HC Deb 15 June 1882 vol 270 cc1262-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he will cause an independent, or effectually searching, inquiry to be made into the truth, or otherwise, of the numerous complaints against convict prison management which, for months past, have appeared in the "Civil Service Gazette" and other newspapers, and purporting to be written by the warders of those prisons; and, whether it is true, as recently stated in a letter in the "Times," signed "Assistant War- der," at Chatham, that assaults upon the warders "with the fist, stones, bricks, &c. are of almost daily occurrence?"


Sir, whenever any allegations are brought forward against the management of prisons I always take care that strict inquiry is made into them. For that purpose I have the valuable assistance of Visiting Committees and of the Visitors of the convict prisons, who are entirely independent of the Government. I am happy to say that the Prison Congress the other day gave an unanimous and favourable verdict in favour of the management of prisons. But the prison authorities have a responsible duty in maintaining discipline among the worst classes of society, and I cannot entertain or give credit to anonymous charges in newspapers made by convicts who do not give their names, or by warders who may or may not have been discharged, and who adduce no evidence of what they allege. In my opinion, if I did so I should seriously injure prison discipline, and give encouragement to insubordination.