HC Deb 27 May 1941 vol 371 cc1793-810

Order for Second Reading read.

The Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Shakespeare)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

In asking the House to assent to the Second Reading of this Bill, I am fulfilling a promise made last year that His Majesty's Government would present to Parliament, for its approval, a Bill to assist the authorities in Canada and the United States in discharging their task of caring for the children who have been sent there during the war period. Hon. Members will see that there are Amendments which have been passed in another place, and owing to war-time economy I am afraid they have not been incorporated into the text of the Bill. They are, however, mainly drafting Amendments, the only one of any substance being the last one, to which I will refer in the course of my speech, so I think it will be convenient if one assumes that the Amendments on the separate Paper are already incorporated in the Bill as originally printed.

Hon. Members will wish to have a background for this Bill. It will be remembered that the Children's Overseas Reception Scheme started towards the end of June last year, and that some 3,500 children were sent overseas to the four Dominions and to the United States of America. If the House would like to know the exact numbers sent to each Dominion, 1,530 were sent to Canada, 577 to Australia, 202 to New Zealand and 353 to the Union of South Africa. It was our intention at the time to accept the equally generous offers which came to us through the United States Government on behalf of American families, and to operate a similar scheme of sending children to the United States. In point of fact, hon. Members will remember that the official despatch of children to America never took place. By the time the difficulties had been overcome and proper machinery had been devised, the evacuation of children overseas was suspended altogether. Nevertheless, in anticipation of a scheme coming into operation, and in conjunction with the American Embassy here, I had appointed a strong Committee, consisting of prominent Americans in this country under the chairmanship of Mr. Lawrence Tweedy, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in London and associated with every cause that is helping us in our war effort. They set up their own organisation, known as the American Committee in London, and unofficially—I want to emphasise that word—unofficially despatched some 838 children to the United States of America under schemes, for the most part financed by American firms with branches in this country or by cities or associations which had special links with this country. As I said, it was not an official scheme, but the American Committee in London worked very closely with the Children's Overseas Reception Board, and no words of mine can express the gratitude of the Government both to them and their sponsors in the United States and to the kindly foster-parents in the United States who have provided homes for our children.

Now I come to the reason for this Bill. Ever since the initiation of this scheme certain technical difficulties have arisen in the receiving countries which this Bill seeks to remove. Hon. Members will appreciate how difficult it is to take decisions in the case of the illness of a child or of the removal of a child from one home to another, as is sometimes advisable, when the consent of the parents is so often necessary. The consent of the parents who may be 3,000 miles away cannot be promptly obtained, and often one parent is in the Fighting Services and his consent cannot be obtained for months. Therefore, from the very start of the scheme, as soon as the children arrived and settled in the United States or Canada, it was impressed upon us that it was essential to have in the reception country a legally appointed guardian who could authorise the authorities responsible for the welfare of the children to act on his behalf, and who could give legal sanction to the steps those authorities deemed it necessary to take in the interests of the children. To give the simplest case, in many Provinces in Canada and in some States in the United States, a surgeon could not operate on a child for appendicitis unless he had the consent of the parent or guardian, without laying himself open to an action for assault.

Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)

What would they do if there were no parents or guardians?

Mr. Shakespeare

That is the trouble. That is why we wanted some authority who could act in the place of the parents. These difficulties have arisen in all the Dominions, but Australia, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa have dealt with them in their own way and have in fact appointed a Minister of State to be the guardian of the guest children who are there during the war, but owing to the constitutional position and the number of Provinces and States in Canada and the United States of America, it was not possible to follow that course. Therefore, this Bill is designed to meet the special difficulties that have arisen in the United States and Canada. I believe the Bill will be entirely non-controversial, and, as I explained, it has passed all its stages in another place. As it involves a rather novel principle, the House will no doubt wish for a short explanation of the Bill.

In Clause 1 power is given to the Secretary of State to appoint a legal guardian in any country in respect of a child who is in that country without its parents and who has been sent there during the period of the war. Application must be made by authorities, societies or persons desiring such a guardian to be appointed. By an Amendment accepted in another place this power may be exercised in respect of a small number of children who were left by their parents in the United States or in Canada before the war began, and they are included. The appointment of a guardian can be exercised in respect of those children who were there before the war started in the same way as it is to be exercised in respect of children who have been sent out during the war period.

Mr. Logan

Does that guardianship carry with it the same responsibility as guardianship in this country, for action to be taken under the Common Law in the event of neglect of the children?

Mr. Shakespeare

If my hon. Friend will let me continue, I will deal with that point in a moment. In future, the consent of the parents to the appointment of a guardian for any children sent overseas will be necessary, but in respect of the children who are now there the assent of the parents is assumed. This is wholly in the interests of the children, and it will enable the welfare authorities to function as they would desire. There is this safeguard, that Sub-section (3) of Clause 1 provides that if any parent objects to the appointment of a guardian, he may ask the Secretary of State to revoke the appointment, and the Secretary of State must do so as soon as he is satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for the care of the child. That is a complete safeguard.

Mr. Logan

Does that presume that the parents are going to know the guardians all the time?

Mr. Shakespeare

I will take up that point in a moment. I do not suppose the parents will object to this Bill, since it is devised entirely to promote the welfare of the children; but I must say, frankly, that I have been advised by the United States Committee in Washington that if the power of revocation is exercised, they will disclaim all responsibility for the child. The Bill is a war-time Measure. By Sub-section (4) of Clause 1, it applies to any child who has not attained the age of 16 at the time of being sent out of the United Kingdom. The transfer of responsibility from the parents to a duly-appointed guardian could be proposed only in war-time, and where special circumstances require it owing to the absence of the parents. It would clearly be wrong for the State to interfere with the responsibility of parents, even in war-time, where that responsibility could in fact be exercised. Where it cannot be exercised, owing to the absence of the parents, we arc not undermining parental responsibility; we are, in fact, stressing the importance of it, and reinforcing it by appointing someone to exercise that responsibility overseas.

It will be noted that, under Sub-section (2) of Clause 1, the guardian so appointed may authorise such authorities, societies or persons as he considers suitable to act on his behalf. Let me explain that. In Canada, the duty of child welfare is the function of the Provincial Legislatures, and in each Province there is a strong welfare society appointed for the purpose. In the United States, the United States Committee, with Mrs. Roosevelt as its honorary president, Mr. Marshall Field as chairman, and Mr. Eric Biddle as executive director, have been specially constituted and charged with the duty of looking after the guest children sent there during the war. The United States Committee has adopted the rules of the Children's Bureau, which, as the House knows, is a department of the United States Ministry of Labour, which lays down the conditions under which child welfare is carried out, and particularly the conditions under which hospitality may be offered to guest children. These rules have been framed as a result of long experience, gained in the field of child welfare, and are concerned with the moral, spiritual, and physical welfare of the children. For instance, a guest child can be housed only in a home of its own religious faith. That will be greatly appreciated by many Members. Both in Canada and in the United States there are most careful arrangements for ensuring the suitability of these homes. They are selected by representatives of the welfare societies. There are frequent visits and inspections, and reports are made from time to time on the welfare of each child, its educational progress, its health, and all other matters.

All this prevision and planning and close attention to detail by these competent bodies has resulted, I think, in the triumphant success of this form of temporary migration. I am one of those who firmly hope that this undoubted success will lead, when the war is over, to the Dominion Governments and ourselves seeking to continue and develop it. Children are adaptable animals and the process of careful selection, which is a central feature of the Children's Overseas Reception Scheme, has reduced to a minimum the risk of failure. I am assured on all sides that the character, bearing, and conduct of our children have made a profound impression in the countries of their reception. As for the children themselves, their educational processes are being developed as only travel and experience,in new, lands can develop them, and I understand that their health and physique have been marvellously improved.

Let me say one word about the machinery of the Bill. It is our intention to appoint the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canada, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald), as the duly-appointed guardian of our children in Canada—and, as he is a bachelor, I am sure that he will perform that task very well. That is how we are dealing with the 1,530 children officially sent by my board to Canada. As regards the United States, it is our intention to appoint Lord Halifax, our Ambassador in Washington, as the guardian for the children semi-officially sent out through the work of the American Committee in London, with the blessing of the Children's Overseas Reception Board. Both our High Commissioner in Canada and our Ambassador in the United States will authorise respectively the welfare societies in Canada and the United States Committee in Washington to act on their behalf.

Mr. Leach (Bradford, Central)

Does that mean that they will be able to delegate their duties to private persons in those countries, and rid themselves of guardianship responsibilities?

Mr. Logan

Does it mean that they will be godfathers without having to give any pennies to the children?

Mr. Shakespeare

I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Leach) has emphasised that point. The task of looking after those children in Canada and the United States will remain with the people who are now so devotedly carrying it out. It is not the intention that the legally-appointed guardian should interfere with their work. But he will, by virtue of the fact that he is the sole legal guardian, be able to ask these authorities to act on his behalf, and to give legal sanction to all the steps deemed necessary by them in the interests of the children. I understand that under Canadian and United States law, the question of guardianship of a child is governed by the law of the country where the child is domiciled. Therefore, a person who has been appointed guardian under English law in respect of a child domiciled overseas will be recognised by Canadian and United States courts as legal guardian.

Mr. Logan

Will the guardian be compelled to live in the country where the children are living?

Mr. Shakespeare

I do not think that any compulsion comes in, but naturally, as we appoint our Ambassador to the United States, the assumption is that he will live in the United States.

Sir Percy Harris (Bethnal Green, South-West)

If the right hon. Gentleman who is our Ambassador came over for some special purpose or on leave, would there not be some arrangement for a substitute in that case?

Mr. Shakespeare

In a case like that, I have no doubt the Secretary of State would appoint somebody to act as legally appointed guardian during his absence. For example, in Canada we have a Children's Commissioner who travels about and reports on the welfare of the 1,530 children. If the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ross and Cromarty had to be away for a long time, the Secretary of State would appoint a deputy.

Mr. Logan

This raises a very important point. Could a person appointed as a guardian delegate his authority to somebody else?

Mr. Shakespeare

A legally appointed guardian cannot divest himself of his legal responsibility, but he can ask somebody to act on his behalf. If I sent my child to school I could ask the headmaster to look after the child while there, but I could always interfere and could say that this or that should be done. The authorities in Canada and the United States Committee in America are discharging their task with such devotion and great care that I do not suppose for a moment that a legally appointed guardian would wish to interfere. A legally appointed guardian, as I have pointed out, can ask these authorities to act on his behalf, but he cannot divest himself of his responsibility.

Mr. Logan

Who would take responsibility if an operation were required to be performed? Supposing a child, in respect of whom permission had been given to operate by a person acting as guardian in the absence of the officially appointed guardian, died as a result of the operation, and the officially appointed guardian took exception to what had been done, whose would be the responsibility?

Mr. Shakespeare

I do not think that it would be as difficult as all that, and no more would happen than happens now, except in this respect. Take the case of Canada. At the present time the welfare societies in the Provinces are being consulted from day to day on all sorts of cases, and they are giving their decisions. Perhaps in the case of a desperate operation it might be a question of hours, and the doctor performing the operation takes a great risk. You cannot operate on such a child unless you get the consent of the parents or the guardian, who may be 3,000 miles away. The presence of our High Commissioner in Canada would mean, in a case like that, that instant touch would be established by telephone, if necessary. The High Commissioner in Canada will ask the welfare societies to act on his behalf, and any steps which they think necessary in the interests of a child or to save its life will have his legal sanction.

Finally, I wish to say that I have been associated with the Children's Overseas Reception Scheme since its inception, and I cannot deal with a Bill which affects the welfare of my children without paying a very warm tribute to the people of Canada and the United States of America for the generous thought which prompted these offers of hospitality and for the lavish care which has been bestowed upon our children.

Mr. George Griffiths (Hemsworth)

What about Australia and New Zealand?

Mr. Shakespeare

I am glad that the hon. Member has raised that point, and I will deal with it almost immediately. My Board and I are in constant touch with our representatives in Canada and the United States, with the welfare societies and the foster-parents. There is continuous communication between foster-parents overseas and parents in this country. The House will be interested to know that one of the most gratifying features of our scheme is the close friendships that are being formed by correspondence between the parents in this country, who are most grateful, and the foster-parents overseas, who are treating these guest children as members of their own family. Let it be remembered that the Government of Canada and of the United States and indeed of all the Dominions, have refused to accept any payment in respect of these children, and the foster-parents are giving homes to these children without any recompense whatever. They assure us that it: is a privilege to care for the children of parents from the devastated areas of this country and to relieve them of anxiety which they might otherwise feel.

If I may speak as a parent, although the possession of children is a great joy, it is also a great responsibility, but it is a responsibility that parents naturally discharge in respect of their own children, but different considerations arise in respect of the children of other people. How deep then is our sense of obligation to these warm-hearted families who have given sanctuary in their own homes to the children of strangers and are bringing them up as their own children. My hon. Friend opposite has asked about the other Dominions. I do not know whether he was present at the start of my speech, but 1 pointed out that, although this would apply to every Dominion or wherever guest children are now situated, there is no desire on the part of other Dominions to do this, because they have already appointed one Minister as sole guardian of the children in these Dominions. With this explanation, I submit the Bill to the House, confident that it will be generally approved, for it is in the interests of our children overseas, and, as I have pointed out, discharges what is almost a debt of honour to those who have them in their charge.

Mr. Garro Jones (Aberdeen, North)

It is, perhaps, not unnatural that a Bill which purports to place other persons in loco parentis of our own children should arouse in some quarters jealous susceptibilities; at the same time everybody will recognise that this is a commonsense Measure. We are living in war-time, and we have become accustomed in this country to perhaps one of the most bitter features of war deprivations, namely, the separation of children from their parents. Those children who have been so far separated from their parents as to have moved to other countries are, as the hon. Gentleman has just explained, in good hands. I have given this Bill the most careful perusal of which I am capable, and I must say that every possible safeguard has been introduced in it to prevent any form of abuse whatever. Indeed, I am not at all sure that statutory safeguards were necessary, because we all know that these children will be treated in the countries to which they have gone as if they were the own children of those who have adopted them. Speaking for a few hon. Members who sit here, I would like to identify myself with the Under-Secretary in what he said about the gratitude which we feel in all parts of the House for the kindness and consideration which are being given to those children, both by the American Society and by those responsible in the Dominions to which they have been sent.

Sir P. Harris

I want to intervene for only a few moments to add my blessing to this Bill. Obviously, it will have a rapid passage through the House. I am happy to see here the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Information. I am glad that he has been present during this particular discussion, because I think it would be well to take this opportunity to convey, through whatever channels are available, the proceedings of this particular Debate to Canada and the United States of America and, I might add, to the Dominions of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It is only by the constitutions of these various Dominions that they do not come inside the provisions of this Measure, and it might lead to a wrong impression if our genuine, sincere praise for the action of Canada and America was thought not to apply equally to those Dominions which are outside the provisions of the Bill. As it happens, the number of children concerned is comparatively small, but the children are a symbol. The number would have been much larger had it not been for the difficulty of convoying children across dangerous seas, but it is something more than a symbol at a time like this to know that the English-speaking world is at one with us in this fight and in sympathy with the problem of the care of our children.

Mr. Logan

I asked a few questions a short time ago because the question of guardianship has been a debatable point in the House of Commons and the subject-matter of discussions in city councils. My anxiety was not because I had any doubt about the way in which the matter would be handled on the other side of the oceans or of the hospitality that would be extended; it was as to what kind of system would be brought into operation to see that the children who left their homes would get into the hands of the right persons. I am fully convinced that Lord Halifax would not be asked to wash every child's face or to take it out, so that the question of deputising certainly entered into the matter. I take it that a guardian would be appointed.

I was gratified to hear the question which has been raised in Liverpool, among other places—the question of a child's faith. Every child has its right to the family life, traditions and religion of the home, and whatever the religion of the child may be it must be protected. We must give to the child in its new land the right which it has enjoyed in its own home. No home, unless it has a spiritual faith, can truly be called a home. In promoting good fellowship this Bill is a step in the right direction. Many people have been afraid to send their children overseas, but they can have no fear whatever that the House of Commons, through its responsible Minister, has done all that it is possible to do. The hospitality that has been offered to our children is a hospitality which, in a time of crisis like this, should be accepted with the most grateful thanks to those who have offered it.

Mr. Leach (Bradford, Central)

I would like to associate myself with the warm commendations which have been offered on this Bill by the Members who have already spoken. Through this Bill we are dealing with two of the most hospitable parts of the world, and there can be no doubt of the immense feeling of gratitude and pleasure which has run through the whole of this country, following the reception given to our children in Canada and America since they arrived there. They have been having the time of their lives, and their health has undoubtedly benefited through the hospitality that has been so freely granted to them.

I understood from the Under-Secretary that the guardian appointed in each country will not be able to divest himself of the legal authority which his new job gives to him. He certainly will have to depute some part of the extraneous work involved in guardianship to somebody else, and that is where I would like to offer one or two observations. For instance, a child may get into a home where people, hospitable though they may be, nevertheless, have ideas. They may want to circumcise him, cut out his tonsils, vaccinate him or innoculate him when there is no question of the child being in any physical danger and in need of the spurious operations which seem to be so fashionable in some parts of the world.

What will the guardian who is to be appointed do when representations of that character are made to him: I imagine it would be possible for Lord Halifax or the High Commissioner in Canada to get into consultation in this country with the parents concerned. Are they likely to do so? May we have an understanding about that? My hon. Friend the Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan) has referred to the safeguards which undoubtedly this arrangement supplies in the case of those parents who are keen about religious matters and wish to preserve the atmosphere in which their children have been brought up. I wish I could be equally satisfied with the Bill in respect of the matters which I have raised, and I should be pleased to receive that satisfaction. Perhaps the Minister will be able to give it.

Sir Patrick Harmon (Birmingham, Moseley)

I wish to congratulate the Minister on the introduction of this Bill and to say how grateful the House must be for the care which he has taken and the provision he has made for safeguarding the material and spiritual sides of the lives of these children in the countries which have accepted them as guests. I am particularly gratified with the provision that has been made to safeguard the religion of these children in the homes in which they have been received. I am one of those who believe that after the war there must be a stronger spiritual infusion into the whole of our national life as a basis for the future society of this country. Therefore, it is gratifying to see that the spiritual outlook of the children who have been sent overseas, and whose departure from their homes must have given grave anxiety to their parents, is being preserved under this Bill. I am confident that Lord Halifax in the United States and the High Commissioner in Canada will see that that point of view is constantly maintained.

I am grateful for the Bill. In looking back to the Debates in the House over a great many years, I feel that we can hardly say that any speech has given more satisfaction to many of us than that in which the Minister presented his case to the House in moving the Second Reading of this Bill. My hon. Friend has done admirable work. I do not think we have sufficiently appreciated the immense task which he had to discharge when the movement of these children overseas was first inaugurated. I should like to express gratitude, on my own behalf and on behalf of a great many organisations with which I am associated, for the way in which the Minister has handled this great social question and the manner in which he has provided for the safeguarding of these children overseas.

Mr. Mathers (Linlithgow)

The approval of this Bill is so great that I am certain it will move very rapidly to the Statute Book. I have no wish to delay that progress, but I want to say that I cordially endorse all the expressions of gratitude to those people in Canada and the United States who are at present acting as foster parents to these children. It is a very great thing indeed that that spirit has been called forth. I believe that some of the big things that have been done under the stress of war will be carried over to the times of peace. I agree heartily with the hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) that one of the great things for which we have to hope, and which we must endeavour to achieve, in this country and the world after the war is a proper evaluation of things. We must correct our values and put right in the forefront of our lives and the lives of countries and of the world, the spiritual values which the war demonstrates to have been neglected in days gone by. The question which I wish to put to the Undersecretary of State is whether the position of Scottish children has been properly understood and envisaged in the framing of this Bill. We all know that Scottish children are in a different position legally from children South of the Border. An English child is an infant until 21 years of age, whereas Scottish children have the right from the early ages of 12 and 14 in the case of boys and girls respectively to decide their own domicile. I hope that point has been kept in view, but I think it will be well to have an assurance that, so far as the legal position is concerned, Scottish children will not in any way be prejudicially affected by the passing of this Measure.

Mr. Hubert Beaumont (Batley and Morley)

The value of this Bill lies not only in its exact purpose, but also in the fact that it affords this House an opportunity of expressing its warmhearted and sincere appreciation for the generosity and friendliness accorded to the children who have gone not only to Canada and the United States, but also to South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. It is unfortunate that circumstances prevented this scheme being developed to its fullest extent. It is a scheme which was wisely conceived and, I believe, excellently planned, a scheme which, if carried through, would have afforded safety and security to many hundreds of thousands of children from this country, who have been exposed to the blitzing of many of our cities and towns. It was unfortunate that circumstances made it unwise to send more children abroad, because we realise that not only are these children who are being sent to America, Canada and other countries being afforded a degree of safety and security, but furthermore the scheme will enable them to make associations which they will carry right through their lives, and which will be of profound importance in the future.

I sincerely hope the wish expressed in the speech of the Minister, that the con- tacts between our parts of the Empire and this country may be continued when peace comes, may be truly carried out. It is pretty certain that the influence which these children bring to the countries to which they have gone will spread back to this country.

I wish to put a question to the Undersecretary. I understood him to say that this Bill applies to children under 16 years of age when sent overseas. These children, in many cases, have been sent overseas for 12 months and more, and some will be approaching the age when they would normally enter occupations and give up their scholastic careers. The question I wish to ask is whether the provisions of this Bill give powers, in any way, to the guardians to determine the kind of occupations which these children shall enter? I understood the provisions laid down that the children shall be accorded the same scholastic treatment as is common in the district in which they were registered. That will possibly presuppose leaving school at 15 or 16, and maybe earlier, and in that case who is to determine the nature of the occupations they shall follow?

Are parents consulted and, if they are, and they say they leave it to you, will it be the people with whom the children are residing or the society, if any, under whose auspices the child has been placed in that house, or will it be the guardian invested with power by this Bill? It may be a very important point for the children concerned. I only wish to re-emphasise how very grateful we are for the generosity, friendliness, kindliness and good will which have been exhibited to our children who have gone overseas, and perhaps the very act of despatching them may be one of the very few good things which will emerge from the war.

Mr. Shakespeare

As one who was for four years associated with the Ministry of Health, and must have got through the best part of two or three dozen Bills, all controversial, it is a delightful sensation to be associated with a Bill which only results in bouquets being thrown at one. I should like to thank the House for its very generous and kindly appreciation of this very humble Measure. The hon. Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) was more than kind. I am sure the Children's Overseas Reception Board will greatly appreciate his remarks. In my political life it is one of the most interesting things that I have done to be associated with the movement for sending children overseas to safety, and it was a great disappointment to me that this very fine movement had to stop, a profound disappointment to the parents, and, I think, to the Dominions. We could have sent a quarter of a million children. I believe, with the hon. Member who spoke last, that it is one of the best things that will come out of the war, because the success has been so great, the foster-parents in the Dominions have grown so fond of the children, that they will insist on having them in the Dominions, and it may well be that they will take steps to see that their parents come out, if they wish, to join them. So one has a vista of a really acceptable and well-balanced migration scheme at last arising as a by-product out of the war. I am very grateful to the House for taking the same view, and I am sure everything that has been said will be greatly appreciated by our Board.

Three further points arose. The hon. Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Leach) asked what happened to a child when the foster-parents wished to indulge in some rash experiment or some practice which might not be acceptable to the parents in this country. Whether you have a legal guardian in the country or not, you might theoretically get an exceptional case where the foster-parents might do something so quickly that no machinery devised could stop them. Ever since we have administered the scheme there have been very careful control and co-operation going on day by day concerning the children, but I have never come across a case where that has arisen. There has been no complaint by parents of the powers of foster-parents being exercised in this way. There is only one case which comes within the category which my hon. Friend referred to, and that was a case where the foster-parents objected to vaccination, and the objection was upheld. In all circumstances which affect the life of a child, whether it is an operation, whether it is educational—a change of school or going on to a secondary school—or whether it is the choice of occupation, we have made it a practice that the consent of the parents in this country should be obtained. I exclude, of course, the case of an urgent decision where life and death are at stake. Where it is possible to consult parents in regard to a child attending school or a choice of occupation, I should consider it reprehensible if we did not get in touch with the parents in this country. We frequently consult parents here as to the occupation they wish their son to follow, and parents sometimes say that they will leave it to the authorities on the spot. I am amazed at the tremendous care that is being exercised by the welfare authorities in Canada and by the United States Committee. In the United States the science of child welfare is more highly advanced than it is in this country, and I am amazed at the number of questions, psychological and otherwise, that come up when an occupation for a child is considered. Therefore, my hon. Friend need have no anxiety on that score.

Another point was raised, and I hope I shall not conclude on a controversial note by my answer. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) asked about the position of a Scottish child, because the law of guardianship in Scotland is different from that in England. I understand that it is more comprehensive in Scotland than it is in England. We took the advice of the Scottish Office and the Lord Advocate on this point, because the United States and Canada were anxious to have one standard of guardianship for the convenience of their courts. It would be difficult for them to have the standard of guardianship in England, the standard in Scotland and the standard in some other part of the Empire, because the United States courts would have to make elaborate inquiries as to what the law of guardianship was. Therefore, Scotland generously accepted a lower standard of guardianship—the English standard—and under the Bill, when questions of difficulty come up, the courts will settle them according to the English law. It will greatly simplify the procedure, and it is acceptable to the Scottish Office. I should like again to thank the House for their reception of the Bill and to express the hope that we shall pass it through all its stages at the earliest opportunity, because it will be greatly welcomed in the United States and Canada.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House, for the next Sitting Day. —[Major Dugdale.]