future that their responsibility is not ended when they send their children into the streets or leave them to follow their own devices, but that they are to be subject to punishment of a fine, damages, and costs at the order of the magistrate; or, where that would be no good whatever, there is the further provision of committing the child to a place of detention instead of to imprisonment. A wonderful change initiated by this Bill is the sending the child to a place of detention instead of imprisonment. It must be remembered that the moment a little one is brought into Court at present it is sent to prison to await its trial. Under the scheme of the Bill there are places where the child is to be detained and accommodation provided for it in all cases of remand. Therefore, the House will see that there is to be an end to that system of real cruelty—for it is real cruelty—of sending a child to gaol and making it a gaol-bird even before trial. All that is ended by this section, which we think the local authorities will work well. Children of from twelve to fourteen year of age will go to industrial schools. As a Scotsman, in opening this Bill I would like to make one remark with reference to the case of what I call tramp or wandering children. The reason I make this observation is that we have the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom, and probably in Europe, very often infested by this class of child, going about under the charge of not the regular style of gipsy, but of real wandering vagabond tramp creatures. The children are in their charge; they go from parish to parish. No local authority can get hold of them, for before a magistrate's order can be put in operation they are off to another parish, probably to another part of the 1259 country. What we have done is, we take possession of these children in this sense; we say that if the parents or guardians have no settled home or if the parents or guardians are unfit to take care of the children, then the children are to be brought before a magistrate and sent to an industrial school. We emphatically make it clear that the very fact of wandering about, not begging alone, but of not being in a condition in which they would be compelled to send their children to school if they were localised under ordinary circumstances in a particular parish—that of itself will bring them within the purview of this provision. Let there be no false sentiment about this. With every admiration for the genius of George Borrow, I think that he never did a worse service to this country than by writing "Lavengro," in which he praises the wandering gipsy life until it made well-disposed citizens come to think that there was something beautiful in it. There is nothing of the kind. There is nothing but squalor, and sometimes very little else than immorality in the life to which these children are brought up. It is high time that these children should be rescued from squalor and shame. I once discussed this point with a gillie in the Highlands who put the whole thing in a nutshell. The gillie used the illustration of the rabbit warren, and said: "If we would only seize hold of the young ones the old stock would soon die out, and so we would save these young people." The gillie agreed that the young vagrants were initiated from their earliest days into mal-practices, and that they should be sent to industrial houses, and if necessary, to reformatory schools. I would point out that the provision in regard to the supervision of young children in reformatory and industrial schools does not mean that that supervision ends with their incarceration there, but continues until they reach the age of nineteen. We think that that will be in the highest degree helpful to the children. There may be in some persons' minds a doubt as to the advisability of the State interfering with the responsibility of the parents: but that is an argument more familiar in former days than now. This Bill, 1260 however, very firmly declares certain new aspects of parental duty which must be brought home to the parents of neglected children. Firs, the parents must contribute such sum as is reasonable to maintain the children; secondly, where the child is sent to a day industrial school the parent or such person as is liable to maintain him must contribute such sum as is reasonable towards his industrial training and meals in the school; thirdly, when a child is brought before a Court the parents are convened to the Court ill order that they may see what is the result of neglect, and that personal responsibility may be brought home to them when the child falls into crime; and fourthly, if a fine is imposed, the fatuous precedent of fining the child is got rid of, and the parent is fined. These provisions show that while we have been looking after the children we have not been allowing the persons primarily responsible to escape their responsibility to the State. There is a part of the Bill which is a novelty, and that is the part which provides for the institution of separate juvenile Courts. Since 1863 this system has been established in the United States, and twenty-one States have now adopted the principle. In Canada it has been adopted since 1884, and in South Australia since 1895. In all these cases the record is unfailing that the effect of separate treatment of the children under more sympathetic conditions, apart from the ordinary grimy surroundings of a Criminal Court, has been wholly helpful, and the children being often accompanied with much watchful care on the part of Court officials the result has been a very large diminution of youthful crime. I think that that example from our dominions across the seas is worth following. Of course this Bill is just a part, though a large part, of the development of social reform in this country. The Party opposite is entitled—and I have never denied it—to the highest credit for their legislation in this matter and for the Act of 1901, which is a notable charter of the children's rights. But since then, provision has been made for the medical inspection of school children, for feeding children at school, for the establishment of probation officers and the notification of births— 1261 a subject not remote from that now under consideration. And now here is a Bill to prevent the cruelty of those children entering the ranks of crime. I therefore think that the House is entitled to be satisfied that we are making steady advance. I am quite well aware that no one who has gone through the statistics of juvenile crime, and of the resulting social misery, but must acknowledge that notwithstanding what we have done much remains that is saddening. The only consolation we can have is in the historical reflection of what has been done within the last century. Just take the description which Sydney Smith gave of one particular trade, that of the chimney sweep. His essay did more for those children than the Report of the Committee of both Houses, because he there described the awful conditions of these young children in that trade. He pointed out how they came with advertisements to the doors of people, and on the advertisement was printed "Little boys for small flues," and he gave a picture of small boys climbing up chimneys with bloody hands and knees, and sometimes sticking in the chimney and being pulled out, sometimes dead and sometimes suffering. That sort of thing existed in one particular trade, and if you take for decade after decade from 1819 up to the present time the record of your factory legislation, it would be the same most gratifying record of progress. It is only necessary to remark that well into the last century there were provisions under which it was possible for children under the age of nine to be allowed to labour in factories, and Robert Owen, that most distinguished social reformer, gave evidence before a Committee of the House of Lords or of the House of Commons, I do not know which, to the effect that it was the common practice for children of six years of age to labour for thirteen hours in the factory, and that the parishes sent all their surplus children there, and so relieved the ratepayers of the parish. All these things I state for the purpose of urging Members of the House not to be too depressed, for we are making progress. It is still within the memory of men now living that little children of very tender years went down into the mines and were chained to the hutches, and worked under 1262 conditions which are appalling in the sight of God and man. All these things have been happily abolished, and therefore I beg the House to remember that at every stage of reform in that condition of things to which I am referring there has always been the grumble, "Are you not going too far?" No, Mr. Speaker, we are not going too far. We want to say to the child that if the world, or the world's law, has not been his friend in the past it shall not be now. We say that it is the duty of this Parliament and that this Parliament is determined to lift, if possible, and rescue him, to shut the prison door and to open the door of hope. I know quite well that in all cases of social reform you must get beyond the personal question to the deeper questions of the land, and of the drink, and, unhappily, the moment you get to them you are in the region of party controversy. And, of course, there is the deeper root difficulty which rests in human character. But apart from that we are dealing with human beings whose fate is upon us unless we interpose, and it is in a spirit of helpfulness and rescue that the Government introduce this measure.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Debate arising.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
So far as this measure is one of consolidation of course we raise-no objection to the Second Reading. I recognise that the law as to children is spread over a large number of Acts of Parliament, which are difficult to follow and understand, and certainly need consolidation. But this Bill is not only a measure of consolidation; it is in many respect one of Amendment and extension, and it certainly requires, as regards these new clauses, very considerable consideration and scrutiny. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Home Office, who gave, I cordially acknowledge, a most clear and lucid statement of the Bill on its introduction, admitted that a measure of this size and scope, containing 119 clauses, and consisting of 72 pages, could not be-expected to pass into law in a crowded session, unless it met with general consent, so that the Government had, in 1263 preparing the measure, to exclude as far as possible every subject of a controversial character. There are many subjects which many Members of this House would have desired to see included in this Bill to make the Bill a comprehensive measure of codification of the law relating to children and dealing with the time of employment in factories and workshops, street trading, and children in public-houses. But I am bound to say that all these questions would have led to considerable controversy and would have jeopardised the fate of the Bill, and probably the Government were wisely advised in excluding them from the present measure. Indeed, I am not sure as it is that the Government can hope that some of their amending clauses may not be considered controversial, or that they may not lead at all events to considerable discussion; but it was for them, of course, to settle the question whether the more extensive Amendments might be included, or whether it would have been wiser and safer to have curtailed the Bill to one of pure consolidation of the Infant Life Protection Act of 1897, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, 1904, making only necessary amendments where those Acts have been found in practice to be ineffective. The Bill, although nominally and chiefly a consolidation Bill, contains new enactments and Amendments of the existing law, some of which are quite novel, and some very far-reaching. New offences are in some cases created, and you have for the first time the right of entry granted to private homes and institutions and your new inspectors are given novel powers. You presume that parents know exactly what their children are doing and you punish them for their errors. But, at all events, there is one principle of the Bill which I for one cordially endorse, which has been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and that is the wider enforcement of parental authority. The parent is to be brought into Court when the child transgresses and will, as far as possible, be made to pay the fine for his child, which he has neglected to train. That is rightly at variance with the socialist doctrine, with which we in this part of the House have no sympathy, that the 1264 moment a child comes into the world the State is to be responsible for it. I am delighted to think that there is that recognition of parental authority within the four corners of the Bill. It is perfectly true that nearly every hon. Member in this House agrees in the principle of the Bill, and therefore the criticisms which must be addressed to the House are chiefly or largely upon Committee points, but under the new practice which prevails in this House of sending every measure upstairs, I do not think the Government can grumble if some of the criticisms made to-day are criticisms which might have been fully as well made in Committee, because this is after all the sole opportunity which the bulk of hon. Members who take a great interest in this Bill will have of considering it. I would therefore venture to offer a few criticisms of certain clauses of the Bill in which I feel considerable interest, and I promise the right hon. Gentleman I will not detain him at any undue length. There are also other points in regard to which I wish to elicit information. There is one part or point in the Bill which I think may lead to difference of opinion; it relates to the Infant Life Protection Act, which excludes the inspection of "one nurse-child homes." As the House will remember, the Infant Life Protection Act of 1897 exempted from inspection those persons who receive one nurse-child and not more than one child in return for weekly or periodical payments and not for a lump sum payment, and this Bill proposes the same exemptions. The Under-Secretary certainly told us the other day that a Select Committee would be appointed to consider this question, and that they would consider it early in the session, and report their conclusions, so that if they found for an alteration, or rather that "one-child" homes should be inspected, such proposals could in Committee be inserted in the Bill. I have reason, to believe that that Report is nearing a conclusion, and to-day, possibly, the Chairman of the Committee, if he speaks, may be able to clear up the point as to what the Committee think, and then the Under-Secretary may say whether it is the intention of the Government to incorporate the 1265 findings of the Committee in this Bill. Although there is a great deal to be said in favour of such inspection on the one hard, yet for my own part I see considerable objections to it on the other. If any such inspection be insisted upon you always run the risk of closing some of the very best and most comfortable homes, because there are some women who make the kindest and best possible, mothers, who do not care, and I am certain their husbands do not care, that the privacy of their homes should be interrupted, and that there should be that sort of suspicion created against them which such inspection is always liable to create. I was much interested in this question some years since in connection with the question of boarding-out, and it certainly was the experience of those who worked in my part of the world that those who received one child only were more careful and considerate, and that cruelty and neglect were entirely absent from their homes. These homes are not too numerous, and I think it would be a pity if you ran any risk of closing a home where the child has the advantage of being brought up with other foster children as they are and in a respectable home which they will long remember without any taint of the poorhouse or any of the inconveniences which in after life attach, and unfairly attach, to the reputation of a child who has been brought up in the poor house. I wish to ask the question whether there is any further information on that point, but as I say, the Chairman of the Committee, who have considered their Report, may speak and furnish it possibly. Then as to the begging clause. It has an addendum in Subsection 2, which is a new enactment. It throws the onus of proof on the person in charge of the child to show that he did not allow, and did his best to prevent, the child being in the street to beg, and I should like to know whether experience has shown the Under-Secretary the necessity of this measure, as I can see cases of hardship, considering the conditions in which many of our poor are housed, and the conditions in which they live in our large towns. There may be considerable hardship in inflicting these penalties on the poorer people. It is not as if 1266 they lived under better or happier conditions. Over some of the children, reared in crowded thoroughfares where the accommodation is extremely poor, it is very hard for the parents to keep an efficient control, and I must say you are creating undue hardship for the parents in making them responsible as you do. With regard to Clause 13, which deals with the case of children exposed to the risk of burning, I wish to ask whether it has ever been considered possible to have inspectors in order to see if fires are guarded, because the penalty here is only thee effect of a warning, and is only inflicted after the unfortunate child has been burnt. So far as the parent is concerned no doubt that is quite right, but so far as the child is concerned you lock the stable door after the horse is stolen. Then with regard to overlying—Clause 14. This is a new enactment, and I think the penalty is a very heavy one to impose upon an unfortunate mother who accidentally overlies her child. This overlying is largely due to the bad accommodation these people have. An unfortunate family with other children may only have one room, and parents may not be in a position to buy bassinettes, or cots or anything for the baby. It may also be only possible in winter to keep the baby warm by taking it into bed, and if by an accident of this kind the baby's life is sacrificed, and in many cases it is mere accident, probably no person is more distressed than the mother. I think therefore the penalty is far too high. I think every care should be taken to persuade the parents to be more careful in the charge of their children, but this is too heavy a penalty to threaten them with when an unfortunate overlying takes place. I think the, right hon. and learned Gentleman said that 1,500 deaths occurred in this way. Does he mean in London?
§ THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL,) Yorkshire, Cleveland
No; England and Wales.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
That is what I thought. So far as London is concerned, I fully admit the urgency 1267 of the problem of the infantile death-rate. While the death-rate has fallen greatly during the last fifty years, infantile mortality remains the same, and we find that it is greatest amongst the poorer classes and in the crowded districts. I find by the figures in 1841 and 1850 in London the infant mortality was 157 of every 1,000 born, and that in 1900 it had risen to 160, whereas the death-rate for the whole country is less than it was before. It is a matter of common notoriety that infantile mortality varies with the house accommodation, and therefore I hope it may not be necessary to press this rather heavy penalty in these cases. I have no doubt the Under-Secretary of State has made very careful inquiries into this question. I notice the opinion given by one of the best known London Coroners upon this subject. At an inquest at Battersea, the coroner, Mr. Troutbeck, in summing up, said—That in that district of London they had been engaged for some years in endeavouring to find genuine cases of overlying, but so far their search had been unfruitful. In many cases the children found dead in bed with their parents on careful examination had failed to show that there had been any interference with their breathing.The coroner went on to say—In the course of my experience I have never come across such a case, and I doubt whether such cases ever existed.I am certain the Home Office have carefully considered this question before they committed themselves the remedies proposed in this Bill. But it appears there are some well-known authorities in London who seem to doubt the accuracy of these figures. I do not think, although it is a new enactment, that anyone can object to Clause 15, which inflicts penalties upon anyone in charge of a girl between the ages of seven and sixteen for allowing that girl to reside in a brothel. That is a clause that everyone will agree with. Clause 22, dealing with visitation of children's homes and institutions, is a most important clause. Under the existing law there is no right of entry to such homes or institutions. I agree that it is necessary that there should be, but I hope the Home Office will consider the very delicate nature of such inspection as well as the discretion of 1268 the inspectors who are to carry it out. Many of these institutions are religious institutions and belong to various religious denominations, and I foresee very considerable difficulty in carrying out these provisions unless a very great discretion is used and the inspectors are the official inspectors of the Home Office or are people of some authority whose salaries will be placed upon the Estimates in order that the House may have some hold upon them. I have only one point I wish to raise on the 4th part of the Bill, that is with regard to Clauses 43 to 48. Those clauses deal solely with reformatory and industrial schools, and are all practically consolidation clauses. The changes made, if any, are small and chiefly administrative. I will not trouble the House with any remark upon them except to express my approval of the fact that the age of committal has not been raised. Sixteen is quite old enough, and youths or young women above that age should certainly not be mixed with boys and girls. With regard to the last part of this Bill dealing with juvenile offenders, I am sure we all agree that child offenders should be kept separate from adult offenders. Boys and girls under sixteen years of age should not be kept in prison or even mixed in the police courts with older criminals. I gathered that the right hon. Gentleman was going to establish police courts for juvenile offenders only in all parts of the country. I know they have been successfully established in Glasgow and Birmingham. In London children are still tried at the ordinary police courts but at a separate hour, and are not allowed to mix with criminals or to hear the other cases going on. I wish to know whether this system is to continue in London or whether separate police courts are to be opened in various districts. There are two objections to that being done, one, the great and unnecessary expense, and the other, that if you have only two Children's Courts for London, you will have to bring the children very great distances to the place of trial. I think it would be more satisfactory and less expensive if the present system were continued. The Under-Secretary of State said that he intended to require the police authorities 1269 all over the country to provide places of detention to which children could be committed or remanded. In many towns I believe such places already exist, but in others where they do not a great burden would be thrown on the ratepayers if they were called upon all over England to erect these places of detention. If this large expense is to take place, I should like to know whether the hon. Gentleman does not consider it would be fair that the Treasury should bear a portion of the cost, and whether the cost of the children committed to these places should not be defrayed by the Treasury as it now is when children are committed to prison. The right hon. Gentleman said also that they proposed to appoint a special children's magistrate to visit in turn a circuit of Courts. If that is only in London I have nothing to say against it, but my experience is that the greatest possible attention is given to children's cases by the present stipendiary magistrates, against whose humanity and fairness to the children nothing can be said. I should like to know whether it is the intention of the Secretary of State to deal merely with the children in London in this way; whether the magistrate is to wander from Court to Court or whether he is to sit in one or two places in the centre of London to which all the child offenders in London will be brought. With regard to the juvenile cigarette smokers, I cannot help thinking that, although you might prevent retail dealers from supplying small children with cigarettes yet at the same time there are many provisions in the Bill, arrests by the police, search for cigarettes, and others, which are in the nature of grandmotherly legislation and which would probably lead to a good many laughable scenes of constables pursuing small boys who would drop their cigarettes in running away. Such scenes would not tend to support the dignity of the law or the efficient administration of the Act. I am perfectly aware that other countries have found it desirable to pass laws in this matter, and I am perfectly aware that the Committee on Physical Deterioration recommended some legislative remedy for this child smoking. If I recollect aright, a Committee of the House of Lords too, last year specially 1270 considered this point, and came to the unanimous conclusion that legislation was desirable. I am only criticising some of the proposals which have been made; I think that the prohibition of sale to children below a certain age is certainly the right one, and it is one to which I raise no objection. I think that some of the other provisions of the clause will not tend to good administration of the law which the hon. Member desires to pass. Another point with which I am in sympathy is the entire abolition of child imprisonment, but I think that that is a provision which requires very careful consideration. I am all against the imprisonment of children, but experienced chairmen of quarter sessions will back me up when I say that there are some cases in which it is almost impossible to provide a proper deterrent to certain habitual criminals among children without resort to some sort of imprisonment or detention. So far as the proposals for the separation of the child criminal from the adult criminal is concerned, I entirely approve of it. With the exception of certain clauses which I think require careful consideration, so far as I am concerned the hon. Gentleman will have no difficulty in regard to the passage of this measure.
§ *MR. A. ALLEN (Christchurch)
said he had been a Member of the London education authority and had been closely connected with industrial schools for the last ten years. Speaking with that experience, he gave the Bill a very hearty welcome indeed. The right hon. Gentleman who had spoken last had referred to the special Courts for children, and had mentioned the particular case of London, asking whether the work was to be taken from the hands of the magistrates in the Metropolis and given to a special magistrate appointed for the purpose. He yielded to no one in his admiration of the way in which the magistrates of London had done their work; nevertheless, he welcomed no part of the Under-Secretary's statement with more gratitude than that in which he spoke of the establishment of Courts at remand homes in London, and the appointment of a special magistrate to them. He welcomed that proposal not merely because 1271 it took children away from the undesirable surroundings of the Police Court, hut also because he believed that it would be a great thing to get some unity of treatment of children who had fallen into crime. He believed that it was acknowledged that the best way of diminishing crime in the country was to deal judiciously and kindly with children and young persons when they first went wrong; and for that purpose he attached the greatest possible value to the appointment of a sympathetic magistrate who would deal with all children on the same line. The Metropolitan magistrates, whatever their merits might be, and they were very great, had no certain unity of principle in dealing with the questions which affected juvenile criminals. One magistrate would be very anxious to send boys to industrial schools, and another would think it almost wicked to shut them up for years in an industrial school. Another magistrate might be very fond of using the birch. In one Court, for example, thirteen children in one week divided ninety-eight strokes of the birch between them. The birch might be an excellent thing for some of those children, but he could not believe that it was an equally good thing for the whole of the thirteen. Other magistrates thought a great deal of the ratepayers' pocket, and for that reason refused to send boys to the industrial schools. He thought, therefore, that it would be a good thing if they could get one magistrate in London who would look on all the cases alike and try to evolve the really best method in which to deal with these child offenders. If this was necessary in London it was still more necessary in the provinces, because he was glad to say that as far as London was concerned practically no children were sent to prison. He found that in Birmingham, in the year 1904, as many as 166 children were sent to gaol, whereas in 1907, after the establishment of a children's Court, the number had fallen to twenty. The returns for Newcastle, about half as big as Birmingham, in 1905–6, showed that 159 children were sent to goal, and in 1906–7 the number was still up to 120. What he wanted the House to remember was that prison left a stigma on the children, and, furthermore, short terms of imprisonment were 1272 the very worst things possible for children, because after the first term the other terms did not act as a deterrent in any way, and they familiarised a child with prison life. Therefore, he was extremely glad to hear the Under-Secretary state that they were to have a peripatetic magistrate in London who would go round the different remand homes to hear the children's cases. Another good point in the Bill was the increase of parental responsibility. His experience with regard to industrial schools in London was that in a great number of cases the parents deliberately attempted to got their children sent to industrial schools. When they got little mites of eight or nine years of age charged with being beyond parental control, it showed that undoubtedly, as the law stood, there was not sufficient parental responsibility when their children got into trouble. Of course the parent was very glad to get rid of his child, though he must say that it was for the good of the child that he should be sent to an industrial school where he was trained and had a chance afterwards of employment in some trade that was found for him. The boy of the industrial school had a better chance than the child of the ordinary elementary school. Still he was very glad that under the Bill there was provision to bring home to the parents responsibility for their children, and they would not have so many cases as they had had in the past of parents getting their children sent away and the ratepayers often being charged with whole families. There were one or two points in which the Bill, he thought, might be improved. With regard to that part of it dealing with the prevention of cruelty to children, he was very glad that the law was to be strengthened in that direction. He would like to see the parent made liable if, through neglect to give his child reasonable medical attendance, he seriously injured the child in mind or body. He believed that that was a bold proposition to make, but his experience in connection with the cripples' school, and other special schools in London, went to show that cases could be multiplied in which children had been crippled for life because the parents, though repeatedly warned, had refused to give them proper 1273 medical attendance. He could cite cases to the House in which children had become blind, because the parents, though repeatedly warned, had refused to have the simplest operation performed. He could give examples where children had been made deaf for life in the same way. With the medical inspection which had been established under the Act of last year, he could not help thinking that this Bill might be strengthened so that parents, on being warned, after medical inspection at the school, that serious bodily harm would result to their children if they did not take steps to get them attended to, should, in the event of that warning being disregarded, come within the arm of the law. A further point to which he wished to call attention was that under the Bill as it stood a child of twelve years of age, convicted of stealing, was to be sent to a reformatory school. Experience showed that the age of twelve was too young to send a child to a reformatory school, and that between the age of twelve and fourteen an industrial school was all that was necessary. It was said that managers of industrial schools would probably object to receiving children who had been convicted of stealing, but he knew that there were managers of industrial schools who were perfectly willing to receive children of that character. The superintendent of an industrial school in London had told him that the children who had been convicted of stealing were, if anything, rather better than the children sent to the school for wandering and begging, and so forth; he said that in one respect they had rather more go in them. The magistrates actually recognised that twelve was too young an age to send a child to the reformatory school. Frequently in London the magistrate varied the charge from theft to one of being beyond control; they got round the Act in that way, and sent the child to an industrial school. Seeing that that was the experience of the magistrates, he thought that the Bill might be made sufficiently elastic so as to leave it to the discretion of the magistrate to send a child of between twelve and fourteen years of age, convicted of stealing, to an industrial school, if he preferred to do so. There was another point he would be 1274 very glad to see in the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the clause dealing with girls found in brothels. Under the Bill a girl of fourteen could be taken from those surroundings and sent to an industrial school. He would like to make a plea for the girl between fourteen and sixteen, perhaps the most dangerous age of all. As the law stood at present she went back to her parents when they came out of prison, and was exposed to every sort of the worst kind of temptation. He thought the Bill might provide that a girl of that age residing under those undesirable conditions should be committed to some person or institutution willing to take charge of her, or in the last resort, if she was not of good moral character, she might be sent to a reformatory school. It was a serious blot on the Bill at present that it made no provision for girls of that age. Another point to which he wished to draw attention was the provision with regard to vagrant children. He would like to be told whether these provisions referred to children who were in caravans. He knew they did not refer to children in barges. Children in caravans really got very little education indeed. There was a case the other day under the London education authority of children living in caravans at the World's Fair. There were 24 children of whom twenty over nine years of age were unable to read or write. There was, at any rate, a prima facie case for inquiry as to whether caravan children should not be brought under the Bill. He could not see, as the Bill stood at the present moment, that there was really any obligation for local education authorities either to establish industrial schools themselves or to enter into agreements with industrial schools for children to be sent to them. That was a matter which was really of the utmost importance, because the larger number of the local authorities throughout England had entirely neglected their duties in that respect. Around Loudon hardly any education authority had an industrial school of its own or an agreement with other industrial schools. Constantly they got before them on a committee on which he sat records of children who wandered in from outside districts and finally after 1275 various convictions in their old districts were convicted of something or other in London. They made inquiry as to what the local authority was doing, and they found that it had never put the Industrial Schools Act in force, that it had no schools and no agreements with schools. If they were going to deal with this matter seriously it was absolutely essential that it should be made obligatory on every local authority either to possess an industrial school of its own or at any rate to enter into an agreement with industrial schools for the reception of its children. After all, these were not very large points. He wished once more to say with what gratitude they who were engaged in industrial school work in London received this Bill and what very great good they believed would result from it.
§ MR. ATHERLEY - JONES (Durham, N.W.)
said he had a Bill on the Paper dealing with the department that the Bill of the Government covered, especially in relation to the topic to which his hon. friend who had last spoken had drawn, attention. He entirely concurred in the general expression of congratulation which had been extended to the Government in respect of the Bill. During the long time that he had been in the House of Commons he did not think there had been any measure which was calculated to produce more general, though perhaps ultimate, good on the community. It was a subject to which he had long given attention, and although he thought the Bill was open to amendment on matters of detail, generally speaking its principle was perfectly sound, and although in some respects it travelled in novel directions from the point of view of precedent, yet on the whole it was legitimate and reasonable. He could not help referring to what had been said by the late Home Secretary. He agreed that the proposals with respect to the punishment of women guilty of causing the death of children by overlying were far too drastic. He had made some careful inquiries from medical men in the poorer districts of London and some of our large towns—men who had very large experience in respect of attendance on the poor, and considerable 1276 knowledge of these cases of overlying, and they assured him that the proportion of cases due to culpable negligence on the part of the parents was wholly infinitesimal, and that the misfortune was due almost entirely if not exclusively to the lack of proper and adequate domestic arrangement of the poor man's house. It savoured somewhat of cruelty to add to the torture of the loss of her child by bringing the mother before a police court and exposing her to a penalty for negligence. He knew that that portion of the Bill had been conceived with the most humane intentions by his right hon. friend, but he trusted he would give further consideration to that point. Another quession which savoured of the ludicrous was the power given to police officers to confiscate the tobacco of children found-smoking or about to smoke in the streets. That was a novel, and to his mind, an unreasonable proposition. The age up to which this confiscatory process was to be allowed was sixteen years, and to expose high spirited boys, as the majority of English boys happily were, to the ignominy of having themselves waylaid by police and their tobacco confiscated was to his mind most unreasonable. That was a matter which ought to receive further consideration. These were perhaps matters of detail for Committee. There were, however, two points which lay at the root of the Bill. Clause 56, singular to state, was an almost slavish reproduction of Clause 14 of the Consolidating Bill of 1866. Under that clause there were enumerated conditions of childhood which imposed upon those so inclined the duty of rescue work—if the child was a beggar or a wanderer or frequented the company of reputed thieves or was living in a house frequented by prostitutes. At present, there were in this country 30,000 children, according to the best estimates, who fell within the four descriptions which he had just read to the House. In the county of Berkshire alone, there were nearly 3,000 children found in the casual wards in the course of one year. Last year there were nearly 800 children between twelve and fifteen years of age in prison. These were the children who should be saved by being placed in industrial schools or in some other 1277 place where they could be properly brought up. But what was the power under the statute, or under this intended statute? Any person might take one of these children so found and bring it before a magistrate. What had been the result of that? It was a purely voluntary act on the part of any officer of police, who had no greater powers than any private citizen. Further, the local authorities, as had been pointed out, had entirely neglected their duties in this respect. Of eighty-four main centres of population in this country twenty-two had provided no financial assistance whatever for dealing with the case of these destitute, abandoned, and wandering children. The Education Act of 1871, which had been wholly ignored in the present Bill, contained provisions enabling the education authority to provide industrial schools. That duty had been wholly neglected. What he suggested to the right hon. Gentleman, and it was the purpose of the Bill which stood in his name, was that that should be not a merely permissive but an obligatory duty, and that instead of saying "any person may," the words should be "a police or education officer shall," if children were found in that condition bring them before a justice so that he might give directions for them to be sent to industrial schools. The right hon. Gentleman had perhaps shrunk from putting that clause into the Bill, and he sympathised to some extent with him. It was well known that industrial school accommodation in this country was inadequate, though not everywhere. He was perfectly aware that in some places there had been rather a superfluity of industrial school accommodation. But, generally speaking, the supply of industrial schools in this country was inadequate. Over and over again a child had been found in the custody of depraved and drunken parents or of parents living by the most nefarious methods by which human beings could live. The mother or father or both might have been brought before the magistrates, and yet the justices were absolutely powerless to send the children of those parents to an industrial school, because the managers of industrial schools might object and refuse to take them in. Consequently those children were sent to the workhouse whilst the parents were 1278 in prison, and to those wretched and depraved parents when they came out of prison those children were restored. What was contemplated by a great philanthropist and reformer should be enacted in this Bill, and if there was no industrial school accommodation, there should be imposed upon the local authority the duty of providing it. He cared little about the plea that such a proposal would involve much expense, because he believed that the ultimate saving to the State by the rescuing of those children would repay a thousand-fold any temporary expenditure of that kind. He wanted to ask why should an orphan under Section 66, if its guardians were in prison, be deprived of the benefit of an industrial school? The words of the Act were "not being an orphan." He thought that was a reversal of the Act of 1866. The orphan child went to the workhouse and he urged upon the Government the desirability of removing those unhappy children from the taint of pauperism. If the children of criminals were to be sent to industrial schools, why in the name of common sense should the children of criminals who laboured under the disadvantage of being orphans be denied the benefit of industrial schools and be compelled to go to the workhouse? He had put those points before the House in no spirit of hostility to the Bill. If the present Government did nothing more than introduce and carry into law this measure with some eliminations, amendments, and additions, they would earn the gratitude of the country.
§ MR. RAWLINSON (Cambridge University)
said that, after the brilliant speeches which had been delivered on this subject, it was a somewhat thankless task to say one word in criticism of the Bill. The Bill contained some 119 clauses, some of them exceedingly useful, but there were a large number of new clauses which should be discussed and considered, and many opposed. He did not think any legislation of the kind proposed could permanently be of use to the country if it went beyond the range of popular opinion and sentiment. Unless they could carry the people with them upon such a measure, they would probably do more harm than good. The right hon. Gentleman had quoted the 1279 remark of the gillie: "Seize the young ones and the old stock will die out." The gillie spoke of these people as if they were a warren of rabbits. Was that not the mistake the Bill was making? They had not heard a word about the position of the mother of the children in connection with these cases. He asked the House to consider seriously the position of those mothers, who were often hard-working people and had great difficulty in bringing up their family. Many of those clauses had been framed without any sympathy at all for working women of that kind. Clause 13 was extraordinarily drafted and was contrary to most of the ordinary principles of legislation. At the present moment it was not an offence to leave a child in a room with an open fireplace without a fireguard. The Bill did not make that offence a crime, but if the child managed to pull the kettle down and cause itself serious injury it was a criminal offence and the mother could be fined. Were they right in bringing in such a clause as that, which provided that if a child under seven years of age was left in a room containing an open firegrate not sufficiently protected against the child being burnt or scalded and without reasonable precautions against that risk being taken, and the child suffered serious injury or death, that should constitute a criminal offence for which the person in charge could be punished? Was it a fair thing to make such a matter as that a criminal offence? If the unfortunate child were injured the woman was to be fined the sum of £20 or go to jail if she could not pay. The same objection held good in regard to Section 14, which made it an offence where a woman overlay her child un intentionally. At the present if a woman overlay a child intentionally it came under the criminal law. Under this section it was an offence if a woman overlay a child under three years unintentionally, and in that case she was liable to a fine of £10, or, in case of drunkenness, £25. He wished to warn the House against the danger of multiplying these offences where there was no criminal intention. They ought not to make an offence a criminal act unless the person had a criminal intention. Could there be any possible defence for 1280 making a criminal of a woman who unintentionally overlay her child after coming home from work dead tired? What defence was there for fining a woman £10 under those circumstances? Was that showing any sympathy for the class of persons who would be dealt with by the Bill? He also wished to deal with one or two other sections. He had already said that they ought not to go beyond the limits of popular opinion upon questions of this kind. Other clauses of the Bill dealt with juvenile smokers, and that was a matter which ought not to be dealt with lightly. The House had been told of the frightful effects which smoking had upon boys under the age of sixteen. He admitted that, but did the Bill really deal effectively, in a nation which had not lest its sense of humour, with that offence? The Bill was somewhat badly drawn, because not only did it make an offence of smoking in the streets, but in the event of any boy or girl being found in possession of cigarettes or tobacco, whether for their own smoking or not—even if a girl was taking back for her father a packet of cigarettes—it would be the duty of the policeman to search, and it would be an offence under the section. He was aware that the case of a girl bringing home the cigarettes was not intended to be dealt with and might be altered in Committee, but it was to be made an offence for young boys under sixteen to smoke a cigarette in the street. In such cases it would be the duty of the police to bring those boys before the nearest magistrate. What was that tribunal to do? Let them take the case of a boy caught in the act of smoking. He was to be taken, he supposed, before the magistrate, who would be the child-magistrate, to deal with children's cases only. Of course he was aware that no hon. Member of the House of Commons ever smoked a cigarette before he was sixteen, but many of them had friends at school who did. If they were taken before the children's magistrate or the schoolmaster, what would be the right way to deal with an offence of that kind under the Bill? What had the magistrate power to do? Simply to reprimand the boy; that was all he could do. It struck him that some boys would not be terrified at 1281 a reprimand by a police magistrate. The boy, if he smoked another cigarette in the presence of the police, could be arrested, and for the second time brought before a magistrate, and he might be fined as much as 5s. He believed that boys under sixteen very often had not 5d. What were they going to do then? If the boy had a parent they might get it out of him.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
asked what they thought the parent would do with the boy. If they meant the parent to do anything, why had that not been provided for in the Bill? If there was no parent to pay the fine the boy could not be sent to prison. He was to be sent to an industrial school.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
said the boy was to be sent to a place where he would be kept at the expense of the State for a term to be fixed by the magistrate. Were these clauses likely to be effective in dealing with such a matter? Whether or not they approved of juvenile smoking, were they justified in interfering in that way? He hoped he had not dealt unsympathetically with the points to which he had called attention. Referring to the provisions of the Bill as to the children of vagrants, he asked whether it was absolutely right to take away a child from its mother who was not ill-treating it and in whose society the child was perfectly happy, though probably not properly educated. He thought the House should hesitate before granting such a power to any public authority, except in the case of girls who were living in brothels. He was glad the Bill contained a clause providing that when children were committed to the care of persons or institutions the religion of the parents was to be ascertained, so that the children should have the religious teaching of the denomination to which the parents belonged. Did it not occur to the Government that a similar clause might be applied in regard to the 1282 religious education of children who wer not separated from their parents and who were not sent to institutions in respect of misdemeanours? He had not criticised the clauses of which he approved, his only desire at present being to bring to light the clauses with which he disagreed.
§ *MR. ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)
said the Home Secretary and his very efficient Under-Secretary might on the whole be congratulated on the manner in which the Bill had been received. It was a large measure and it raised a good many questions, some of which needed careful examination. He did not understand the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University to indicate disapproval of the principle of the Bill, though he disapproved of particular clauses. He had always understood that detailed criticism of the clauses of a Bill was reserved for the Committee Stage, and, therefore, he would not at present follow the line taken by the hon. and learned Gentleman. He accepted the statement that no Bill of this character should go far in advance of public opinion. They would make the law ridiculous if they attempted in such matters as this Bill dealt with to carry out something which the people at large would not unite in supporting. He rose to answer the question asked earlier in the evening by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the St. Augustine's division of Kent. On the First Reading of the Bill the Under-Secretary for the Home Department in his very luminous speech pointed out that there was one aspect of the matter on which there were two currents of philanthropic opinion running very strongly, namely, whether the Act of 1897 should or should not be extended to what were known as one-child homes. That matter was referred by the Government to a Select Committee, which was appointed on 11th February, and its Report had been laid on the Table of the House that day. It would be printed in a day or two and in the hands of Members of the House before the Bill was discussed in Committee. He hoped they would think that the Committee of which he was Chairman had performed their duties in 1283 a businesslike way. They heard a great deal of evidence from people who spoke, more or less, in a representative capacity. It was not much use getting mere individual opinions on a matter of that kind. They heard a great volume of unimpeachable evidence as to the gross carelessness, neglect, bad treatment, and even cruelty, in some cases very great cruelty, to children in one-child homes. In two or three cases the severest penalty of the law had been inflicted for murder of children in these homes. The witnesses, who included members of philanthropic societies and officials, gave evidence which had not been displaced in any way, and they all strongly recommended the inclusion of the one-child homes in the operation of the Bill. Then there followed a stream of evidence from witnesses, representing other philanthropic agencies, who thought that the inclusion of the one-child home would arouse great repugnance on the part of those who kept such homes, and that it would create difficulties in regard to the finding of such homes. The Committee listened with great attention to these witnesses, having regard to their services; but they did not feel that their evidence had displaced that of those who desired the inclusion of one-child homes. Therefore, the Committee came unanimously to the conclusion that the one-child home should be included in the Bill. He himself had entered into the investigations of the Committee with a perfectly open mind, and he had unhesitatingly arrived at the conclusion to which the Committee had unanimously come. But it was felt that some of the objections raised by some of the witnesses against this inclusion deserved serious consideration. The Committee also unanimously, therefore, came to the conclusion that it would be better under the Bill to give local authorities the power of exemption of inspection of homes, as to the bona fides and character of which they were absolutely satisfied. The home should be inspected in the first place, and if the local authority was satisfied it might be placed under a philanthropic body, and the power of exemption be exercised. He was very strongly of opinion—and he would be confirmed in that by his hon. colleague 1284 the Member for Christchurch (who had, after two years silence, made such an excellent contribution to their discussion that evening)—that inspection entirely depended upon the character of the person who made it. The Committee, therefore, inserted the suggestion in their Report that the inspector should be a woman whose heart was in the matter. They had more than one lady as a witness who had filled that office and they were very much impressed with the spirit in which they evidently conducted their work. The Committee further deprecated any sort of officialism which would interfere with any woman who entered upon the work of taking children into a home, not from motives of gain, but inspired by a feeling of affection for children at large, or some particular child. The Committee deprecated any officialism which would chill or in any way impair that sentiment. They also unanimously came to the agreement that the age-limit should be raised to seven years. The Lord-Advocate at the outset of his remarks indicated very clearly the underlying sentiment on which the Bill rested. It came from that rising spirit of humanitarianism which they saw and were thankful for in the present day and generation. They had discarded the old idea that the State should not do this, that, or the other thing. He had been very much touched by some of the Lord-Advocate's remarks in regard to the horrors of woman and child labour in the old days; and he was thankful to have lived to see the day when a Bill like this had been brought forward—a Bill saturated with the rising spirit of humanitarianism. He knew among those whom he represented and he thought in the country a large there was a great volume of current opinion in favour of it, and he hoped that it would become an Act of Parliament without delay, and with the consent of all parties in the House.
§ *MR. HUGH LAW (Donegal, W.)
said that the Bill on its first reading met with warm approval from all quarters, not least from the Irish Members; and so far as its general scope was concerned those warm feelings had not changed since in any way. There were, however, a few matters on which the Bill proposed 1285 changes in the existing law that were not altogether consistent with the experience of Irish Members. He referred specially to Part IV. which dealt with industrial and reformatory schools. Under the existing law destitute orphan children had been committed to industrial schools, hut under Clause 56 that would in future be impossible He had no knowledge of how far that might or might not be desirable in England, but it was quite certain that such a change would be bitterly resented in Ireland where there was a great deal of feeling in regard to industrial schools. They did not in Ireland regard industrial schools as of the nature of penal settlement, and in this respect there should be no change made in the existing law. Much as they desired to see the Bill go through, he hoped that the Government would be able to meet the wishes of the Irish Members in this respect or their attitude to the measure would become more hostile than at present. In Clause 118, which applied the Bill to Ireland, there were certain exclusions which did not seem to him justified. He could see no reason for making a difference between England and Ireland in the matter of the power of sending a child to an industrial school on the ground that it was uncontrollable. That power was dealt with in Sub-sections 3, 4 and 5 of Clause 56. He also seriously objected to the exclusion of Ireland from the provisions of Sections 73 to 79 which dealt with the establishment of day industrial schools. They had more than once impressed on the present and other Governments the desirability of establishing day industrial schools in Ireland, and there was no reason that he could see for excluding Ireland from the benefit of such institutions. If they were needed in England they were no less needed in Ireland—especially in the case of children of the very poor. He was sorry to say that there were a very large number of poor people in Dublin. One-third of the population lived in tenements and a larger proportion in one-roomed dwellings than in any city in the United Kingdom, except Glasgow. That being so, it would be evident that if day industrial schools were necessary in other parts of the United 1286 Kingdom they were not less likely to be necessary in Ireland. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would be able to give the Irish Members a favourable reply on that matter. Other points in connection with the application of the Bill to Ireland would be dealt with in Committee, but he might say that he was not altogether happy as to Clause 13, which seemed to throw upon poor parents a very serious obligation. These things apart he welcomed the Bill very cordially; he was particularly glad to observe the clause which dealt with the detention of juvenile offenders, and he would like to see the Bill go further in that respect. He wished it was possible to provide not only for a separate room but for a separate building for the trial of juvenile offenders, but he knew that was a very difficult matter in many places. For the rest he thought they must all welcome the provisions of the Bill, and he thought there would be hardly any dissent to its proposals to bring the imprisonment of child offenders to an end. When the Under-Secretary introduced the Bill an hon. friend of his told him a very significant story. He said that during one of those periods of detention in one of His Majesty's gaols, which fell to the lot of Irish Members now and again, when this country had one of its recurring fits of repression, he heard a child crying continually in the prison. He made inquiries as to the cause, and he learned that it was a little lad, twelve years of age, who had been sent by the magistrates all the way from Galway to Mountjoy prison in Dublin for the heinous and horrible offence of stealing apples. He ventured to hope that by the action of the Government it would be made for ever impossible that anything so stupid and so cruel and utterly unjustifiable should henceforth take place.
§ *MR. H. J. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
said he would like to associate himself at the outset with a very eloquent passage in the speech of the Lord-Advocate, in which he alluded to the genesis of this Bill being the livening and quickening sense of responsibility which had been gradually growing towards the potential citizens of 1287 this country. He would also like to congratulate his hon. friend the Under-Secretary on the reception of this most excellent Bill—the best Bill of the session. He hoped, therefore, his hon. friend would not think that if he criticised the Bill he would do anything to endanger its passage, as he would be the last person to do that. He was delighted with the fact that under Section 96 there would be no further imprisonment of children under fourteen, and he would ask his hon. friend to go a little further and extend that provision to those under sixteen. He also wished to ask his hon. friend to consider whether it was right that the managers of industrial schools should have the power of refusing children. That, to his mind, was a question of principle, and he was bound to say that, in his opinion, that was one of the few blots on the Bill. No such power ought to be given to the managers of industrial schools, which after all were paid for out of the rates and taxes. The managers had, therefore, no right to refuse children so long as their schools were not full, and if they were full some other provision should be made. He was glad that the responsibility was to be fixed upon the parent for begging children, but he would remind his hon. friend that vagrants were not particularly touched by the Bill, because they could get out of its provisions by saying that the managers of the industrial school refused to take the child. The Bill as it applied to vagrants was, he thought, particularly unfortunate. One of the most important, and to his mind almost the most important point, was that the local authority should be made to do its duty under compulsion to provide industrial schools. He would give the House one extract from the Report of the Prison Commissioners on that point. They said that of the total number of cases of juveniles in the country during the past year 61 per cent. were sentenced to seven days imprisonment or less. In the Report for 1907, the opinion was expressed that, in the case of the impressionable and imaginative young, a sentence—Which only familiarises them with what ought to be a great mystery and dread of the interior of a prison, and which does not admit of sufficient time for the application of any 1288 useful reformatory influence must do more harm than good.But magistrates had no choice but to send these juvenile offenders to prison, and it was most unfortunate that there should be no industrial schools to receive them. He was sorry that the age of supervision was not to be raised in the case of industrial schools from eighteen to twenty-one, and in the case of reformatories from ninteen to twenty-one. He hoped his hon. friend would listen to him in regard to that point in Committee. As to juvenile courts, he would like to know whether there would be a separate magistrate for London. The hon. Gentleman had said that there would be, but he could see no provision in the Bill to that effect. He thought that children should not be dealt with at different times on the same day, but on different days when there were no criminals about. He was delighted to think that these new detention homes were to be modelled on the plan which had already worked well in America, and he would like to know whether the provision with regard to them applied to London. A further question he would ask was why the duty of sending children to detention homes should be given to an officer of the police instead of to the education authority, and why the clause should not come into operation before 1910. He was bound to say that he considered that these detention homes ought not to be subject to the conditions that they were in the Bill, and that it should not be impracticable to take a child in if it was unruly. He did not think that that should be a ground for preventing a child going into a detention home. He hoped that, if not this year, some time they would abolish those forcing grounds of delinquency, the half-time system and street trading. There was no provision as to street trading, which did a great deal of harm. The Chief Constable of Manchester said—Street trading, of all juvenile wage-earning occupations, is productive of a greater amount of evil morally and physically than any other occupation followed by children. Their earnings are spent very largely in dissipation by their dissolute parents, the boys developed into lazy, shiftless and worthless men, whilst the girls went down to the lowest depths of 1289 shame. The downward path of these boys is quickly trodden. As soon as their business success wanes, they sink lower in the social scale, and adopt less honest means of livelihood, becoming for the most part racecourse touts, often travelling thieves and loafers, and as such spend their lives in common lodging-houses, and their money, when they get any, in drinking and gambling. They dislike more and more honest work; they become mere creatures of chance, and without ambition or care sink down until they end their days either in the gaol or the workhouse.He would welcome a Bill which dealt with street trading. He trusted he had not laid himself open to misconstruction by these criticisms. The late Home Secretary had rather pooh-poohed portions of the Bill as being grandmotherly legislation, and perhaps he was tainted with a desire for that kind of law, but it was preferable to that obtained by talking of the lone lorn widow who was to be prevented from earning her livelihood if the State stepped in. He welcomed the Bill because it translated into legislative action the hopes and ideals which ardent social reformers had held any time during the last ten or twelve years more than any other Bill which they had had before the House. As such he welcomed it with satisfaction, and wished it Godspeed.
§ *MR. HERBERT SAMUEL
I must thank hon. Members who have spoken for the generally favourable reception which they have accorded to this Bill. I think the House as a whole welcomes the opportunity of giving better protection and guidance to those large sections of the child population of the country who stand so much in need of it. I must specially express my gratitude to the late Home Secretary, speaking for the Opposition, for the general approval he gave to this measure. As I said on the First Reading of the Bill, the Government in introducing a long and complicated measure of this kind in a session crowded with controversial measures are largely dependent upon the goodwill of hon. Members opposite to pass it into law, and that goodwill I am happy to think the Opposition are giving in full measure. That general measure of agreement between the two sides of the House has only been arrived at by our rigid exclusion of any subject, no matter how 1290 much we may have been tempted to include it, on which there is any considerable division of opinion in this House. Some Members would have greatly desired to have dealt with the question of children in public-houses, certainly it might have been desirable in this Bill to deal with the question of street trading to which the hon. Member who has just spoken has referred, but the late Home Secretary very distinctly said in his speech this I afternoon that either of those subjects would have introduced a controversial element. And with regard to street trading I would point out that after all there are powers under the existing law to deal with the evils which arise, the Employment of Children Act having been placed upon the Statute-book only five years ago. The great majority of the large towns have made bye-laws to suppress the worst evils of street trading, and it is rather early to say that it is urgently necessary to amend the law in that particular. Although the Bill is a large one, and although we have necessarily excluded many matters which some hon. Members desire to see dealt with, there is one that has not been referred to this afternoon, and which does not find a place in the Bill, which we desire to add in the Committee stage. My right hon. friend the Home Secretary has been greatly impressed by the terrible catastrophes that occur from time to time through fires in theatres and elsewhere where entertainments are given for the benefit of children. The recent catastrophe at Barnsley, where a large number of little ones met their death, and others both in this country and abroad, have brought home to his mind the necessity for the provision of some greater security for the safety of children attending in large numbers entertainments of this character. In the Committee I shall therefore move the following clause:Where an entertainment for children, or any entertainment at which the majority of the persons attending are children, is provided, and the number of children who attend the entertainment exceeds 100, and access to any part of the building in which children are accommodated is by stairs, it shall be the duty of the person who provides the entertainment to station and keep stationed on the stairs a sufficient number of adult attendants, properly instructed as to their duties, to prevent more 1291 children or other persons being admitted to any such part of the building than that part can properly accommodate and to control the movement of the children and other persons admitted to any such part whilst entering and leaving, and to take all other reasonable precautions for the safety of the children.Then there follow certain machinery provisions for securing the enforcement of that clause and making it clear as to what kind of entertainment it applies to. I would add that this clause does not apply to any entertainments given in any private dwelling house. The enactment of this clause will, we hope, go very far to prevent the possibility of the recurrence of those terrible catastrophes which have more than once shocked the feelings of the whole nation. To-day a very large variety of suggestions have been made for the amendment of this Bill, but most of them have regard to points of detail and can be dealt with in Committee. I can assure the House that in Committee the Government will most cordially welcome any suggestions made for the improvement of the Bill. I will only deal to-day with a few of the more important suggestions touching the larger questions of principle. With regard to the first portion of the Bill dealing with infant life protection, I think the House owes a debt of gratitude to my right hon. friend the Member for the Rushcliffe Division of Notts and his colleagues on the Select Committee, for the expedition and the care with which they have considered the question submitted to them by the House. That Committee was thoroughly impartial. I took particular care before they were appointed to see that no member nominated had pre-conceived opinions upon the question, and they have come to the unanimous conclusion that those persons who undertake the care of one child, whether for a lump sum or a recurring payment shall be brought under the Act. That is the conclusion which my own investigations lead me heartily to endorse, and it will be a matter of great satisfaction to me to propose in Committee machinery for carrying into effect the recommendation of the Select Committee. Certain of the clauses of the second part of the Bill have been somewhat severely criticised by one or two hon. Members, but I should be sorry indeed to give up any of those clauses which 1292 relate to the provision of fire-guards and the death of children through overlying. I would point out that during last year a private Member's Bill was introduced into this House, and although it did not receive a Second Reading it obtained a large measure of support from both sides of the House. That Bill dealt with the deaths of children from fire and overlying. It vas the result of deliberations conducted not by fanatical enthusiasts, but by responsible authorities who had a first claim to speak on the subject—the Coroners' Society, the British Medical Society, and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, all collaborated to secure the drafting and the introduction of that Bill, and the opinion of those societies is, I submit, entitled to great weight in this House. The hon. Member for the Cambridge University said it was a wrong thing to do to make it an offence if a child was burned to death, if that child was left alone in a room with an unprotected fire, while we did not make it an offence to leave the fire unprotected. I think in our law there are many cases where a disaster occurring makes that an offence which is not an offence in itself if no disaster occurs. And the late Secretary of State has pointed out that it is impracticable to make a law that parents shall guard their fires when their children are left alone in a room, because you cannot enforce such legislation. You can only enforce this law when the injury discloses the circumstance. You cannot establish an inspectorate to go into private houses and see that the fires are guarded, but at the same time I think the facts that there are 1,600 deaths every year, and serious injuries to many more children from this cause, compel this House to take action, and the only possible form of action is that proposed by this Bill. With regard to overlying, the right hon. Gentleman opposite said the real cause of death of infants under these circumstances is to be found in the overcrowding of the poorer districts. That is undoubtedly true. Where people are not overcrowded, children are not overlaid, but is it to be contended for a moment that this holocaust of infant life is to go on till we solve the housing problem? Although we take action year by year to remedy 1293 the evil of overcrowding, and although the Government propose before long to introduce further legislation to advance that object, I think the House would be building on a slender foundation indeed if they said the housing problem would be solved at so early a date that it was not necessary to take direct action to prevent overlying. I think public opinion welcomes these clauses which deal with the death of children from fire and from overlying. Some Members have suggestions to make with regard to the penalties imposed in these cases. That is a matter for the Committee, but the purpose of the clauses I trust will commend itself to the House. I now turn to the third part of the Bill which deals with the question of juvenile smoking. Some hon. Members have commented upon what they consider the impracticable nature of some of the provisions proposed, but I would point out that this question has been examined by three separate Committees or Commissions—the Committee on Physical Deterioration, the Royal Commission on Physical Training, and a Committee of the House of Lords specially appointed to consider this particular subject—and all three came to the unanimous conclusion that this evil of juvenile smoking was not to be put aside as something unimportant, but that it was a real cause of physical deterioration in the child life of the country. I would ask the House to read the Report of the Committee of the House of Lords and the evidence before it, and if they do, I think they will find abundant proof in the evidence of medical authorities, and of social workers among the poorer classes, that this is a rapidly growing evil for which a remedy should be found. This House ought not to put aside as of no account the deliberate and unanimous verdict of three separate inquiries. With regard to the powers of the police to confiscate tobacco in the hands of children found smoking, I would like to point out that if that power was not given to them there is no power to prevent the smoking in the streets which is so rife among the little boys of the country, other than charging them before the Courts. What is the alternative: are all these children to be brought before the 1294 Police Courts? Reformed as those Courts will be by this Bill, it is most desirable to prevent these children being brought into them and charged with this trivial offence. It is considered more desirable that the little boy's tobacco should be confiscated rather than he should be made a defendant in a legal process, and this is the action recommended by the Committee of the House of Lords. I agree that no methods of legal repression in matters of this kind can be completely effective. I agree that if this Bill is placed on the Statute Book in the form in which it now is, we should find that juvenile smoking would not be completely and finally suppressed. But although the discipline of the State can never be so effective as that of the home, the State must step in where the discipline of the home is absent, and I believe that these clauses will go far to suppress juvenile smoking directly. Indirectly, it will go still further, because once the law becomes known throughout the nation; once it becomes known that after considering this matter Parliament has enacted this law, public opinion will become increasingly active and eager to suppress the practice which has been condemned. In regard to the part of the Bill relating to reformatory and industrial schools, I will deal first with what has been said by the hon. Member opposite speaking for the Irish Members. On the two chief questions to which he has referred, I think I shall be able fully to meet his wishes. In Ireland there are orphans who come under the provisions relating to industrial schools merely because they are orphans and destitute; and I cannot refrain from expressing the opinion that, as a matter of principle, they are far better dealt with by the Poor Law than by the industrial school system. Although a similar provision exists in the English law which enables orphans to be sent to the industrial schools, yet, last year, throughout the whole of the country, only six children were sent, and the year before only three children were sent. I think that it would be undesirable to use the industrial school system for Poor Law cases. But in Ireland the public hold the opposite view. The circumstances there are very different, and a very much larger number 1295 of children are sent to the Irish schools as being orphans and destitute, than are sent in this country. Over 200 were sent in Ireland as compared with a mere handful in England. That being the case, and as it is understood that no change in the law should be made by this Bill which is strongly objected to by any large body of the community, the Government will be willing to propose in Committee an Amendment to the Irish Clause, making it clear that the law in that particular shall be left in the state in which it now is. With regard to the second proposal of the hon. Member that the existing law should be extended by applying to Ireland the provisions of the law of England in regard to day industrial schools, that, I think, is a very reasonable demand. The day industrial schools in England perform a most necessary function. They do not exist at all in Ireland. There is no provision on the Statute Book enabling them to be established, and the Government will gladly seize the opportunity afforded by the introduction of this Bill to extend the English day industrial school clauses, perhaps with some modifications which may be necessitated by the different conditions of Ireland, to that country. As to the smaller points of detail to which my hon. friend referred, I will ask him to allow me to reserve them for further consideration. The hon. and learned Member for North-West Durham urged that Clause 56 of the Bill needs strengthening and extension in certain directions. He made the statement that there are 30,000 children who ought now to be committed to the industrial schools who are left neglected and unhelped. That is an estimate I cannot accept; I think that the number is by no means so large as that, and that the estimate rests on a very unsatisfactory basis. I gather it has been arrived at by generalising from the circumstances at Liverpool. They have estimated that the proportion of children committed in Liverpool ought to be committed in every little town and every village over the whole of Great Britain. That is obviously a fallacious deduction. Although it is no doubt the case that there are 1296 children who ought to be committed who have not been committed, yet the number is very greatly short of that suggested by the hon. and learned Member. The hon. and learned Member has proposed that the present Act, which is now in large degree permissive, should be made mandatory in certain respects. Under the existing law any person may bring before a Court of summary jurisdiction a child who falls within the categories which would enable it to be sent to an industrial school. But it is said that what is everybody's business is nobody's business, and, while every person might act, as a matter of fact no person does act, and children are left in their evil surroundings to grow up neglected, serving an apprenticeship, perhaps, to crime, and forming a class of child population which urgently needs the care of the State. I think that there is much to be said for strengthening the law in that particular, and I might go so far as to say that in my opinion it is desirable that it should be clearly stated in the Bill that where the education authority does not take action under its powers then it shall be the duty of the police to see that these children are not left in a state of neglect, but that they should be brought before the magistrates with a view to their committal, in proper cases, to industrial schools. I shall propose an Amendment in Committee to effect that purpose. Then, secondly it is suggested that it should be made compulsory on local authorities to provide the necessary industrial school accommodation for children who are committed. At the present time, so far from the schools being over full, there is a very large number of vacancies; they have difficulty in filling their beds; within the last two or three years several schools have been closed because they have not been able to obtain enough children. It may be the case that some local authorities are unwilling to make the necessary payments to secure that the children sent from their districts shall be sent to the industrial schools. I think in England there are cases, though very few, I am informed, where there is difficulty in inducing the local authorities to contribute to the maintenance of the 1297 children sent from their districts to the industrial schools. But I am afraid that in Scotland, in some localities, the situation is not quite so satisfactory. If there is general agreement on both sides of the House that it should be mandatory on the local authorities to provide industrial school accommodation for children just as it is mandatory on them to provide elementary school accommodation for the children of their districts, I for one should welcome such an Amendment to the Bill; but if it is found that such a proposal would arouse so much opposition from the local authorities concerned as to imperil the passage of the Bill, then the matter would wear another aspect. Perhaps before the House goes into Committee we may have a further expression of opinion on the subject, but so far as I am concerned I should be glad indeed if it were found possible to make it compulsory on the local authorities to contribute to the maintenance of the children sent from their districts to the industrial schools. It is important that these children should be sent to these industrial schools, which are institutions of the greatest possible value to the community. They stop at their source the streams which feed the reservoirs of crime, and the nation ought to be exceedingly grateful to those local authorities and to those private individuals who with great self-sacrifice and great labour have maintained the industrial schools of the Kingdom. I turn now to the fifth part of the Bill, which deals with the treatment of juvenile offenders. We have been asked by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and also by my hon. friend the Member for Berwick, what will be the provision made by the Home Office for establishing the system of juvenile Courts in London. My hon. friend the Member for Berwick says there is no provision in the Bill for the appointment of a special magistrate for the purpose. There is no provision in the Bill, because such provision is unnecessary. Under the existing law a certain number of magistrates may be appointed by the Home Secretary for London, and that number is not at present complete, and we can add a special children's magistrate without any further statutory authority. I will explain very briefly what will probably 1298 be the method of administering the juvenile Courts in London. It is impossible to bring all the children, witnesses, parents, probation officers and other persons concerned into one central Court; and, on the other hand, it is impossible to have a number of different Courts in various parts of London, each of them sitting every day. I find that on the average there are ten fresh cafes of juvenile offenders tried in the Police Courts of London every day, excluding Greenwich and Woolwich. If you include hearings on remand, there are only sixteen hearings per day of children's cases in all the Police Courts of London, excluding Greenwich and Woolwich. It is obvious you cannot split up sixteen cases over a number of Courts, and therefore it will probably be found—I do not pledge myself to the details of the scheme—that the best course will be to establish four places of detention in different parts of London, each of which will be used for children on arrest and remand, for children committed for trial, and under a proper system of classification, for children committed to places of detention instead of to prison. There are now three Remand Homes. I hope it will be practicable in these places to provide rooms, without any additional cost or very small additional cost, which can be used as Court-houses. The children's magistrate could visit in turn these four places of detention and could make the circuit in two days, visiting the first in the morning and the second in the afternoon of the first day, and the third in the morning and the fourth in the afternoon of the second day. The result would be that a certain number of children would be kept overnight sometimes, when they could not be released on bail; but all those that I have consulted—and I have consulted several persons keenly interested in this matter who are fully entitled to speak with authority—are agreed it is better to keep, if necessary, a small number of children in detention for one night than to forego the great benefit of having a special magistrate to deal with these cases. If the House approves, that probably will be the plan which my right hon. friend will adopt. The late Home Secretary said he was somewhat doubtful whether it was practicable to abolish the imprisonment of children 1299 altogether, and that there might be some cases in which it would be essential to retain that power. We have tried to think of such cases but cannot think of any which could not be dealt with by sending the children to a reformatory, or in the course of very young children, to an industrial school, and since we retain the power to commit the children to these reformatory and industrial schools I am inclined to adhere to the view that it is unnecessary in any case to subject the children to the rigours of imprisonment, and to familiarise them with the penalties, in the ordinary gaols. I come lastly to the sixth part of the Bill. The only clause in that which has been criticised is the clause dealing with vagrant children. I can assure the hon. Member for Christchurch, whose maiden speech we all listened to with pleasure and interest, that this clause includes the caravan children, whom he has in mind. But I would point out further that the object of that clause is not to sweep the whole body of children, who are now wandering the roads of the country with showmen, or tinkers, or vagrants, into industrial schools. As the Lord Advocate said, in some cases it may be necessary that they should be sent to these institutions, but I agree with the hon. and learned Member for the University of Cambridge that we should not lightly contemplate the necessity of separating the parent from the child. It should only be in the last resort that they should be separated and the child taken to one of these institutions. The purpose of this clause is to penalise the parent who takes a child about the roads of the country and thereby deprives it of efficient elementary education, and the effect of that clause will be not so much to send all these children to industrial schools as to keep them off the roads altogether. A large proportion of these people have permanent homes to which they go in the winter-months, and once they know that they will be harassed by the law if they take their children with them and deprive them of education, I think in almost all cases they will do what very large numbers of them do already, that is, arrange for the children to be kept in some specified place. I must once more thank the House for the 1300 generally favourable reception which it has given to this Bill. This Parliament already has achieved much useful social legislation of a non-controversial kind and I hope it will achieve much more. Perhaps we may venture to think that when this Parliament comes to an end and a successor comes to sit in these seats we may be able to feel that not the least satisfactory among its achievements has been the enactment of the measure which we now ask the House to read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. Guinness,)—put, and agreed to.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.