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Question

Volume 220: debated on Monday 22 June 1874

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asked the Paymaster General, Whether, when he, in reply to a Question on Thursday last, gave the House to understand that the boys at Feltham were boys of a class such that the "Duke of York's Boys" could associate with them with advantage, he was aware that the boys at Feltham were boys "under detention," detained on warrant; that sixty-three discharged during the last three years had been re-convicted, and committed to prisons; that of the boys admitted into the School in 1872, one hundred and sixty-nine, and in 1873, one hundred and fifty-four, had been convicted of "more serious offences" than begging and vagrancy; and that of the boys admitted in 1873, one hundred and twenty-nine had been convicted of larceny, six of unlawful possession or of attempts to steal, and seven of being in dwelling-houses for an unlawful purpose, against only fifty convicted for vagrancy or begging?

No, Sir, on that occasion I did not go into those details. I based my answer that Feltham is an Industrial School on the Annual Report, on a letter from the Superintendent, on another letter from the Inspector of Reformatories and Industrial Schools, on the facts that the lads go direct into the Army and Navy from Feltham, and that the London School Board sends truant boys there. I may, however, say that these formidable looking offences consist chiefly of pilfering from parents by children of from 9 to 13 years of age, and that the relapses mentioned amount only to 8 per cent of the whole number discharged. The hon. Baronet has, however, not given my Answer accurately. I did not say that the Duke of York's boys might associate generally with advantage with Feltham boys. I expressed no opinion upon the point. What I gave the House to understand was, that the "Feltham eleven," being composed wholly of unconvicted boys, had a right to be deemed as respectable as its antagonists. Since the second Question appeared, I have communicated with the authorities of both Schools, and this is what really happened. Twelve boys went to Feltham from the Duke of York's School in charge of the commandant and chaplain. At Feltham they were met by 12 Feltham boys of good character, under the superintendent and a master. They played their match in a field, and none of the other boys who were looking on were allowed near. The two elevens dined together in a tent with a master, and the visitors were, at the end of the match, marched back as they came, without the slightest communication with the rest of the School. I may add that it has long been the practice for Feltham to play the respectable village clubs in the neighbourhood; that the Committee, among whom are General Brownrigg and Colonel Lyon Fremantle, men not likely to be careless of the welfare of soldiers' children—have given their decision in favour of the matches; and to show the opinion of parents, I may say that a short time ago the Fife Major of the Fusilier Guards, who had his child's name down for Chelsea, withdrew it because he had obtained an admission to Feltham. I trust, therefore, that the House will not express an opinion hostile to the return match, in which I hope the soldiers may recover their lost laurels.