§ MR. P. MARTIN
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether, under the regulations contained in the 9th section of the 7th George 4, chapter 74, it was directed that prisoners were to be given beds, the straw of which was to be changed once in every two months; whether it is provided by the 12th section of "The General Prisons (Ireland) Act, 1877," that no rule shall be made by the Prisons Board inconsistent with any of the regulations contained in the said 9th section of the 7th George 4, chapter 74; can he state under what statutory or other authority the Prisons Board in Ireland are entitled to add to every sentence of imprisonment which may be awarded the punishment of sleeping on a plank bed; is there any such limitation on the authority of the Prisons Commissioners in England to make regulations such as that contained in the 12th section of "The General Prisons (Ireland) Act, 1877;" and is the punishment of the plank bed inflicted on every prisoner in England?
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WALKER)
Sir, my right hon. Friend has requested me to answer this Question. The 109th section of the 7 Geo. IV., c. 74, does not contain any regulation that prisoners are to be given beds the straw of which is to be changed once in every two months. The 21st sub-section provides that each male prisoner shall have a separate bed, and shall be provided with a suitable bedding. The 12th section of the General Prisons Act, 1877, does contain the provision mentioned in the Question. There is no such express limitation on the authority of the Prisons Commissioners in England; but in neither country could a rule alter the provisions of a Statute without express power. The Prisons Board in Ireland made the rules under Clause 12 of the Act in the year 1878. The rules were settled by the Law Officers of the late Government, approved of by the Privy Council, and submitted to Parliament pursuant to the Act. The rules both in England and Ireland provide that every convicted prisoner shall sleep on a plank bed 499 during one month of his sentence if it exceeds a month, and during the whole of his sentence if it is less than a month.