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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 Mr John Baird Mr John Baird , Rugby

It has hitherto applied. The industrial and reformatory schools which have hitherto been under the Home Office will be handed over to the Scottish Office on the 1st April, and I have no reason to anticipate that my right hon. Friend will act in any other way than to leave well alone. If he finds, as I think he will find, that on the whole the system is working well and showing undoubted improvement, I have no reason to suppose that my right hon. Friend will disturb that system. With regard to the experiment to which the hon. and gallant Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) referred, obviously if all this work could be done for nothing it would be an advantage to the taxpayer. The school he mentioned was a very interesting experiment, but I am afraid that, although the experience gained is extremely useful, it is not of a nature that would render the system applicable, or, at any rate, possible to substitute for the system now in force. As regards the increased number about which the hon. and gallant Member (Major Barnes) asked, there is nothing abnormal in that; they fluctuate and they vary. Perhaps it is due to the fact that children's courts have been developed in different parts of the country, and children—for they are little more than that, after all—who previously might have been dealt with differently are now sent to industrial schools. I can say, from first-hand experience; the education that they receive there is in a great number of cases perfectly admirable, and children who would get a poor chance, through no fault of their own, but owing to the environment in which they have, unfortunately, to grow up, and who have to go through these industrial schools for some little offence, such as our own children commit without being punished, so far from being penalised, it is very often the best thing that could have happened to them. I think the House will agree that, so long as schools are run on those lines, they are rendering great service to the country They depend on voluntary contributions, on the local authorities, and increasingly, as they must., on the contributions which this House votes. So long as they continue to do the work, which any hon. Member can satisfy himself they are doing—and we welcome the visit of any hon. Member who wishes to see for himself—I think we can be satisfied that the money is well spent. I regret that, not having had warning, I am unable to answer in detail the question which my hon. Friend (Mr. A. Shaw) put. If he will allow me to do so afterwards, I will, of course, have the greatest possible pleasure in doing so. I am not familiar with the particular school to which he refers, and therefore I cannot give him the detailed answer to which he would certainly be entitled