HC Deb 05 April 1883 vol 277 cc1477-8

asked the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, What steps have been taken by Her Majesty's Government to remedy the state of things described in Mr. Beaman's report, which summarizes thus the condition of affairs in the Egyptian prisons:— In conclusion, it may be safely stated that no report can convey the feeblest impression of the hopeless misery of the mass of prisoners, who live for months like wild beasts, without change of clothing, half starved, ignorant of the fate of their families, and bewailing their own. They look forward to the day of their trial as synonymous with the day of their release, but the prospect of its advent is too uncertain to lend much hope to their wretchedness. From the moment of entering the prison, even on the most trifling charge, they consider themselves lost. The one power that can release them is money, and they do not command it. It is impossible for them to guess at the time when a new official may begin to clear off the cases in his district, or when the slow march of administration may reach them. It may be weeks, it may be months, and it may be years; many of them have long since ceased to care which?


The British officers appointed to watch the proceedings at Alexandria and Tantah frequently visited the prisons, and were able materially to alleviate the lot of the prisoners by securing for them daily rations of food and proper treatment by the prison warders. Representations were, at the same time, made to the Egyptian Government with respect to the uncleanly state of the prisons. Her Majesty's Representatives in Egypt have since renewed these representations, and will continue their efforts to bring about a reform of the state of things described by Mr. Beaman in his Report, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. According to the latest Report from Lord Dufferin, there are now no political prisoners in prison; 161 persons charged with murder, pillage, or arson at Alexandria are awaiting their trial there, and 79 persons charged with similar offences are in prison at Tantah, Damanhour, and Mahallet. These cases are being investigated by the two Commissions sitting at Alexandria and Tantah, and their conclusions are submitted to the court martial at Alexandria. All the proceedings are watched by British officers.