My Lords, during the few remarks I have to make to your Lordships as to the admission of industrial school hoys to the Royal Navy I feel sure I shall have a sympathetic listener in the noble Lord opposite (Lord Elphinstone) who represents the Admiralty in this House, and I hope I shall have the sympathy of every Member of your Lordships' House. I ventilate this question primarily in the interest of the industrial schools, and particularly in the interest of by far the largest industrial school in the Kingdom, namely, Feltham, of which I am on the management. Feltham is a school that is specially hardly treated by the Admiralty for reasons that I shall mention to your Lordships. I also claim to speak in the interests of the Royal Navy itself, and I hope to convince the noble Lord opposite that the present system pursued by the Admiralty prevents good boys from going into the Navy and is the cause of bad boys getting into the Navy. My Lords the system pursued by the Admiralty, as I understand it, is as follows: If nothing is known about a boy's previous character the Admiralty take him into the Navy, just as any other employer would, on the character from the last person he served, and they make, as I understand, no very special investigations. But it is entirely different if a boy is known to have been at an industrial school. In that case three things are requisite. In the first place he must prove that he was sent to the school for no offence; secondly, whether or not he has been sent to the school originally for no offence, he has to prove that he has a clean record from his earliest infancy; and in the third place he has to show that during the whole time he has been at the school his conduct has been very good. Now my Lords, owing to the way in which the Admiralty interpret 1790 those restrictions, they amount to absolute prohibition; for in the case of Feltham only one boy in 30 years has been admitted into the Navy from that school, and he is said to have been admitted through some misapprehension on the part of the Admiralty. Feltham, my Lords, is a school that contains London and Middlesex boys; it was opened more than 30 years ago, and for some years past it has had on its books more than 900 boys, over 700 in the school and about 200 under licence. The school has a Naval Brigade which is taught naval drill by ex-petty and ex-chief petty officers of the Royal Navy; and for three weeks every year they are camped out on the Thames where they learn rowing. These boys are well taught, and over 30 of them every year are drafted into the Mercantile Marine; but only one single boy has ever been admitted into the Royal Navy. Now this total exclusion of Feltham boys after having such good training, from the Royal Navy was a very great mortification to the late superintendent, Captain Brooks, a very distinguished and gallant officer of the Royal Marines, who has talked to me on this question many times. He was superintendent of the school for 29 years and only left office last July. I do not want to put my case too high; I want to put it before your Lordships with absolute fairness; and I acknowledge at once that most of the Feltham boys are not up to the physical standard required by the Admiralty; but we calculate that from about ten to a dozen every year are up to that standard. And my Lords it seems to me that the system of the Admiralty which excludes all these boys absolutely from the Royal Navy,—these good boys, these well taught boys,—is a system which by that very circumstance stands condemned both as unjust to the boys and as detrimental to the Service. Now that the system keeps out good boys is not the only disadvantage of it. Perhaps the noble Lord opposite will think that a greater disadvantage is that bad boys are taken into the Navy under this system. Your Lordships must not suppose that no boy who has been educated at Feltham is at present in the Royal Navy,—far from it. There 1791 are several boys from Feltham in the Royal Navy; but the Admiralty are not aware of the fact. A boy goes without a good character from Feltham; he goes into service with a tradesman; he naturally says nothing about his antecedents; the Admiralty take him into the Royal Navy, while they exclude every one of the boys whom the school authorities recommend,—boys with absolutely stainless characters, who have been the mainstay of the whole school, who are liked and respected and trusted alike by their schoolfellows and by the masters. On this point I should like to quote a few words from a letter written to me by Captain Brooks on the 9th of this month; he says—I have known boys of more than doubtful character who have returned to London after leaving the school who have been received into the Navy.Therefore it would appear to me that while the Admiralty strain at a gnat, occasionally they swallow a camel. My Lords, the noble Lord opposite will no doubt tell your Lordships, as he has already informed me, that there are no less than 176 boys who were admitted into the Royal Navy from the eight industrial training ships during the year 1891. That makes the total exclusion of boys from Feltham and every other industrial school the more remarkable. One could understand if the noble Lord came down to this House and said: I do not choose to have any boy from an industrial school at all because he is tainted with crime. I should not agree with that. I do not think they are tainted with crime, and I hope the noble Lord will not say so; but that would be a consistent and logical course to pursue. But I find that 176 boys from these eight training ships constitute no less a proportion than about two-fifths of the whole number that enter the Navy from these industrial training ships in the course of the year. Therefore, while not one single boy from Feltham, as I have said, is taken into the Navy it would appear that almost one-half of the boys going to sea from industrial schools are received into the Royal Navy, and this 176 constitutes one quarter of the whole number of boys discharged in the course of the year from these eight ships. Consequently 1792 it is very apparent that what is called a very good character at Feltham, to satisfy the Admiralty, is a totally different thing from a very good character at any of these eight industrial training ships. And it would seem as if from these eight privileged ships almost every boy who satisfied the physical requirements of the Admiralty was admitted into the Navy without too great regard for his previous character. With regard to this question of the taint of crime, it is rather remarkable to read the Government Report on Reformatory and Industrial Schools for the year 1890, which is the last one at hand. In that Report it is laid down by the Government Inspector that in no less than three out of the eight privileged ships petty thefts are numerous. The same observation is not made with regard to Feltham. Therefore I imagine that in the opinion of Her Majesty's Inspector at all events the honesty of the boys at Feltham is superior to the honesty of the boys of three at any rate of the eight ships so greatly favoured by the Admiralty. My Lords I would ask your Lordships seriously to consider whether it is desirable to exclude absolutely every single boy from the Royal Navy who has ever been committed to an industrial school for crime; à fortiori is it desirable, if a boy has not been sent to an industrial school for crime, to investigate his antecedents from the age of seven years and upwards? Supposing a boy, under these present regulations, has been guilty of some petty boyish mischief, which comes under the category of "offences," perhaps at the age of eight, is that boy, because he happens at a later date to be committed to an industrial school, possibly for no offence at all, to be for ever debarred from serving in the Royal Navy? And I would remind your Lordships that when a boy is committed to an industrial school for an offence (and about half of them are) he must be under the age of twelve years. And I should have thought that a good character at an industrial school of from two to six years is vastly superior to, and shows much more what the boy is worth than an ordinary good character that a boy may get from an employer of whom perhaps the Admiralty does not know 1793 very much. I would mention now with regard to the serious offence of stealing that really these thefts are often of a very trifling character for which boys are committed to industrial schools. The most ordinary case of theft is that the boy steals a small sum of money from the family mantelpiece; and I am told, by persons who know what sort of people the parents of industrial school boys generally are: that in the majority of cases it is thought that the parents purposely put the money on the mantelpiece in order that the boy may steal it and may be sent to an industrial school, where he may obtain food and clothing lodging and education at the expense of the public for perhaps six years. My Lords it does seem to me that the great majority of these poor children in industrial schools are more sinned against that sinning. I would like to call attention to this fact: that no body of men, except the Admiralty, ever think of asking, when a boy is sent from an industrial school, what is his character before, but only what his character is at the school. The Army make no other inquiries—we have plenty of boys from Feltham now serving with credit in Her Majesty's regimental bands; and private employers make no such inquiries. Our boys are exceedingly popular with farmers in Wales and in Canada, and they are popular in the Mercantile Service; they are popular with every kind of employer; and the only question that we are asked is whether or not a boy has behaved himself at the school. My Lords I do hope I shall hear from the noble Lord opposite that the Admiralty will do something to remove these restrictions, which are really prohibitions, in the way of boys from industrial schools entering the Navy,—restrictions which no other body of men think of putting upon these boys, restrictions which avowedly exclude three-fourths of them from serving in the Navy, and which, in point of fact, as they are interpreted by the Admiralty, absolutely and rigidly exclude every boy from the industrial school at Feltham, or any industrial school except these eight privileged training ships, from serving 1794 his country afloat under the Flag of England.
§ LORD NORTON
My Lords, I shall be glad to say a few words upon what has just fallen from the noble Lord opposite in defence of the industrial schools generally. It seems by the Regulations of the Admiralty that boys who come from industrial schools are not admissible as ships' boys on board Her Majesty's ships except on conditions different from those on which other boys are admitted. Now the question is whether in common sense, or in the interest of the country, there should be any such exceptional treatment of boys coming from industrial schools. Supposing for instance a boy comes from an industrial school with a character, such as the noble Lord opposite described, a six years' good character, well educated as he is sure to be at a school of that sort, and of good physique; why should he not be admissible on a par with other boys equally qualified? As to the school, what is there in an industrial school to disqualify him in itself? Boys trained in industrial schools, whether they are trained in schools afloat or on shore where ships are placed ashore for training them, are trained as ships' boys for the Navy admirably. The general education of the industrial schools is as good as that of any of our national schools throughout the Kingdom,—better in many respects as to boarding and lodging and care taken of the children: and they are the only technical schools at this moment practically in the Kingdom for that class of children. And certainly is it not common sense that if the public undertake in loco parentis the education of such children they should at least have the advantage of the training which they are giving at enormous expense? As to the boys, what disqualifies them,—are they a degraded class? They are not criminals, and surely your Lordships will not say there is any degradation in poverty or destitution. The parents may be criminal by neglect,—we may be criminal as legislators in not having prevented or checked such neglect. But as to the children there is no 1795 special sin that they are guilty of in being so grievously sinned against. I do not think these are quite the times to treat poverty as a matter of degradation. It is against the whole feeling of the country at this moment, which is exactly the other way: to treat favourably the poor and the destitute. The labour question is the topic of the day, and I do not think it will be a credit to any Government Department to exhibit a prejudice against poverty. I believe that the real cause of such a regulation in a Government Department, whether the Admiralty or the War Office, is that this country has not yet got quite out of the mistaken notion of penal education for what are called the waifs and strays of society, who are looked upon, if not as criminals, as a quasi-criminal class. But the double mischief of so treating them is in the first place that you do degrade them in their own estimation; by treating them as a separate class you lead the children to consider themselves for life as belonging to a class that is looked down upon; you break their spirit; and, in the second place, you prevent employers from giving them the very industry for which you are training them. I believe that amongst the industrial school boys, taken in comparison with other boys in general, these are the very fittest boys to be employed as ships' boys; they are, in fact, the survivors of families the rest of whom have died from excessive neglect; they are the toughest and hardest who survive that treatment; they are the sharpest, for they have been thrown earliest upon their own wits. I have myself on the sly, against the Regulations, sent some of these boys to Her Majesty's ships, and I have got the thanks of the captains for sending them the best boys they have, and a request that I would send as many more as I possibly can. I fully support all that has been said by the noble Lord opposite, and I do hope that the Admiralty will get rid of the stigma that I think rests upon them by stigmatising these boys by any exceptional treatment whatsoever. Although I believe they do admit a good many of these boys, yet I say they admit them upon exceptional terms which they had better get rid of 1796 before they incur the reflection which I am sure the country will lay upon them for such a prejudice. There is no reason why both the Army and the Navy should not take lads from industrial schools on a par with other boys, equally qualified with them.
My Lords, I am very glad that my noble Friend has brought forward this subject. In the speech that he made he referred to the Industrial Schools Report for 1890. My Lords, I have taken the trouble to work out some figures as regards what has become of the various boys at these schools, and with your Lordships' permission I will quote very shortly two or three of the cases. In regard to the training ship Clio 89.7 per cent. of the boys who left that school are reported to be doing well,—the officers of these ships are in touch with them—and only 2 per cent. have been convicted again; in the case of the Wellesley 84.2 per cent. are doing well and 6.2 have been re-convicted; in the case of the ship Shaftesbury 69.2 per cent. are doing well and only 2 per cent. have been convicted again. The improvement as regards the ship Shaftesbury is still more to be noted in the last Report; at present 76.6 per cent. are doing very well. I submit, my Lords, that the action of the Admiralty interferes very materially with a very useful work that is being done. And I should also like to invite the attention of the House to the fact that 67 per cent. of the boys from the Exmouth went last year into the Navy. I hope your Lordships will hear a favourable reply from the noble Lord in charge, because I believe the permission that was given some time ago to send boys from the Shaftesbnry has within this year been withdrawn.
§ LORD ELPHINSTONE
My Lords, the noble Lord (Lord Monkswell) seems to find great fault with our rules and regulations for the admission of boys from industrial schools; but I think that I should have no difficulty in showing to your Lordships how absolutely necessary it is that we should exercise the greatest care, and insist upon the most stringent regulations, in the selection of boys for the Navy. No one more than myself regrets the absence of the latest 1797 addition to your Lordships' House. Admiral Lord Hood is unable to be here to support me to-day, having had an accident; but he writes to me strongly expressing his opinion against the admission of boys from industrial schools; and I may add that his opinion is supported by every naval officer with whom I have had an opportunity of discussing the question since. I think your Lordships will admit that naval officers are perhaps the best judges of who are the best people to have in the Navy. Now I do not think these discussions are always very desirable; I think sometimes they are very mischievous; but I confess I do not regret that this question has been brought up, because it gives me an opportunity of pointing out, not only to your Lordships inside this House, but to others outside the House, the inducements that we hold out to boys to enter the Navy, and the great advantages they obtain after having done so. But, my Lords, I think that is a more important question than would perhaps appear by simply reading the Notice on the Notice Paper, for, in reality it strikes at the very root of the whole question of manning the Navy. With regard to entering our boys (I am speaking generally now, not of industrial schools specially) it is a sine quâ non that every boy before being admitted must bring satisfactory testimonials as to character. We admit boys in the first place from what I may term the general market, about which I will say a few words hereafter. In the next place we take boys from mercantile training ships who are admitted between the ages of 15 and 16½ without restriction, provided they come up to our standard of measurement. But if any of these boys pass a special examination in gunnery (and gunnery instructors are provided by the Admiralty) they are admitted as boys of the first class, and the establishment from which they are taken receives a gratuity of £25 apiece. During the last twelve months we have admitted from these mercantile training ships 158 boys, one of whom has earned for his ship, the Exmouth, the gratuity of £25, and has been admitted as a boy of the first class. I come now, my Lords, to the industrial schools. These boys are drawn from 1798 an entirely different class of society from those in the mercantile training ships; and, in order to show you what I mean, I will recall to your recollection the wording of the Industrial Schools Act which will show you more than anything else the class from which these boys are taken. This is the Industrial Schools Act of 1866. Any person may bring before two Justices of the Peace of Her Majesty any child found begging or wandering and not having any home or visible means of subsistence, or that is found destitute, either being an orphan, or having a parent undergoing penal servitude or imprisonment, or, that frequents the company of thieves; if under twelve years of age a child charged with an offence punishable by imprisonment, but has not been convicted of felony, or in Scotland of theft, may be sent to an industrial school; if under 14 years of age, and the parents are unable to control the child he may be sent to an industrial school; if under 14 years of age and maintained in a workhouse or pauper school, and is refractory, he may be sent to an industrial school. Then we come to the Amendment Act of 1880. Children who are growing up in the society of depraved and disorderly persons, living or residing with prostitutes, or frequenting their company, may be sent to an industrial school. Again any child of a woman, convicted of crime, under the age of 14, who has no visible means of subsistence, and is without proper guardianship, shall be deemed to be a child to whom the Industrial Schools Act should apply. Now, my Lords, I do not mean to imply for one moment that every one of these boys necessarily is vicious, but what I do insist upon is that every one of them is drawn from what I may term a tainted atmosphere. A boy up to the age of twelve or 14 who has lived in the society of prostitutes and thieves, according to the wording of the Act, is at the most impressionable age, and I maintain that he must be impregnated with the early ideas that he picks up. However, my Lords, we do admit boys from these industrial sehools, but under exceptional circumstances; and the regulations which the noble Lord thinks are too stringent, but which I 1799 would rather call safeguards, are very simple, and I think they will commend themselves to every one of your Lordships. A boy must produce a certificate of birth; the superintendent of the industrial school must submit his application to the Inspecting Captain with a recommendation that the boy is in all respects a desirable lad for the Navy, and that he has borne a very good character on his ship; he must forward the document that accompanies the boy on his committal, and must also forward the report of the police as to the boy's antecedents. If the Inspecting Captain is satisfied, he forwards the application to the Admiralty for their approval. Gunnery instructors provided in most of these ships, and if any boy passes the special examination he receives a gratuity of £25. Out of the 18 boys that we have taken in the last twelve months from industrial schools, two have passed the special examination and have earned for their ships, the Southampton and the Mount Edgcombe, the gratuity of £25–18 may be said not to be a very large number, but it must be borne in mind that, although a boy may be well recommended and may come up to our standard of measurement, it by no means follows that he is a desirable lad for the Navy. As a matter of fact very few are physically fit for the Navy, owing to the want of early feeding and being well nurtured as children. They are not calculated to stand the wear and tear, and exposure to constant change of climate, and the general vicissitudes incidental to or inseparable from the life of a sailor. Then the noble Lord referred to the number of boys specially from Feltham. There is no distinction made between Feltham and any other industrial school. Boys from industrial schools are all upon the same footing—industrial school ships and industrial schools on shore—with this difference, only that in several of the industrial school ships—not all—the Admiralty provide a gunnery instructor, which we do not provide in any of the schools on shore, and therefore no boy from any one of those schools can possibly earn the £25. But my Lords it is not our fault that we have had no boys from Feltham. The training ships are open to those boys as to boys 1800 from any other industrial school. Then the noble Lord says that two-fifths of the boys who go to sea from industrial schools go into the Navy.
Perhaps I might explain that I took what the noble Lord told me about it some days ago. I understood the noble Lord to say that out of eight industrial training ships 176 boys had been admitted last year to the Navy. It seems I was in error. I ought to have said 176 from all kinds of training ships.
§ LORD ELPHINSTONE
It is quite right—I fear I led the noble Lord into error—18 came from industrial schools and 158 from other ships and one from one of the schools on shore, that I have not mentioned,—the Paisley I think it was—at any rate the noble Lord says several of them go to sea. I really think the noble Lord must be misinformed—I cannot understand how it is possible. If he means that boys go into our training ships, they can only do so by fraud, and, if they are able to get into our training ships by fraud, I think it only shows that our Regulations, instead of being too stringent, are really not stringent enough. If the noble Lord will give me any authenticated case I will promise him to inquire into it. That reminds me of what happened a few years ago at Portsmouth. A gallant Admiral on full pay there reported to the Admiralty that a good many boys were being admitted to our training ships from industrial schools who ought not to be; the Admiralty wrote back desiring this officer to send them an authenticated case for inquiry; they heard no more about it. But my Lords I do not think it possible, for this reason: that a boy cannot leave an industrial school without the authority of the Secretary of State for the Home Department; he cannot go into the Navy until he is 18, unless he goes through our training ships, and on the training ships the investigations are very severe; but at 18 he can go into the Navy. He must leave the industrial school at 16, so he must be two years in some employment before he is 18, and after he is that age there is no reason why he should not enter the Navy. But until the last three months we have entered no men whatever as seamen 1801 in the Navy; and what I think must be running in the noble Lords head is this: that we are entering a good many stokers at the age of 18, and a very good class of men, under an entirely new system; and that is the only explanation I can make of the noble Lord's view. But there is another view which may be taken of this matter which is purely a commercial view. Every boy, before he is put on board a seagoing ship, has cost the country £250; so that we are bound, for that reason if for no other, to exercise the greatest care in the selection of our boys. I do not know why we should be anxious to take these boys. We have no difficulty in getting boys; we are entering boys at the rate of 300 a month at present, of a most respectable class. We have got the pick of the whole country. Why should we go to industrial schools for our boys? Were we to relax our rules it would have a most prejudicial effect upon the Service generally. It is of the utmost importance that we should do everything in our power to maintain the high standard of character that now exists in the Navy among our seamen. We have gone to great expense in raising the tone of the men throughout the Service generally; and it would be a retrogade step were we to take boys from these industrial schools; because parents who now gladly send their boys to sea would scout the idea, if they thought they were to be indiscriminately mixed up with boys from industrial schools. My Lords, I said I would point out some of the advantages that a boy obtains by going to sea. In the first place, a boy between the ages of 15 and 16½ is entered on board one of our training ships; he immediately gets £6 credit for clothing and bedding; he gets 6d. a day pay, if he gets a good conduct badge he is entitled to 3d. a week extra; after nine months, he should be able to pass as a boy of the first class, when he gets 7d. a day and an additional clothing allowance of £2 10s.; at 18 he becomes an ordinary seaman when he gets in addition to his provisions 1s. 3d. a day clear—I need not follow him beyond that because he passes from the boy class to that of a man. At 18 he is bound to 1802 serve continuously for twelve years. These boys are able to send to their homes from 6s. to 8s. a month savings out of their pay; and really they are the best recruiting officers we have. They have seven weeks' leave in the year; they go home well fed, clean, with money in their pockets; and no wonder other boys follow in their footsteps. I do not know whether the noble Lord has ever been on board one of our training ships,—if not I would suggest his going on board the St. Vincent at Portsmouth where he will see 916 boys undergoing training and instruction. And what does he suppose is the average weekly punishment on board that ship among those 916 boys? Five, and all for trivial offences. Now I ask him would that be the case if we took his boys from industrial schools? Five punishments alone for criminal cases with 916 boys! My Lords, instead of giving greater facilities for these boys, I trust that no Admiralty will ever commit the fatal mistake of relaxing, in the slightest degree, the rules for the admission of those who are to become the men to whom the country will look to maintain the traditions of the Navy and to uphold the honour of our Flag.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords with regard to up-holding the honour of the Navy I should suppose there cannot be the smallest difference of opinion amongst any of your Lordships. Everyone would desire that those who enter the Navy should be thoroughly qualified, both by character and by physical power and in every other way. But when the noble Lord who has just spoken invites my noble Friend behind me to go to a training ship in order to see what advantages the boys there enjoy, I think he rather forgets that that would strengthen, not weaken, the argument of my noble Friend; because the greater the advantages those boys enjoy on industrial ships, the greater must be the hardship, if hardship there be, in depriving boys from industrial schools of participation in those advantages. But the noble Lord made another remark which I entirely differ from,—that the employment of these boys from industrial schools is not a matter of public interest. 1803 To me it seems that it is a matter of very serious public interest.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
If the noble Lord does not agree to his having said so I put it merely as a supposition.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
I entirely accept what the noble Lord says; but I certainly understood him to say that he did not see why we should employ these boys in the Navy, and that it was not a matter of public interest to employ them. I will not pursue the matter in the face of the noble Lord; but what I do wish to say, apart from anything the noble Lord said, is that I think it is a matter of great public interest that these boys should be found suitable employment where it is compatible with other parts of the public interest, even if we are to take the mere economical argument that we have spent a considerable amount of public money in educating these boys. But I do not by any means lay much stress upon the mere pecuniary argument. There is a much stronger one. What do we send these boys to industrial training ships for? In order to draw them out of the class in which they were unfortunately before, out of the position in which they most unfortunately find themselves, and to educate them in such a way that they may become useful and valuable members of the State. With regard to the Navy, as I said before, I should be the last person to advocate for one moment that there should be any boys engaged in the Navy who were not fit boys; but I cannot help saying that the Regulations, as I understand them, are such as must practically exclude a very large number of deserving boys in these industrial schools from being employed in the Navy; because the noble Lord laid great stress upon the antecedents of those boys. Now it is probably certain that the antecedents of boys sent to industrial schools at an early age will not be the antecedents of boys who have not found themselves in the same unfortunate position; but what seems to me is that if your industrial 1804 schools are a success (and I believe they have been a very great success) there must be, and I believe there are, a very considerable number of boys trained in those schools who, notwithstanding their antecedents, are as fit for any employment as any boys to be found in Her Majesty's dominions; and all we claim is that the Admiralty taking so wide an objection to these boys on the grounds of antecedents lays too much stress on antecedents and not sufficient stress upon the training that these boys receive. The whole point is not what have been the antecedents of the boys, but what these boys are when they leave the industrial schools. If you cannot trust the managers of industrial schools to give a proper character to these boys, I say there ought to be other managers; and I agree that the Admiralty should scrutinise in the most careful and rigid manner the character of these boys. But on the other hand I do feel that it is a matter really of public interest that poor boys leaving these industrial schools, who, notwithstanding the character they may have had as little boys before, have shown that they are thoroughly reformed at those schools and are fit persons to be employed in places of trust, should not be excluded from the honourable service of Her Majesty's Navy. They are employed in the Army; they are employed in the Mercantile Marine; they are employed largely by private employers; and I cannot help thinking that the course taken by the Admiralty is due to the prejudice which evidently exists amongst naval officers. I gather that entirely from what the noble Lord said of the unanimity of naval officers; because absolute unanimity seems to me to be impossible otherwise. And I hope therefore that the Admiralty, whilst maintaining their rigid examination into the character of these boys, will so far relax their strong view as to their antecedents that they will not be averse to taking boys whose antecedents may have been bad, but who have proved themselves at the school during their training to be thoroughly reformed characters and fit now to be employed, whether in the Navy or in any other Service for which they may be selected.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Viscount CRANBROOK)
My Lords I rise to say a very few words upon this subject; but it seems to me that the noble Earl has forgotten what my noble Friend said,—and which is a very important point, that the boys of most respectable parents are crowding into the Service, so that you must displace them in order to admit a certain number of boys from industrial schools,—that really is the point. They are getting 300 a month I understand my noble Friend to say. And can anybody say that these terms imposed by the Admiralty are in themselves objectionable?
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
The Regulations say that the superintendent of the industrial school must submit his application to the inspecting captain, recommending the boy in all respects as a desirable lad for the Navy, as having borne a very good character in his ship; he must forward the document, and so on. I am sure the noble Earl did not object to that.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
My Lords what fell from the noble Lord who introduced this question was a very different thing. In the first place taking the school that he partly adverted to, Feltham, he quite admitted that the great majority of boys there were wholly unfit for the navy.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBROOK
Therefore there can be only a small selection of ten or twelve out of, I forget how many, in the school who go out every year. But if so can you wonder that, if the school itself feels that the great mass of those from want of education, bad feeding and other causes are not physically or otherwise competent to take their places in the Navy, a very strict rule should be laid down by the Navy itself? I agree with the noble Earl that we ought in all ways, as fairly as we can, to facilitate the re-introduction into society of those who have been excluded from it. Let me only say one word upon the old theory of my noble Friend behind me (Lord Norton) about this penal education. As long as you shut up boys who 1806 cannot go out except with permission of the Home Secretary or the police, they are under police legislation, and no calling it by any other name will make it better. That penal education will have an effect upon people's minds; that is to say, a boy educated at home or in a good school, and well taught, and who has kept good company, will always be looked upon as better than those who are under penal education. But I quite agree that both with prisoners,—going much further than this,—and with these boys everything should be done to re-habilitate them and bring them back to good society, only not to the prejudice of that good society.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Earl BROWNLOW)
My Lords, I should not have risen to take part in this discussion, but for a sentence that fell from the noble Lord behind me (Lord Norton) of which I ought to take some notice. He mentioned Regulations made, whether by the Admiralty or by the War Office. I can only say that I have looked through the Queen's Regulations carefully and I have asked the Inspector General of Recruiting, and I find that there is not a single word, either in the Queen's Regulations or in the Regulations for recruiting, which would prevent a boy being taken from an industrial school. We have a rule which I think your Lordships will agree is a proper rule, that the sons of soldiers should always be given the preference; but as long as boys have the proper qualifications of character and physique there is nothing in the Queen's Regulations or the Recruiting Regulations to prevent boys being taken from industrial schools.
§ THE EARL OF RAVENSWORTH
My Lords, whatever the result of this conversation may be, and whatever effect the speeches that we have heard may have upon the minds of noble Lords, at least I am sure that it has had this very good effect, in that it has elicited from the noble Lord representing the Admiralty, very explicitly, and I think your Lordships will say most satisfactorily, a defence of the present system of entry into the Navy. The noble Lord who spoke a short time ago (Earl of Kimberley) said why cannot 1807 you trust the managers of these industrial schools to select proper boys for the Navy? In answer to that I would say why cannot you trust the Naval advisers of the Admiralty to make their own Regulations? I think it was said that those Regulations were unjustly strict. Surely the Admiralty are the best judges of that matter. And when you find a system working so admirably, for I believe the system of training boys for the Navy leaves at the present time nothing to desire,—I would say why not leave well alone? Why ask that these restrictions should be bent in this direction or that? The Admiralty are particularly asked to bend these restrictions in favour of Feltham. I believe Feltham to be one of the finest charities of this country; but if they find a difficulty in disposing of their boys, all I can say is that it is not the case with other industrial schools in this country. I am acquainted and intimately associated with one that has no such difficulty, and I do not see why the Admiralty should be asked to bend their rules in favour of any particular establishment; because if you do that you must bend them in favour of all. But I object my Lords to render more lax the Regulations for boys entering into the Navy, because in the first place it is not necessary; as you hear from the noble Lord below me who speaks for the Admiralty, they have more boys at the present moment than they want, coming in at the rate of 300 a month. But, my Lords, I would wish to point out one thing that weighs very much indeed in my mind in this matter. If these Regulations are unjust I would ask noble Lords to look a little further and see whether we have not gone as far as philanthropy and Christian feeling ought to go in securing the welfare of this class of society. I think we have gone to the extreme limit.
§ The EARL OF RAVENSWORTH
The lowest class of society I am speaking of; because my Lords there does underlie the whole system of our industrial schools this palpable injustice: that you are doing for the children of ill-conditioned, careless, dissolute parents far more than you can hope to do for the children of honest parents; and to 1808 go beyond the present limit would I think be the height of injustice on that account. Take the case we will say of an honest old sailor in a seaport town who has been in the Queen's Service all his life and whose ambition is to put his son into the same Service. Through our industrial school system you rescue from the slums of the seaport town a poor little fellow lying in the gutter, perhaps driven by cruelty out of his home. But you cannot separate the river from its fountain head; he may redeem his own character by his own good conduct. You stand between those two great difficulties and have chosen the less—and I have not a word to say against the rescue system; it is working admirably well, and it is an honour to the country that it should work so well. But I say you have gone far enough, and that you could never satisfy the mind of an honest parent that you are not doing for the bad parent,—it may be his next-door neighbour,—what you do not do for the well-conducted parent. That is the principle that lies at the bottom of the whole of this question. And if the Admiralty, as the guardians of the Navy, prefer to make their Regulations so strict as at any rate to exclude anything like a contaminating element from the boys of the Royal Navy, I cannot but think the Admiralty are far the best judges of what they want. It would be a very strange thing, my Lords, if a noble Lord were to come down to this House and say that he had very strong objections to the Regulations of the Commander-in-Chief or the Adjutant General as to the height of a recruit, or the breadth of his shoulders. And surely we can respect the rigid necessity if you like to call it so, I believe they are the right principles of the guardians of the Navy in this matter; and I believe it would be to the injury of the Naval Service of this country if we were to extend the system further than the Regulations now go. Therefore my Lords I deprecate any steps being taken in the matter which has not the cordial assent and approval of the Admiralty.