§ Bill read 3a (according to Order).
§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading, read.
My Lords, at the end of Clause 12 I propose to add the words of which I have given notice. The object of this Amendment is to check the practice of making false statements as to the age of a child. It depends upon the age of a child who is brought before a Magistrate whether he is sent to an industrial or to a reformatory school. Consequently, it is to the advantage of a child that his parents should make him out to be younger than he really is, and this Amendment is to do away with that practice. The clause empowers the Court to make inquiry as to the age of a child, and to issue an order, but empowering a child to be discharged from a school on his being proved, to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State, to have attained the age of 16. This will enable the Secretary of State, if the child might have been originally committed to a reformatory school, had his true age been known, if he is of opinion that the further detention of the child is desirable, to order him to be transferred to a reformatory school, there to be detained subject to the provisions of the law relating to reformatory schools. Of course, he would not consider it desirable unless the child had been guilty of bad conduct. The Royal Commission on 634 Industrial and Reformatory Schools proposes that the age, as ascertained by the Magistrate, should be considered the true age. The Committee disagree with that view, and I hope the noble Viscount sees no objection to the Amendment.
Amendment moved, in Clause 12, page 5, to add at the end of the Clause the words—
Unless the child might have been originally committed to a reformatory school had his age been known, in which case the Secretary of State, if he is of opinion that the further detention of the child is desirable, may transfer him to a reformatory school, there to be detained subject to the provisions of the law relating to reformatory schools."—(The Lord Monkswell.)
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Viscount CROSS)
My Lords, I do object to this Amendment, and the objection I have is of a serious character. I quite agree that the alteration made in Standing Committee was in mitigation of what had been proposed by the Royal Commission; but I think the noble Lord proposes to go a step further than that, which is, I think, very unwise. I understand he proposes that if a mistake has been made in the age, and the child was really over 14, and might, therefore, have been sent to a reformatory in the first instance, the Secretary of State may make an alteration in the order and send him to a reformatory school.
Not exactly. He has power under the Bill, at present, to send children to a reformatory school in certain cases.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
But there is this requirement, that the child who is to go to the reformatory school must have been convicted. I do not think it would be for the Secretary of State to convict, and, therefore, I hope the noble Lord will withdraw his Amendment. I could not possibly allow it to pass to-day, because it would not do to give power to the Secretary of State to convict. The child ought, of course, to be convicted by the Magistrate.
I understand it is merely a question of age. He must, at all events, be found guilty of an offence.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
No, this is a totally different question. That is quite against the theory of industrial schools. Before sending a child to a reformatory school, he must have been convicted, and I 635 object strongly to the Secretary of State having power to convict. A child sent to an industrial school is not convicted, though the Magistrate must be satisfied of his guilt.
The child would, undoubtedly, be subject to conviction if he were of the age provided, but, as he represents himself, or is represented to be, below that age, the Court finds him guilty, and then sends him to the school. I must say I fail to see the objection. It was a somewhat strong measure for the Committee to state its opinion after what had been done by the Royal Commission. It was considered that the age of the child, as ascertained by the Magistrate, should be considered the true age to all intents and purposes.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
If any mistake has been made, it must be corrected by the Magistrates. The Secretary of State cannot set it right. I am quite sure it would not do to give that power to the Secretary of State.
§ Amendment, by leave of the House, withdrawn.
§ Amendments made.
§ LORD NORTON
My Lords, I move the omission of Clause 30 and the following clauses. My Amendment is to relieve the Bill of no less than 11 clauses, establishing truant schools all over the Kingdom. I maintain that these truant schools are absolutely and positively useless, if not mischievous. Probably the noble Viscount will defend them upon the Report of the Commission. The ground upon which they were recommended was that they would afford means for classification. If the noble Viscount defends these truant schools upon the authority of the Report of the Commissioners on which the Bill is founded, I beg to call his attention and the attention of the House to what appears on the face of the Report upon the subject. The reason the Commissioners recommend the increase of truant schools is that they think it necessary there should be further classification of juvenile offenders beyond that permitted by the industrial and reformatory schools in order that the younger should be kept separate from the older offenders. Now, in the first place, it is not necessary to establish new 636 schools all over the Kingdom in order to separate the children. The industrial schools can afford the necessary separation as the law now stands; of course, I do not speak of aggravated cases of more hardened offenders. Aggravated cases of juvenile offences are not the subject of this Bill at all. They do not come under the provisions of the Industrial Schools Bill, and therefore any recommendations of the Commissioners do not apply to such cases. The Commissioners very fairly state the arguments which came before them in favour of and against this proposition; but there seems to me not to be the slightest reason given for the creation of a new set of schools all over the Kingdom for the class of children they describe in their Report. The class of children referred to—I am quoting from the 35th page of the Commissioners' Report, which recommends the creation of these truant, schools—are those "whose only offence has been truancy," with whom are very strangely coupled "those who have been unable from poverty to attend school." They make a distinction between those whom they call actual truants, and those who are truants and something more. Really, my Lords, there is no end to the ingenuity of hobby-mongers. The specialty of a truant school, as stated by the Commissioners to be their meaning of the term, is that they are schools for short detention. The proposal is that truant children shall be kept there for a short time and then licensed to go to the ordinary schools. Would it not be much better to whip them and send them back to school at once? What can be the reason for multiplying schools for such a purpose all over the country? Our expenditure on public elementary schools has already grown to an enormous extent, and I think quite sufficient without extending' it in a new wav. The good sense of the country upon the matter is shown by the fact that only six of these truant schools have been established throughout the Kingdom; and out of those six the Commissioners have condemned two, leaving only four subject to their approval. They condemned those two on the ground that the treatment in them was a great deal too penal. I saw them myself. As a member of the Commission, I went round the country, and I found that the treatment of children in 637 these truant schools is to confine them to their bedrooms, to reform them by solitary confinement, absence from play, entire deprivation of liberty. This treatment is, I suppose, by way of making school more attractive in the eyes of these truants. I should think, myself, it would have the exactly contrary effect. Your Lordships are not bound by the Report of a Commission, and I hope the House will exercise its own judgment on the recommendation of this Commission. I certainly protest against it. The supposed success of these schools, if there has been any, can be attained just as well in a day industrial school; and if the noble Viscount supports this class of institutions, I hope he will give us a better reason for establishing them than that which is given in the Report. I therefore move the omission of Clause 30.
§ Amendment moved, "To leave out Clause 30.—(The Lord Norton.)
§ THE EARL OF RAVENSWORTH
My Lords, I am very glad my noble Friend has moved the omission of this clause. I am sure your Lordships will agree that this Bill raises a question of great importance with regard to many of its provisions. It proposes to constitute a number of entirely new detaining schools. That, I think, is rather a strong measure; and, when we view the proposal in the light of experience, I think it is very objectionable. I will ask your Lordships to permit me to make a few short observations. County Councils and Borough Councils have some reason for objecting to this Bill on the ground of cost. They are now constituted the authorities for the management of truant schools and day industrial schools. There are further provisions, against which I shall have nothing whatever to say, for sending children out to board provided they can find proper persons to receive them and undertake their care. I will now only deal with the two questions of day schools and truant schools. I am very much afraid that one consequence of creating these schools will be the overlapping of authority, causing confusion in their administration, and, further than that, I think it may bring the different authorities who are concerned in these schools into serious conflict on many occasions. But it is not only that I am afraid of. A worse result may occur if 638 the Bill is carried out in its entirety' that of bringing into conflict no less than three different Departments in London. Those who are acquainted with such matters of administration in the country are aware that great difficulties sometimes arise as between two Departments; but if you are to have three to deal with, the Home Office in the first instance, the Local Government Board in the next, and the Educational Department in the third, I am afraid great confusion will arise in the County and Borough Councils if this Bill is carried out in its entirety. Now, my Lords, I want to mention what the feeling is which exists in the country upon these matters. Those of your Lordships who are members of County Councils must, I am sure, regard with jealousy and vigilance every proposal to increase expenditure. If all these schools are to be supported, and compulsorily supported, the cost will be very great. By Clause 26, reading it shortly, every County Council and Borough Council shall, not "may" as hitherto, contribute to the maintenance and management of any industrial school where children are retained by the order of any Court acting within the limits of their authority. In my own county (Durham)—not an unimportant county, and where the necessity for the retention of poor children exists in a very considerable degree—we have gone to the expense of £20,000 in establishing a county industrial school, and I can assure your Lordships that we view this sort of proposal with the greatest possible jealousy. If we are to be compelled to undertake the management of any number of industrial schools which may be set up, we may find our own school, which has been erected at a very large cost, empty, the children having been drawn away to another, and we shall be compelled to support them in other schools to the extent of, I think, a 2s. 6d. rate in each county. We cannot, wonder, therefore, that County Councils view these provisions with no great favour. If they think, as they ought to do, that it is their duty to watch expenditure and keep down cost, they will naturally regard such a proposal with great jealousy. I do not want unnecessarily to detain the House at this stage of the Bill, and I think I have said; enough to show that it is passing through 639 your Lordships' House without that close scrutiny which I think it ought to receive. That, my Lords, is one of the difficulties which arise when we refer our Bills to the Grand Committees instead of dealing with them in the House. Everything is threshed out there, and your Lordships and the public outside know absolutely nothing of what occurs within the walls of the Committee Rooms. Old Bills are brought forward and passed through, and new Bills are substituted for old Bills, and nothing is known of what has been done in Committee. That fact, my Lords, has been proved by what has occurred within the last few days in the Committee of which I am a member. What I desire to point out here, my Lords, is that we shall be making an expenditure which will be absolutely unnecessary, and which will be viewed with great jealousy and, probably, with considerable hostility; and that, if you overlap authorities in the way the Bill proposes you will have an antagonism of authority where there ought to be cordial co-operation in every Department. I will not detain your Lordships longer, but I do think that is a part of the Bill which should more properly form the subject of a separate measure, because you are now bringing the duties of the Educational Department of this country into opposition in some degree with the work of the County Councils. I am not at all sure that that which is perhaps the most valuable power that we possess as Magistrates, of committing children to these schools, will not be considerably interfered with, and that by this Bill we shall not be largely deprived of that power. Upon that point I will add a very few words. The greatest difficulty we find, and I know that those Members of your Lordships' House who are Magistrates will confirm what I say, and that which requires the most tender handling is the power which is conferred upon us under the compulsory clauses of the Education Acts, and the great lever in our hands in dealing with truancy is this power of committal to industrial schools. That is a very difficult matter to deal with, because it arises from so many causes. It may arise from the necessities of the parents as much as from the fault of the children themselves, and every case ought to be dealt with upon its own 640 merits. If you deprive us of the power I have mentioned, you will find a difficulty if that truancy be continued, because the great fear of the parents is that the children may be committed to the industrial schools with all the consequences of that committal. That power will, I believe, be largely taken away from the Magistrates. I think the powers of the Magistrates will be greatly curtailed by the very fact of the careful definition contained in Clause 10, of the causes for which children may be sent to the schools. If that power which the Magistrates hold in terrorem over parents is taken away, you will find very great difficulty in carrying out compulsory education. Considering the importance of the subject, I have ventured to make these few observations; and I think that noble Lords who have served on County Councils, or who have passed a considerable part of their lives in the administration of the law, will attach some weight to what I have said. I can assure your Lordships that there is no Member of this House who, considering the character of this Bill, views it with greater perplexity than myself.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
I do not think it can be said that this Bill has not received consideration at the hands of your Lordships' House. It was brought forward last year and read a second time. It then went back to the Committee on Law, and was very much discussed there. It has gone through the same process again this year. Having been discussed in Committee we are now at the Third Reading, and there has been no objection to the principle of the Bill. I, therefore, do not think I should be in order if I were to go into all the points which have been raised. One observation, however, has been made with regard to the power of sending children to industrial schools. A largo number of children have been sent to industrial schools who, in the opinion of competent judges, ought never to have been sent there. We have provided in this Bill that the County Councils shall have a locus standi to appear before the Magistrates before the child is committed; so that if they think a child is going to be sent to an industrial school who ought not to be sent there, they may appear and state their objection to the Magistrate. Now, with regard to truant schools, I would 641 only make this observation: that neither the clause about truant schools nor that about day industrial schools is new. They have both been in operation long ago. We have a considerable number of truant schools—six, I believe, altogether—in the United Kingdom, which have now been in operation for a long time, and ten day industrial schools, which have also been in existence for a considerable time. They are not by any means a new class of schools, and the Commissioners have inquired into the circumstances and have reported upon management. It is all very well for my noble Friend Lord Norton to say they do not answer, but from the Report of the Commission we find they do answer exceedingly well. There are six of them established in large towns, including London, Liverpool, Swansea, and Brighton, where, as I have said, they are found to answer extremely well. The Report states that the attendance of the boys at the truant schools has been considerably better than at other schools, as, for instance, under the London County Council. There is no doubt the Royal Commission found fault with the penal discipline in some of the schools, and that the others which have not that penal discipline have produced just as good results. The consequence will be, no doubt, that that penal discipline will be set aside. Judging from the Report, the Royal Commissioners think they have done a great deal of good. I hope, therefore, the noble Lord will not insist upon striking this clause out of the Bill. They simply provide for the continuance of the old system, which has been found by a majority of the Royal Commission to have worked great good down to the present time.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, before the Bill passes, will the noble Viscount be kind enough to tell me in which clause power is given to the County Councils to appear before the Magistrates? I see there is a clause relating to notice being given to them, but not with regard to their appearance.
§ VISCOUNT CROSS
That clause was put in to enable them to appear before the Justices. That was undoubtedly the intention.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
It struck me that it was desirable there should be precise words to that effect. Perhaps the noble Viscount will look to that.
§ Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.