HL Deb 19 July 1867 vol 188 cc1711-4

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that the Bill was introduced to make further provision respecting industrial schools in Great Britain. The Bill might be divided into two parts, the first of which related to the class of children who, it was proposed, might be detained in certified industrial schools. These were children under fourteen years of age who might be found in company with beggars, &c., or sent abroad to beg, or cruelly or illegally beaten by the persons who had charge of them, or who were found singing in the street for the purpose of obtaining money, and to boys under twelve, or girls under fourteen, offering things for sale in the streets. All these might be taken by any person before two justices, or a magistrate, who might, if he thought proper, send such child or children to a certified industrial school. The second part of the Bill related to the institution of industrial schools in the metropolis. He had followed out the plan, according to which the district asylums and hospitals were to be built under the Bill of this year. The Poor Law Board was authorized to divide the metropolis into districts, and to direct an industrial school to be formed in any; the expenses were to be repaid by the district or union who were to be repaid out of the Metropolitan Common Poor Fund. The schools were to be under the Industrial Schools Act of 1866; and he proposed that the children sent to the schools should, in addition to being taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, receive a sound and practical industrial training, with the view of making them useful and industrious members of the community. He regretted that a matter of so much importance as this had not been taken up by the Government. He should be ready to accept any suggestion for improving the details of the Bill, and moved that it be read a second time.

Moved "That the Bill be now read 2a"—(The Marquess Townshend.)


said, he had no desire to throw any unnecessary obstacle in the way of the Bill, the purpose of which appeared to be praiseworthy; but he must say that he entertained such strong objections to its provisions that he could not consent to the second reading. The Bill was divided into two portions. The object of the first appeared to be to extend the classes of those who might be brought within the provisions of the Industrial Schools Act of last year; while the second part had for its object the division of the metropolis into districts for facilitating the erection of industrial schools, to be placed under the management of the Boards of Guardians, and supported out of the rates. The noble Marquess proposed to extend the operations of the Industrial Schools Act of last year to children found in company with beggars; to children who were found in the company of, or encouraged to wander abroad by, persons within the provisions of the Vagrant Act; to children whose parents had been convicted of assaulting or beating them; to children singing or playing music in the streets; and to children under a certain age selling or hawking any article between certain hours. Now, with respect to some of these classes, he thought that public opinion would not support, nor public necessity require or justify, the compulsory sending of the children to industrial schools. With respect to others, they were already provided for by the Act of last year. In his opinion no further legislation was required. To the second part of the noble Marquess's Bill, which proposed to place industrial schools under the Board of Guardians, he entertained very great objections. The Bill, as a whole, was founded upon a new and very extraordinary principle, and one which he did not think their Lordships ought to sanction. Another, and vital, objection to the Bill was that it proposed to throw upon the metropolitan rates the support of these schools; and it would be quite contrary to the privileges of the House of Commons to send down to them a Bill which imposed any money burden upon the people. Therefore the Bill could not go down without being mutilated in this important respect. No doubt an industrial training was exceedingly important, but he must remind the noble Marquess that already a number of poor children received an industrial training in the district schools, and in consequence found their way to respectable employment. At present, moreover, it was inexpedient to give the guardians any additional work, because they were already fully employed undertaking the new duties imposed upon them in connection with the arrangement for the sick and lunatic poor.

An Amendment moved to leave out ("now") and insert ("this Day Three Months.")—The Earl of Devon.


in reply, said, that he was not surprised to find the measure opposed by the Treasury Bench—that was only in accordance with the custom of Ministers—but he was surprised to hear what flimsy arguments had been set up in opposition to it. His Bill simply proposed to establish industrial schools on the principle set up by the Government in the matter of the sick and lunatic poor, and as such it could not consistently be objected to. He insisted on the importance of rescuing poor children from exposure and crime, and in answer to the noble Earl (the Earl of Devon) who had said that only a few of such children were now unprovided for, he contended that if few only, which was not the case, those few should not be left uncared for. The objection on the ground of cost was unworthy of consideration; but it was very natural for a Poor Law Board which hankered after popularity to advance it, because they naturally considered the temper of the guardians whose very title was an absurdity and a reproach to those who bore it. The only reasonable argument used by the noble Earl was that having reference to the privilege of the Lower House. He hoped their Lordships would read the Bill a second time and amend it in any way they pleased in Committee; for if only one or two of its provisions were adopted it would operate very beneficially.

On Question, that ("now") stand Part of the Motion? Resolved in the Negative and Bill to be read 3a on this Day Three Months.