§ MR. J. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
On behalf of the hon. Member for South Birmingham (Mr. Powell Williams), I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the recent outbreak at Woodbury Hill Reformatory; whether he is aware that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children undertook the defence of the boys who were summoned before the Magistrates; that the schoolmaster of the reformatory admitted that the boys had been kept in a schoolroom from morning till night during the recent severe weather without fire; that some boys were punished by being confined in a cell six feet square, constructed like a shed outside the building, without means of warmth and without bedding, and that when so confined they were without shoes or stockings; whether he is also aware that the reformatory is an old farmhouse with defects of construction such as make it very cold in severe weather; and whether he will cause an inquiry to be made into the whole of the circumstances of the outbreak, and into any cause of complaint which the inmates of the reformatory may have ground to make?
§ MR. H. H. ASQUITH
Yes, Sir; my attention was called to the outbreak at the Woodbury Hill Reformatory, and immediate inquiry was made into the circumstances, and two reports have been furnished to me. It is the case that the defence of the boys who were summoned was undertaken by an agent of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. It appeared in evidence that the boys had recently been kept in a schoolroom without fire the whole day, that some boys had been punished by confinement in a cell as described, and in one case a boy's shoes and stockings were taken away. It is not the case that the boys who were confined in the cell were left without bedding and the means of warmth. The buildings are reported to be very defective for the purpose of a reformatory, and the question of closing the school is now under my consideration.