HC Deb 11 July 1887 vol 317 cc341-2
MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in reference to the case of Robert Essam, of Kettering, who was imprisoned on the 8th of Juno for non-payment of a fine under the Vaccination Acts, Whether it is a fact that Robert Essam protested against being compelled to pick oakum, and was threatened with punishment if he persisted in refusing to pick the oakum; whether it is in strict accordance with the existing law and existing Prison Regulations that prisoners, in such cases as Essam's, should be ordered to pick oakum or to perform other tasks imposed on prisoners sentenced to hard labour, and that they should be threatened with punishment in case of refusal; and, whether he will state to the House what exactly are the present Regulations as to tasks and other discipline which may be legally imposed on prisoners under the Vaccination Acts?


I am informed by the Prison Commissioners that Robert Essam made no complaint to anyone connected with the prison with reference to his treatment. It is in accordance with the existing law and Prison Rules that prisoners in such cases should be ordered to pick oakum; but prisoners sentenced to simple imprisonment without hard labour cannot be placed on the tread-wheel, and can only be employed on labour of the lightest description. There are no special Rules for prisoners under the Vaccination Acts. It is the sentence which governs the treatment, and the same sentence involves the same treatment whatever may be the Act authorizing it.