HC Deb 20 March 1882 vol 267 cc1275-7

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is a fact that professional visits of medical gentlemen to Mr. Michael Davitt in Portland Prison take place in presence of the Governor of the Prison, and of the medical officer of the General Prisons Board; and, if so, what reasons exist for refusing Mr. Michael Davitt's usual medical attendant, Dr. Kenny, permission to visit him under these conditions?


In reply to the hon. Member's Question, I have to state that I have always been very willing, and even anxious, that the friends of Mr. Davitt should be satisfied as to the state of his health, and I have given facilities for that purpose. The reason that Dr. Kenny, who was formerly allowed to attend him, is not now permitted to do so is based on the ground that the political part which Dr. Kenny has taken seems to the Government to unfit him for forming an unprejudiced opinion as to the effect of his imprisonment upon his health. I am, however, happy to say, for the satisfaction of the hon. Member and the friends of Davitt, that I can give him some authoritative information. I not only wished to satisfy myself, but also the friends of Davitt, by allowing friends of his to visit him, and they have reported to me privately in a satisfactory manner. I could not give these private reports; but I see one of those visitors has published a letter in The Irish World, which is, no doubt, an authentic source of information. In The Irish World of last week he says— You will be glad to hear that Mr. Davitt is well, and that he has increased six pounds in weight since I last saw him, that he has no complaint to make, that he seems in wonderful spirits, and that he reads and writes every day.

The Irish World then goes on to say——


rose to Order. He wished to know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman was in Order in quoting from a publication which he had prevented hon. Members from receiving?


The right hon. and learned Gentleman is quite in Order.


The Irish World says— Mr. Davitt is in the enjoyment of excellent health, and has nothing to complain of in his treatment. He is in as good spirits as if he were outside, satisfied with his diet and sleeping accommodation, and he takes an intense pleasure in the care of his garden. To wind up, we can say that his health has materially improved, and that he is now sound and strong. I thought that a man in his position would require mental as well as physical recreation, and therefore I have ordered that what books he wishes he should be allowed to use, and that he should have the use also of writing materials. These have been a great satisfaction to him. I have also permitted his friends to see him, and I do not think they will take an improper advantage of that permission. This will allow his friends to satisfy themselves as to his condition.


The right hon. and learned Gentleman has quoted from a recent issue of The Irish World newspaper. I should like to ask whether he will give facilities to the Irish Members to receive copies of that paper through the post? At the present moment he is using his authority as Home Secretary to prevent the circulation of that paper through the post.


The right hon. and learned Gentleman states that Mr. Davitt is allowed to see what books he likes. I should like to ask whether it is a fact that copies of Hansard have been refused to him; and, in that case, whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have any objection to the volumes of Hansard for last year, and as many as have been issued this year, being sent to Mr. Davitt?


If anyone likes to read Hansard, I am sure he may do so, as far as I am concerned. I should have thought that would have been an additional punishment.