HC Deb 31 July 1876 vol 231 cc114-5

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to a case, reported in the Leeds newspapers of the 21st and 22nd days of July, whereby it would appear that an old man named Duggan had been committed by two justices of the borough of Pontefract to Wakefield Prison for fourteen days for being drunk in the streets; that the old man, when before the magistrates, complained of acute suffering from disease, and prayed to be allowed to see a medical man; that this prayer was refused on the ground that he would see one when he got to Wakefield; and that the old man, so denied medical aid, dropped dead in the streets whilst in charge of the constable who was conducting him to prison; and, whether, if the statements in the Leeds newspapers to the above effect be substantially correct, he has taken or intends to take any and what steps to mark the sense of Her Majesty's Government of the conduct of the magistrates in the case?


, in reply, said, he knew nothing whatever of the case, except through information which he had received in a letter from the magistrates. The letter stated that one morning this man complained of illness, and instead of being brought before the magistrates on that day, he set off, and was accompanied by a policeman a greater part of the way, to the residence of the medical officer of the Union, in order that he might obtain aid there. An order of admission to the Union was given to him, and at 4 o'clock the same day he was found helplessly intoxicated. He was then taken up a second time, and on the following day was charged with being drunk. He had complained of bronchitis, and said if the justices would let him go, he would not get drunk again, and would go into the workhouse. He also had said he would like to see a doctor. But, without any explanation or excuse, he had not availed himself of the Union order in his possession, and the justices came to the conclusion that he could not be so ill as he had represented himself to be. Nor did he say that he was suffering from heart disease, and he was not, as alleged, in a sinking condition when he left the Court. The newspaper report was perfectly untrue, where it stated that the justices had said he would see a medical man when he got to Wakefield. The justices never made such a suggestion. After conviction, in order that he might go to Wakefield as soon as possible, they sent a policeman at a much earlier period than was absolutely necessary. It turned out that he died of heart disease, and the justices had not the slightest knowledge that he was suffering from that disease. He (Mr. Cross) did not intend to take any steps in the matter.