HC Deb 12 April 1938 vol 334 cc908-9
17. Mr. Mathers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to a complaint made by the National League of the Blind against the action of the managing committee of the Edinburgh Royal Blind Asylum in entering into arrangements for the training of sighted apprentices; and whether he will represent to the institution in question that money voted for the blind should not be expended in the training of sighted persons, especially in view of the fact that when the training is completed there is no guarantee that the trainees. will remain in the institution as instructors?

Mr. Elliot

Sighted workers are employed in the basket-making department of the Edinburgh Royal Blind Asylum, as in other institutions, to instruct or supervise the blind workers, and to do, certain work, especially the fine work, which is unsuitable for the blind. I am informed that the directors of the asylum were unable to obtain trained sighted basket workers to replace those about to, retire, and that they decided to take on not more than three sighted apprentices to be trained in basket making. The expenditure on this arrangement is met entirely from the voluntary funds over which I have no control. No part of the Government grant is utilised for the training of sighted apprentices.

Mr. Mathers

In view of the fact that public money does go into this institu- tion and that there must inevitably be some effect upon it by what is being done here, will not the right hon. Gentleman inquire further into this matter, and into other matters relating to the management of the Royal Blind Asylum in Edinburgh? I am informed that there is a necessity for such an inquiry.

Mr. Elliot

I understand that they have great difficulty in getting trained workers for this job.