HL Deb 20 April 1893 vol 11 cc729-32

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


My Lords, the Bill to which I ask your Lordships to give a Second Reading is a very simple one, and one to which I do not think there can possibly be any objection. It will, if passed, make the law in regard to Industrial Schools in Scot-land have, for all practical purposes, the same effect as is the case with the English law at the present time. The Governing Act for both countries was passed in 1866; but the Act, as far as it relates to England, was amended in 1876 by an Act amending the Education Act, passed at the instance of Lord Harrowby, then Vice President of the Council. The effect of this Bill is to give the Secretary of State for the Home Department power to certify institutions as Day Industrial Schools in the same way that he now certifies those institutions as Industrial Schools; and it also gives the Secretary of State for the Home Department the power to make regulations governing the internal administration of those institutions. Institutions on exactly the same lines as those it is proposed to establish under this Bill in other parts of Scotland are at present in operation in the City of Glasgow, under a special Act which refers to Glasgow alone, passed some years ago, and known as the Juvenile Delinquency Act; and I can assure your Lordships that it has worked very satisfactorily, and that the institutions established under it have done a great deal of good. This Bill has passed through the other House of Parliament, and during its passage through that other House it has been amended in a way which, I believe, brings it into conformity with the views entertained at the Home Office on the subject. There are one or two minor matters which I shall have to bring before your Lordships at a subsequent stage, and into which I will not go now, in respect of which this Hill requires further amendment. There is, however, one matter of sufficient importance to require notice at the present time. In the 5th sub-section of the 3rd clause of the Bill, at the end, there are six or seven lines which bring the Parochial Board as well as the School Board into the administration of the Act, though only to a very small extent; in fact, to this extent—that if a child is sent to an Industrial School under the Order of the Court, and the parent is unable to pay the contribution which the Court thinks he should pay according to his circumstances, the School Board is to enforce the order, and the parent, if unable from poverty to pay the sum required, may apply to the Parochial Board for payment of that sum. It has been thought by some unnecessary to bring in a second body, the Parochial Board as well as the School Board, for such a small purpose. I was not at first inclined to accede to that view. I thought that when you begin to feed children it is trenching dangerously on the province of the Poor Law, and that it would be bettor that the Parochial Board should judge of the capability and fitness of the parents to pay. But I am aware that when a provision was inserted in the Act of 1872, which referred certain matters to Parochial Boards, a good deal of friction arose between the two Boards, sometimes even amounting to the scandal of litigation—two Boards representing the same body of ratepayers. It seems to me that, is a danger which great care should be taken to avoid; but I felt so strongly that it was unwise to trench on the province of the Parochial Board without good reason, that I thought it-right to consult the Home Office and the present Lord Advocate on the matter, and also the Board of Supervision, and I believe the unanimous desire of those three authorities is that those words in Sub-section 5 of Clause 3 should be dropped when the Bill comes before your Lordships in the Committee stage. If your Lordships will be good enough to pass the Second Reading now I will make an Amendment in the Committee stage to delete those words from the Bill. I bog to move that the Bill be read a second time.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Half our.)


wished very much that the Bill might lie extended to England. He did not see any reason why legislation of this sort should he confined to Scotland. Another similar measure—the Reformatory Schools (Scotland) Bill—had passed through the other House, and would soon be introduced before their Lordships; and he had placed a Notice on the Paper to ask the Government whether they were intending to deal with this subject of Reformatory and Industrial Schools for England this Session? They had had Bills for consolidating the many Acts on the subject before both Houses of Parliament for three years, and he could see no excuse except the pressure of measures which blocked all others why those Bills, three times introduced, and to which there was hardly any opposition, should be delayed for another year. On many points a clearing of the law would be of great importance. It would afford an enormous saving to the Treasury, and it would prevent great abuses. Lord Balfour had discussed the advisability of mixing up the Parochial Boards with these Industrial Schools. The Scotch people had had the wisdom to transfer the charge of their Pauper Schools and the Industrial Schools to the Treasury. Both Industrial and Reformatory Schools very much required a revision of the law, both for the protection of the taxpaying public and for the moral incidents of the schools themselves, improvements which were necessary equally for England and Scot-land. He would be glad to know whether the Government had any intention to deal with the whole subject for England as well as for Scotland by the Bills which had been pending for the last three years?


said, in answer to Lord Norton, that this was not a Government measure; and if that noble Lord wished to bring in a similar measure for England, no doubt the Government would be equally glad to accept it as they had accepted the Bill before the House. He was instructed by the Government to say that though they were quite willing to accept this Bill they would have certain Amendments to propose when it came before the House in Committee of the same character as those in the Reformatory Schools (Scotland) Bill, in reference to the necessity of having two bailies instead of one for the purpose of sending a boy to a Reformatory School. There was nothing else in the Bill which the Government objected to, and when it was brought forward in Committee he hoped the House would accept the Amendments.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.