HC Deb 10 February 1881 vol 258 cc500-1

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether any of the other political prisoners, liberated under the same conditions as Mr. Davitt, are still at large in the United Kingdom; whether Government intend to arrest them; whether, for a long period during the late administration, as well as the entire period during which the present Government has held office, Mr. Davitt and the others liberated with him declined to comply with the condition on the ticket of leave requiring them to report themselves periodically to the police; whether the broach of this condition would not in the case of an ordinary ticket of leave man involve his immediate committal; whether, in the case of Davitt and the others, the authorities were fully aware of and tacitly acquiesced in this deviation from the rule; and, if so, why this exception was made in their eases?


Sir, I am not aware whether any persons are now at large in the United Kingdom who have been liberated on license on the same conditions as Michael Davitt. If there be any such persons and their conduct should give the same cause for revoking their license as in the case of Davitt, Her Majesty's Government would deal with them in the same manner. I believe that during the existence of the late Administration the ordinary condition by which a convict is called upon to report himself to the police was not enforced with regard to Davitt, and that the same course was followed by the present Government. I am not aware that Davitt refused to comply with the condition, and although the refusal to report himself would justify his re-committal, it is not to be understood that that was the ground of the revocation of his license. I am unable to state the reason why the rule was originally relaxed by the late Administration; but I presume it was in consequence of the belief that such a special indulgence would not be abused. I was asked the other day a Question as to the treatment of Davitt with respect to his health, and perhaps I may now state that, according to the medical report which we have received from Portland, I find that he is in general good health, and that the bronchial catarrh from which he was said to be suffering at the time of his apprehension has almost entirely disappeared. It is further stated that he was feeling much better, and that he was perfectly satisfied with his treatment in hospital, and with the arrangements made for his comfort, and that his cough has quite gone.