MR. MAC NEILL (Donegal, S.)
I have a question on the Paper to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Is it a fact that the Prison Board in Ireland has refused to hold communication with prison chaplains in relation to prisoners except through the medium of the governors of the prisons; under what rule is this practice enforced; and, whether, having regard to the fact that the prison chap- 11 lains are virtually independent of the governors, he will direct the Prisons Board to entertain communications from the chaplains without this intervention of the governors? As the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary is not present, I will defer the question.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! As the Solicitor General is prepared to answer it, I call upon the Solicitor General.
§ *MR. MADDEN
The General Prisons Board informs me that the governor of a prison being responsible for its discipline, it is the practice to require all the officers of the prison, including the chaplain or chaplains, to forward communications on ordinary matters, or on matters for which the governor is responsible, through that officer, whose report on such matters is obviously necessary. At the same time, the Board always receives any confidential report or remarks of the chaplains regarding the welfare of prisoners of their own denomination whenever they see fit to make such communications. The Board adds that the chaplain is not virtually independent of the prison governor, either in Ireland or, so far as the Board is aware, in England.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
Would the chaplain be required to report to the governor on a matter affecting the governor himself?
§ *MR. MADDEN
That I imagine would be an exceptional case, but the right hon. Gentleman had better put a question on the paper.