HC Deb 18 December 1933 vol 284 cc915-6

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education whether his attention has been called to the detention in a Leeds institution of Ina Draper, age 11, of Ferrybridge, Yorkshire; why it was thought necessary to take away the girl direct from the school where she was being instructed instead of from her home; and whether the cost of this special treatment is borne by the education authorities or by the parent, who has no voice in the educational arrangements made for his daughter?


I have made inquiries into this case. This girl was found, after repeated medical examinations, confirmed by the head teacher of the elementary school she was attending, to be too deaf to be taught in a class of hearing children in an elementary school. As the father refused to allow her to be sent to a special school for the deaf, the West Riding Education Authority obtained an order from the court committing her to the care of Mr. Andrews, head teacher of the Blenheim Residential Deaf School, at Leeds, this being the nearest available special school. The father repeatedly refused to obey this Order, and the local education authority, therefore, considered the most effective way of enforcing it to be for Mr. Andrews to assume the custody of the child at the school which she attended. She was accordingly taken to the Leeds school on 22nd September, 1933. The cost of her attendance at the Leeds school is being borne by the West Riding Education Authority. Under Section 65 of the Education Act, 1921, the parent is liable to contribute such weekly sum, if any, as may be agreed on between him and the local education authority. The question of a contribution by the parent is now under consideration by the authority.


While thanking the hon. Gentleman for his reply, may I ask him, is he aware that this case has caused considerable concern both locally and throughout the country; that it is known locally as the "Ferrybridge Kidnapping Case," and that the so-called kidnappers are persons—


The hon. Member seems to be giving information instead of asking a question.


In view of the widespread anxiety which the handling of this case by the local authority has caused to parents and guardians throughout the country, may I ask what steps the President of the Board of Education proposes to take in this matter?


It would be improper for me to express any opinion as to how an order of the court could or should be carried out. One naturally has great sympathy with the parents of the child, but the interests of the child must come first. The child is so deaf and her speech is so defective that to give her a chance in life it is imperative that she should be educated in a special school.


Will the hon.Gentle-mon undertake to have inquiries made as to how this child was taken away; and will he bear in mind that, apart from her deafness, some of the teachers say that she is a really intelligent child?