HL Deb 29 July 1879 vol 248 cc1520-2

said, that he rose to ask a Question on a subject of some interest. It had been ascertained that no fewer than 100,000 persons were living in canal boats, and in 1877 an Act was passed with the view of improving the sanitary and educational position of these people. It was now said that, whereas a great deal had been done under that Act to improve the sanitary arrangements of the boats, the educational part of the Act of 1877 had not yet been carried into effect. There was, of course, a great difficulty in regard to the educational portion of the subject. The Act provided that the children en the boats should be considered as belonging to the local board district at which the boat was registered; but it was no easy matter to catch those children, because, if you tried to find them at one place, you would discover that they had moved off somewhere else. It was, therefore, to be feared that very little progress had been made in their education. It would be satisfactory to learn that vigorous efforts were being made in respect both of the sanitary arrangements of the boats and the education of the children, who were numbered by thousands. He, therefore, begged to ask the Lord President of the Council, Whether there is any objection to laying on the Table of the House a Report of the proceedings which have been taken since 1877 under the provisions of the Act 40 and 41 Vict. cap. 60, for the registration of canal boats used as dwellings and the education of the children dwelling therein?


admitted that the subject was one of great importance. The annual Report of the Local Government Board for last year had been presented, and would shortly be in the hands of their Lordships, and would contain an account of the proceedings taken under the Act relating to canal boats. It must be remembered that that Act was passed in 1877, but only came into operation last year. Prior to that date the Local Government Board had issued regulations regarding the registration of the boats in respect of their number and of the number of persons whom they were to accommodate, and also defining the authorities who were to have charge of the work of registration and the districts in which the boats were to be registered. The number of districts was 99. Boats had already been registered in 62 out of these 99 districts. The total number of boats registered was 4,964, and that of the persons for whom there was accommodation 22,206. Therefore, as regarded registration, very considerable progress had been made by the local authorities in giving effect to the Act. Of course, when such a large number of persons were concerned, and with interests of such considerable magnitude, it was impossible that the provisions of an Act which only came into operation last year could be as yet carried, out. With regard to the education of the children, the Act provided that the children should be registered where the boats were registered, but that if the parents could show to the school authorities that the children were receiving sufficient instruction in other places it should be taken that the Act was being complied with. The Local Government Board had not yet received Reports as to the effect of the Act in respect of the education of the children; but the local autho- rities must have been much occupied up to the present time with the necessary and preliminary step of registration. When that object was accomplished he hoped that, before the end of the present year, the Local Government Board would obtain from the local authorities statistics as to the results of the Act in the matter of education. As soon as possible, after those Reports were obtained, they would be laid on the Table; but it would be impossible to produce any detailed information on the point at the present moment, though the local authorities had shown every disposition to carry out the Act of Parliament by what they had done in the way of registration. He now begged to lay on the Table the Returns received by the Local Government Board with regard to the registration of the boats and the numbers to be accommodated onboard. (Parl. Paper No. 167.)