§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Mr. A. E. DUNN
I promise the House one thing, and that is that in moving the second reading of this Bill I will be exceedingly brief. By passing into law the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1906, the House has already approved in a most emphatic manner the principle of feeding underfed school children. Therefore I think it would be, if not exactly out of order, at any rate highly undesirable to go into the general question. This Bill deals with procedure, and, in moving the second reading, I shall say a few words with regard to the procedure itself and the provisions of the measure. In order properly to understand the matter we have to refer to the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1907, and the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1906. Clause 13 of the former Act provides for the medical inspection of school children—not a voluntary or optional inspection, but a thorough and systematic inspection. That duty in a great number of instances has been thrown upon the local education authority, and it is only right and fair to say that in the vast majority of cases they are doing the duty very thoroughly. At any rate, that Act sets up an officer whose duty it is from time to time to inspect the children in the schools. Clause 13 provides that the inspection shall take place either immediately before or at the time the child goes into the school, or as soon as possible 1796 after the child commences school life. There is also a provision that the Education Board may—and I believe the power is frequently put into operation—request an inspection at other times. I refer to that Act because it is important to remember that by it we have provided a machinery, and it is proposed by the Bill now before the House to use that machinery in a way to which I shall refer in a moment.
The other Act to which I referred is the Act of two years ago, under which the local authority can assist voluntary effort for the general feeding of school children by providing buildings, utensils, and plant; but it also provides that no local authority shall purchase food for the general feeding of children. The Act proceeds to say, however, that where a local authority is of opinion that any children in a school want food, and that such lack of food practically renders nugatory the education they are receiving, the authority can provide meals for those children. That is the law as we have it at present, and while in practice certain authorities are earnest in the matter, it would be invidious to refer to any particular authorities by name; but we have reports from time to time from different parts of the country of the exceedingly good work that is being done in the direction of feeding these poor unfortunate children, so that they may be in a position properly to receive the education which the law says they shall receive. Yet, unfortunately, there are authorities that are not so earnest.
§ Mr. A. E. DUNN
It is true the Act is permissive in a sense; but the House in passing that permissive Act declared that its principle was a good one, namely, that these unfortunate children should be fed; and in making the Act permissive they trusted that local authorities would discuss the matter not merely from an academic point of view, not as to whether it was socialism or not, but from the standpoint of whether the children in their schools required it. It was permissive in that sense, but unfortunately certain authorities have not dealt with it from that point of view. They dealt with it more as a matter of principle, and discussed what right the State had to interfere with a matter of this kind. It was never intended that local authorities should deal with the Act in that way. The option was to say 1797 whether or not there were children that needed or required this particular system. It is notorious that there are districts where it is well known that the children do require this, and where children attending the schools are underfed, and that the local authorities in these districts have sat still and done nothing. It is to remedy that very defect that the present Bill is introduced. It would have been possible to introduce a Bill to say the local authorities shall do this. I think circumstances might have been conceived under which we should have taken that drastic step. The present Bill does not do that, but deals with the matter in a much more gentle manner. It provides first of all for the inspection of school children with a view to ascertaining what children in the school, if any, attend that school in an underfed condition. It does not rest with the medical inspector to move in the first instance.
The Bill deals very gently with the local authority in this respect. It empowers three classes of persons to set the inspector in motion. Clause 1 declares that the education committee, or a majority of the managers of the school, or the head teacher of any school may request the inspector to make an inspection. Surely it is not a very wild proposal that the persons to request inspection should be the local education committee, which is a committee of the local education authority itself, the board of managers on which the local education authority have a representation—and if that representation is not ample representation it is not the fault of the promoters of this Bill—and the head teacher as the servant of the local education authority. The Bill provides that either one of those three classes of persons can put the inspector to work. I fully expect that probably in any Debate on this Bill it may be suggested that the inspectors would go seeking, whom they might devour, but you must always remember before he can make an inspection at all he must be requested by a competent authority, and each of those competent authorities are practically servants of the local education authority itself.
Clause 2 provides that when that medical inspector has made his report and if that report does state that there are children in the schools underfed then it shall be the duty of the local authority to feed the children. That is practically in substance the whole of the provisions of this particular Bill. There are one or 1798 two minor matters referred to in it. Under the existing laws we are tied to a halfpenny rate, but if it is found to feed the children a halfpenny is not sufficient then that halfpenny must become more. Another useful and important provision is that the medical inspector shall annually make a general report as to the condition of the scholars in the school. Surely that is an exceedingly useful report, and I am quite sure the education authorities would find it so. That report is to be open to the inspection of the ratepayers generally. I fear I have probably failed to explain the provisions of the Bill as clearly as I would like, but those are the principal provisions. It would have been possible to introduce a Bill saying that the local authorities shall do this. The promoters of this measure have not done that. They have simply made it possible for machinery of initiation to be brought into existence, and when doing that they have in no way forgotten the undoubted powers of the local education authority.
I admit if all local education authorities acted as many, and I am glad to say the majority, there would be no need of this Bill. But that applies to a great number of Acts of Parliament that pass every year through this House. We have to legislate for minorities. Because a small minority of the people are dishonest we have to pass a great number of Acts for the protection of property. That argument can be carried to a very great extent. I hope the House in their wisdom may give this Bill a second reading. The promoters are not bound to every detail contained in the Bill. They are quite aware it is possible to amend it in Committee and probably make a better Bill of it than it is at the present moment. All I ask is that the House shall confirm the principle—the principle that it is desirable that those children going to our schools in our large cities—and some of the large cities are the chief offenders—that the children going to the schools in the large cities in a condition that the teaching the State gives them becomes almost cruelty, shall receive proper nourishment and consequently have a chance of becoming better citizens. We talk a great deal of patriotism. It is a great pity we do not realise that the truest patriotism is the making of people, and that it is most important to the England of to-day and tomorrow to make her sons and her daughters physically, mentally, and morally fit. I beg to move.
§ Mr. W. TYSON WILSON (Lancashire, S.E., Westhoughton)
In seconding the Motion which has been so concisely and ably moved, I do not think there is any occasion for me to enlarge on the provisions of the Bill. The hon. Member explained quite clearly what the intention of the Bill is. I am fully aware this afternoon we shall hear something about parental responsibility and something of the independence of the people. I am quite prepared to find this Bill attacked from the Left by the hon. Baronet the junior Member for the City of London. I have been looking to the Right to see his affinity the hon. Member the junior Member for Preston present. He is not present, but possibly if he were we might have it attacked from the Right. Could there be a more incongruous affinity than that of the two Gentlemen. Here we have the apostle of Free Trade allying himself with the prophet of Tariff Reform with the object of defeating a measure which makes for social reform and progress. We may be told now, as we were told, that there was no occasion for the Bill of 1906. We were told some of the provisions of the Bill of 1907 were not required. I have seen a notice in the Press in connection with the London County Council and the starving children of the metropolis, and it appears that many members of that body were of opinion that none of the children attending the schools were underfed.
§ Mr. TYSON WILSON
They were told that the present charitable organisations were capable of dealing with underfed children, and they refused to adopt the provisions of the Bill of 1906, though they were practically compelled to adopt those provisions later.
§ Mr. PEEL rose—[Cries of "Order."]
§ Mr. TYSON WILSON
I am fully aware that I may hurt the feelings of the hon. Gentleman in making these statements, which are absolutely true. During several weeks last winter the London County Council fed 54,000 underfed children, and the standard they adopted was exceedingly 1800 low. If a fair standard had been adopted the number of children fed would have been practically double what it was. Therefore, we must have some other power than that of the education authority if the children are to be fed. There was a case some three months ago where it was reported to the education authority that the children attending the schools were underfed. They considered that report, but, in the meantime, one of the children was in a dangerous condition owing to having been insufficiently fed. Something should be done whereby, pending the consideration of the report by the education authority, the children should be fed; I hope, therefore, that the House will allow the second reading of this Bill, and if its machinery requires improvement, let it be done in Committee. We feel sure that no complicated machinery is required, and we do not wish the Bill to override the final authority of the education authority; but we do say that while they are considering the report in reference to underfed children they should, in the time which elapses between the presentation of that report and their coming to a decision upon it, at least see that means are taken to provide for them.
Anyone with a knowledge of the results of depression of trade must be satisfied that there are large numbers of children who are underfed. Only this week a father and mother were charged with manslaughter of their two children, and the evidence showed that after they had paid the rent they had only 10d. left to provide food for themselves and their children. The medical officer of health, or some other medical man, reported that there was danger of the spread of disease where the children attended school underfed and suffered from hunger. It is absolutely impossible for tens of thousands, nay, hundreds of thousands, of parents in London and the country with small incomes to feed their children properly. In London there are tens of thousands of families whose average weekly income does not exceed a pound a week, and in the country there are hundreds of thousands whose average income does not exceed 15s. a week. I am pleased to see the hon. Member for Preston now in his place; I thought that he would make it his business to be here this afternoon. I know he is not opposed to feeding the children, though I am also fully aware that he is opposed to the method of feeding the children which is provided in this Bill. But that by the 1801 way. Commissions and committees have reported in favour of the children attending our elementary schools being fed. They agree that unless the children are well fed they cannot derive any benefit from the instruction which is given in the schools.
I feel sure that the House will agree that if we are to have a healthy nation of men and women in the future we must attend to the children. But there is something more to be considered than that. If the children become unhealthy through underfeeding there is risk of disease, which will soon spread among the other children of the school, and frequently among the healthy children. There is danger that disease may spread from the children of the poorer classes to the children of the comparatively well to do. That being so, I think that the Government ought carefully to consider whether something should not be done whereby disease may be, if I may use the phrase, nipped in the bud. Some people may complain about the cost which would be incurred by the adoption of these proposals, but I say that the outlay would be more than compensated for by the increased efficiency of the children, so far as education is concerned. I do hope that the House will, in view of these weighty considerations, give the Bill a second reading. I believe that if something is not done to preserve the health of the children by seeing that they are properly fed, the people of this country will degenerate physically, morally and mentally. When we consider that the children of to-day have to provide the crews for our "Dreadnoughts" of the future, we ought to see that they are properly fed, so that we may have a people strong, both physically and morally. In this aspect of the case the Bill is entitled to the support of those who think Imperially. The Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1906 said that the State could not have children, and that he was not one of those who loved the phrase "the children of the State"; it was a phrase which grated on his ear. While the Chief Secretary may be correct in that, I remember reading a case which was tried two years ago at the Quarter Sessions, where a man was charged with attempting to commit suicide. In discharging him the learned recorder told him that his life belonged not to himself but to the State. If the lives of men and women belonged to the State, then it is evident that the lives of children also belong to the State, and that if they are to grow up use- 1802 ful men and women it is absolutely necessary that they should be properly fed. In. view of the fact that it is absolutely impossible for a child to benefit from the teaching that is given in the school unless it is properly fed, I do hope that the House will give a second reading to this Bill, which seeks to accomplish that object. I have great pleasure in seconding the Motion.
Sir FRANCIS POWELL moved as an Amendment to leave out the word "now, and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months." My attention has been specially drawn to this subject through my having served on the Select Committee dealing with the subject in 1906. There never was an investigation more complete. There was also a Parliamentary Committee, and information was likewise obtained from abroad. Some members of the Committee visited Paris to see the system adopted there. The recommendations I shall not venture to trouble the House with. They are public property. But I hope to make some few remarks, ere I resume my seat, upon the Bill now presented to us. The first consideration which occurs to me on reading the Bill is the extreme haste with which legislation is pushed upon the House. The Bill deals with two Acts. One was passed in 1906, and became law on 21st December of that year. The other Bill was passed in 1907, and became law on 1st January of 1908. We are therefore dealing with Acts of which we have had little or no experience. Considering the magnitude of the question, and bearing in mind the investigations which have taken place, it is altogether premature to reopen the question. I find that the Department in the report for 1908 says:—
In consequence of the short period during which the Act (1907) has been in force, the Board do not consider it desirable that they should attempt, in the present report to give an account of its working. They are satisfied that substantial progress in the organisation of the work is being made throughout the country, and that, with few exceptions, local education authorities are doing their best to perform the duties which Parliament has imposed upon them.
They speak in similar terms respecting the Act of 1906—that they had not had sufficient experience of the working of the Act to make remarks upon it. But the experience, I believe, has not been discouraging. It must be borne in mind in this part of the case, that there has been departmentally a very great change made in the Code of 1908, and that is by the nomination—or whatever be the better term—of school medical officers. The managers of the schools are in duty bound
to make use of these officers, and they are liable to summary pains and penalties. I really think that alone is almost a sufficient reason why we should not proceed with this legislation. These are laws which greatly affect the well-being of the people, and except we get their sympathy in this endeavour to improve their lot, I am sure our efforts must end in disappointment and failure. I think I may venture to say that the experience so far of this legislation has been satisfactory. In my own Constituency, Wigan I have not heard a great deal, but I have no reason to doubt that the result of the legislation has been most favourable. When we come to the country districts we have a gratifying report. In "The Times" of last week there was a statement made in respect of a report presented by the West Sussex county authority. They summed up their experience in these words:—
That the treatment of the children has been in many respects satisfactory. Notice is sent to the parents with a statement containing a general diagnosis of the case in as simple terms as possible, together with a statement of simple remedies.
I believe this experience of West Sussex is paralleled by that of other districts. Parents and children co-operate with the local authorities in their endeavour to improve the lot of those concerned. There are some of the remarks in the report that may excite a little mirth. Speaking with reference to the cleanliness of the children the report says:—
It is obvious that many of the children the night before had undergone a thorough and most unaccustomed ablution.
The county council, in their report, say:—
There probably never was a time in the history of the county in which the children were in such a state of physical well-being.
I really think I need not occupy the time of the House further. I have given ample testimony in support of my contention. I say it is premature for us to interfere with the Act which is producing such a salutary result. For a moment I might refer to the provision as regards the provision of meals. There is some mention in the Bill of measures to be taken in case meals are not supplied. I have elsewhere particulars as to the forms used on these occasions. But perhaps the House will allow me to read a letter from the headmaster of a school of four departments in Bradford, which contain between 600 and 700 children. He says:—
In such cases (of distress) we at once make application to the education committee for the children to be supplied with free meals, and if, in our opinion,
immediate provision is necessary, we are supplied with temporary tickets to cover the time during which inquiries are made as to the condition and circumstances of the parents. These inquiries are conducted by the attendance officers, and on their reports the committee base their decision as to the extent to which meals shall be supplied, whether breakfast and dinner, or breakfast alone, or dinner alone; and further whether the circumstances justify the granting of free meals, or of making a small charge which varies from ½ d. per meal to 2d. per meal.
I think it is too soon altogether to arrive at a final decision upon the subject to-day. Whatever may be the fruits of more permanent experience, there is nothing in the present condition of affairs to justify any modification of the law at present. The Act of 1907, to which reference is made in this Bill, provided for the provision of meals for children immediately after their admission to public elementary schools. This provision is an extension beyond the mere physical feeding—it has to do with the development and the raising of the moral tone. One of my difficulties about this Bill is that it is purely physical. I wish to see the elevation of the moral tone, and I certainly should deprecate legislation confined only to the physical condition of the children. I object to this Bill not only on the ground of inexpediency and the dangers arising from hasty legislation, but I object to the Bill as a Bill. The necessity for some limitation was pressed upon the Committee, and I am sure it was abundantly supported by evidence. Here you sweep away all limitations, and you open wide the field for taking more from the ratepayers. Another objection I have is you greatly diminish the responsibility of the parents. There is a class of people who, whatever their inner thoughts may be, think that the duties of the parents are complete when the children reach the stage of independent existence, and according to those doctrinaires the child is then to become the child of the State. I am of opinion that parental responsibility involves dignity, and that as you diminish the responsibility of the parents you also diminish the dignity of the parental office. I myself desire to see the parents become more keenly alive to their duty. I believe something was done by the Children Act of last year towards that end, and I hope more will be done in the same direction in years to come. But if we wish to raise the children and to improve their physical well-being, and if we wish to elevate their religious and moral nature we must rouse the parents to a higher sense of their duty and not leave them to depend upon the bounty of the State. There are some words in the majority report of the Poor Law
Commission well worthy of careful and diligent perusal. Referring to the difficulties of unemployment which have to be encountered, they point out these difficulties will never be remedied and will never be cured by the bounty of some individuals or by a tax upon the ratepayers or the taxpayers of this country. I pass from these general observations to make some reference to the machinery of the Bill. I am quite sure if this Bill gets a second reading the machinery must be greatly altered. As the Bill stands it is one of the strangest bits of attempted legislation I ever read. There is to be a direction that the doctor is to examine the child and he is to determine whether the child is suffering by reason of insufficient or improper food. From the medical inspector they can go to the Local Government Board to enquire whether this poor unhappy child requires relief or not. There is no doubt a provision for temporary relief to the child, but that does not interfere with my criticism as to the duty of parents as a whole. There is another objection which occurs to me. I do not know how far I carry the House with me when I say I believe this Bill to be reactionary in its proposals. The happy tendency of recent years has been to call out as far as you possibly can voluntary assistance. In Bradford, and here I speak from personal knowledge, an enormous amount is done by voluntary assistance, but the remarkable feature is how little money you require for the purpose of improvement. It is not a question of money; it is a question of raising the people, and I am informed by persons who go from house to house it is marvellous how much can be done by voluntary aid. Friendly advice, co-operation, and help of various kinds is really of more value than the money itself. I am very jealous of anything which may be done to impair voluntary effort which has done so much for this country in the past, and which, I believe, is going to accomplish a great deal more in the future. Through all my public and private life I have done all I could to give energy and force to voluntary efforts because they ensure that co-operation which does so much to cement all classes of society together. Voluntary effort does a mighty work by creating, maintaining, fostering and increasing a sense of Christian brotherhood, and in my opinion it is in every way a blessing to the nation, whereas these crude measures of legislation are an evil, not to say a curse, to the country.
§ Viscount MORPETH
I rise to support the Motion made by my hon. Friend "That this Bill be read a second time this day six months." The hon. Member who seconded the adoption of this Bill opened up the whole question of the relationship of the State to the child. I do not propose to follow him upon that question, and I do not propose to discuss whether the matter could be dealt with more effectively under a reformed poor law or by the education authority. I understand that in 1906 this House decided that the Education Department should be the authority dealing with this question of poverty and the under-feeding of school children. I agree with the Seconder of the Motion for the second reading that the whole question before us is that some one must have this power, and there must be a discretion somewhere. The hon. Member also desired that discretion should be placed in the hands of the medical officer or any casual doctor called in to make a report upon the health of the school. We are opposing this Bill because we believe that discretion ought rightly to be placed upon the local authority.
§ Viscount MORPETH
The hon. Member is no doubt right, but, even if it is an official doctor, the proper person with whom discretion should exist is the local authority elected by the ratepayers and the electors of the district. I am not going to enter into any quarrels with hon. Members as to whether local authorities have not done their duty or not done what some hon. Members conceive to be their duty. I will not discuss whether the county councils or the rural councils have been at fault. The point is that if there is to be a discretion it would more properly be placed in the hands of a great local authority than in the hands of. a single individual doctor or a single hon. Member of the House of Commons. This Bill states in the Memorandum that it proposes "to remove from the educational authority the final responsibility for saying whether a child is or is not underfed," and it places that responsibility upon the shoulders of the school doctor. As a matter of fact this Bill is not one. to deal really with the feeding of children, and it will not effect that purpose, but it is a Bill to foster officialism and bureaucracy, and to remove the responsibility from the shoulders on which at the 1807 present time it is very properly placed in order to put it into the hands of officials.
We have heard a good deal about the opinion of the experts on this question, but in my view the proper function of the expert in the State is to advise and recommend, not to order. Although I have the highest respect for the medical profession, I think it would be a dangerous step to give them full control and full power in this matter without check by the common-sense of laymen, whose decision should be always final. Clause 2 provides that "the medical inspector must thereupon report his decision to the local education authority." That is to say, his decision is to be final and binding. Under these circumstances surely it is a misnomer to call the local authority an authority, because it has no authority in the matter. The matter may be initiated by the managers or the head teacher, and whilst authority will have no power of initiation the head teachers are to have the power of initiating a movement which may be carried out over their own heads. There is only one power left to the education authority, and it is that where a system of feeding has been established they have the power of stopping it. The last line in the first paragraph of clause 2 reads: "Until such time as they are satisfied that the food will be immediately supplied otherwise." Therefore the only discretion left in the hands of this important body is that of stopping what has already been initiated. It is not necessary to say much as regards the power of the head teacher. I do not think this point has been wisely considered, but as in the Bill it is only a temporary power to meet a temporary emergency, I do not think I need say anything about it.
I now come to the most extraordinary provision in the whole Bill, which is contained in clause 4. I pass clause 3, which makes it obligatory that the medical inspector shall present an annual report of the physical condition of the children in the schools. As a matter of fact, I think provision is already made for that report being presented to the education authority, and I think every ratepayer has a right of access to the published Papers on this subject which are submitted to the Education Committee. What does clause 4 say? It does not give the local education authority, who are primarily responsible in their corporate capacity, power to interfere or say anything whatsoever. They stand 1808 absolutely on one side; whereas, on the other hand, the doctor can order a certain policy to be carried out. But whilst it does this, it also gives individual members of that authority a power to go over the head of the doctor and the committee itself straight to the Board of Education. A distinguished Member of the Front Bench opposite once said "minorities must suffer," but those who are bringing forward this Bill evidently consider that minorities must rule, although I agree minorities are very often right and majorities wrong. In the interests of Parliamentary government and local self-government I think it is essential and necessary that the majority, while it is a majority, should rule, and I absolutely fail to understand upon what conceivable theory of government this clause should have been introduced by which it is provided that the only appeal from the irresponsible order of the medical officer to the head of the Government Department at Whitehall is not from the local authority itself, but from certain individual members of the Committee, which must not be less than six in number. I say, in my opinion, this Bill will do very little, if anything, to provide for poor children, while it will subvent all the foundations of local self-government. The hon. Member for Leicester, who is, I believe, one of the supporters of the Bill, recently made an admirable speech in Edinburgh, and I should like to ask him to what authority does he look to carry out this work? Does he look to casual medical inspectors whose opinions may vary from one county to another, or from one rural district to another, or to local bodies elected on the fullest franchise? This attempt to deal with the Act of 1906 by a sort of side-wind—by making a medical officer master over his employers—by establishing a medical caste—so far from being progressive and useful, will hamper the carrying out of provisions which, I believe, hon. Members below the Gangway are anxious to promote. I hope most emphatically that the House will refuse the second reading.
§ Sir W. J. COLLINS
Whatever view hon. Members may take of the Bill, its introduction has raised a very necessary and interesting discussion, inasmuch as it compels a review of the Acts of 1906 and 1907. Arising out of the experience of those Acts, I think everyone will agree that there are a whole crop of questions to be dealt with, probably by the Legislature itself. I sat on the Committee which 1809 dealt with the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1906, and endeavoured to do my best on the subject. At any rate, I approached the subject with an open mind, and I am anxious that in dealing with such a. delicate administrative question we should be guided by the dictates of our heads as well as the impulses of our hearts.
This Bill seeks to supply an omission in Acts that have already been passed. It seeks to amend the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1906, by removing the option to put the Act in operation, and by removing the halfpenny limit to the rate for food. In the case of the Education (Administration Provisions) Act, 1907, by making medical inspection not at stated periods, but at any time, it seeks to detect improper or insufficient feeding and provides also for an annual inspection of every school child in the country. It makes the supervision of the proper feeding of every child in a public elementary school the daily duty of the local education authority under the direction of the doctor. I noticed the remarks of the Noble Lord who seconded the rejection of the Bill that it will not add to the dignity of the profession to which I belong; and I am inclined to share the view that it will not add to the dignity of the profession, and certainly it will not add to the dignity of the local authorities if the medical officers are put into the position which they will be put into by this Bill. By an ingenuity on which I must compliment its framers it is endeavoured to utilise one of the powers of one of these Acts to force the pace with regard to provision of meals. It endeavours to make the health and welfare of the children, apart from educational requirements, the concern of the local authority. Both of the Acts gave powers to the local education authority, but they arose out of educational requirements, and they were ancillary to education itself; but I do not think that can be said with regard to the proposals of this Bill. Clause 3 of the Provision of Meals Act dealt with children who "by reason of lack of food are unable to take full advantage of the education provided for them." Clause 3 of the other Act states that medical inspection is to be provided by the local authority at or about the time of admission to school, and on such other occasions as the Board of Education may direct, and as the education of the child appeared to demand. Circular 552 of the Board of Education speaks of the Provision of Meals 1810 Act as being of an educational "character" primarily, and deprecates "the undue intervention by the State in the, sphere of parental responsibilities, or in the duties and influences of any properly ordered home." In Circular 576 I read: "The increased work undertaken by the State for the individual will mean that the parents have not to do less for themselves and their children, but more. It is in the home, in fact, that both the seed and the fruit of public health are to be found …. The home is the point at which health must be controlled ultimately." The medical examination is to be "with a view to adapting and modifying the system of education to the needs and capacities of the child." Those are the views held by the Board of Education. The needs of child's school life run through the circulars, and the Acts do not deal with the child's health of itself.
Of course, on the other hand, it may be reasonably argued that the State, owing to the Acts of 1870 and following years, has made education free and compulsory, and has required that every child shall for a certain number of hours for some 200 days in every year, for some nine years, be engaged in study up to the age of 14, in a particular place, and that the State thereby assumed a certain amount of responsibility in regard to the physical welfare of the child. On that principle I hope we were justified in going as far as we did under the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, and the Medical Inspection Act of two or three years ago, but I venture to submit the State is not in loco parentis in the case of children attending public elementary schools, even though it may be argued' it is so in the case of children in residential schools or poor law schools. It has an obligation, in view of the compulsion put upon the child to attend school for a certain number of hours for a certain number of clays for a certain number of years, and it cannot be indifferent to its physical wants and welfare during that time. That is clearly recognised, I think, in the Report which we, who served on the Committee on the Provision of Meals for School Children drafted, and in which we endeavoured to show the share of the obligation which was divided between the State, acting through the local authority, and the parent with regard to the physical welfare of the child. We alluded to the suggestion contained in the Report of the Inter - Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration, which quoted with approval the recommendations of 1811 the Scotch Royal Commission that while on the one hand the State should provide the buildings, equipment, and the utensils and so forth, the food itself, where possible, should be provided and paid for by the parent or voluntary agency, and it was only under exceptional circumstances it should be a charge upon the public authority. When the Committee contemplated the alternative which is really foreshadowed in this Bill of the money being provided or paid out of public funds, this is what the Committee said:—We need not dwell at any length on the next alternative that might he suggested, namely, that the duty of providing meals for children should be cast upon the local education authority, relying entirely upon public funds.This proposal, which has not been seriously suggested to us, would involve the provision of the meals out of the rates or Exchequer grants as a part of the statutory duty of the local education authority, and would obviously result in the extinction of all voluntary agencies. From every point of view this result would be one much to be deplored, whilst it would necessitate a large addition to the already heavily burdened rates, especially in the poorer localities.The further evil might also follow, and education itself, which is of primary importance to the country, would be prejudiced by retrenchments in other directions detrimental to educational efficiency.That being the case, and recognising as I do a share of obligation between the State and the parent in the school life of the child I, for myself, am not prepared to go further than following up the great experiment of the Provision of Meals Act of 1906, and watching the outcome of the investigation made by the medical inspection under the Act of 1907. But certain things have already emerged from the experience we have collected by the increased medical inspection which has been going on during the past generation. Thanks to the operation of the Education Act of 1870 and following years, the whole child life of the country has been brought under review, an amount of neglect, discreditable and sometimes disgraceful, has been exposed, and the public conscience has begun at last to realise the evil which exists, and to insist that it shall be dealt with in some way or another. What are we going to do with the results which medical inspection has exposed to view? When the question of continuous medical inspection was discussed in this House, with the prospect of medical treatment provided out of public funds, I remember the President of the Board of Education at that time, the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, entirely dismissed the notion that medical inspection was going to lead to medical treatment. The Chief Secre- 1812 tary said, "It was not in his mind that there should be medical treatment." The hon. Member for North Camberwell said, "Not treatment, inspection," and the then President of the Board of Education replied, "But continuous inspection would necessarily mean treatment." The hon. Member for North Camberwell disagreed, and said, "If there is continuous medical inspection there were many agencies which might be brought into play to take over the treatment," and the hon. Member for Berwickshire, who initiated the discussion, said he was particularly careful to guard against medical treatment—periodical medical inspection did not include treatment. So that, at any rate, three years ago it was not intended that medical inspection should lead to such a result as the treatment of children at the public expense, but those who are working on educational authorities know very well that very delicate questions are arising as to what is to be done with these cases of physical defect and disease, which are exposed as the result of medical inspection—whether they are to be referred to hospitals, whether the parent is to be required to have the necessary treatment carried out, or whether school cliniques and municipal hospitals ought to deal with them.
That is a question calling for most serious investigation at the present moment, and before any legislation takes place I hope some Committee or Commission will be set up to look into the whole question thoroughly. It is an important question, and it was rather airily dealt with by the House of Commons when it passed the clause which said that it was the duty of the local authority "to attend to the health of the children"—a very vague phrase, and I think further consideration has shown how very indefinite it is and how uncertain it is what it really covers. The Act is very particular as to the dates at which medical inspection should take place, but it is exceedingly indefinite as to what is meant by "attending to the health of the children." This question requires very much more careful consideration and treatment than it has yet received, and may require not only administrative, but legislative changes. I say that these questions all hang together, and we ought not to be asked to amend legislation passed so recently as 1906 and 1907 without far larger inquiries into the whole question than we have yet had. I do ask hon. Members, who no doubt sympathise with the objects of this Bill, which we have 1813 heard stated, to remember that in these matters we must be guided not only by experience, but also by inspiration proceeding from the head as well as from the heart.
§ Mr. JAMES PARKER
In rising to support the second reading of this Bill, I do not know how far I shall be expressing the opinions of my friends in what I am going to say, but speaking for myself, whatever may be the fate of this measure to-day, I shall be glad that this discussion has been raised. I would also thank the hon. Member who introduced the Bill for the clear and concise manner in which he put its proposals before the House. There have been many things said during the discussion which have been somewhat surprising. The hon. Member for St. Pancras seemed to think that to put the medical officer in the position in which he is put by this Bill would not be the best thing for the profession, viz., that the medical officer should have the power to report that a child was underfed, whether the educational authority had decided in that direction or not. I would submit to him and to the House that the medical profession, so far as municipal employ is concerned, have powers quite as far-reaching as that already under the Public Health Act. Then a point was made by the hon. Member who seconded the Amendment as to the position of the medical officer in regard to zymotic diseases. A school education authority might have 30 or 40 schools under its jurisdiction, but in the case of an outbreak of measles or other zymotic disease, the medical officer can at once order that the whole of the schools shall be closed, and the power of the authority is as nothing at all. He has a right to say without consulting anybody that the schools must be closed. Why? Because his position gives him much superior knowledge of what is required for the public health than their amateur opinion possibly could possess. So far as the other parts of the discussion are concerned, one thing which has surprised me in relation to that has been this. We speak about the two Bills passed during the Sessions of 1906 and 1907, dealing with Medical Inspection and the Provision of Meals as being ancillary to education. That is a very nice phrase, but it seems to me that we recognised in passing the Child Feeding Act something more than the fact that such an Act was merely ancillary to the proper education of the child, and I submit that if we did not we 1814 ought to have had other things in our mind. Surely it is of some importance that the children who are to be the future men and women of the State should be adequately fed? Let us for a moment look at it from this point of view. The children of to-day are the men and women of tomorrow. In the workshops and factories and in the Army and Navy they are going to do the work of the State, and, what is more important than that, they are going to be the future fathers and mothers from whom will be bred a race which will be either better than the race existing at the present moment or worse, and, therefore, altogether apart from all questions as to whether this is Socialism or not, whether it is ancillary to education or not, it is a good thing for the State that the children should be well fed, and whether it be the fault of the parents or whether it be because the parents cannot find employment and cannot possibly, however willing they are, feed their children, obviously this House ought to see to it that the children are looked after from the pure point of view of economy.
Let us see what it means. This Bill proposes that if a ½ d. rate is not sufficient it may be increased. Let us assume for the sake of argument that the local authority has to double the money which it is providing for the purpose. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London would, no doubt, say it is a wicked thing to increase the rates for this purpose, but surely if you are going to save 2d. or 6d. when the child becomes a man it is an economic thing to do to increase the rate from ½d. to 1d. I think a case has been made out not only for medical inspection, but for the extension of the Act. As to whether the proposals of this Bill are the best possible way to bring that about, that may be a question to be decided in Committee. It does not follow that because these other Acts were only passed two years ago they do not require amendment. There are some Acts passed 20 years ago which serve their purpose yet, and there are some, among which these are two, with regard to which we believe experience has proved that they require amendment. With regard to money expended on the provision of meals, wherever the parent has neglected his duty you have power under the Act to get the money back from; him, and this is surely an important point. I know of no Member upon these Benches, whether he calls himself a Trade Union; Member or a Socialist, who desires in any way to take away responsibility from the 1815 parents. I agree entirely with the hon. Baronet the Member for St. Pancras that it must be the State plus the parent plus all other authorities that we can get in regard to this matter of the best interests of the child. We hear much about parental responsibility from time to time in these Debates, and yet we know, so far as the very large mass of our population is concerned, that the parents, from one cause or another, do not take that interest in their children which they should do, and certainly, for the child's sake, 'it is for the State to step in and say to the parents in this matter that they shall do so and so in the interests of the children who are to be the men and women of the future.
§ Mr. A. H. SCOTT
I share a good many of the views which have been expressed by the last speaker, but I think those responsible for introducing this Bill are proceeding on entirely wrong lines to bring about those objects which they and I personally have at heart. They are aiming by this Bill to take from municipalities that power they now enjoy, and I speak here entirely on behalf of the municipalities of the country. I have known in contested elections, in which those views which were advocated by my friends opposite, that they have said the municipalities are being ruled by officials, and yet in this very Bill they are giving increased power to one of these officials. Not only are they by this Bill placing the authority who is responsible for the money under two authorities—they are placing him under the restrictions of their own officials, and also the Education Minister—but these demands on municipalities are demands that the money should be found by this House, and not by the ratepayers at all. Increasing obligations have been placed on municipalities by this House. Provision has been promised for them, but no provision has yet been made, and the result is that an increasing proportion each year is coming from the rates, and less from this House, and education is becoming less popular in our towns, and many Progressives have been thrown out of 'municipal life simply because they have been true to those ideals that we are advocating in this House to-day. If you are going to increase the impetus' of this movement it must be by demanding on the floor of this House that this House shall fulfil its pledges and give to the local authorities the necessary money to carry this thing out effectively. These things should not be made political plat- 1816 forms at ratepayers' associations, but the money should be found by the State to do what is really the State's work.
§ Mr. WILLIAM R. W. PEEL
This Bill has been moved and seconded by two hon. Members who have contented themselves, I think, with very little argument as to the reasons why they ask an amendment of the original Bill. Take, for instance, one of the proposals with which they have dealt—namely, the proposal to remove altogether the present limit of the rate to a halfpenny. They did not bring forward any argument to show the necessity for spending more money on the feeding of children than can be raised by the halfpenny rate. Nor did they advance any argument to show why that limit should be entirely taken away, or why, if the amount spent on the feeding of children is to be increased, there should not be another limit, say a penny or twopence, substituted for the limit it is proposed to remove. They have indulged rather, I think, in the expression of general sentiments as to the duty of maintaining children in a proper position so as to become good citizens in future. There was a good deal of discussion of the relation of the State to the individual, and the duty which the State ought to perform as regards the maintenance of those children. These are rather general propositions which I do not propose to follow to-day, because they are not, I think, directly relevant to the measure before us. They might have been better dealt with on the original Bill. Moreover, whatever one may think of the suggestion made as to the feeding of children in all schools, my chief and, in fact, my main objection to the Bill is that it is one of the worst ways in which that provision could be carried out. I have read the Bill carefully, and I can hardly conceive a worse method of preserving the responsibility of the elected representatives of the people to the electors than the method suggested in this Bill. Here again we have not had any evidence produced. In fact, the hon. Members who moved and seconded the Bill gave quite general reasons. They did not give any particular reasons why the feeding of children should be made compulsory and not optional. If they wished to make this measure compulsory and not optional, surely the simplest thing to have done would have been to bring in a single clause to effect that. They would have gained their purpose in that way without all this elaborate and intricate machinery, 1817 which can only be exercised at the expense of the rights and duties of the elected representatives. It is quite true that the hon. Member for Camborne went into a rather elaborate argument to show that enabling powers and optional powers were exactly the same as compulsory powers. I do not think I could quite follow him in that reasoning, but if that is so it would be better when an Act is passed to insert the word "must" instead of the word "may." There is one reason why I do not altogether dissent from the suggestion of the hon. Member as regards the throwing of duties on the local authorities. Only the other day there was a very large deputation to the Prime Minister with reference to the complaints of the local authorities that they had to pay for medical inspection and treatment of children, and that the State would not take any share at all in paying the cost. In reply to that deputation the Prime Minister made a very remarkable statement as bearing on the relation of the State to local authorities. He said:—You come before us asking for State money. Well, as regards medical inspection, that no doubt is an obligation definitely cast upon you; that you have to do. As regards the treatment of the children, that is purely optional. You can do it or not as you like. If you can do it or not as you like, you cannot reasonably come and ask the State to assist you in doing something which you need not do unless you like.I say, therefore, that the Prime Minister takes a different view of "mays" and "musts" from the hon. Gentleman opposite. I so far agree with the hon. Member on this point that when new duties or optional powers are cast upon local authorities, very often I think the House of Commons is apt to assuage its conscience as to the duties, labour, and expense thrown on the local authorities by saying that, after all, they need not put them in operation unless they like. If in all cases "must" could be substituted for "may," and more especially in Acts relating to the feeding of school children, the House of Commons would have to consider more carefully than at present whether it was going to bear some portion of the expense cast on the local authorities. I can say that more especially now, for this Government is the worst enemy the local authorities have ever had. Other Governments have thrown duties on the local authorities, but absolutely no Government except this one has thrown so many duties at them in a lump, and been so niggardly in giving them a share of State grants to assist them in carrying out those duties. As it is only two years since the original 1818 Act was brought in, Surely the burden is cast upon hon. Members who support this amending Bill to show the necessity for making the Amendment. They brought forward no evidence for making this compulsory. Hon. Members talked rather of the general necessity of doing what we can for the future generation. The previous Act was based on the recommendations of a Select Committee of this House, which took a great deal of evidence, and went most carefully into the whole question. Here we have had no such inquiry by a Committee of the House, or by any other Committee, to show that the Act has failed. That being so, I think it requires far stronger evidence than has been brought forward by hon. Members to show it should be already amended.
The proposal to remove the halfpenny limit is, I think, a very serious matter. Here is another proposal to throw a further burden on the local authorities, which I think the Seconder of the Bill dealt with far too lightly. He ought to have shown whether they have spent up to the halfpenny limit or not. In the course of his speech the Seconder talked about the action of the London County Council, and I got up to deny his statement. I did not like to see the hon. Member struggling in error. He stated, quite inaccurately, that the London County Council had not put the Act in operation.
The fact is that the London County Council in the beginning put the Act into operation as regards the part of the Act authorising the finding of money out of the rates to feed the children. That we not only decided to do, but we were led to rely on voluntary subscriptions, partly by the suggestion of the Education Board and also by the advice in the Act itself, which says that recourse is to be had to the rates only in the case where voluntary subscriptions have failed. This is a very interesting comment on the somewhat pious Resolution expressed in the Committee, because the Select Committee certainly expressed great hopes that voluntary subscriptions would not fail. I cannot help thinking that those who signed the Report of the Select Committee lost sight of the difficulty of collecting voluntary subscriptions when you can also get the money out of the rates, because when asked for money many people might say, "I am quite ready to give my subscription towards feeding the children, but how do I know that in a few months the rate collector will not come around and ask me for my subscription over again?" It is not only common-sense 1819 but it is a state of facts that this House should recognise clearly, that when you call upon the rates to supplement voluntary subscriptions that must necessarily mean the drying up of all voluntary subscriptions of that character. As regards the method of controlling the amount of money so spent, there is a power given to recover the cost from parents who are able to afford to pay for it. There again I cannot help thinking that the Committee had very small experience of local administration if they thought that local authorities were going to institute numberless suits against their electorates in order to recover, at probably very considerable expense, these very minute sums of money. The thing is really almost impracticable. In the case of the London County Council it has been done in only two cases.
§ Mr. PEEL
That is not my point. People do not mind notices now. They have too. many of them. The point is that in only two cases did we recover the amount. We feed 54,000 children a week, and in only two cases was the money recovered. As regards the responsibility of parents in the Children Act passed last year there is really far more effective machinery for insisting on parents who can pay paying than there is here, because ill-treatment of any kind is made very severely punishable by section 12 of the Act of 1908. There is a fine not exceeding £100. In addition to that there is imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding two years. If you look lower down you will see among neglects of children the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, and medical aid or lodging for a child or a young person. So there is a very severe remedy that the local authority has against persons who fail to provide for their own children. Moreover, if they are not able to pay for it themselves the duty is laid on the parents of having recourse to the poor law guardians or the public authority. So the power of compelling responsibility is far better secured under the Children Act of 1908.
As regards the effect of this particular measure in its machinery upon the administration of London there has been built up in the last two years a very elaborate system of administration in London. Members of this House will realise that this is necessary when they know that there are over 700,000 children in the ele- 1820 mentary schools of London at the present time. The number being fed in London during the last few weeks has been not far from 52,000 to 55,000. From this period onwards we hope there will be a decrease, and that when you get to tie beginning of the school year in August the number will be down to something like 27,000. The committee of each school consists partly of teachers and partly of managers and other persons interested in philanthropic arrangements. Then you have these large associations which represent a natural district—not municipal districts—who have further powers of control, which are in the hands of these local committees. It is quite clear that the machinery of this Bill will entirely supersede these committees and take the powers entirely out of their hands. The provisions in this Bill take the powers, duties, and responsibilities entirely out of the hands not only of these local committees but out of the hands of the local authorities themselves. In fact this Bill sets up the medical officer, or the head teacher, or a majority of the managers as the authority by themselves, because they have the power of requesting which means a mandatory request, that is of calling upon the medical inspector to report, and when the medical inspector has made his report, the local authority is bound to act upon it. Of course local authorities naturally act through officials, and they have to consider the advice that is given them by medical officers, and by these committees; but in this case either the head teachers or the managers are really almost put in the position of statutory Parliamentary officers. They are the people to decide whether the children are to be fed, and not the elected local authority.
The people who are the servants of the local authority are going to be put up in the place of local authority, are going to have control, and are going to supersede the local authority which has been elected by and is responsible to the ratepayers. The servants are being turned into the masters, and the whole system is to be turned topsy-turvy. That one principle alone, the reversal of our system of local Government, would make it necessary to reject this Bill, because whatever your feelings may be about increasing the amount of feeding for the children, however you may think that some authorities have not done their duty—and I may say you have produced a remarkably small amount of evidence in support of it; I cannot remember any evidence almost 1821 that was produced—if you are going to do it at the expense of the independence and responsibility of the local authorities you are striking so great a blow at local Government that it becomes well to consider whether there is not some simpler way of arriving at the same aim. It is perfectly true that in the fourth section of the Act you do provide some appeal to the Board of Education against the decision of your own advisers. But apart from section 4 you hand over complete authority from the local authority as I have described. Here is the system of appeal: Any members of the local education authority, not being less than one-sixth of the whole council, can appeal from the decision of their own officer to the Board of Education. Is not that a most extraordinary provision? You first of all put the officer in a superior position to his authority, and then, in the kindness of your heart, you say, "I will not make him your complete 'boss'; I will allow you or one-sixth of you to appeal over his head to the Board of Education." Again, what an extraordinary position to put people in. Here you have a plaintiff and defendant coming before the Board of Education, one of whom is the officer of the council and the other is the council. What a pleasant position it would be for any local authority if, when the case was brought forward, the Board of Education decided in favour of the medical officer. What sort of control do you suppose a local authority will be able to exercise over its officers if in this, and possibly other, cases, those officers are to have an appeal against their own masters, and, if a decision is given in their favour, be able to snap their fingers at the authority which rules and controls them in other ways? The thing is perfectly absurd. Supposing the medical officer decides that some particular child need not be fed. In most local authorities it would be easy to find a sixth who would take a view opposed to that of the remaining five-sixths, and who in this case, taking the view that the child ought to be fed, would appeal in a contrary sense against the opinion of the medical officer. What is to be the position of the Board of Education under such circumstances? A centralised board, sitting in London, is to be the ultimate judge as to whether a particular child in some remote part of the country—it may be in Newcastle or Cardiff—is or is not to be fed at the expense of the rates. That is centralisation of government carried to an absurdity, and it is really 1822 overruling, controlling, and smashing local authorities to a degree which I should think the promoters of this Bill hardly contemplate. What an enormous increase of officers there will have to be at the Board of Education to cope with these numerous cases. Where is the final decision to come from? A medical officer is to be sent down from the Board of Education, and his opinion is to be set up against that of the medical officer of the local authority. You can imagine the struggles of the doctors among themselves as to whether or not the child is to be fed. The amount of fresh labour to be thrown on the head of the Board of Education I almost shudder to contemplate. I do not know whether or not the right hon. Gentleman is an authority on the feeding or underfeeding of children.
I pass for the moment from the many terrible difficulties and the apples of discord which you will cast in the way of the local authorities, but is it not clear that if you are to carry out the Bill you must put the medical officers in a different position? Supposing a medical officer is constantly going against the opinion of the authority which he serves: do you think any responsible local authority would tolerate that? Of course they would not. They would get rid of him.
§ Mr. PEEL
If you are to make the Bill operative at all, you must at least give fixity of tenure to this particular officer. ["Hear, hear."] Hon. Members say "Hear, hear," but it is not in the Bill. I do not know whether that is one of the provisions that may be put right in Committee. Medical men will tell you that it is one of the most difficult things in the world to tell whether or not a child is underfed. It is also extremely difficult to decide whether a child is feeble-minded or semi-insane. On these matters it is well known that medical officers differ very much. I was told of a case the other day by a medical officer, illustrating the difficulty of deciding whether or not a child is underfed. It was a case before the recent Act came into operation. The parents were summoned for underfeeding and neglecting their children. The child produced in court was a miserable and unfortunate specimen of humanity, but the defence of the parents was that it was the fault of the constitution of the child, and they called in aid the child's brother, who, although he had been submitted to 1823 exactly the same course of treatment, was so fat that, as the doctor told me, the skin would hardly meet over his cheeks. I say that the present system, under which the teachers, the managers, and others have the power to decide how a child shall be dealt with is far preferable to sending down a medical officer from the Board of Education, because they have many opportunities of knowing a mass of detail about the life of the child, its parents, its home, and so forth, which enables them to judge whether or not the weakness of the child is due to want of food, to the general conditions under which it is brought up, or to the fact that it is anæmic, or incapable of digesting its food.
§ Mr. PEEL
I am not a medical officer, and I should be sorry to prescribe in a matter I did not understand. I have brought forward these points to show that you are introducing a complexity of machinery which will upset the whole local administration, and be infinitely less flexible and useful than the system already in existence. Lastly, as regards expenditure, you have shown no evidence whatever why the halfpenny limit should be taken away. I should certainly vote against the removal of the halfpenny limit, especially in cases where there is no suggestion by the Government—and I am sure that no such suggestion will be made in this case—that if the halfpenny limit is taken away and there is greater expenditure on the feeding of children they will take the matter in hand and contribute. Far too many fresh duties have been cast upon local authorities already, and I cannot lightly vote for a measure which will cast upon them fresh duties, obligations, and expenditure, nor will I under any circumstances be a party to a Bill which will take away from the unfortunate local authorities any responsibility for their own finance. This is going to cast those duties upon some of their officials; that is going to turn the whole of local administration topsyturvy, and make the medical officer, or the manager, or some members of the committee masters of the local authority, instead of making the local authority responsible to the ratepayers for its finance and for its administration.
§ Sir JAMES DUCKWORTH
It is a surprise to one listening to a speech such 1824 as that just delivered to find how many bogeys can be raised with respect to the important principle before the House. Tome this Bill seems quite a natural complement of the two previous Bills in reference to the same subject last year and: the year before. Those Acts are not being carried out in their entirety and with that amount of enthusiasm and earnestness that is desirable by the local authorities in different parts of the country. The object of this Bill is to remove the authority, to remove the power from the education authority to the school doctor, who has already various duties assigned to him under the previous Acts. It is quite clear to us all why there is no enthusiasm in carrying out those Acts. It is because the local authorities are not very ready to increase their burdens. In fact, to me it has always been, and I am sure it must be to all who are earnest on the education question, a deplorable thing that the enthusiasm and earnestness in carrying out the Education Acts depend upon local rates. If it could be on the taxes instead of the rates, you may depend upon it there would not have been this reluctance in carrying out the Acts all over the country. I have great sympathy with that. As an Alderman where I live myself I know something of the reluctance of the education authority in our borough to increase their liabilities for educational purposes. However, this is the law, and that is the method we have adopted, and I do not see that we should shirk our duty in amending the Acts that are already law and, it may be, their application on reluctant local authorities. Although I have very great sympathy with their desire to keep down the expenses, even for educational purposes, I do think myself they ought to carry out the provisions of those Acts.
The Member for St. Pancras, in his very interesting and thoughtful and weighty speech, coming from him who is an authority on these matters, puts forward the idea that it would not add to the dignity of the medical profession to have to examine the children in this way. I do not see any force in an objection of that kind. The doctors have already the duty of looking after the eyes and ears of the children, and I do not see that they will be losing any of their dignity if they have to attend to the feeding of the children, which, in my judgment, is the most important thing of all, for if the body is not fed we do not need to trouble much about the eyes 1825 and the ears. They will not be of much service unless the child is fed. The same hon. Member complained that the Bill was premature. It is not long certainly since the other Bills became law, and they have not had much time to work, but I was rather surprised to find that he was quite in favour of the previous Bills, that he believed it was a proper thing that underfed children should be fed by local authorities. If that is the case, why, then, should they not enforce the present Bill. I could not see any force at all in his objection in saying that the Bill was premature. He objected also because the Bill only just attended to the physical wants of the child, and because it neglected what he considered the higher nature—the moral side. I think there was no force in that argument because, if the physical is not attended to, then we cannot do much for the moral or intellectual and the higher religious instincts of the child.
I think in this matter of the training of children, especially in the school training, we have very much to learn from Germany. I have been reading within the last week the very important and very interesting report of the visit of a number of Yorkshire workmen to Germany. It would be well for us if we could bring ourselves to learn a few lessons from the way they do things in Germany with reference to children. They go on the principle that the child is a sacred and valuable asset of the State, and that it does not pay to starve the child. They take that as an axiom, and they act upon it; and municipalities all through Germany make themselves to a large extent responsible for the feeding of the children and the proper attention to the children in every way, shape, and form. In this report those men state very clearly and very emphatically that you will not meet anywhere in Germany with a ragged child or a child that has at all the appearance of being underfed. They attend to those things to a very great extent, to a very large extent, in a better way than we are apt to do. Why is there all this complaint in the Army of men not being fit to be soldiers? It is because they are neglected while they are children. There are many parents in this country who are careless and indifferent, and do not pay attention to their children. Such parents ought to be compelled to do so. The first thing is to feed the child, so that it may not suffer, and then if the parent has the money he should be made to refund what has been spent on his child; in 1826 fact, that is according to the provisions of the existing law. But there are thousands of parents in this country who are not either drunken, or careless, or indifferent about their children, and who are yet in a position where they cannot possibly feed their children as a child ought to be fed. In a case like that I am sure that it is legislating in a Christian, benevolent and proper way to make someone responsible to see that a child is properly fed And how could that be better done than by the doctor, who is continually visiting the schools, and the teacher, who is in constant and close contact with the child? The doctor should make himself responsible for saying that the child must be fed if it is underfed. I am very greatly in favour of this Bill becoming law, in order that it may put in force the Act previously passed, and in order that it may be a blessing to the children attending the schools as well as a blessing to the country as a whole.
§ Mr. H. C. GOOCH
The Bill makes a change in these Acts which ought not to be made until we have had some further experience of their working. Medical inspection is now being undertaken, and also in some cases these powers have been put in force. But all this has only just begun, and I think that it would be extremely unwise for the House to change any of these Acts at the present moment. The Prime Minister, in reply to a deputation on 18th March last, pointed out the Provision of Meals Bill is purely permissive, and that at present action is entirely voluntary on the part of the local authorities, and that they are not bound to do anything unless they wish. But the promoters of this Bill are not satisfied with the pace at which the local authorities are going, and the whole scheme of this Bill is to quicken up their pace. Apparently, if the local authority does not move, then, according to the Bill, it may be moved by a scratch majority of the managers of the schools, a large portion of whom are not appointed by the local authority itself, and over whom they have no control whatever. The managers, or the head teacher of the school, who is the servant of the local authority, are to move the authority if it declines to move itself. When the local authority has been called upon to move, apparently another servant of that authority, the doctor, must report his decision to them, and when that decision is reported the employer who finds the money has no responsibility whatever for, and no control over, that 1827 decision. I entirely agree with what has been said by various teachers, that to place the head teacher or the doctor in that position of responsibility towards his employers would be a most unsatisfactory thing in local Government. When the doctor has reported, apparently the authorities must at once provide the fund, and then we have the curious proviso that the head teacher, if he thinks any case urgent, may make temporary provision to feed the child out of a special fund set apart by the local authority. Apparently the only duty of the authority under the proposals of this Bill is to find the money for the servants concerned, but apparently they have no control whatever. I should like to know from the promoters of this Bill whether the authority is to lay down any rules whatever in order to secure control of the administration. As I read the Bill, if a child attending the school is thought to be underfed, the head teacher will at once be able to cause that child to be fed out of the fund which is provided by the local authority, and the consequence is, that any parent who does not desire to feed his child has only to send it to the school to be fed in the morning, and he will be promptly fed by the head teacher from that fund. Take the ordinary Board school where you have three and sometimes four head teachers. Each of these people presumably would be supplied with a small fund which would be advanced by the local authority, and each of them would be able to administrate according to his own widely divergent view of what is charity and what is not, and what is desirable and what is not. Or you may have the other case, where you might have in one school the fund administered in what might be called a generous way, or where they might have the fund administered with parsimony, and you can imagine the effect on school attendance in these schools. Whereas all the parents of a district would send their children to school where they were generously dealt with, in the case of the other school, where there was not the same liberal treatment, it would receive nothing whatever. We are told that a small fund is to be set aside by the local authority for the purpose of making temporary provision. I want to know whether that fund is going to be limited, and, if so, how? Take the case of three departments. Each of them is given a small sum to spend for this purpose. If one of the departments spends all its 1828 money, and does not carry out what the head of that department thinks necessary, is the local authority then to be called upon to provide more money, and, if so, how much more? Has the local authority, the employer, and responsible for the finance, or the head teacher, who is the servant of the authority, and who is not responsible, to say the last word upon how much money is to be advanced, and how it is to be spent? I also find that this Bill repeals the limit of the halfpenny, which may be spent upon this provision of food. Of course, if the head teachers, some of whom are very kind and very generous, are to be allowed to spend this fund at their own discretion, then it will be necessary to do away with this limit, and it will be impossible really to say that there can be anything to limit an expenditure of this kind. Further, I would call the attention of the Noble Lord the Member for South Birmingham to clause 4, which provides that one-sixth of the local authority may appeal to the Board of Education. I do not know whether the President of the Board of Education contemplates with equanimity that his Department should be inundated with appeals as to whether the children in various parts of the country are or are not underfed. According to the Bill, the doctor, upon medical grounds, is to give his decision whether the child is underfed, and against that decision one-sixth of the local authority will have the right to appeal to the Board of Education. So that, apparently, the one-sixth are to have the right to set up their view against the view of their own medical expert. Then the Board of Education is to step in at the eleventh hour and send down some other doctor—though I believe that the medical staff of the Board of Education is scarcely adequate to hear all these appeals at the present moment—presumably to appear against some particular doctor in the particular neighbourhood, as to whether a particular child was or was not underfed upon a particular day. And even if you do get down another doctor, and he overrules the first doctor, that seems to me a profoundly unsatisfactory position for the medical officer of the local education authority to be overruled by a stranger. The first point is that if the local education auhority does not move as they should they are to be moved on by the doctor, head teacher, or the manager: and under clause 4, if the promoters of this Bill do not obtain a satisfactory answer out of the school 1829 doctor, then he is to be moved on by somebody else. The whole purport of this Bill is simply and solely to impose upon local authorities above that education rate a large expenditure on the feeding of children, which Parliament has expressly stated is a voluntary work. I should like to call the attention of the House, in this respect, to the Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws. They were dealing with the question of the feeding of necessitous children. Part 4, chap. 8, page 440, says:—We would recommend that the policy and terms of the Education (Provision of Meals) Act. 1906, be reconsidered in its relation to the relief of distress generally, and that if relief for necessitous children is required, and is not and cannot be, met from voluntary sources, it should become part of the duty of public assistance committees, which we propose to create, to provide such assistance as may be necessary by way of meals or otherwise.I submit, if the promoters of this Bill wish to obtain further feeding for the children, they have chosen an extremely unfortunate method of doing so; and I hope at no very future date Parliament will place the work of feeding the children upon the proper authorities, and leave the education authorities to carry out with their undivided attention their own proper and laborious operations.
§ Mr. P. CURRAN
In the first place, in answer to the hon. Member who has just sat down, I want to point out to the House that the present Bill does not in any way propose to set aside the Act on the Statute Book. The object of the Bill is to strengthen that Act, both by having instituted a more perfect system of medical inspection and also by producing a system of compulsory feeding. I think the House will clearly understand that those two questions are inseparable when the House is dealing with a measure of this description. It is necessary and wise in my judgment to discuss the two in a short measure of this description. It is perfectly understood that the highest medical authorities in the country deplore the physical deterioration that is going on at the present time. Even so high an authority as Dr. Mackenzie, in his Report, positively deplored the stature of the children owing to the absence of that feeding which is necessary to a growing child. Personally. I am strongly interested in the feeding of the children. We believe that the child who goes to school insufficiently fed is largely the result of poverty—poverty over which the parents have no control. It has been suggested that sometimes it is negligence on the part of the parent; but 1830 there is a remedy for that. The negligent parent may be prosecuted. Of course, that only applies to working-class parents. There are other people, other sections of the community, who do not keep their children, and we are not in a position to prosecute them at present. At any rate, we want a more perfect system of feeding the children. We want to make it compulsory. Why? Since the Act was placed on the Statute Book the hon. Member for Leicester and the hon. Member for Barnard Castle have had piles of communications from various parts of the country, in which it is pointed out that the local authorities are deliberately evading the Act to save the rates. It is because of that that this Bill has been promoted.
In my judgment it is a humane Bill. In my estimation, apart from the humanitarianism of it, it is a logical and consistent Bill. When hon. and right hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway proceed to criticise the Bill—they who claim to have a monopoly of capitalism of this House—I would remind them that if the rising generation is not looked after in days to come there will be no one to look after them. They believe in building "Dreadnoughts," in developing our field forces. If they honestly and sincerely believe—and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity—in the strengthening and development of our field and naval forces, then they ought to be in a position to help us to raise a generation physically strong and intellectually capable who will be able to man the guns or take the field. Poverty prevails among people who cannot be called lazy, indolent, or thriftless. It prevails because of the lack of facilities to earn their livelihood and the livelihood of those dependent upon them. If the State is prepared to stand by a system which is driving out of the commercial, industrial, and rural life some of the best manhood and womanhood of our country, the State should recognise the responsibility of at least seeing to the wants of the rising generation in a manner that will adequately equip them to take their place in the world. That is the object of this short measure before the House, and I hope the question of a slight increase of rates will not weigh with this House. I hope the question of encouraging the thriftless father will not weigh with this House, because, as I have said, he will have to undergo a form of prosecution. We believe in a more practical form of medical inspection, and. above all, in a more perfect system of feeding, because 1831 I think it will be obvious to hon. Members in this House that if you feed a healthy child, if he has the necessary stimulants to keep his body in good order, then there is comparatively little need for medical inspection at all. That, of course, may not be in the case of a weakly child. The question of adequately feeding children is the first question; the question of a more perfect system of medical inspection, to my mind, comes second. These two points are set out simply in this measure. I hope it will not be regarded as a political measure, but that it will appeal to the humanitarian instincts and generosity of every section of this House.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
The hon. Gentleman who last spoke on the other side of the House, said this Bill was the necessary complement of the two Acts which were introduced two or three years ago, and the hon. Member who has just spoken has practically said the same thing. I should like to point out that that statement is quite inaccurate. This is a compulsory Bill, whereas the Bills introduced before were permissive, and one of the chief arguments by which this House was induced to pass the Act of 1906 was because it was permissive. Now, when we have passed an Act because it was permissive, hon. Gentlemen come down and say that this is a corollary or complement of that Act. The hon. Gentleman opposite told us he had great sympathy with the local authorities; he told us he was an alderman in the town in which he lived, and he told us the local authority of that town recognised the great burden they were compelled to put upon the ratepayers, and that he had great sympathy with them, but at the same time he told us he was going to support this Bill. I think, if I might venture to say so, that the local authority of the hon. Gentleman's town would rather have his vote against this Bill than his sympathy and vote for the Bill, because there can be no doubt whatever that this Bill is going to add to the burden the hon. Member deplores. The hon. Member went on to give his reasons for the vote he intends to give, and they were that the local authorities in certain places did not carry out the Act. That is a strange doctrine to come from an hon. Member on the Liberal side of the House who believes in government by the people for the people. What is a local authority? It is an authority elected by the people for the purpose of acting for the 1832 people. The hon. Gentleman is not satisfied with that. He wants an irresponsible person to come forward and. to use the phrase, of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, to ginger the local authority. That is not government by the people for the people; it is government of the people by an irresponsible person, not elected by the people, and who will not be oppressed by the burden of taxation necessary if this Bill comes into law. The hon. Member went on to talk of the Germans, and said the Germans did all sorts of things for their children. I quite accept that, but the hon. Gentleman forgets that the Germans make them all soldiers. Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to go on with his "complements"? This Bill is the complement, according to him, of the Act of 1906. Is he prepared to go on and advocate compulsory military training?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member, who introduced the Bill, did not feel it necessary to give any arguments to the House in favour of the measure, and his only argument as far as I could gather was that the House passed the Act of 1906 with the idea that the local authority would only consider whether the children required food or not. I venture to say the House of Commons did not pass the Act of 1906 with that idea. I have looked up the Debates when that Bill was passing through the House, and I find the hon. Member for the West Houghton division of Lancashire said:—The proper authority to deal with the question was the education authority.Therefore one of the reasons why this Bill was passed was that the education authority would be the proper authority. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle said:—The manner and means of relief were left absolutely to the discretion of the local authority.Why alter it? If the advantage of that Bill was that the manner and means of relief were left absolutely to the discretion of the local education authority, why should it be sought to alter it now? The hon. Member then said:—The proper people to consider all this were the local education authority, and that their discretion should be final …. because the local education authority are the people on the spot, and are able to ascertain whether certain steps should be taken.It did not occur to the hon. Member and his friends not on the spot, that another 1833 Bill should be passed to coerce the local education authority. As long as the local education authority agreed with hon. Members below the Gangway they are the proper people to do certain things, but when they do not agree they are nothing of the sort. On the 7th December, 1906, when the Bill was in Committee, a certain Amendment was moved, and I made a speech in which I said I thought the Amendment might open the door to certain further enlargement of the powers of the Bill, and I was told I was mistaken, and that it could not do anything of the sort. The hon. Member for Burnley said on that occasion it was because he did not see these things that he would support the Amendment. He said he preferred the clause as it stood, but as the Amendment would not do what I suggested it would do, that he would support it. There again he is wrong, because the previous Bill, not having opened the door wide enough, this Bill has been brought forward in order to open the door still more widely. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil, who is a great authority on this subject, dealt with the question as to whether the clause should he compulsory or mandatory. He said:—He must remind the Committee that the clause was not compulsory or mandatory; it only provided that the local authority might do certain things, and the local authority is left a discretion.This House passed the former Bill because it thought the Labour party, through their leader, accepted the principle that the Bill should be permissive, and also accepted the statement that the local authorities would be able to safeguard the rates because it was left to thir discretion. It was upon those grounds that this House passed the previous Bill, and not because there was any idea that the local authority would be compelled to give meals to the children whenever any sentimental school teacher, who would not have to pay the cost, chooses to fancy that a certain child should be fed, or when the medical inspector believes that certain things ought to be done.
I will deal with what was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton with regard to the question of the authority who has to decide this question in future. My hon. Friend pointed out that the teacher is the servant of the local authority, and that you are now going to reverse that position and make the teacher the master. I am not so sure that certain hon. Members below the Gangway are not rather of opinion that the employé should always be the master, and that the 1834 master should be subservient to the employé. That, however, is not my idea. Personally, I believe that you will not be able to carry on in a businesslike manner the affairs of the State if you allow the employés to be the masters instead of the servants of the State. This is a step in that direction, and a very great step, because the danger after all is that the person appointed by the local authority can be removed by that authority. The teacher" has no responsibility in the event of recommending a large expenditure, as he might do, under this Bill. In that case the wrath of the ratepayers will not fall upon the teacher, because he is not popularly elected, but is appointed by the local authority. As this Bill stands the local authority might remove the teacher, but that would place the local authority in a very unpleasant position, because the teacher might go about amongst the parents of the children, and, without stating what was not absolutely correct, he might put a complexion upon the reasons for his dismissal which might influence people who did not understand the case to vote against members of that particular local authority. We do not want that sort of thing imported into local elections. I cannot conceive anything more opposed to the securing of good men to serve on the local authority than that a dismissed teacher should be able to go about amongst the electors and canvass against the return of particular members of the local authority by stating that he had been dismissed for endeavouring to aid the poor little child. In such a case friction would arise immediately.
There are already a considerable number of people who are agitating in favour of the principle that the local medical inspector should not be removable. If that proposal became law the effect of it would be that the local medical inspector would be absolutely responsible, and we should be going back to the rule of the Czar with respect to the feeding of school children, because any teacher would be able to say that certain children should be fed not at his own expense, but at the expense of other people. The same thing would apply to the school teacher. As a matter of fact, I believe there is an agitation going on to the effect that the school teacher should not be removable except at the instance of the Board of Education. The provisions of this Bill would intensify that and the result would be that the servants of the ratepayers would become their masters— 1835 a state of things which, I think, would be very disastrous.
With regard to the rate, it was distinctly limited in the Act of 1906 to one halfpenny. That Act did not contemplate that the feeding of the children would very often be resorted to by the local authority, because the first part of the Act provided that the local authority should only provide rooms, kitchens, and apparatus for the provision of meals, and it was only in a later section that it provided under certain circumstances, and then only with the consent of the Board of Education, that a halfpenny rate should be imposed for this purpose. I would point out to the hon. Member who introduced this Bill that the Act of 1906 did not contemplate a general feeding of the children by the local authorities, but it expressly laid down that if a halfpenny rate was brought in and food was given it could only be done with the consent of the Board of Education. I notice the statement was made the other day on this question by Mr. Fisher, who is a member of the London County Council, and who brought in the county council budget. I believe that gentleman estimated that the cost of providing the expenses of the Act in 1907 for medical inspection only came to something like £1,000,000. That is only for medical inspection; but in this Bill you have first of all medical inspection, and then the provision of food. If medical inspection is going to cost £1,000,000 what a tremendous vista of expenditure this will open out for the unfortunate ratepayer. It is to be assumed that this medical inspection would be not loss than under the Act of 1907; and in addition there will be the whole cost of the food, which might amount to anything. It is impossible to say what it might be. During the second reading of the Bill of 1906, an hon. Member estimated the cost of providing the food of the children at £12,000,000 a year. I do not know what it would cost. I only allude to the matter in order to say that such a figure was mentioned, and, whatever the figure may be, a large sum of money would have to be spent. What is going to be the result of all this? Supposing this Bill becomes law. I hope it will not. But assuming that it did. The hon. Member who spoke last said that there was a safeguard, because the people who had money and brought their children under the Act would be prosecuted. That, he said, was a safeguard. When the Bill was before the House in 1906 we were told 1836 then that there was a safeguard because the Act would be permissive. In less than three years we are asked to abolish that safeguard. We are asked to make it compulsory, take it out of the power of the local authority, and put it into the hands of irresponsible people. What reason have we to think that in three years we shall not be asked to abolish the proceedings against the parents with money with regard to the cost of food? The hon. Member who seconded the second reading enunciated a principle which, if once admitted, would make the principle of recovering of cost from the parents to disappear. The next thing would be a limit to wages. You cannot recover from a parent supposing his wages are below a certain amount. We are gradually coming to this position: That the State will become the foster-parent of the children, will take away from the parents all their responsibilities, and the State will not have only to feed and clothe the children but to look after them generally. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the second reading brought forward an argument—and there have not been many arguments in favour of the Bill—that a man must not commit suicide because his life belongs to the State. Who has said that the life of a man belongs to the State? If that was true, if the lives of the people belonged to the State, not only should the State feed and clothe them, but a Socialistic system should be formed. The majority of the people do not believe that the lives of the people belong to the State; and I do not think that argument is much in favour of this Bill.
The Bill would put another nail into the confidence, self-reliance, and independence of which we are so justly celebrated. Instead of saying to a man, "You should not have got into the difficulty, but as you are in one you must get out of it yourself," it is now proposed to say to him, "As you are in a difficulty, somebody else shall take you out of it." That is a fatal doctrine. I do not know where it is going to end. I know the kind-heartedness of people. You are teaching people to ask others to put their hands into their pockets and assist them, or you are asking people to put their hands into the pockets of the local authority, which is very much easier, That was not the feeling which made England what it is, and it is not that feeling which will keep England what she is. The feeling of independence was as great amongst the working classes as amongst other classes. The old feel- 1837 ing was that they did not want to rely on the State but on their own efforts. I am afraid that gradually that feeling is slipping away. It is absurd to suppose that a man may marry, have several children, and say to other people, "I cannot support them, you must." An hon. Member near me states that Thackeray says that a man who marries and cannot afford to marry is a nuisance to society. I am obliged to my hon. Friend for whispering that statement to me, and I thoroughly agree with it. I have endeavoured very shortly to state the evils which I believe will result from this Bill. First of all, the Bill is an extension and an alteration of the Act of 1906, and it is a vital alteration, because it makes the measure compulsory instead of permissive. Then it takes away from the local authorities the power of being masters in their own houses, and it takes away from the ratepayer the power of controlling the expenditure of the money which he contributes. It also gives the medical inspectors and teachers positions which they never ought to have, and which I believe they will administer badly, and cause friction between themselves and the local authority. Lastly, it saps the independence of our race, and I sincerely hope that the House will pause before they give a second reading to this Bill.
§ Mr. W. CROOKS
I am very much inclined to preface the remarks which I am going to address to the House with a little story, showing that you never know what may happen, but I am not going to indulge in that story just now, but I may later on. We have heard arguments to-day about the revolutionary character of this Bill and of the proposal to relieve the parents of responsibility. The hon. Baronet talked about the wickedness of the man who had insufficient pay getting married, Taut if he takes his mind a little back to the pre-1834 days his people used to encourage them to marry and to put the children into the fields at the earliest possible moment in order that they might make a profit out of them.
§ Mr. CROOKS
Well, having regard to the hon. Baronet's knowledge and the way it is out of date, I should think he was. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of this Bill wanted to appeal to the parental responsibility above everything else, and one of the observations that he quoted from the Majority Report of the Poor Law Commission was to the 1838 effect that the problem of poverty was not got rid of by placing the people on the rates. Then he went on to enlarge on the advantages of organised charity, but I suppose the same demoralisation would be set up, and a man who can get something for nothing would naturally do so. What we have always argued from the earliest days is that if you fit people properly, if you give a man an opportunity or children an opportunity of living a decent life, they live it. If the argument was true that the feeding of children at the public expense was demoralising and degrading, then I have only to say, as a striking example, that I myself was obliged to be reared until I was a fair age at the public expense. My mother was a fair specimen of the Englishwoman, and the moment we children could get out and earn our daily bread we—and we are a large family—did so, and we have never returned to that way of life. We have lived upon but the necessaries of life, and have had the moral courage to live as we have done. After all, everybody does not become degraded because they eat a little food in their infancy. Hon. Members are always arguing that if we increase the rates we necessarily increase the burden on the ratepayers. It may sound paradoxical, but it is not so. My argument is that if you take the child an the proper moment and give it food you save the rates, because that child will grow up to become a useful man, and not to be a burden on the rates. The men and women you see in your asylums are men and women who were neglected in their childhood, and who are a permanent instead of a temporary burden in consequence. The hon. Member for Taunton enlarged upon the wickedness of taking the responsibility away from the elected authorities; but let me ask him, Did or did not his Government pass a Vaccination Act, removing from the elected authorities the administration of vaccination, and did not they under that Act have officers who could go beyond public opinion in the matter of vaccination? Above all, Did they not take the administration of that Act out of the hands of medical men upon whom you could rely and place it in the hands of vaccination officers who could go round and tabulate the names of the people who ought to be vaccinated? Then, again, take the case of the Local Government Board under the Public Health Act. Do they not override the local authorities, and say that they know nothing about the matter, and act upon the information of the medical officer 1839 of health? In the case of the Vaccination Act, the local authority do not even fix the rate of pay of the vaccination officers. The Local Government Board fixes it. Then, again, take the case of the relieving officer. He cannot be removed by the local authority except with the consent of the Local Government Board.
Moreover, this House has already agreed to appoint an officer for the medical inspection of children, and in this and in other ways there is nothing new in the Bill, except that the man to whom you insist upon giving the power to report that the children are underfed shall see that they are fed. Are they not to be fed, because there is nothing in the hon. Baronet's argument if they are not? The point is that we are asking for nothing new; we are asking that the existing law should be carried out, and we want to apply it to underfed children. The hon. Baronet said there would be a quarrel with the medical officers as to whether a child is fed or underfed, but I heard that argument 20 years ago. If a poor man's child dies, and it looks thin and emaciated, it is a verdict of starvation against the parent; but if the child of a comparatively well-off man dies the verdict is that the child suffered from lack of assimilation. In cases where the neglect of the authorities is brought up, rather than have a stigma cast upon the relieving officer because he did not relieve, we are also told that the poor lamb suffered from lack of assimilation. They cannot thrive on water anyhow, unless it is like the water we used to have in London, which was food and drink too. I have heard many hon. Members pass the excuse that the reason they did not drink it was because it was bad, and they put whisky in it to kill the microbes. Then they had to give that up because the microbes bit harder than ever.
We have had three or four years' experience, and voluntary effort has failed. What is actually happening at this moment? The hon. Baronet wants evidence. Are the children even in the areas where the Act is in operation being properly fed? As a matter of fact, here in this great, wealthy city of London children are getting on an average four meals a week—five at the outside—and this wonderful authority which governs us argues—it has argued long ago—that on Sunday, somehow or other, working people always find a meal for their children. Having had some on Sunday 1840 there is no need to provide any meals for Monday, and so it goes then to Tuesday before they have anything at all. On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday they have one meal, and these gentlemen are actually arguing to-day that children are adequately fed even in London, where the Act is in operation. I was present at a meeting of the county council where we had a long sitting. It looked when we met as if the members had had their lunch. They seemed to have a contented expression with mankind on their faces. At five o'clock they had their tea. At a quarter to eight they adjourned for dinner. At 12 o'clock at night they asked for another adjournment, and they said after all there seemed to be a proper supply with no very great demand for food, and that four meals a week did look fairly representative of what a local authority ought to do for the children who came to school. Four meals a week, while they themselves were not content with four meals a day! Last week was Easter week. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman at the Board of Education is responsible for this, but the lawyers they tell me have decided that the local authority, even when it feeds the children, cannot feed them except when they are in attendance. The consequence is that when they broke up on the day before Good Friday they would not be entitled to a meal again until last Monday, nearly ten days. They call it adequate feeding. On the day they left school they had one meal. If father is out of work he gets none on Saturday or on Sunday. You cannot feed him when he is out of school, yet the Act says they shall declare that the child is not able to reap the advantage of education in consequence of its not being fed. Therefore, it may come starved to school. Surely no one will deny that the Act wants amending. We are asked what cases can we give. Listen to this case. A grandmother had four orphan grandchildren left to her. Her total income is 5s. a week. She has to find as best she can some money to pay for shelter. Will you sap the old lady's independence and parental responsibility by feeding these children? Yet there is an hon. Member in this House who praises the thrift and capacity of that dear old woman for looking after her four grandchildren with 5s. a week. God forgive us if there was ever another in this country who would permit that woman to live like that. And you are sapping their parental responsibility if you give them one 1841 meal a day! The whole thing is barbarous from start to finish. After all we may be men, we probably are, who have not got a wide view of Imperial interests. Our views are limited, I confess. I have no love of an Empire which starves its little children and which says to men like me that I lack the essential of patriotism when I put the feeding of little children before the building of "Dreadnoughts." You may call me what you like, but the duty of myself and those who are with me is to see that the future race is a strong race, capable of upholding all the best traditions of our race. We ought to be described as the Imperial party. What is the use of getting big ships and guns if you have no people to man them? After all it is our class who do man them. It is our class who are the backbone of the nation. Surely we may be forgiven for saying in this House, as I have said a hundred times outside, that the foundations of the British Empire are in the kitchens of the working men. After all, if his home is of such a character that he is not able to feed his little children, surely in the interests of the safety of the nation you will see that they are properly fed and clad.
There is another case—goodness knows they do investigate them before they give them anything—in which a poor woman with one little child was investigated by 11 inspectors—not under the proposed Bill, but now. There were varying reports. She was a "thriftless woman," "she had the appearance of a woman who drank," "we are very doubtful about it," "we do not think it is one of those cases which ought to be recommended for food," and finally they discovered that the poor woman's total income was 5s. a week, that she paid 2s. 6d. rent, and that she and the child had to live on the rest. Parental responsibility! If this House could only realise the heroic efforts of some of the unemployed men and the still more heroic efforts of the wives of the unemployed men, women that have made me proud of my country, if they could see the sacrifices they make for their little children! Yet on a Friday afternoon it is a convenient time for an academic Debate on the possible rise of rates and the interference with the judgment of an elected authority. They want to get in touch with these women to know how brave they are. A pawnbroker met me at the end of the street. "I say, Mr. Crooks, you have some hard cases, but you never 1842 had a case so hard as came to my door. A woman came into the shop and put down a wet bundle on the counter. I said, 'Take it away.' 'Give me 6d. on it.' 'Do not be a fool. Take it out of the shop.' 'Won't you give me 6d. on it.' 'What is it?' She unrolled the whole parcel, and it proved to be the chemise off her back." She had washed it and taken it to the pawnbroker and implored him to give her 6d. to feed her children because she could not send them to school on the Monday morning. Why do we quarrel about the possibility of raising the rates and the possibility of the medical officer being superior to the electoral authority? These little human souls are above it all. We think that the greatness of the Empire depends on the happiness and contentment of the homes, and that the children themselves should have a fair chance. You cannot argue with the children. You have no right to go to little children and say, "You cannot get a meal; daddy's out of work." The child does not know what is meant by daddy being "out of work," and what right has it to know? The only thing it knows is that it is hungry. As to the authorities, who ought to be anxious to put the Act into operation, what are they doing? They are doing everything they can to prevent the children from having meals. The teacher does not like the job. He makes inquiry, and the child tells him what he has had for breakfast. Then the teacher says: "You have had tea and half a slice of bread. Very well, you have had something to-day and you will not want any dinner. Take this form to your father." These forms have been showered upon me this week—forms issued by the local authorities, which say: "Are you aware that if it can be proved that you are in a position to pay for these meals you will be prosecuted?" I have said again and again, "Whatever you can prove against the parent, for the love of God give the children a fair chance." We are proposing that the children shall be fed. If it needs more than a halfpenny rate to do this Imperial work, the local authorities should have the money. If people object to this charge being put on the rates, why do not they come along and say it will be paid for out of the Imperial Exchequer? After all they are children of the nation and not of localities or districts. The whole Empire depends upon these children being properly fed. I do not know what the fate of the Bill 1843 will be, but I do care what the fate of it will be. because there will come a day when this country will have to realise its duties and obligations, and when it will be obliged to feed the children.
§ Mr. HAROLD COX
I rise to congratulate hon. Members opposite on the rapid development of their democratic principles. They propose by this Bill to deprive the elected local authorities of all discretion in a matter of considerable importance. In their speeches they have argued that the elected local authorities cannot be trusted. It is an interesting revelation of the mental attitude of the Socialist party which professes to believe in democracy, but really believes in gaining any power open to it, and then establishing an absolute tyranny. I had the honour of opposing the Bill which was the forerunner of this measure three years ago, and the House will not be surprised to learn that I expected the Bill would be a failure. That it has been a failure is proved by the introduction of this Bill. Hon. Members say that the local authorities will not in a large majority of cases put the Act in force. I am very glad they will not for the sake of those very little children in whose interest hon. Members opposite appeal. They have assumed quite without warrant that those opposed to the Bill are indifferent to the wants of little children. It is just because we appreciate their sufferings that we oppose the responsibility for their care being taken off the parents and put on the State. Hon. Members opposite and those who supported them three years ago made a strong point in regard to the enforcing of parental responsibility. We hear nothing of that now. We were told that the parent would be compelled to pay when he could. We hear nothing of that now. [Cries of "Yes" and "It is still in the Act."] It is still in the Act, but how often has it been put into force? [An HON. MEMBER: "That is a matter for the local authority."] If any Amendment was needed it would be to strengthen the provisions for prosecuting the parents. The whole object of the Bill is not to put compulsion on the parent to pay, but to put compulsion on the ratepayer to pay for the parent who will not. I remember the hon. Gentleman who is now Secretary to the Admiralty drawing many cheers from the House by saying that the parent who would not pay ought to be flogged at the cart-tail. It was an effective phrase, but 1844 what effect has been given to it? The only prosecution I have come across was one which took place in the West London Police Court on 16th September, 1908. It was proved that the man who was prosecuted, and who was neglecting his children, was earning from £3 to £4 per week. What was the result? He had to pay 4s. 11d. and 3s. costs. Was that flogging the man at the cart-tail for refusing to pay when he could do it? That prosecution was ridiculous from both points of view—ridiculous because the local authority will not go to the expense of securing such a result, and ridiculous from the parent's point of view, because he knows that, at the worst, he win only have to pay the costs. I repeat that this Bill proceeds on exactly the wrong lines. Instead of increasing the facilities for feeding children at school we have to increase the facilities for compelling the parents to feed the children at home. Inquiry should begin at home in regard to the children's health, for until that is done we do not really know whether the children are in want of food or suffering from some other cause. Hon. Members may be aware that the Select Committee that considered this question frankly stated that in many cases children were sent up to the guardians because in the opinion of teachers they were apparently suffering from want of food when they were really suffering from neglect in other ways or from disease. The evidence on that point is overwhelming. Take, for example, what happened in Birmingham in 1905 under the Feeding Order of the Board of Education. The Local Government Board inspector reports: "As anticipated, numerous applications were made by head teachers on behalf of children under their care, but when inquiries were made as to the circumstances of the parents it was found that many of them were receiving over 30s. a week, and in one case the parent was in constant employment and earning an average rate of £3 17s. 6d. a week." But under this Bill these facts would not emerge. The medical officer would issue his order, and the local authority would be compelled to deal with it, although the parent was earning £3 17s. 6d. a week. [Cries of "No."] Does this Bill allow an inquiry? [An HON. MEMBER: "It does not repeal the old Act."] I think you will find that the medical officer has power to compel the local authorities to act. Exactly the same thing happened in other towns. Hundreds of children were sent up by teachers to the guardians. What 1845 happens now? Hundreds of parents who previously discharged their duties neglect their duties. Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones see the children of other parents getting free meals, and they say that theirs also ought to have free meals. Walthamstow put the Act in force last October, and they decided to work it by distributing tickets to so-called necessitous children. In the first week they issued 2,570 tickets, in the second week 6,412, and in the third week 7,855.
Does anybody mean to suggest that the necessity of these children increased threefold in three weeks? The thing is absurd. They found something was going, and they all held out their hands to have it. Several Members spoke as if there were no alternative between this proposal and the starvation of the children. Have they never heard of the poor law? Are they unaware that nobody in this country need starve: that ample provision is made—we are spending, I think, £14,000,000 a year on our poor law now—to prevent anyone, young or old, in this country from starving? What they are really aiming at is something very different. They are using the plea of the child to get a new social system introduced, a social system under which responsibility for the maintenance of the individual shall no longer rest on the individual but on some vague entity called the State. This question was fought out recently in the municipality in Berlin. They had there an Act similar to what we have here now. They decided last June that they would no longer provide meals through the education officials, but would do it through what corresponds to the poor law officials. The question was debated in the municipality. All the Socialists opposed the change, because, they said, that if the provision was to be made through the ordinary poor law operation, the parents would lose their votes, and, therefore, they would refuse to demand food for their children.
Hon. Members are professing to be eager for the feeding of children. What they are really eager for is the votes of the parents. Any parent who wants his child fed can get it fed through the agency of the poor law; and, more than that, our law requires that he should do so, and if he refuses to ask for relief from the guardians when his child is starving, he may be sent to prison for cruelty to his child, and quite right. A man has no right to put his personal claim for a vote on a higher level than the maintenance of his 1846 child. Hon. Members on both sides of the House sometimes forget that we do not in the least dispose of the question of feeding the children by giving them a meal a day or a meal a week. An hon. Member opposite, in his speech, reduced to an absurdity the whole of the claim of his friends, by taking the case of the holidays. He said the child got no food during the holidays. He wanted the House to believe that the child could maintain itself for 10 days on the last meal it got before the holidays. But we know that the child was being fed during the holidays and, therefore, that disposes of the whole argument. I am quite certain of this, that any person who has any sense of duty will sacrifice anything rather than see his child starve. As to those parents, who unfortunately are too many, who are in real want, they can satisfy their wants, painfully I admit, by applying for relief to the proper quarter. I appeal to hon. Members opposite who share with us the desire to raise the working classes whether the measure now proposed is the right line to go upon. We do not want to make poverty comfortable for people. We want to get rid of poverty. You will not get rid of poverty by teaching people to sponge. I contend that this Bill like the previous Act, is really part, and only part, of the general Socialist campaign to secure the maintenance of children by the State. That is a doctrine which they advocate when speaking on their own platforms, which they clearly set forth in their pamphlets—
§ Mr. COX
A little while ago a good many of them were very keen on this point that children should be maintained by the State. I have seen that in scores of Socialist pamphlets. It may be that some hon. Members opposite have shaken themselves free from that delusion, and perhaps they may advance a little further towards common sense. Meantime, I do assert without fear of contradiction that a large part of the Socialist group in this country are in favour of the State maintenance of children.
§ Mr. COX
I am opposed to that, because I say it is impossible to maintain the 1847 ordinary human family if you substitute the maintenance of the child by the State for the maintenance by the parent. I know that many people are afraid of Socialism breaking up the family. I never use that argument, because I recognise that Socialists individually are probably quite as respectable members of society as any other class, but I do realise this, that Socialists, whether by a process of instinct or reasoning I would not like to say, see clearly that the institution of the family is bound up with the institution of private property They wish to get rid of private property, and, therefore, they are striking at the family. I am opposed to them on both grounds. I am opposed to them because I believe that the institution of private ownership is the basis of human progress. I am opposed because I am convinced that without the maintenance of the human family the maintenance of humanity would be impossible. And I am opposed to them in this particular case, because while they offer to dole out food to the children they are taking away something that no Government could give them—the love and care of their own parents.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
We have listened to a most extraordinary speech by an ex-Socialist. When I had the pleasure of meeting the hon. Member for Preston first of all he was a sort of naughty boy of an extreme left wing of the Socialist party, and whether he at that time believed what he says Socialists believe now I do not know; but I am pretty certain that if it is true that he in those days held those extraordinary theories about family and property which he has had the extreme courage to enunciate this afternoon, I can quite understand the tremendous revolution in his soul, and the really miraculous change in his own political position. As a matter of fact, if the hon. Member wishes to bring out certain detached extracts, pamphlets, and speeches, I dare say he can show a certain amount of logical justification for the extraordinary opinions he has attributed to us. But as a matter of common sense and simple fact the hon. Member has been merely drawing upon his imagination in enunciating the theories he has put forward. I have never said, and I do not think I have ever heard it said on a Labour platform, that hon. Members who are in disagreement with us in this respect were indifferent to the welfare of the children What we have said, and what I say now, 1848 is that I could never understand how they squared their concern for the children with their extraordinary conduct. That is the point in dispute, and it has been remarkably illustrated by the speech to which we have just listened. For instance, why was the hon. Member so anxious to drag in the West London case? Did we, the Labour party, offer any obstacle to that prosecution? Was it a Labour party representative who was on the Bench when the judgment was given against that parent? Are we responsible for the appointment of magistrates? Did the magistrate sit in this House, and was his eye directed to the votes of the parents.—which is the only motive the hon. Member attributes to us in advancing this proposition? As a matter of fact, that prosecution has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the Question before the House; it does not in any way reflect upon the motive or the intentions of this party, and any Member who wished to keep the discussion within its proper limits would no more have thought of bringing in that prosecution than he would have thought of bringing in a story about the man in the moon. What have we done in this House with regard to parental responsibility? When the Government was carrying through its Children Bill last year was there any section in the House more strongly in favour of the clauses increasing the power of local authorities to prosecute parents than the the Labour party? If the Government cares within the next 12 months to increase the stringency of those clauses it will find no section in the House more enthusiastic in its support than that for which I am speaking. Inside and outside of this House, those of us who appeal for justice to be done to the children will always supplement that appeal with a support of more stringent legislation, so that we can deal with neglectful parents who are doing their duty neither to their children, to their families, nor to the State to which they belong. I would appeal to the hon. Member for Preston, when he starts splitting logic, to remember that there are certain common-sense facts available for his investigation if he cares to take the trouble to put himself in possession of them. Take Walthamstow. The House is actually asked by one of its members to believe that after a certain change is made providing certain facilities for the feeding of starving children, in the first week a certain number are fed, in the 1849 second week that number doubles, and in the third week it doubles again—the House is actually asked by one who prides himself on the accuracy of his logic to believe that the only explanation is that in the first week you got all the children who were entitled to become beneficiaries under the Act. Of course, it has got to go on week after week; and the only thing I believe it shows, until the hon. Member takes the trouble to get evidence to the contrary, is that these children were underfed; if they were not starving they were at any rate suffering from insufficiency of food, and that as the days and weeks went on they discovered their privileges and took the opportunity of availing themselves of them. When the hon. Member talks about our making the child a lever for a new social system—I am not going to follow him into his abstract arguments—there again nobody knows better than the hon. Member for Preston that the reason why a new social system is proposed is that the child is starving, that the family is breaking down, and that private property to 90 per cent. of the people of this country is a mere phrase with no actual meaning. That is why we support a Socialist system; that is our motive, and not the back-handed, objectionable, immoral motive which the hon. Member seems to attribute to us—namely, that we are using the starving children as a political lever—
§ Mr. HAROLD COX
Hon. Members opposite are under a wrong impression. What I said was that they wanted to retain the names of the parents on the lists of voters. I did not put it that they desired to do so from any improper motive.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
My purpose is to indicate that we do not talk of starving children for the purpose of retaining the votes of the parents. The purpose of this Bill is exceedingly plain. This House has not said that voluntary feeding was adequate. This House has said exactly the opposite—that voluntary feeding is inadequate, and therefore must be supplemented by the rates. This House has also said that the education authorities shall have the first opportunity of putting that into operation. Investigation has shown that the education authorities have not put the Act into operation. The case of London is before us, the case of Gateshead is before us, the case of my own Constituency is before us. The education authorities have not put into operation the powers and the responsibilities placed 1850 upon them by this House by the Act of 1906. The education authorities, I believe, have done that quite honestly. I am not going to say that London was dishonest in deciding that it was not going to feed the children, and in deciding that voluntary agencies were adequate. I am going to assume that the London County Council was perfectly honest in coming to that conclusion. I am not going to assume that the Gateshead Town Council is dishonest in saying that there are no underfed children in Gateshead.
The question arises: Who is going to decide the matter? You do not allow your local authorities to decide about the sewerage; you do not allow your local education authorities to decide about your education curriculum; you do not allow your poor-law authorities to decide whether they are going to spend money on the poor law or not. When hon. Members come and tell us this is a new thing to impose responsibility by this House on local authorities, where is their knowledge about local government? Ninety per cent. of the money paid by local authorities is paid under rules and regulations of this House, and they have got no more liberty in paying it out than they would have under this Bill, supposing it became law.
We are told the teacher becomes the master of the education authority, but what about the relieving officer? The relieving officer can spend money, as everybody acquainted with boards of guardians knows. The teacher cannot give money to the child, the teacher gives kind to the child in precisely the same way as the relieving officer does under the boards of guardians. Take the question of free books. The teacher gives the child books, and gets the Committee to which he is responsible to supply the books. As a matter of fact, as my hon. Friend below me stated, there is no new principle in this Bill. The Bill simply tries to decide what is the proper authority to decide when a child is fed or underfed. Now the education authority is not the proper authority to decide, the education authority is the proper authority to provide the money. The proper authority to decide as to fed or underfed is precisely on the same par as the authority to decide when the drains are good or bad. When you suffer from scarlet fever or cholera it is purely a technical and professional matter, and you have got to go to a professional and technical adviser. As regards the experience of 1907 we have no 1851 complaint. We think the education authority should be the local governing section responsible for the operation of this Act, but that, nevertheless, the professional and medical adviser of that local authority ought to have more responsibility placed upon his shoulders than he has at the present moment. I will not go into the details of this matter. If the Bill goes into Committee those details can be dealt with. Not a single point which has been dealt with by the critics of the Bill but can be the subject of negotiation, discussion, and amendment in Committee; but on the broad, general principle I hope the House will give the measure the second reading.
§ Mr. FREDERICK MADDISON
The hon. Member for Leicester thought it wise in opening his speech to twit my hon. Friend the Member for Preston with being an ex-Socialist. Twenty years or more ago when I first knew my hon. Friend, he was only in a very doubtful state, as I can testify, but I was rather surprised that the hon. Member for Leicester should trouble himself about ex-Socialists, because that is exactly what some of his own Socialist friends call him. They regard him as having fallen away from the faith, and that he has now become only one remove from an ordinary Liberal, with his eyes fixed on a certain quarter of the House. ["Oh, oh," and "Order."] I am quoting now from Socialist literature; it is not my own view; at any rate, I would suggest to the hon. Member that just at the present time ex-Socialism is not his best theme. I am sorry my hon. Friend for West Ham is going.
§ Mr. MADDISON
I am sorry also that the hon. Member for Leicester is leaving with his usual discretion. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is dirty." Another HON. MEMBER: "Don't get into the gutter."]
§ Mr. MARKHAM
On a point of order, is it in order for an hon. Member to apply to the argument of another hon. Member the word "dirty," and that another hon. Member should tell him not to "get into the gutter?"
§ Mr. MADDISON
If it is "dirty" to accuse the hon. Member for Leicester of discretion, then I am quite willing to be dirty. The hon. Member for Leicester has sought to controvert the 1852 point effectively made by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston with respect to the views favoured by those supporters of this Bill who are Socialists in regard to the family and to property. Herr Bebel, the German Socialist leader, declared that the family as an institution is inseparably associated with the institution of private property, and that they stand or fall together.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
What I said was that there is no private property now, and therefore the family is bound to fall.
§ Mr. MADDISON
Herr Bebel cannot deny that there is such a thing as private property existing, and he says the conditions of the one determine and condition the existence of the other, and every Member knows that very well. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that they uphold this proposal, although in the minds of the party opposite—so far as one can single one from the other, for their opinions differ—so that there is no possibility of saying what they believe. But I am quite willing to admit fully—I have never denied it—that a great many of the hon. Members opposite have not in their minds the general maintenance of children at all. They have something very much narrower. But I am also aware, and I want the House to keep it fully in their minds that there is one great section of the Socialists of this country—and the hon. Member for West Ham will not deny this—who assert that the maintenance of the children—feeding, clothing, etc.—is part and parcel of their programme. It is in their literature, it is printed prominently everywhere, and I say that that is the great moving force behind such proposals as are in this Bill, and similar legislation. It is the party of the scientific and brave—of Marxian Socialism. I think hon. Members are very ill-advised, in so short a time, to attempt to introduce a Bill of this kind. I communicated my doubts when the Government introduced their Bill. I would not have supported it—and I did so—unless it had been very carefully safeguarded. That Act has only been some three years in operation; there has been little time to test its working; and I do not think that it is right to say that that Act has been a failure. It does not necessarily follow that it is a failure because it has not been put into operation. Where it has not been put into operation it is where the working classes have, or can 1853 have, the control if they desire it. The working classes, Socialists or otherwise, have this matter entirely in their own hands. I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich with mingled feelings. No man denies his great loving heart. But, really, it is difficult after he has left a question to look upon it seriously. He so interweaves it with jokes—which do not improve by age—and by pathos that is absolutely sincere, that the effect in men's minds—I speak for myself at all events—is to nullify the seriousness of the matter. Those of us who do not agree with this kind of legislation feel as intensely as hon. Members opposite do upon this question. I am sure they will give us credit for that. The hon. Member for Woolwich always talks in this House as if there was only one side of poverty, and mainly the side that is most difficult to deal with. I say that the serious danger of legislation of this kind is this. You find two men—and I know these people, I have lived all my life among the working classes and I have been brought up under poorer conditions than some hon. Members opposite—I say you may find two men and two women, fathers and mothers, living in two houses side by side; they have got the same wages; their economic conditions are probably equal. You will have one of these mothers striving and struggling for her children, regarding an appeal to public charity as a disgrace and not thinking merely of the food of her children, but of something that is higher than food. She will resolutely struggle and she will not come under a Bill like this. Will anyone tell me that the child of that home is not more likely to have a future than the child of the home where the mother and the father are always rushing to public charity, and never miss a single opportunity of seeking after everything that is going. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich mistakes too much the effect of this kind of legislation, and, therefore, I cannot and shall not support this Bill. The legislation we have already passed on this subject goes far enough. When I hear of the lower wages difficulty, then I understand the demoralisation that has come over the trades unions of this country by being associated with the Socialist party; then I know what are the uses they have made of trades union money. They have taken out of them that stamina which used to be the glory of the trades unions of this country. Low wages yielded by doles, economic con- 1854 ditions improved by the mere giving of a paltry meal, costing twopence or threepence, are not the remedies. You have to look for something far deeper than that; the remedy is not to be found in palliatives, at the cost of weakening the backbone of the working classes.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. Runciman)
The Debate we have heard this afternoon has not, unfortunately, been entirely of the same tone and temper as that we experienced in the earlier hours of the day. If the House will permit me to say so, I do not to-day take any particular interest in the groups or parties into which this House is divided. The proposals in this Bill may well be discussed upon their merits. Many of the speeches delivered have been both weighty and instructive, and particularly I refer to the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for West St. Pancras, who, with all his medical skill and learning, gave us one of the most instructive little addresses we have had in this House for some time past. He opposed this Bill, not as an enemy of the feeding of school children, but as one of the friends of the movement. Those who sat with him on the Select Committee upstairs know perfectly well that the hon. Gentleman was one of the most useful Members of that Committee, and that he had as much to do with the framing of the Report as any Member that sat upon it. The value of his speech was that he tried, if possible, to strip this question of that particular sentiment by which it must be surrounded wherever it is discussed by any body of men who have anything like warm blood in their veins. The speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich was characteristic of him. There we had an example of moving eloquence inspired largely by his own remarkable experience and career, but I venture to say that that is not really the tone which can usefully be adopted in discussing what is purely a local government matter. It is no good allowing the sentiments to run away with one's judgment. This is nothing more nor less than a proposal for public charity. This Hill has been introduced by my hon. Friend with the idea that the Rill—now an Act of Parliament—passed in 1906, has proved inadequate for the needs of this country. That has not been proved this afternoon.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester gave two instances, Gateshead and Leicester. Under the Act of 1906 it was the local authority which had the right 1855 to decide whether or not the need existed. I have sufficient faith to believe that if the local authorities at Gateshead and Leicester have misinterpreted the feelings of the people they will be turned out next November. In Leicester we have no authoritative evidence that there is any need for putting this Act into force against the will of the local authority, because they know their own local necessities best. My feeling is that a matter of this kind can well be left to the local authority to decide whether they are going to give the sort of relief provided for under the Act of 1906. Where the need has definitely been shown the number of cases where there has been a refusal to set the Act in motion on account of the cost to the rates has been very few. I have asked quite recently for Returns from the local authorities as to how they have dealt with the Act and what they have done under it, and 193 said they had not found it necessary to put the Act into force at all, because such need as existed was provided for by private assistance and charitable agencies. Something like 80 authorities have put the Act into operation and done very good work. In a very small number of cases indeed have the meals provided been repaid by the parents. In the case of Bradford excellent work had been done long before the Act of 1906 was passed, and there the number of children whose meals were wholly or partly paid for by the parents voluntarily and occasionally by compulsion was only 383 out of 2,825. In Norwich the number paid for by the parents was 43 out of 1,330, and in Hull the total was 96 out of 4,408. The only case where a very large number of the meals provided have been paid for by the parents was in the case of Bath, where the total number of meals provided was 31,000, and over 5,500 were paid for by the parents, either willingly or after compulsion. Hon. Members can draw what conclusions they like from those figures. No doubt the hon. Member for Preston will draw one set of conclusions and hon. Members below the Gangway will draw other conclusions. Probably the hon. Member for Preston would say, as he said three years ago, that these figures only proved that it is impossible to get out of parents money after it has been frittered away in the way of public charity. That really is not the point. The point is are local authorities to decide with reference to the machinery of the Act of 1906? I gather from the views which have been 1856 enunciated on the other side and by the hon. Member for Cornwall on this side, that it may be taken that what they want is the extension of a single clause of the Act of 1907. If that is their object, I am justified in discussing this Bill clause by clause; and I cannot express approval. Clause 1 provides for no less than three jurisdictions. There is the jurisdiction of the education committee, but I am bound to bear in mind that the local authority is in direct touch with the electors, and therefore I should prefer the local authority to the education committee. The next jurisdiction which the clause sets up is that of the managers. There are many varieties of managers. There are those of provided schools, and I should be averse to any further powers being given to them. The clause gives the managers a right as against the local authorities. It is an unworkable provision. It gives powers to the managers of non-provided schools, and those managers have already too extended powers. The third jurisdiction is that of the teachers. They are a well organised body, but they are the servants of the local authority. Yet the Bill gives the teachers power to take a line of action of which the local authority may entirely disapprove. In clause 1 there is also an entirely new principle. In the Act of 1906 it is provided that food should be provided for children, if by reason of the lack of food the children are unable to take full advantage of the education provided for them. This Bill does not limit the supply to these cases. It recognises a new and an entirely novel kind of case—namely, that of improper food. It is difficult to discover that a child is suffering from a lack of food, and still more difficult to discover that a child is improperly fed. It would pass the wit of man to discover that. Everybody knows that improper feeding is not always caused by poverty, but by ignorance. By introducing this phrase in the Bill its framers have disregarded that draftsmanship which ought to characterise every measure introduced into this House. It is quite clear from the speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich that it is the intention of the promoters of the Bill not to limit its provisions to educational requirements. The Bill would provide for the provision of food not only throughout the schooldays but throughout the holidays. The hon. Member said "Why not?" The reply is that if you provide food throughout the holidays that would not be educa- 1857 tional advancement but poor law relief. Under clause 2 the medical officer has to determine whether a child is insufficiently or improperly fed. There is no provision as to who the medical officer is to be, but not only is he, but also the head teacher, to undertake this duty. The head teacher will then be left in a peculiar position, which I have no doubt will bring him almost as much embarrassment as pleasure. A sum of money is apparently to be provided for the head teacher to have in his hands and to disburse for the provision of food in certain cases. That is a new departure in our local procedure, and I venture to say would open the door to waste in many cases, which is much to be deplored. I am quite convinced of this that in many parts of London, at all events, it would make the position of the head teacher almost intolerable.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
Yes; but this clause appears to provide that there should be a fund at the disposal of the head teacher, and if it is to be generally known that the head teacher is to have a fund at his disposal for this purpose his life in some parts of London will not be worth living. Begging will become very nearly a general corrupt practice. The Bill provides for the abolition of the ½ d. limit, but what new necessity has arisen for such a course? I remember when the Committee were sitting upstairs they had long discussions on that subject, and I find in one paragraph of their Report that they said quite definitely that, having regard to the experimental character of the recommendations which they might make, the Committee were of opinion that the expense out of the local rates for such purposes should in no case exceed ½ d. in the £. That was not a matter over which the Committee were very seriously divided, but I find on looking through the Division Lists that my hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle was one of those who voted in favour of that limit. I have no doubt that he will say that he did so because the matter was in an experimental stage. That is true. But the necessity for exceeding that limit has not been proved this afternoon, and in many cases has been found to be totally unnecessary. Bradford is a very good case in point. The ½ d. limit has produced £2,918. The last figures given to me by Bradford shows that the expenditure on that account during the year was £1813.
1858 That is to say they came nowhere near the ½ d. limit, so the necessity for doing away with that limit has not been proved in the case of the town where the feeding of school children has been better organised than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. There is nothing to show that this limit should be abolished.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
For the year ending 31st of March, 1908, after they had two years' experience of the Act of 1906.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
They cover the whole of the expenditure allowed under the Act of 1906 which can come out of the rates. The halfpenny limit may or may not have been good, but the inquiry which was held upstairs went to prove that it would be useful, and nothing has been said here this afternoon to prove to the contrary. Then under section 4 appeals are provided for. One-sixth of the local education authority may appeal from the decision of a medical inspector to the Board of Education, and then that Board are to refer the matter to their own inspector, whose decision is to be final. The machinery of this Bill actually provides in almost every place for what I may call the democratic element being overridden by the official element. The inspector is to override the local education authority, then, when the matter is referred on appeal to the Board of Education, my inspector is to have the right to override the only person who can answer for the Department in the House of Commons. That is certainly not a well-devised piece of machinery, and not one to which I can give my assent. Indeed, how could the inspector to whom the appeals are to be made in Whitehall decide cases of this kind? Every case must be decided on its merits. I do not know the exact number of children who have been relieved during the last 12 months, but it is totally impossible for any one authority who may be set up as a Court of Appeal to deal with all these cases on their merits. It is the local authority alone who can deal with cases of this kind. I can quite understand the feeling of those who feel strongly on this subject when they see the case, for instance, of a great local authority like London. I doubt very much whether this Bill would have been introduced at 1859 all, in spite of the general principles which animate some Gentlemen opposite, were it not for the case of London. But the, as I think, unfortunate decision of the local authority in London is really the result not of the Act of 1906, but of the boundaries of London, where you have the poor and rich tied up together, and predominance given to the rich localities, and the interests of the poorer localities have to suffer. There is one way of getting rid of the decision of the London County Council, and that is by turning them out.
If we are going to hand over the decision of these matters to officials, we must remember that the converse will also hold good. I know my hon. Friend distrusts reactionary local bodies, but they might have reason, were this Bill passed, to distrust reactionary officials. If it be true that any child is to be fed for whom the medical officer sends in a medical certificate, the converse must also be true, that no child shall be fed for whom a medical certificate is not sent. That would be all to the detriment of a system which during the last few years in many great towns has been of the greatest benefit to poor children.
But there is another more important side to this when we come to consider its general aspects. During the last twelve months, in particular, at the Board of Education, we have had great difficulties in dealing with the initiation of medical inspection. Everyone knows the fear of local authorities that medical inspection would become costly. Much of that fear is grossly exaggerated. I have sometimes had estimates sent to me, they are purely estimates, and nothing else, which run the cost up to no less than five shillings a child. I believe it will cost nothing of the kind, but even if it did it would be well-spent money. The money which has been spent on medical inspection already is bearing good fruit, but we cannot say that the system is established. It is only in its initiatory stage. The efficient organisation of medical inspection will undoubtedly contribute largely to the good working of the Act of 1906. Even that inspection itself has had a very short trial. Many local authorities have not yet got their machinery in working order, and although medical inspection has come to stay—quite clearly it has behind it the whole force of public opinion—I cannot say it is at the present moment 1860 entirely out of danger. Do not let us embarrass the good work which is being done of medical inspection by adding a further and unnecessary burden to the local authorities.
I should like to express my warm appreciation of the diligence and public spirit with which many local education authorities tackle the difficult administrative problems with which they have been confronted of medical inspection. I should regard any interruption of that or any disturbing element in that great experiment with great misgivings if I thought it likely that local authorities would be checked in that good work. I shall only say a few words about the ratepayer. Everybody knows that in many cases the ratepayer has checked the local authority in putting this Act into operation. There may or may not be need for it, but it is the ratepayer who has been most largely responsible for not taking action. Do not let us treat the ratepayer with contempt. Every party must be aware of the fact that the local authority represents the poor as well as the more well-to-do, and they can turn round, and they occasionally do it, and say: We are public representatives, and unless we carry the ratepayer with us, unless we carry public opinion with us, on this point more harm will be done than good. A great deal must be left to the discretion of the local authorities, who know public opinion, and who know how far they can carry local public opinion along with them. I do not wish to embarrass these local authorities, who are already carrying a very heavy burden. The proposals put forward here are really in the nature of poor law proposals. The relations to the poor law in this Bill are left entirely unadjusted. If the Act of 1906 is made compulsory and extended it means that it must of necessity compete with the poor law in the country. Already it is doing so, for some of the guardians when they hear that a child is receiving free meals from the local education authority at once stop or reduce the outdoor relief which is being given to the parents. This work must of necessity overlap. The House knows that the Government are already dealing with this subject, and next Session we hope to devote a portion of our time to the reform and reorganisation of public assistance. Do not let us add more overlapping to the conflict and confusion which already embarrass poor law reformers. I am afraid, therefore, that I cannot support this Bill. 1861 which I believe would do harm. Under present circumstances we should leave to local public opinion and to local authorities the reasonable liberty they have under the Act of 1906, and which on the whole they have acted under well.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
I do not propose to detain the House very long, but I think it is only fair before we take a Division that I should refer to one or two of the criticisms made against the promoters of the Bill. Several speakers, including the right hon. Gentleman, have criticised the promoters because of apparent inconsistency in supporting—as I myself did, being a member of the Committee that investigated this subject three years ago—the Bill of 1906, which was the result of the Committee's Report. The criticism offered is that I supported that Bill, which is purely permissive, and that I am now supporting a measure which is entirely compulsory. I would like to remind the House of the history of this question. I think it will then be seen that there is no inconsistency on the part of the Labour Members. I think I myself was the first Member to introduce the Bill that ultimately led to the passing of the Bill of 1906. If my recollection serves me right, I think there were on the back of the Bill the names not only of Labour Members, but the name of at least one Member of the Conservative party who then sat on the Benches opposite—I refer to Sir John Gorst. I think there was also on the back of the Bill the name of a Gentleman who occupies a position in connection with the Government, I refer to the hon. Member for Camberwell. The principle of that Bill was the principle of compulsion. That Bill received the unanimous, or at any rate what is generally taken as the unanimous, assent of the House, inasmuch as it obtained its second reading without a Division. It was sent upstairs for inquiry before a Select Committee, and that Committee brought down the Bill. That Select Committee brought down a Bill which was the old Bill that had passed through the hands of the Government draftsman, and was completely revolutionised, and it was regarded by all of us on the Committee, and certainly by myself, as a Member of the Committee, and by hon. Members with whom I act on these Benches, as a Bill which was intended to set up an experiment. I think if we agreed to change our Bill, as we agreed on that occasion, in order that an experiment might be tried, it is unfair that we should 1862 have preferred against us a charge of inconsistency when, having tried the experiment, as I think I shall be able to show, a case has been made out for altering what has been done. I think, on the admission of the right hon. Gentleman himself, no less than 193 local authorities have refused to put into operation their powers, and, as I will also show, that in the case of these authorities—
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I do not think it is quite fair to say that they refused to put the powers into operation. Their information is that either private initiative had done what was required or that there was no necessity for the exercise of these powers.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
I do not wish in the slightest degree to misrepresent. I shall modify my statement, and say that they have not found it necessary to put these powers into operation. As pointed out by the Member for Jarrow, we have a considerable amount of correspondence from many of the towns and districts represented by these authorities, and we know that the need has arisen in these places. An attempt has been made in many cases to meet that need by voluntary contributions. In some cases I am prepared to admit that the need has been so met. But in other cases they have signally failed to meet the need, and children, it can safely be said, have been going to school in spite of this Act in a seriously underfed condition. But the point I wanted to make was this, that there were 193 authorities that had not put into operation their powers, and in the case of some authorities, as I shall show presently, where they have put into operation the powers that this Act of 1906 conferred upon them, they have in consequence of the limitation of the halfpenny rate been unable to supply all the needs of the cases in their districts; and it is because of these two points—the failure on the part of authorities to put into operation the powers conferred upon them where the need exists, and the limitation imposed on willing authorities by this Act who have been thereby prohibited from doing what really ought to have been expected from them, that it is necessary to make the change now asked for. I may call the attention of the House to a letter received from the secretary of the educational authority at Workington. He very clearly shows here that one of the difficulties they had was 1863 that in one year they did not spend all their rate, but they unfortunately could not carry the balance forward. They therefore handed it back to the town council. The following year, when the serious distress in consequence of the depression of trade overtook them, they were placed in the unfortunate position that, though they had a balance the previous year on the right side, the rate would not carry them nearly sufficiently far enough in the year when they had actual distress existing in their midst. They therefore at the close of their letter say:—Fresh applications were made to the Board of Education, and we obtained permission to spend £140. This sum was all gone before Whitsuntide, and the committee were most reluctantly compelled to stop the free meals, because they considered that the remaining portion of the rate which we were entitled to levy up to 31st March, 1909, had better be kept in reserve for the winter months. In a town like Workington, which is almost entirely dependent on one industry, and where the rateable value is very low as compared with the number of school children, the limiting of the rate under the Act to a halfpenny means that breakfast, which is the only meal supplied here, can only be provided for two or three months when the state of trade is anything like what it has been during the last ten months.This is not the only case I have to bring to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman and the House. Probably he is familiar with the Hartlepool case. There, again, in the letter from the education authority, we have the same complaint, that the halfpenny rate does not enable them to carry on the work during the excessive stress of the winter months, especially during the serious period of depression through which we have unfortunately been passing. It seems to me that that is a very fair reply—because these are merely representative cases—to the statement that no case has been established for an amendment of the Act.
The right hon. Gentleman also tried to make out that the Bill was full of defects. We are quite prepared to admit that that charge may have a great amount of justification. There are very few private Member's Bills, and I have been long enough in the House to be able to say that there are very few Government Bills introduced, even though they are drawn up by the expert draftsmen whom the Government employ, which are not very full of most serious defects. What we usually do when we examine a Bill is to ascertain what the principle and object of the Bill really are, and if we approve of them we endeavour, by the addition of the brains of the House to the brains of the Government draftsman, to put that Bill into such a shape that it may be passable as an Act 1864 of Parliament. If it is the drafting of the Bill to which the right hon. Gentleman objects we ask him to do with this Bill what the Department did with the Bill of three years ago, namely, to put it in the hands of the Government draftsmen, and then I have no doubt that with the assistance of the House the Bill may be made passable.
What is the real object we have in view? It is no use our getting on to a side-track, as so much of the later part of the discussion did, about differences in the different sections of the Socialist party. If the hon. Member for Burnley wanted to talk about differences and lack of unity he might have concentrated his attention upon the hon. Member for Preston, who succeeded in acting as his Whip in inviting the Speaker to call upon him to be the next speaker. I venture to say that between the hon. Member for Burnley and the hon. Member for Preston, to go no further, there are a multitude of differences. May I remind the Member for Burnley that the party with which he is connected has to-day a by-election going on in the country, where a Member felt that it was absolutely necessary for him to dissent from the position of his own party, and he has therefore gone to test the opinion of his Constituents as to whether the Liberal party or whether this particular Member is right on this question on which they differ. I think we ought not to have the discussion diverted by those questions of differences.
Another charge was made by the Member for Burnley as to the question of wages. May I say here I think most of the Members of this House will be prepared to agree with me that the reform we are trying to secure by this Bill does not apply to the children of trade unionists. May I say it would be difficult for the Member for Burnley or any other Member to show to us that any single trade unionist has secured any advantage through the Act of 1906. Therefore the argument as to wages did not apply to trade unionists; the argument applied to those who were lowest down in the industrial scale, the men without any organisation to protect their wages, and who are called upon either to subject their children to a process of semi-starvation or to have this assistance that has been proved in so many cases to be absolutely essential. Those criticisms seem to I me to be altogether wide of the mark.
The Bill may be crudely drawn, but I venture to say that there are in this 1865 country, in spite of the Act of 1906, tens of thousands of children, as was recently demonstrated in the case of the great County of London, where the authority refused to put the Act into operation. And because a number of reactionary authorities are doing the same thing—and I do not know that we have a right to go into the cause; it may be thriftlessness of the parent, it may be economic embarrassment of the parent; whatever the cause may be, I fully agree with my colleague the Member for Woolwich in his appeal, whatever be the cause, our first consideration not only so far as seeking to prevent the suffering of the children to-day is concerned, but having regard to the importance of the future, ought to be that those children in a land like this ought not to be allowed to suffer, even if we have to bring pressure to bear on reactionary authorities. This question has been referred to to-day as if it were entirely new. Imagine when we remember our Public Health Acts, imagine in view of the fact that this House will
§ We could cite case after case which go to prove that pressure has to be brought to bear on our public authorities because they fail at times to recognise what is their duty with the public interest. On this ground I sincerely hope that Members, notwithstanding the fact that the Government cannot see its way clear to-day to accept the position from which we stand, I certainly hope Members will support us in the second reading Division. I am fully confident of this that unless the public authorities put the Act of 1906 into operation more readily than some of them at present appeared to be inclined to do, this Bill or a similar Bill for the protection of child-life in this country must be speedily passed into law.
§ Question put: "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 82; Noes, 206.1867
|Division No. 71.]||AYES.||4.50 p.m.|
|Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Parker, James (Halitax)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Henry, Charles S.||Philips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Higham, John Sharp||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Hodge, John||Power, Patrick, Joseph|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hogan, Michael||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Walter||Reddy, M.|
|Branch, James||Idris, T. H. W.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverhampton, W.)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jenkins, J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Jowett, F. W.||Sears, J. E.|
|Cooper, G. J.||Joyce, Michael||Seddon, J.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Kekewich, Sir George||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Crooks, William||Kilbride, Denis||Snowden, P.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Delany, William||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Duckworth, Sir James||Macpherson, J. T.||Summerbell, T.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Markham, Arthur Basil||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Gill, A. H.||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Glover, Thomas||Mooney, J. J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Myer, Horatio||Watt, Henry A.|
|Hall, Frederick||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Halpin, J.||Nolan, Joseph||Weir, James Galloway|
|Hardle, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Dowd, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Dunn and Mr. C. Duncan.|
|Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||O'Grady, J.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Beale, W. P.||Carlile, E. Hildred|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Beck, A. Cecil||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight|
|Ashley, W. W.||Berridge, T. H. D.||Cave, George|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cecil, Lord John P. Jolcey.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bright, J. A.||Chance, Frederick William|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Bryce, J. Annan||Cleland, J. W.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Clive, Percy Archer|
|Barker, Sir John||Bull, Sir William James||Clough, William|
|Barnard, E. B.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Barren, Sir John Nicholson||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Byles, William Pollard||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Kerry, Earl of||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Cox, Harold||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lambert, George||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Crossley, William J.||Lamont, Norman||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Dalziel, Sir James Henry||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham)||Russell, Rt. Hon. T. W.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Lewis, John Herbert||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Du Cros, Arthur||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Maclean, Donald||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||M'Arthur, Charles||Stanier, Beville|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||M'Callum, John M.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||M'Micking, Major G.||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Fell, Arthur||Maddison, Frederick||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Ferens, T. R.||Mallet, Charles E.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Findlay, Alexander||Marnham, F. J.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Talbot, Rt. Hon. J. G. (Oxford Univ.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Massie, J.||Tenannt, Sir Edward (Salisbury)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Menzies, Walter||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Gibson, J. P.||Micklem, Nathaniel||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E.)|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt (Peckham)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Gretton, John||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Morrison-Bell, Captain||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Walton, Joseph|
|Halcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C. (Kincard)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Waring, Walter|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Norton, Captain Cecil William||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Nuttall, Harry||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Partington, Oswald||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Peel, Hon. W. Robert Wellesley||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Percy, Earl||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Williamson, A.|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Pretyman, E. G.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Pullar, Sir Robert||Winterton, Earl|
|Hodge-Hermon, Sir Robert||Radford, G. H.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Younger, George|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Joseph Pease and the Master of Elibank.|
|Jackson, R. S.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Ridsdale, E. A.|
§ Words added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to: Second Eeading put off for six months.