MR. J. COWEN
Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure whether this Question has been put under a perfectly accurate impression as to the state of the law as regards Davitt. It seems to imply that the case of Davitt is analogous to that of the prisoners now confined in Ireland. It is well known that Davitt was a convict at large, under the licence of the Crown. That licence was revokable for certain reasons, and the Government, thinking that those reasons existed, regarded it as their duty to revoke the licence. The prisoners arrested under the Coercion Act are untried prisoners, and the Government could not undertake to place tried prisoners in the same condition as untried prisoners. I am informed by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department that, on account of the state of Michael Davitt's health, he has received special indulgences; and I do not learn that he has complained, in any respect, of harshness in his treatment. I have no doubt that everything that could be desired will be done.
MR. J. COWEN
said, he wished to ask the Prime Minister a further Question. He understood that Mr. Davitt was not imprisoned for the purpose of punishment, but only for the purpose of restraint. On an interesting occasion recently the Premier had referred with commendation to the aid that Lord Beaconsfield gave to Mr. Thomas Cooper, the Chartist, when he came out of prison. Mr. Cooper, while in gaol, wrote a poem, and Mr. Disraeli aided him in getting it published. Now, Mr. Davitt was a Poet as well as Mr. Cooper; but he was not permitted to have writing materials. What he wanted to ask the Prime Minister was whether the Government would treat Mr. Davitt, an Irish political prisoner, as the Government of Sir Robert Peel treated Mr. Thomas Cooper, the Chartist prisoner, and give him pens, ink, and paper?
As this is a matter that involves a reference to prison rules, I am afraid I must ask to have Notice of the Question.
§ MR. PARNELL
asked whether the Government had considered that Michael Davitt was being punished for his ori- 1659 ginal offence—namely, treason-felony, or supplying arms for the purpose of making war against Her Majesty's Government, or for his acts in connection with the Land Agitation since his release?
I am afraid the answer to the Question would require a general statement of the Rules under which the licences of convicts are granted, and I am not prepared to enter upon any such statement at present.