HC Deb 18 February 1886 vol 302 cc588-9

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether his attention has been called to the representations made by the Catholic Chaplain in Mountjoy Convict Prison, and published in the last Report of the General Prisons Board, with regard to the punishments inflicted in that prison; and, whether it is a fact that men, the majority of them weak in body as well as in mind, sometimes to the number of twelve or fourteen at a time, are chained at the right wrist and the right ankle with a chain varying in weight from five to ten pounds, and sometimes so kept day and night, without intermission, for months?


I have seen the chaplain's letter referred to in the Question, and have been furnished with a Report from the General Prisons Board, from which it appears that the mechanical restraint of a chain is adopted in the case of certain refractory convicts, and it is used in England as well as in Ireland. It is regarded as of a more humane character than the alternative of separate confinement, as it permits of dangerous prisoners taking exercise and being employed in public work. It is never applied until after medical examination; and. prisoners wearing it are put under periodical report with a view to its removal as soon as safety permits. The Medical Officer of Mountjoy Prison states that— In no case has he or would he certify a prisoner to be fit for such restraint if he were weak in body or mind. If the hon. Member will kindly look at Appendix 31 of the Board's Annual Report he will see that particulars are published of all cases in which convict prisoners have been placed under this or other restraints. I should add that the heaviest chain applied is stated to weigh only 4½lbs., while a lighter one is generally used; and that, at the present moment, out of 698 male convicts in Mountjoy Prison, only three are wearing chains.


said, he would ask the right hon. Gentleman to read, on this question, the Report of the Royal Commission which reported a few years ago.