HC Deb 09 February 1915 vol 69 cc413-5W

asked the President of the Board of Education whether, in laying upon the Table information as to the employment of children of school age since the commencement of the War, he will, so far as he can, do so on the following lines: a Return of the number of boys and girls, respectively, between the ages of eleven and twelve, and twelve and thirteen, thirteen and fourteen, respectively, on the partial exemption registers of schools in the areas of the several local education authorities in England and Wales during the six months ended 31st January, 1914, and the same period for 1914–15, distinguishing between those exempted under the Factory Acts and those exempted under the Education Acts, and sub-dividing the latter as between agriculture and other heads of exemption; a Return showing what effect the War has had on the number of boys and girls in each area who being legally under obligation to attend school have not been so in attendance; a Return of any resolution passed by local authorities since 4th August, 1914, in relation to the exemption from attendance at school of children not legally entitled to exemption; particulars of the employment and wages of such children legally or illegally absent from school, and any information available as to the dearth of ordinary labour necessitating such employment?


I am about to issue a circular to local education authorities asking for all available information with regard to children who have been excused from whole-time school attendance for the purpose of entering employment, and when I receive it I will endeavour to grant a Return in such a way as to throw light upon some, if not all, the points in which the hon. Member is interested. As regards information relating to the dearth of ordinary labour, the matter is rather one for the Board of Agriculture or the Board of Trade than for the Board of Education. If a Return were to include partial exemption scholars, I am doubtful whether such additional light would be thrown on the problem as to justify the trouble and expense involved. I am, however, asking for information which perhaps may enable me to include in the Return the exemptions granted for agricultural employment under the by-law made under the Elementary Education (School Attendance) Act, 1893, Amendment Act, 1899, known as "Robson's" Act, for the two periods named in the question.