§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE EARL OF BURLINGTON,
in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, that its object was to enable the boards of guardians to provide for the education of the children of the poor who were supported by the parish rates out of the workhouses. The reports of the Poor Law inspectors contained many remarks and suggestions on this subject, and proved that the outdoor pauper children were a very numerous class, and that no provision was made for their education. 1646 The boards of guardians were empowered to make provisions for the education of the indoor pauper children, and, as no strong distinction could be drawn between the cases of the indoor and the outdoor pauper children, he saw no reason why the powers of the boards of guardians should not be enlarged and extended to the latter class, as was proposed by the present Bill. The workhouse schools were capable of affording accommodation to double the number of children at present receiving instruction in them. It was true it appeared from the reports of the inspectors that many of those schools were in a very unsatisfactory condition; but he thought the effect of this Bill would probably be to improve their character. The Bill had received the full approval of the President of the Poor Law Board and of his predecessor in the same office; it was also approved by many Members of both Houses who took an interest in matters connected with the education of the poor, and he hoped it would receive their Lordships' assent.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
§ LORD COLCHESTER
did not rise to oppose the measure. It had always appeared to him that the best possible mode of relieving poor persons was by taking their children off their hands, and providing for them in the union schools. So far, therefore, he agreed in the object of the Bill. But he did not see how far it was to go; and whether the education to be provided was to be extended to the children of the poorer classes generally, or confined to the children of those who came within the scope of the Poor Law.
§ Lord REDESDALE
said, he should have no objection to the Bill passing, but would like to allow any quality of children to receive education. He should advise the education to be given to the children of people who were struggling, but who were not receiving relief; and that was the only way to make the Act popular. He suggested to strike out the words confining the admission of children of paupers, and should propose the omission of those words as an Amendment in Committee; and, if agreed to, he thought the Bill would require no other alteration. To let the children go to the workhouse, while the parents remained out of it, would be highly objectionable.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
said, he agreed with what had fallen from the two noble Lords who had just sat down. It was the duty of the poor to educate their children 1647 as much as it was to provide them with food; and it would be the duty of the board to ascertain that the parents really could not pay for their children's education before they admitted them.
THE BISHOP OF ST. ASAPH
said, it should he made incumbent upon the guardians not to allow children to be paid for by the public whose parents could pay for themselves. Provided that were done, he believed they could not do a better thing than establish the principle that a poor person who was really unable to pay for the education of his children should have a right to that education being supplied by the public. But they must be cautious with regard to the schools to which those children were admitted, and he confessed he had very great doubts whether the workhouse school would be a proper place. He had formerly the spiritual care of a workhouse himself, and he observed that when once a child had been introduced there, the greatest difficulty was experienced in keeping him out of it for the rest of his life. The preferable course would therefore be to have the proposed school out of the workhouse rather than in it. He bad no doubt in his own mind that this Bill contained the nucleus of the solution of the difficulty of education. The great thing was, not to interfere with the choice of the parent.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, as he read the Bill it meant that the guardians were to have the power of sending to school children of all persons receiving indoor relief. He certainly agreed with the right rev. Prelate in what he said as to the disadvantage of sending children into the workhouse when it was not necessary to do so, because it gave the children the habit of looking to the workhouse as their home, and produced those habits of continuous pauperism which were so much to be deprecated. In regard to the extension of the system of education to the children of persons receiving outdoor relief, although that was a great temptation to those who wished to see the principle of education extended, yet he thought there would be a great risk incurred by adopting such a principle in this Bill, as it would entirely alter its character. This measure had the credit of having passed unanimously through the other House of Parliament, and he would, therefore, recommend the noble Earl to consider the question carefully before he adopted the suggestion of the noble Lord opposite.
§ Motion agreed to
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House on Tuesday next.
§ House adjourned to Monday next.