HC Deb 27 March 1885 vol 296 cc822-3

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether any steps have been taken to give effect to any of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Irish Prisons; and, if so, to what extent, more especially how far and how soon it is proposed to deal with the vital question of the concentration of Prisons?


Speaking generally, I may say that nearly all the recommendations of the Royal Commission which were capable of immediate adoption have been, or are being, carried out. Rules are at present before Parliament embodying the recommendations as to diet, exercise, privileges, and means of restraint of prisoners, and also as to relaxations in the case of untried prisoners. The recommendation that the rules should be made known to the prisoners has been carried out. Circulars have been issued on the lines of the Report containing instructions as to the observation of prisoners on reception; their diet in the latter stages of confinement; the cases of those whose lives are endangered by confinement; the abolition of dark cells; the restriction of punishment diet; visits to prisoners under restraint; cleanliness of prisoners; and precautions as to means of committing suicide. The recommendations as to Visiting Committees, the right of appeal of officers, the payment of substitutes for the medical officers, the selection, appointment, transfer, and finding of warders, have been all adopted; and it has been decided to establish a prison bakery in Dublin. I have already explained to the House the manner in which the Board itself has been reconstructed. In certain instances the Royal Commission laid great stress on the practice and procedure in Irish prisons being assimilated to those in the English service. His Excellency has obtained the sanction of the Treasury for the employment in Ireland, for a period not exceeding three months, of Captain Stopford, of the English Prisons Board, to assist in securing that object, and Captain Stopford will proceed to Ireland very shortly for this purpose. There remains the large question of the concentration of prisons and certain minor recommendations, the carrying out of which will depend upon how far concentration is decided upon. The Irish Government attach great importance to this recommendation of the Royal Commission, and it is at present engaging their attention; but it needs most careful consideration before a final decision can be arrived at.


Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman if Dr. Mac-Cabe has been appointed a medical member of the Prisons Board, as recommended by the Royal Commission, or does he merely occupy the position of Prisons Inspector to the Irish Prisons Department?


He has been appointed Medical Assistant and Adviser to the Prisons Board, which was considered a more efficient way of accomplishing the same object,