HC Deb 11 March 1864 vol 173 c1826

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to the circumstance of several prisoners lately committed to Whitecross Street Prison by the Metropolitan Police Magistrates having been set at large, owing to the refusal of the Prison authorities to receive them; whether he can state the reasons of that refusal, and whether the Government are prepared to take any steps to apply a remedy?


said, the matter to which this question referred, arose out of a difference of opinion between the magistrates of the county of Middlesex and the authorities of the City of London, and in which the Secretary of State had no power to interfere. An order was made at the last Middlesex Quarter Sessions that the Westminster and Clerkenwell Prisons should be applicable only to certain classes of prisoners, excluding prisoners who might be by law committed to Newgate, or to the Debtors' Prison in Whitecross Street. The question which had arisen was, whether prisoners committed in default of the payment of penalties imposed upon them, might be confined as debtors in Whiteeross Street Prison. The Middlesex magistrates held that they might. The City magistrates held the contrary, and therefore refused to receive them. Steps had been taken for obtaining the opinion of the Court of Queen's Bench on the subject, which was the only authority by-which the question of law could be decided.