asked the Vice President of the Council, Whether his attention has been called to a case recently before the Guildford County Magistrates, in which a labourer named Bulchin was prosecuted for neglecting to send to school his daughter (described as an exceptionally neat and cleanly girl of six years of age), and in which it appeared that he had sent her, but that she was not allowed to attend because she had a small ornamental flounce or fringe to her frock to which the manager of the school objected; whether the accused was ordered by the Court to either remove the flounce or send his child to another school; and, whether it is true, as stated, that the Education Department had been appealed to, but replied that it had no power to interfere; and, if so, whether, while amending, as he proposes, the Scotch Education Act, he will endeavour to obtain powers to prevent the waste of State grants on schools regulated in such a way as to offer unnecessary impediments to public education?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
My attention had not been called to the case in question until the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow placed his Notice on the Paper. The rule of the Department is not to interfere with regulations which the managers deem necessary to secure the discipline of the school. If these regulations were harsh and unreasonable, and imposed obstacles to school attendance, we should require their abandonment on pain of forfeiture of annual grant. In this instance, judging from the reports in the papers and the decision of the magistrates, the managers have pushed their requirements beyond reasonable limits. I think it is much wiser to trust to the influence of the teacher to secure neatness and plainness in dress than to set up arbitrary regulations on the subject. The exclusion of the child from the school, and the subsequent prosecution, were, in my opinion, a mistake; and I have caused the managers to be so informed.