HC Deb 06 August 1888 vol 329 cc1694-5
MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether, on July 23, 1885, while Dr. M'Cabe was a member of the Prisons Board, a Circular (No. 328) was issued by the Prisons Board to the Governors of prisons in Ireland with reference to the recommendations contained in the Report of the Royal Commission on improving the dietary of prisoners; whether the following occurs in that Circular, a copy of which the Governors were specially instructed to hand to the prison doctors:— Having regard to the fact that Class II. diet, as it stood before the addition of two pints of milk in Ireland, had remained for some years in operation in English prisons, and that it has been found sufficient to maintain the health of English prisoners; if the medical officer considers the two pints of milk unnecessary he will be good enough to state whether he considers the original diet for Class II. sufficient; whether he is aware that it is stated in the Report of the Royal Commission that— Due consideration ought to be given to the fact that the condition of such prisoners in Ireland is, in many cases, and especially in Dublin, different from that of the same class in England, their previous habits, the quality of their food, and their generally low physical condition of health, rendering them more susceptible to the effects of prison discipline; whether Dr. M'Cabe was present at the meeting of the Prisons Board where the Circular (No. 328) was adopted; and, whether the result of that Circular has been to induce medical officers of prisons to go counter to the Report of the Royal Commission?


(who replied) said: The General Prisons Board state that the Circular relating to prison dietary referred to by the hon. Member was issued in 1886, not in 1885. Dr. M'Cabe was then medical adviser to the Board, but was not a member of it, and was not present at the meeting of the Board when the Circular was adopted. The Circular invited the medical officers to state their opinions and their experience of the effects observed while the new diet was in use. They were not requested to report in favour of the old diet. The result of the Circular has not been to induce medical officers to go counter to the recommendation of the Royal Commission—the recommendation in question was that two pints of milk daily should be added to the diet—that is, 14 pints weekly. Of this weekly ration 11¾ pints are still issued, and 1½lb. of bread was given in place of the remaining 2¼ pints of milk, in consequence of its being found in practice that the milk did not form a desirable combination with soup, which is issued at dinner three times weekly.