HC Deb 07 February 1881 vol 258 cc260-1

asked the Secretary of Stale for the Home Department, If he will cause inquiries to be made whether Mr. Davitt, who has lately been arrested in Dublin, is now in a state of weak health; and, whether, if so, he will give directions that Mr. Davitt shall not be sent to any place, nor required to perform any work, which may injuriously affect his health?


At the same time I may ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman a Question, of which I have given him private Notice, which is, Whether he will inform the House what are the instructions of Her Majesty's Government to the prison authorities with respect to the treatment of Mr. Michael Davitt?


In reply to the Question of my hon. Friend (Mr. Bryce) I have to state that when Mr. Davitt was taken into custody I ordered that a medical Report should be made as to the condition of his health, and that Report was accordingly made last Friday. The Report states that he was suffering from bronchial catarrh, to which, it is said, he has been subject. Thereupon I issued general instructions to the effect that he should be treated with all possible indulgence, and that the greatest possible attention should be paid to the state of his health. In reply to the other portion of the hon. Member's Question, I have to answer that he certainly will not be sent to any place which would be likely to be injurious to his health. That subject has been considered with reference to the place to which he has been sent. I have also to state that he will not be required to do any work that would be injurious to his health; and in his case there are circumstances which render him a peculiarly unfit subject for prison work. I have also directed that particular attention should be given to his having proper diet, proper rooms, and proper bedding. He will be kept apart from the other convicts, a matter which is possible by the rules under which persons placed on probation in confinement are treated. These are the general instructions given at present, and further instructions will be given when a Report has been received from the Governor of the prison in which he is detained.


IS the right hon. and learned Gentleman able to state whether Davitt is in the hospital, as stated in this morning's papers?


I have no reason to believe that that is so. No such information has reached me.


Will he be clothed like an ordinary convict or not?


I wish, Sir, to give all posible information on this subject. The directions given at once when he was taken into custody were that the ordinary prison treatment of cutting the hair should not be applied in his case. But with regard to the prison dress, I have received information that it is considered necessary as a security against escape; and, therefore, I do not feel justified in dispensing with it. I may add that when he travelled on the railway it was in his own clothes and not the prison dress.