HL Deb 14 August 1871 vol 208 cc1547-8

asked the Lord Privy Seal, At what time it was probable that any schools to be erected by the London School Board would be ready for the reception of children? His reason for making this inquiry was that the operation of the School Board would gradually, if not immediately, displace the various ragged schools which, supported by voluntary contributions, had hitherto taken charge of a large proportion of the poorest class of the population, and that until the new schools were ready a large number of ragged children would be turned upon the streets without any care, as they were before ragged schools were established. He had all along foreseen that the contributors to the latter—generally very poor persons—would not be prepared to pay the school rate, and make their voluntary contributions as well; and in a great many instances—the School Board having already begun to levy the rate—this had already happened; so that in a short time several hundred children in the Metropolis would be turned into the streets. He was anxious, therefore, to know what prospect there was of some of the new schools being opened at an early period, so that an appeal might be made to secure funds for the carrying on of the ragged schools in the meantime. With regard to the persons employed by the School Board to pick up children who ought to be at school, the movement was intrinsically a very good one; but a great deal of discrimination ought to be exercised in carrying it out. Many of the lads brought before the magistrates and sent to industrial schools might, if left alone, be able to earn their own livelihood, and in many cases their parents were, he was sure, able to support them. Now, if every lad found in the streets were to be deemed a vagrant, to be taken before a magistrate, sent to an industrial school, and maintained at the public expense, before long large numbers of the people would be pauperized. Within the last two days he had met with an instance of this danger. A very decent woman had told him that she and her neighbours did everything they could to keep their children at home, and that they got nothing whatever from the State; whereas if other persons sent their children into the streets those children, on begging for a penny, or offering matches for sale, were seized by a constable, taken before a magistrate, and boarded, lodged, and clothed at the public expense. This state of things was becoming serious, and unless great care and discrimination were exercised by the officers in the discharge of this important duty, there would be a tendency on the part of a large mass of the poorer population to resort to every device to have their children thus provided for by the State.


said, he entirely agreed with the observations of the noble Earl; and would add his own expression of opinion that the magistrates should exercise their power with the greatest possible discrimination, for it would be monstrous to saddle upon the public children whose parents were able to maintain them. With regard to the noble Earl's Question, he could give no precise information as to the time when the new schools would be ready. The Board had sent in proposals to the Education Department for building about 20 schools in London, and they had also taken steps to obtain a loan from the Public Works Commissioners for the purpose of erecting them. He hoped that until they were ready the existing schools would continue to be supported by philanthropic persons.


asked, whether he had rightly understood the answer given him on Friday evening that certificated teachers 35 years of age and of 10 years' standing, who within three years from the passing of the Education Bill were well reported of by the Inspector, would be regarded as certificated teachers, and would continue to enjoy this privilege?


said, the noble Earl's interpretation of the answer given on Friday evening was quite correct.