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Navy Supplementary Estimate, 1919–20.

Part of Orders of the Day — Civil Services and Revenue Departments and Navy Supplementary Estimates, 1919–1920. – in the House of Commons on 17th March 1920.

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Photo of Hon. Alexander Shaw Hon. Alexander Shaw , Kilmarnock

The Estimate covers the cost of industrial schools, and the additional sum required under that heading is no less than £24,250. I am glad to see the Secretary for Scotland is present, and I must apologise to him for my remissness in not having given him notice of the point I wish to raise, but I know it has been familiar to him for some time. In the chief burgh which I have the honour to represent, there has been for many years past an extremely efficiently run industrial school, and that school is managed by a board of eminent citizens of Kilmarnock, and has been from year to year reported on most favourably by Government inspectors. It is an old building with very historic associations, and it was visited some time ago by a new inspector, who, unlike his predecessors, reported unfavourably, his unfavourable report being based on the ancient character of the building, and partly upon the fact that there was not within the confines of the grounds sufficient space for recreation by the boys. That report has been the subject of a good deal of comment and a very great deal of heartburning and dissatisfaction by those who have rendered eminent public service to Kilmarnock and the county of Ayr in making that institution so successful in the past. The point made by the inspector, that there was not sufficient ground for the boys to play on is sufficiently disposed of by this fact, that almost exactly opposite the institution there is a very large public park, extending for many acres, to which these boys have full access.

I myself had the privilege of being conducted round the institution, and I made a very close investigation into all the arrangements, and I was struck by the energy and ability with which the institution was managed, and by the bright and intelligent appearance of the boys. That institution has rendered signally excellent service during a long period of years, and the question which I wish to put to my right hon. Friend is this. Why is that institution to be closed and scrapped at a time when the financial stringency of the country is greater than ever before? Surely this is a time when we ought to be getting along with the existing institutions which we have, provided they are reasonably efficient, and this institution, with its excellent management and long record of satisfactory reports by Government inspectors, is to be scrapped on the strength of a single adverse recommendation by an entirely new man. I know my right hon. Friend is in sympathy with the splendid work done by the managers in the past, and I should be obliged if he could give to the House an adequate explanation of a course which appears to involve a very great and very unnecessary expenditure of public money.