HC Deb 22 February 1883 vol 276 cc592-3

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If his attention has been called to an inquiry recently held at the House of Correction, Tothill Fields, Westminster, touching the death of Elizabeth Wheeler; if he can state whether it is true that the woman was sentenced, when in a dying state, to three months' imprisonment with hard labour, her offence, as specified in the warrant, being that she was found lodging in an outhouse, not having any visible means of subsistence, and not giving a good account of herself; whether, when seriously ill, she was removed during severe weather from Guildford to London; whether Dr. Lewis, the medical officer of the prison, declared at the inquiry that her conveyance to London was most injudicious, and that he had no hesitation in saying that her death was accelerated by her removal; and, whether, if the facts be as alleged, he can take any steps to punish the responsible parties for their conduct?


This Question of the hon. Member seems to have been founded on a report of the first day's inquiry, when there seems to have been some impression that the police at Guildford had injudiciously removed the woman. I do not know why that impression prevailed; but I should like to call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that the foreman of the jury, at the conclusion of the inquiry, expressed an opinion to that effect, but two or three jurymen then remarked that they did not agree with that opinion, and thought the authorities were not to blame. I think, therefore, the further proceedings removed the former impression that prevailed.


asked if the right hon. Gentleman had communicated with the magistrates in regard to the sentence of three months' imprisonment passed on this woman for sleeping in an outhouse, a sentence generally passed upon men who had almost killed their wives?


Sir, the question of the grounds of the sentence has not come before me; but if the hon. Member thinks that an inquiry should be made, perhaps he will give me Notice to that effect.