§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I said something on the subject of this Bill Yesterday when I asked your Lordships to be good enough to give it a First Reading. I hope, with the concurrence of the House, to get it through its other Readings this afternoon in order that it may receive the Royal Assent without delay. As I said yesterday, I am quite sure that the provisions of the Bill will be of the greatest value in so far as they will allow local authorities to proceed in the direction of feeding school children, such school children, especially, as will he in distress during the next few weeks. The Bill is only an extension of the provisions of the Education (Provision of Meals) Act, 1906. That Act laid down four conditions with regard to the provision of meals. First, the authorities must resolve that the children who receive the meals are unable, by reason of lack of food, to take advantage of education; secondly, they must ascertain either that public funds are not available or that the funds are insufficient for the purpose; thirdly, they must get the sanction of the Board of Education; and, fourthly, they were given a limit of a rate of a halfpenny in the £ above which they might not spend any money on this object, and in the case of a county council the rate must not be more than a half-penny in the £ over the areas in which the meals were provided.
The first and second conditions are not interfered with, but this Bill abolishes the third and fourth conditions. Those of your Lordships who take an interest in this matter will remember that at the time the Act of 1906 was introduced it was largely looked upon as an experimental measure, but now that the experience of the authorities has shown the value of this provision I venture to think that this Bill will receive very nearly unanimous support in the country. In 1912–13 there were 122 out of 256 urban authorities providing meals under the Act. The proportion of county councils, of course, was naturally smaller; there were only 12 out of 66. Of the authorities which I mention two counties and 22 towns only were providing meals from voluntary sources; in all the other cases they came from the rates. This Bill gives power to local education authorities 429 to feed children during holidays, on Saturdays, and on Sundays; and it is that provision of which we expect advantage will specially be taken by local authorities during the next few weeks. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2ª.—(Earl Beauchamp.)
§ VISCOUNT ST. ALDWYN
My Lords, I am very glad that His Majesty's Government have brought in this Bill, because only the other day the local education authority in my county, with which the noble Earl also is connected, felt themselves obliged, in the case of the children of certain miners belonging to some collieries which were closed, to agree, contrary to the law, to feed the children during the holidays. This Bill restores us to the position of law-abiding citizens, in which we are very glad to remain.
§ On Question, Bill read 2ª.
§ Committee negatived: Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Bill read 3ª, and passed.