§ 1. £97,499, to complete the sum for Prisons, Ireland.
§ (4.37.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I desire to say a few words principally with reference to the continued imprisonment of Mr. Morrisey, one of the Clongorey prisoners, for contempt of Court. A remarkable judgment has, I am informed, just been delivered by Judge O'Brien, who has held that the entire procedure adopted by the landlord in this case was wrong, that the County Court Judge was wrong in his action, and, consequently, that this man is illegally imprisoned. I am not in a position to say definitely what the learned Judge did rule, but I should not be surprisad if the report is true, as I have always held, that the action of the land-land was imprudent——
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I am aware that I am not entitled to discuss the merits of the case on this Vote, but I intend to ask the Government with regard to the continued imprisonment of Morrisey, if they will not take steps for his release? The man's mother, who was the actual tenant, and his wife and her baby have been released already. I suggest that the man is illegally detained in gaol, and I hope if Judge O'Brien's decision is laid before the Government they will take steps to release the man, who has been in gaol since March last. Clongorey is the only case in which the Chief Secretary has acted reasonably, for he condemned the conduct of the Resident Magistrate and the prosecutions were stopped, to the great advantage of the neighbourhood. With regard to the suggestion that the Government have no power to order the release of this man, I may point out that they have the power or they could not have released his wife and her mother. Surely if an injustice is being done they can find an avenue 230 to prevent his further detention in gaol. The other matter on which I wish to ask the attention of the Government is the case of Mr. M'Enery, the editor of the Limerick Leader, who has been sentenced to six months' imprisonment and a further term of three months in default of giving bail to be of good behaviour. Now, I am of opinion that if it had not been for a certain letter written by the Chief Secretary, expressing a strong opinion on this man's guilt, the sentence would have been less by three months. I think it would only be decent for the Government to direct that when M'Enery has served his term of six months' hard labour he shall be released——
Order, order ! It is quite irregular on this Vote to discuss the question of the release of prisoners on the ground of the excessive length of the sentence, or the illegality of their detention. The only question which can be discussed is their treatment in gaol.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Then I will refer to Mr. M'Enery's treatment. Several complaints have already been made in this House of his treatment. Dr. Moor-head, a local Magistrate, has made a series of entries in the prison book with regard to this case, and has given it as his opinion that the prisoner's health is being seriously affected. The fact is Tullamore Gaol is now being converted into a kind of receptacle for all kinds of political prisoners; the Government seem to have selected one central prison in which their instructions can be carried out in an approved fashion. Now the Home Secretary has expressed his willingness to move the Scotch convicts convicted in connection with the dynamite outrages to Scotland. Yet here you have Mr. M'Enery confined in Tullamore Gaol for nine months, 100 miles from his native locality, rendering it difficult and expensive for his wife and friends to visit him at the statutory periods. I say the action of the Government in confining Crimes Act prisoners in one central gaol wherever they may have been convicted is most sinister.
§ (4.50.) MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
In common with the other Votes, this one shows an increase, and I commend that fact to the attention of the Committee and of the country. I am going to refer to the question of the treatment of Crimes Act prisoners. I hope that the Chief Secre- 231 tary will not, as he has done on previous occasions, say that he is not responsible for the treatment of those prisoners. I would remind him of the evidence given at an inquest at Fermoy in which a doctor said he had visited Tullamore Gaol because Mr. Burke, the Chairman of the Prisons Board, had informed him that it was the wish of the Chief Secretary he should do so. We find some curious changes in connection with prison administration. The right hon. Gentleman plumes himself in this House and on platforms outside on the consistency of his administration. But he has been driven by the force of public opinion to abandon the vindictive prosecution of journalists and newsvendors, and to retire step by step from the utterly indefensible position he took up years ago. He has abandoned the practice of cutting the hair and shaving the moustache off political prisoners, and he does not now force them to wear the odious prison garb. In these matters he has surrendered to public indignation. The Prison Authorities, from the Governor down to the lowest warder, are as amenable to the touch of the right hon. Gentleman on the instrument as any of his Magistrates in Ireland. Just as the right hon. Gentleman blows hot or cold, so the treatment of the prisoners alters. I will give an instance showing in a sinister light the manner in which the Prison Authorities obey the behests of the right hon. Gentleman. At one time in Cork Gaol there were quite a number of Crimes Act prisoners. It so happened that four or five of the prisoners, myself included, were removed into one of the infirmary wards to get special treatment. The Prisons Board viewed this with great suspicion; they promptly sent down on a surprise visit a Medical Inspector from Dublin in order to see if they could catch the prison doctor napping, and they sought to deprive him of his right of initiation in the matter of the medical treatment of prisoners. Would such a course be adopted in an English prison? What was done in another case? Why my hon. Friend the Member for West Kerry was treated with an indignity which, directed as it was by the right hon. Gentleman against a political opponent, reflected very little credit on him or his administration. My hon. Friend's moustache and whiskers were 232 cut off with circumstances of physical force under the pretence that it was necessary for personal cleanliness. My hon. Friend was also taken from Tralee to Tullamore Gaol without notice many miles away from his family and friends, and was treated in a most cruel manner; he was treated as badly as the lowest criminal in the land. I find from the Report of the Visiting Judge that Mr. Harrington complained to him. The Report is as follows:—Dr. G. F. Moor-head says—He complained that it was a straining of the Prison Rules to remove his moustache, and that he claimed exemption under the rules of personal cleanliness; that the Governor informed him it would be removed by force, at a time when a reply concerning the question was pending from the Prisons Board, and that he (Mr. Harrington) regarded this action as an attempt to bring him into conflict with the Prison Rules; that he was removed from Tralee Prison without notice or reason being assigned, which he regarded as a great hardship to his wife or friends, who would have to travel such a distance for a 15 minutes' visit, and that he would claim to be sent back to Tralee Graol to receive a visit when permitted.'Here are two distinct complaints; first of all, that my hon. Friend, for reasons best known to the right hon. Gentleman, was removed from Tralee Gaol, where he might have had the satisfaction of an occasional visit from his wife and friends, to Tullamore. We want to know on what system the Prisons Board have proceeded. Can it be said that my hon. Friend was removed for greater security? I suppose we may assume that Tralee Gaol was large enough to confine the prisoners in. Why was the removal made? I imagine that the idea in the mind of the Government was to make a central gaol, in which political prisoners convicted under the Crimes Act might be confined with the least supervision, and in order that the punishments might be made as bitter and as cruel as possible. I want to know why my hon. Friend was removed, as well as Mr. O'Mahony, Alderman Hooper, Jasper Tully, and many others? Why were these gentlemen removed from different parts of Ireland to this gaol where the Government had a fine, stalwart Governor to carry out their behests? The taxpayer will want to know these things, and we, therefore, demand information. My hon. Friend made another complaint, as to the clipping of his moustache and 233 hair. Why was that done at that particular moment, seeing that it was then that the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, under pressure of public opinion from without, was altering the regulations? I say that the action of the right hon. Gentleman is a proof of his malignity—and let me here remark that my hon. Friend himself has never brought forward any complaint in this House as to his prison treatment. There is no reason, however, why his colleagues should not do so, and why they should not call attention to the indignities inflicted on everyone imprisoned under the Coercion Act. It may be said that this is an old case, because it occurred 12 months ago; but the recollection of the appearance of my hon. Friend, when he attended to give evidence before the Special Commission, is still fresh in our memories. It was palpable to everyone that he had been subjected to a long course of barbarous treatment. There was a pinched look of hunger in his eyes, and he was worn almost to the bone, so that no one could look upon him without feeling the greatest commiseration and the greatest detestation of a Government which could pursue a political adversary to such a length. We shall be told by the right hon. Gentleman that this is an ancient case—with his usual regard for veracity——
§ MR. FLYNN
I will now deal with a more recent ease, that of Mr. J. E. O'Mahony, editor of the Tipperary Nationalist. His was a case of a Press offence, if ever there was one. He is undergoing imprisonment for the grave offence of publishing in his paper certain proceedings of the National League. He was sent first to Clonmel Gaol, and was thence transferred to Tullamore. A short time ago Alderman Cantwell, a Visiting Justice, saw him. In reply to the Alderman, Mr. O'Mahony said:—I have to say I'm shockingly treated by both Governor Andrews and Dr. Hewetson, prison doctor. Indeed, if they had conspired with the garrison outside they could not go about persecuting me worse. The morning after I was brought in here the Governor came into my cell. I was in the bed, being unable to rise. He asked me to wear prison clothes, and I, of course, declined. I then asked him for 234 a form to apply to the Prisons Board for permission for Messrs. Burke & Crean, solicitors, to see me in connection with the actions of Colonel Caddell, R.M., and Bob Power against the Tipperary Nationalist and myself, and he answered by asking, 'Is that scurrilous rag to be revived again? The town is quiet without it.' Leaving the cell, he sneeringly added,' Matters, I suppose, could not go on without that rag!' 'This attack,' continued Mr. O'Mahony,' was absolutely wanton and unprovoked. I asked to see the doctor, but was partly prepared for him, because the Tipperary Nationalist gave him some hard knocks for his conduct towards Wm. O'Brien; and you will remember, Alderman, that in the course of my former imprisonment I had to complain to you of his cruel treatment. While suffering a bad attack he left me on a plank bed and on prison diet, with nothing to drink but water during the night. For a fortnight before my present imprisonment I was under constant medical treatment and supervision, and as evidence of the severity of the attack, had to have a fire night and day in my room.' I may tell you,' remarked Mr. O'Mahony,' that a few days before my illness, in presence of Mr. John Kelly, National League organiser, I weighed 12st., and when brought in here I only weighed l1st. 31b. All this I told the prison doctor, but notwithstanding he put me into an ordinary cell and placed me on ordinary prison diet, the result being increased prostration and complete loss of appetite, so much so that for over four days I have not tasted an ounce of solid food. I cannot pace my cell twice without staggering against the wall; I cannot kneel with a pain in my back, nor can I remain in any one position at night with the pains in my whole body. The doctor having been apprised of this, merely said it was owing to the hardness of my bed.We want to know why this gentleman was treated in this way after the right hon. Gentleman had yielded to the force of public opinion, and had altered his method of treating political prisoners, particularly in the matter of allowing them to wear their own clothes. Was Mr. O'Mahony treated in this way simply because he was the representative of a local journal? The rule as to cleanliness was originally adopted as a boon to prisoners, but can it be said that its application to a gentleman like Mr. O'Mahony was anything in the nature of a boon? I have several other cases here which I could deal with, bat I do not think it necessary to do so. They will probably be referred to by other hon. Members; but I will refer the Committee to the most recent instance that has come under my observation of the arbitrary and illegal manner in which the Prison Authorities act towards those under their control. A short time ago, a Mr. James O'Brien was confined in 235 Cork Gaol charged with, having shadowed a constable. He was arrested by the constable he was said to have shadowed, and handed over to another constable. A Resident Magistrate was telegraphed for, Mr. O'Brien was ordered to give bail and refused, and he was then handed over to the police like a bale of goods invoiced. He was taken up in this way, not summoned; but at the worst he was an untried prisoner. Regardless of that fact, however, he was taken to Cork Gaol and asked to wear the prison uniform. He protested against the indignity, but he was forcibly stripped, the prison clothes were forced on him, and he had to remain in them four or five days, until he was tried. When he was tried, the Magistrate thought the time he had served in gaol was sufficient, and he was discharged. In the meantime, however, the Governor of the gaol had acted illegally, having broken through the Prison Rules. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman will say that the remedy of a civil action is open to Mr. O'Brien if the Governor did wrong; but I would ask whether such an answer as that will show a proper conception of their duty on the part of the Executive? When the law has been broken by a Government official, is it a right thing to expect the victim of the illegality to vindicate his conduct by a civil action? Surely it is the duty of the Government to make amends for the wrongdoing of their servant and to give compensation. Another case I wish to bring before the Committee is that of Mr. Redmond, editor of the Waterford News, heard a few weeks ago in the City of Waterford. Mr. Redmond was charged with a Press offence, and for the reason that he had some other case to attend to was advised by his friends to give bail as required. The Mayor of the city went to a Resident Magistrate, Mr. Rodkin, and asked him to go to the gaol to perfect the bail bonds, but this Magistrate actually advised the Mayor that the prisoner could not be bailed out unless before two Resident Magistrates. The result was that Mr. Redmond was illegally detained in prison instead of being released on bail. This Magistrate was ignorant of the most elementary principles of his business, and I want to know what the Government intend to do to mark their sense of his conduct?
§ (5.19.) MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
As there is a general disposition to finish the Irish Votes to-night, I shall refrain from going into the broad question of the treatment, of political prisoners in Ireland, which I still maintain is contrary to the practice of civilised countries. I rise for the purpose of drawing special attention to the treatment of bail prisoners. I need hardly point out that this question has become one of great importance in consequence of a considerable number of prisoners being imprisoned under the Statute of Edward III., and also of the practice which has grown up in Ireland of sentencing prisoners to a term of imprisonment, and in addition ordering them to give bail for good behaviour for a certain time. I believe, although that is lawful according to the law of England, it is very rarely adopted in England, and many Judges think it an extremely unfair course to take with regard to prisoners. I have been told by many Judges that they have never sentenced men in this way, and that they do not consider it right to do so. My attention was specially drawn to the question which I wish to bring before the House in consequence of my own experience in visiting one of the Irish gaols. In the course of last autumn I paid a visit to Galway, and visited my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork (Mr. W. O'Brien), who was then confined in Galway Gaol. I had heard that such visits were only permitted in presence of a prison warder; and in order to avoid the indignity of having to converse with the hon. Member in the presence of a warder, I wrote to the Prisons Board in Ireland and pointed out to them that, under the 13th section of the Prisons (Ireland) Act, a prisoner confined in default of bail was entitled, equally with a first-class misdemeanant, to see his friends without the presence of a prison warder. The Prisons Board replied that the matter was-not within their discretion, and that it would be dealt with by the Yisiting Justices of the gaol. I then went to Galway, where I found the hon. Member for Galway, Connemara (Mr. Foley). I went with him to the gaol, and we claimed as a right that we should be permitted to see the hon. Member for North-East Cork without the presence of a prison 237 warder. We were informed that the Prison Justices had met that morning, and that as a matter of special favour to myself they had decided that I should be permitted to see the hon. Member without the presence of a warder. No such permission was given to the hon. Member for Galway, Connemara, and the result was that I alone was permitted to see him. Upon this I communicated with the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland; told him what had occurred; and claimed, as a matter of right, that prisoners on bail were entitled to receive visitors without the presence of a warder. Apart from the question of law, I also contended as a matter of policy that the Prisons Board ought, if necessary, to adopt a rule to that effect. I showed that prisoners on bail and first-class misdemeanants in England were allowed to receive their friends without the Presence of a warder. I referred to the cases of Mr. Stead, of Mr. Yates, and of Colonel Valentine Baker, who, while in prison as first-class misdemeanants, were allowed to see their friends without the presence of a warder. In the case of the hon. Member for Belfast, who was imprisoned as a first-class misdemeanant some years ago, Lord Mayo, who was the then Chief Secretary, gave directions that he should be allowed to see his friends without the presence of a warder. On the legal point allow me to call "attention to the 13th section of the Irish Prisons Act. The section directs, in reference to prisoners who are unconvicted—and I believe a bail prisoner comes within that category—that the Prisons Board shall make rules on certain subjects, and one of these subjects iswith respect to communication between the prisoner, his solicitor and friends, and to secure to such person regular and private communication between him, his Solicitor and his friends as may be possible,having regard to the necessity of preventing any attempt at escape, and so on. I have ascertained that no rules have been made by the Prisons Board under this section—at all events, none inconsistent with the sub-section—and I contend that, as a matter both of law and policy, in the absence of any rule, the prisoners detained on bail in Ireland as first class misdemeanants ought to be allowed to see their friends 238 without the presence of a warder I understand that at the present time in Ireland prisoners on bail are not allowed to receive their friends without the presence of the warder—and that even husbands are not allowed to see their wives without such presence. That is an outrage, and it ought not to be allowed to exist. Why should there be this distinction between these prisoners in Ireland and first-class misdemeanants in England? In England imprisoned editors of newspapers are always allowed to edit their papers from the prison. That was so in the cases of Mr. Stead and Mr. Yates. But when the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. D. Sullivan) was imprisoned, he was denied that privilege, and indeed he was not allowed to see his paper. I say that in all points of detail the Irish Prisons Board carry out the rules with a degree of severity unknown in England. I therefore raise this question as one of law and practice, and I urge it upon the attention of the Chief Secretary. I wrote the Chief Secretary at some length on the matter, but I have not been favoured with a reply, and I think I have a right to complain of some little want of courtesy. It was a matter affecting not myself, but a considerable number of prisoners, and I think I was justified in calling the attention of the Prisons Board and the Chief Secretary to it. I am not quite certain whether I wrote to the Chief Secretary or to the Prisons Board, but it was to one or the other, and I received no reply, and from then until now I have not heard a word. Therefore, I felt it my duty to raise this question in order that the matter might be cleared up, and in order that the treatment of prisoners in Ireland might be brought into harmony with the treatment of prisoners in England.
§ (5.40.) MR. W. O'BRIEN (Cork Co., N.E.)
Some of the details of prison administration have been dwelt upon, but I wish we could find an opportunity to discuss the general question of prison treatment. But this we know, that whatever the right hon. Gentleman's policy was in the beginning, whether good or bad, it has utterly collapsed. He has run away from it. At the present moment the Prison Rules in Ireland are a perfect mass of inconsistencies and chaos. I will not discuss 239 now all that the right hon. Gentleman said in his famous interview with Mr. Blunt. That interview has not been forgotten. I do not think it has ever been explained. People will retain their own opinions about it. At all events, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has ever denied, or that he will deny, that his original policy was to degrade us into criminals and to make ourselves and others feel that we were criminals. I ask the most infatuated admirer of the right hon. Gentleman whether he has succeeded in persuading a single human being' that any criminality attaches to us. If we are criminals, why are we in the House of Commons? The right hon. Gentleman has tried hard to treat us just as he would treat thieves and burglars. Are thieves and burglars allowed to sit in this House? Are the Sessions Courts adjourned in Ireland to enable thieves and burglars to attend the British Legislature? I venture to say that the right hon. Gentleman in that, as in every portion of his policy, has absolutely broken down. We are here, and I ask him by what right does he dare to affect to treat us as criminals? The right hon. Gentleman has not the courage of his convictions. He has withdrawn his Prison Rules, altered them, and cancelled them, without the smallest bit of grace-on his part. His rules are torn to tatters by his own hand, yet we have not got him to thank. He did his worst, so long as he thought the English people would stand it, and until the Magistrates found that they had power to visit the gaols. He has savagely attacked Dr. Moorhead, who was the first to discover this right of the Justices to visit the gaols. Had that discovery not been made, I believe the right hon. Gentleman would have continued his policy to this hour. He once described my objection and that of others to wearing prison garments as a monomania. I am sorry that John Mandeville, who suffered from the same monomania, is lying in his grave to-day. Notwithstanding the sarcastic speech of the right hon. Gentleman he changed his opinion. The monomania was catching. The right hon. Gentleman has a real monomania on this prison question, because he is the only human being who for one moment affects to believe that the change 240 of clothing was necessary for the purpose of personal cleanliness or for sanitary considerations. But I do not think that anyone believes that it was considerations of hygiene that caused the right hon. Gentleman to give up night attacks and sentences of bread and water in winter. I venture to say that the right hon. Gentleman has been driven to a most ignominious surrender on that subject. The right hon. Gentleman has again and again been the medium of the false charge that we desired to be treated differently to our humbler comrades. He knows in his heart that is not so. On the contrary, we claimed to be treated just as the humblest of our comrades. We wanted a classification of offences, not of persons. But the right hon. Gentleman would not give us that. He was coerced to change his plans. What did he do? He set up a most offensive distinction between the well-dressed and the ill-dressed prisoners. He set up the distinction of the cut of the coat and the length of the purse, with the result that the Belfast swindlers and criminals of the very worst stamp were, because they happened to be well dressed, treated with a consideration that was not extended to the poor peasants guilty of political offences, and who were dealt with as common thieves and burglars. On that subject the right hon. Gentleman has been driven to a most shameless and miserable policy. I am not speaking of his theory of degrading or ill-treating us. I am only speaking of his inconsistency from the beginning—of the meanness, cowardliness, and utter collapse of this attempt to put thousands of respected and respectable men in Ireland to the level of footpads. Upon every point on which the right hon. Gentleman has been tackled he has been beaten. Take the question of exercise, for instance. He began by trying to breakdown the resistance of the prisoners by depriving them of exercise altogether. My friend, Mr. Hooper, formerly a Member of this House, was kept 28 days without exercise, because he refused to exercise with criminals. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Cork was confined to his cell because he refused to exercise with thieves and scoundrels. What has been the result? The right hon. Gentleman, and not the prisoners, has surrendered. John Kelly was punished 241 again and again, by being put on bread and water in Derry Prison, for refusing to exercise with criminals. Two weeks after he was allowed to exercise by himself. I will now call attention to another point which is of great importance. I refer to the question of prison labour. It was on the question of the reform of prison tasks that poor John Mandeville received the punishment which killed him. Another man was sentenced again and again to bread and water and confinement to his cell for refusing to clean the cell out, and that unfortunate man is in his bed to-day. Then my hon. Friend the Member for South Galway refused, when in prison, to perform these tasks, and when it began to be known in England that this was the commencement of another struggle, and that the matter would be fought out to the bitter end, the Prisons Board discovered that there was a legal power under which John Mandeville and the rest would have been entitled to exemption from these prison tasks on payment of one penny a day. It was therefore they and not he who had acted illegally in inflicting this sort of punishment, and the result was that having found this excuse for giving up the struggle against these men they also gave up the penny a day. In point of fact, they have been beaten in every portion of their programme from the original position they took up. This is the reason why they would not allow Lord Aberdare's Committee to inquire into these cases, so "cribbed, cabined, and confined" were they. These things are not the fault of the prison officials in Ireland, and I must say that according to my own experience those officials are thoroughly ashamed of their work. The vast majority of them would be only too glad to have the chance of being humane and of recognising openly those distinctions which every one is forced to recognise at least a hundred times a day. As for the Prisons Board, they are practically driven to their wits' end in carrying out the policy of the right hon. Gentleman. If they were told definitely and distinctly that they must enforce the Prison Rules uniformly and consistently, or if they were instructed to give up the impossible task of forcing political prisoners to believe that they were criminals, and to treat them as human beings, they would 242 understand what they have to do. But the right hon. Gentleman has not the candour to admit that his policy of treating us as brutes has utterly collapsed. He has not—I will not say the courage—but the impudence to carry that policy to its legitimate conclusion. If we could have Lord Aberdare's Committee or any other Committee appointed, with full powers to thrash out the whole subject, it would probably be found that this vacillating and brutal system of prison treatment is about as disgraceful a procedure as was ever countenanced by a civilised Government. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will agree to refer this matter to a Committee. I am afraid he will not. I am afraid ho does not want the English public to know what is the character of the firm and resolute Government before which the Irish people are expected to fall down and worship—a Government which chops and changes with every breath of public opinion as expressed in the bye-elections—a Government whose whole policy, I am sorry to say, is summed up in these words, "Be just as savage as you dare, but do not injure the Government." That is a fair summary of the policy of the Government in Ireland, and this being so, the right hon. Gentleman does not want the English public to understand the infamous way in which he has treated thousands—at least 4,000—of the most respected citizens of Ireland. I do not wish to say anything harsh of the humiliating change of front to which the right hon. Gentleman has been driven in reference to this question. I should not say one word on this subject if I thought it was his conscience that had pricked him, but I must say that he has adopted a policy which he has not had the imprudence to carry to its legitimate conclusion, while he has not the honesty to admit that he is unable to carry out that policy in the case of Members of Parliament as long as English public opinion is with us, although he thinks he may carry it out in the case of newspaper men like M'Enery and Jasper Tully, who are, at the present moment, picking oakum because they have published reports of branch meetings of the League which I in my paper continue to publish, and which most of the other Nationalist papers are in the regular habit of 243 reporting. I say to the right hon. I Gentleman let ns have a consistent policy; either carry out your rules and kill us if you have the courage to do so, and are backed by English opinion, or enunciate some other policy that is intelligible and consistent. As it is, you have imprisoned something like 4,000 of the best men in Ireland, not half a dozen of whom are criminals or men with whom any Member of this House would be ashamed to shake hands. I call upon the Chief Secretary either to have the courage to carry out logically and consistently the thoroughgoing execution of these brutal Prison Rules, or else to have the candour to admit that they are utterly untenable and a disgrace to his administration.
§ (5.57.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOE IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I am unwilling to disturb the relative solitude of the Benches by any speech couched in the controversial tone which the hon. Gentleman has thought fit to adopt on this congenial topic. ["Oh!"] It is a congenial topic, because it is one on which the hon. Gentleman has favoured the Committee year after year. I will proceed, however, to deal as shortly as I can with the various observations made by the hon. Gentlemen who have taken part in this Debate. With reference to the case of Morrisey, who is in prison for contempt of Court, my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General for Ireland will at once make himself acquainted with the facts, with a view to considering whether there is a fair case for release or not. As to the case of Mr. M'Enery, the right of the Prisons Board to remove prisoners from the locality in which the offence is committed is one that has been constantly exercised without comment in this House. It must be evident that occasionally, as where the prisoner is a person who might, either through his own action or that of his friends, give rise to excitement or agitation in the town in which he lived, it might be convenient in the public interest to remove the prisoner to some other locality. Tullamore, the prison to which Mr. M'Enery was removed, is a healthy prison, and extremely well suited for the purposes of a prison, and I do not think Mr. M'Enery has any right or reason to complain. The hon. 244 Member for North Cork raised a number of cases in which he informed the Committee that the Prison Rules with regard to dress had been violated in the case of certain prisoners recently confined. In regard to Mr. James O'Brien, I have no information. I do not think any question has been asked in the House with regard to the treatment of Mr. James O'Brien.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The question was not addressed to me, or I should doubtless have been aware of it. It does appear to have been the opinion of the Prisons Board that this gentleman was not sufficiently supplied with clothing. With regard to the case of Mr. O'Mahoney, I think the hon. Member for North Cork is mistaken. I find a question was asked in the House on March 14 by the hon. Member for Tipperary. The question in this instance related not to prison dress, but to exercise. In the course of the answer by my right hon. Friend the Attorney General it appeared that the prisoner was exercised alone, inasmuch as he elected to wear his own clothes. I, therefore, think it must be under some misapprehension that the hon. Member has raised the question of Mr. O'Mahoney in this connection. Then the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford gave the Committee a narrative of his experiences connected with his visit to the hon. Member for North-East Cork in Galway Gaol. He told the Committee that he had written a letter either to me or to the Prisons Board giving his views on the legal aspect of the question. I have no recollection of having received any such letter; and if it was addressed to the Prisons Board, I am extremely surprised that the right hon. Gentleman should have received no answer, because, whether the Prisons Board thought it right or not to enter into a controversy with the right hon. Gentleman on the subject, I feel sure they would have sent an official acknowledgment of the receipt of the letter if it was received. I think the letter must have miscarried, but I will make inquiry, and find out why attention was not paid to the communication of the right hon. Gentleman. As regards the main argument of the right hon. Gentleman, it appears that in Ireland the Visiting Justices have a discretion in the matter. They can permit 245 these communications between prisoners and their friends to go on in the presence of a warder or not. The Justices seem to have decided that in this particular case the interview should take place without the presence of a warder. As a general rule, interviews take place in the presence of a warder; but when the right gentleman visited Galway Gaol, the Visiting Justices appear to have paid the right hon. Gentleman the personal compliment of allowing the interview without the presence of a warder. I do not criticise the action of the Visiting Justices; they are not under my control, and, if they thought that a proper compliment to pay to the right hon. Gentleman, I have nothing to say either for or against their action.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I did not claim it on my own behalf, and as a matter between the hon. Member and myself, but as a matter of rule under the law, that the hon. Member was entitled to see a visitor without the presence of a warder.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the right hon. Gentleman is hardly correct in his interpretation of the law; but if that is so, his view can be legally enforced. No change has been made by the Prisons Board in this connection, and I presume they have founded their invariable procedure on an interpretation of the Prisons Act which they have taken pains to verify. The hon. Gentleman who last sat down went into very ancient history. He went back to the conversation between myself and Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, when staying together in a country house, and of which an extraordinary, garbled, and inaccurate version was given to the public and categorically contradicted by me at the time.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
No; I can hardly be expected at this distance of time to recollect exactly what was said, but I can very well recollect that I never said anything of the kind that Mr Blunt attributed to me. The purport of what Mr. Blunt said was that I expressed a desire to exterminate my political opponents by subjecting them to hardships in Irish prisons. The hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East 246 Cork himself has been four times an inmate of Irish prisons, and I can point to him as a living testimony to the excellence of the fare received on those occasions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman waxed very angry with me over the intention he attributed to me of compelling him to admit himself to be a criminal. I had never any such intention. I have my own views of the actions of the hon. Gentleman, and I have supported those views on certain occasions, but I have never desired that he should be compelled, directly or indirectly, to express any views on the subject. That is entirely a matter for the hon. Gentleman himself. He has a right to his own opinion, and I have an equal right to mine. The hon. Gentleman asks why, if he is a criminal, he is a Member of this House? There are regulations laid down which describe the offences which prevent gentlemen from being Members of the House, and the hon. Gentleman has not committed one of these offences, and, therefore, we shall have the advantage of his presence among us. The hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Cuninghame Graham)also came into conflict with the laws of his country, not in Ireland, but in England; and in accordance with ordinary procedure, he was brought before a Magistrate and sent to prison, where he was subjected to the severer treatment meted out to prisoners. in English prisons, though there is the difference in the case of the hon. Member for Lanark, that he has never made any complaint of the treatment to which, by his own action, he subjected himself. When he had completed his sentence he returned to this House, for he, like the hon. Member for North-East Cork, had not committed any offence against the law for which the Rules of this House prescribe that a person committing such offence shall be disqualified from sitting here, so he remains with us unto this day. In either case the treatment is the same. The question the hon. Gentleman asked about himself might, with equal justice, be asked about the hon. Member for Lanarkshire. Then the hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. O'Brien) went on to develop, at great length, a 247 theme he is very fond of. He is always anxious to prove to the country that the Government are, as he describes it, beaten to their knees, and the particular illustration of that position he has provided relates to the action taken by myself in regard to prison clothes. The hon. Gentleman objected to my describing his opinion on the wearing of prison clothes as a monomania. Well, I think it is. If it should be my lot, which I trust it may never be, to come into conflict with the law and become an inmate of a prison, I should not object to conform to the regulations that govern prisoners, the use of prison clothes among them. But the hon. Gentleman takes a different view. I do not understand why it is he thinks a tremendous victory has been gained over the Government. I am sure I am not concerned to discuss in this connection who has won and who has lost, but, merely as a matter of curiosity, I may ask why it is he claims to have gained a great victory? The hon. Gentleman says that he wanted no distinction made between his lot it and the lot of other prisoners, except a distinction founded upon the classification of offences; that he only wanted some distinction by which it should be publicly admitted that he in breaking the law had done something entirely different to other offenders against the law, other criminals who break the law. If the hon. Gentleman——
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If that is what the hon. Gentleman says, it is a thing he has not got, because he admits he makes it matter of complaint that we still decline to draw a line between offences he ordinarily and inaccurately describes as political and other offences against the laws of the country. The hon. Gentleman was very angry with me because it has been laid down in the new prison rules that the wearing of prison dress is not to depend in any way upon the class of offence Committed. We did decline to make that distinction, and we still decline, and therefore it appears that we have retained the only position we desired to retain, and the hon. Gentleman has failed to obtain the only thing he wished to obtain. Under the circumstances, I think the triumph he claims is deprived of any value, and he 248 must seek some field other than that of prison discipline to gratify his ambition. The broad statistics of the health of the prisoners in Ireland conclusively prove that the condition of Irish prisons is good. The health of prisoners leaves nothing to be desired. The only distinction that has occurred between those whom the hon. Gentleman erroneously describes as political offenders and others is not founded on any action of mine, but is founded on the action of the prison doctors. I believe that a very much larger proportion of those gentlemen have had the advantage of hospital treatment than has been accorded to any other class of prisoners; but whether they have had ordinary prison treatment or hospital treatment I think the record of the health of prisoners is a satisfactory proof of the good condition of Irish prisons.
§ (6. 15.) MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman has again adopted that sneering manner to which we are well accustomed. I have not the slightest objection. I have myself been the object of such sneers for a good many years, and am not in the least degree the worse for them, and, so far as I can gather, the demeanour of the right hon. Gentleman, his sneers and smiling insults have assisted our cause very much among the English constituencies. Except, therefore, as a matter of personal good taste I do not care how long he continues this demeanour. But is it not a most unworthy tone for a Minister to adopt? He has said nothing in the speech to-which we have just listened, or in any of his various speeches on this subject, nothing at all, in answer to the broad charge, the undoubtedly true charge, that a method of petty persecution as regards prison treatment has been adopted against his political opponents in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman, I believe, did at the time deny the statement attributed to him by Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, and I am not concerned with whether the alleged statements of what took place in the conversation are true or not; but what seems to me to be beyond all controversy, no matter what may have been said on that occasion, is that in the beginning the right hon. Gentleman started on his policy in Ireland with the deliberate intention of degrading, insulting, and inflicting cruel suffering upon 249 his political opponents in Ireland—a mean, shabby, cowardly policy. When the right hon. Gentleman stands at that Table and tells us, with a smile, that we look all the better for our prison treatment—well I question the good taste of his observations. For myself, and others of my comrades in the Irish cause, I say it is false to say that we have made complaints, here or elsewhere, of our prison treatment. The right hon. Gentleman knows that we have never complained. It is true that public comment arose on the details of prison treatment, but it is not true, it is false, to say that we made any complaint of our treatment in Irish prisons. It is not courteous, it is not decent, for the right hon. Gentleman to stand up in this House and refer, as he has, to our prison treatment. The right hon. Gentleman says he hopes he never may have experience of prison life, and I do not suppose he ever will have such experience, for he has always taken care to stand by a Party who are never likely to get into prison. [Cheers.] Yes, but I know this, that all the good causes that were ever fought for and have triumphed in this world were not won by the people who were afraid to go to prison. I am not ashamed, and never shall be ashamed, to remember that I have stood among men who have gone to prison for our cause and may do so again. It is not unnatural that the right hon. Gentleman should sneer at and treat with contempt the squalid details, as he describes them, of prison treatment, but we who have been submitted to these details of prison treatment, some of us four or five times, having regard to the future, naturally take an interest in these details, although they are squalid. I admit they are squalid. I have worn prison linen, and I venture to say it is not spotless, it is not pleasant to wear or to look at. The right hon. Gentleman should look at the clothing before he is qualified to say he would be willing to wear it. I should like to see the right hon. Gentleman walking round a ring in prison uniform. He is a man greatly admired by his friends for his personal appearance. I am reminded of an observation from an old Irishwoman I once overheard. She was looking at a lady whom nature had not endowed with beauty, but who was exquisitely dressed, and she said, "Glory 250 be to God, how much dress will do for a woman. "I have thought of this remark as I have seen the right hon. Gentleman walking up the floor of the House. I think his dress does a great-deal for him. I congratulate him upon his tailor, and should like to know his address. Ah, but if the right hon. Gentleman's admirers saw him walking round a prisoners' ring in the garb we have worn, I do not think they would consider him such a handsome man as. now they do. All this is very laughable as we speak of these things in this. House, but they were not so when they were inflicted upon us, and I do not think there is any hon. Gentleman opposite, who thinks it manly to sneer at us, who would not suffer under a sense of cruel wrong if subjected to the treatment we endured. The right hon. Gentleman says he would not object to wear the prison dress. Did he ever see it? Did he ever go into a prison and see the details of prison life? I do not suppose he ever did, or has the least idea of what they are. I recollect that the Dublin Evening Express, the organ of the Irish Conservative Party, rejoicing over the passing of the Coercion Act, said in a leading article—At last we shall have an opportunity of seeing the leaders of the National Party dressed in the livery of crime.Yes, it is an outrage, a cruel outrage. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen, appreciate that the outrage is not connected with the material discomforts of imprisonment, not confined to the outrage connected with what is vulgarly called "grub." Men are anxious to make pairs and leave this House in the evening, because the dinners provided are not sufficiently good for them, and they drive to the "Reform" or the "Carlton." They would, no doubt, suffer from prison food; but let me tell hon. Members, possibly they may not be aware of the fact, that there are people in Ireland who can suffer keenly, with a suffering not of a material kind, men, too, of a humble position in life, with a cruel, bitter sense of wrong, of terrible injury they can never forget, at being compelled to wear the "livery of crime." There is not to-day a man of enlightenment and intelligence in the length and breadth of the Continent of Europe, or in America, who does not regard the whole of this 251 prison treatment to which we have been subjected as an outrage upon civilisation, and an infamy to the Government who inflicted it. I agree to the fullest extent with my hon. Friend the Member for North - East Cork in the view he has laid before the Committee. I say that the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman, for he accepts full responsibility in regard to prison treatment, has been mean and contemptible in the highest 'degree. He has not pursued, he has not had the courage to pursue, a consistent policy in this. He started by declaring that, come what would, he would make no difference between priest and layman, Member of Parliament or peasant, and inch by inch, as the tide of public opinion rose, and as he saw the use that was made of this prison treatment at the expense of his Party at English bye-elections, inch by inch he gave way. He has removed many of the objectionable features in connection particularly—and this is the meaness of the policy—particularly in connection with the imprisonment of men who can come over to England and address an English audience. The poor peasant is treated like a pickpocket, but for a precisely similar offence the right hon. Gentleman is afraid so to treat the man who can afterwards speak to an English meeting. Is that not base, mean, and contemptible, and not only base and contemptible, but directly contrary to the action to which he pledged himself, in the face of this House and of England, when he entered upon his cruel and most indefensible policy? I will say no more upon the general ground, the "squalid details" of our prison treatment. I have been tried two or three times, and I have suffered imprisonment on a charge of criminal conspiracy. Nothing is more certain than that if it were possible to convict me in England—that is impossible, but supposing it were possible, for the sake of argument, to convict me upon the same evidence as that upon which I was convicted in Ireland of the offence of criminal conspiracy, then I should be ordered to be treated as a first class misdemeanant. I speak not for myself, but for another man, who had not the faintest intention of crime. Does anyone maintain that in England a man convicted for criminal conspiracy, the object being no crime, 252 and only a crime as being in the nature of conspiracy under the Common Law, does anyone say that in England the Judge would not order him to be treated as a first-class misdemeanant? At the present moment Mr. John Kelly is serving a sentence of imprisonment with hard labour at Clonmel. He has refused to do any hard labour, as I am informed, or to conform to the rules which he considers humiliating for the treatment of a hard labour prisoner. Now, I want to know is the right hon. Gentleman going to inflict savage and brutal treatment in order to compel Mr. John Kelly to do labour that he would never be asked to do in this country? I warn him that if he does he will hear a great deal more of this case. I must say that it seems to me this is a gross example of the cruel policy of the right hon. Gentleman. Having said so much with regard to this particular case, and as I suppose I should not be in order in enlarging upon it at any length and as we may be obliged before long to bring it in another way before the House, I will conclude repeating what I have more than once said: We Irish Members and Members of the Nationalist Party have not complained of our prison treatment, but on general principles we do protest against the Queen's subjects, and still more the people of Ireland, being subjected to humiliating, insulting, treatment, which, in the opinion of all intelligent civilised people in the world, should be reserved for those guilty of disgraceful crimes.
§ (6.30.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not want to prolong the discussion, but as the hon. Member has taken exception to the tone of my speech, I merely wish to say that I endeavoured studiously to remain within the bounds of moderation, although, as it will be remembered in the speech to which I was replying, I was described as base, contemptible, cowardly, and a would-be murderer. [Mr. W. O'BRIEN: That is absolutely false.] In these circumstances I think that I have been remarkably moderate.
§ (6.31.) MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
Considering that the right hon. Gentleman never at any time contradicted the letter of Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, I am not at all surprised to learn that his conduct towards prisoners in Ireland has been described in the terms 253 he has just quoted. He has said in his speech he believed we were monomaniacs for having objected to the treatment to which we were subjected, and that he himself, if he were a prisoner, would not object to the treatment of an ordinary common criminal, that he would follow the example of the hon. Member for Lanarkshire (Mr. C. Graham), and willingly allow himself to be subjected to this indignity. But there is no comparison between the offences the Irish Members were charged with and the alleged offence of the hon. Member for Lanarkshire. The hon. Gentleman was punished for violence. I introduced a Bill in this House last year for the purpose of dealing with offences under the Crimes Act, and I specially exempted all cases of violence. I claimed for the men imprisoned under that Act the treatment of political offenders, but I exempted from such treatment all those who were found guilty of acts of violence. During the course of the discussion which took place on my Bill, the right hon. Gentleman stated that, owing to the treatment of the political prisoners in Ireland, we were able to make an impression on the people of Great Britain. He admitted that at the time, and he declared his intention of issuing a Commission for the purpose of inquiring into the treatment of prisoners not only in Ireland but in Great Britain. I stated at the time that that was a make-shift to cover his retreat from the position he had assumed with regard to Irish prisoners, and I was fully borne out in my prediction that before the Commission reported to the Government the right hon. Gentleman, as head of the Prisons Board in Ireland, introduced bye-laws and rules which altered the whole position of the Irish prisoners. All I asked by my Bill was that prisoners under the Coercion Act should not be required to wear the prison dress—the livery of crime—that they should not be subjected to hair-shaving, to clipping and shaving of beards, to bearing company with criminals in the course of their exercise, and that they should not be required to perform menial offices. Every one of those demands has been granted. Prom that day no man imprisoned under the Chimes Act has been asked to wear the prison dress, or to have his beard shaved, or his hair clipped; no man has 254 been asked to perform menial offices, or to bear company with criminals. My complaint to-day is that while he has made concessions to us on these points in deference to the public opinion of England, he has endeavoured, by his Prisons Board and his Prison Inspectors, to rob us of the benefit of the concessions. Last year we were not required to bear company with criminals, but the right hon. Gentleman managed by his Visiting Justices to reduce us to the position of the lowest criminals in the prison. When I, the hon. Member for Mid Cork, one of my Colleagues in the representation of Tipperary, and another gentleman were imprisoned in Clonmel Gaol, we were allowed to exercise in each other's company. We had to conform to the rules of the prison by marching at intervals of some five or six feet. This, of course, we did, but we had the pleasure and the comfort of taking exercise with one another for two hours per day. The remaining 22 hours we spent in cells 12 feet by six in measurement. But we were removed from Clonmel Prison to the central Bastille at Tullamore. The right hon. Gentleman says that prisoners were sent to Tullamore so that they might be removed from districts where their presence, even within prison walls, was calculated to create excitement. No; the object of sending prisoners to the central Bastille was to punish them by a straining of the prison law. How is the law strained? After our first day's imprisonment in Tullamore the privilege of taking our exercise in each other's company was denied to us. We were brought out at different hours of the day. We were thrown into a large enclosure through an iron gate, like wild beasts. The doors round about the enclosure were closely barred, and there, like wild beasts in a menagerie, we were allowed to pace round without a single soul near us. We were reduced to the position of the lowest criminals in the prison, and I have it on the authority of more than one Governor of a prison in Ireland that when refractory prisoners are to be punished and brought to discipline they are put upon the solitary system. This is the greatest punishment that a criminal can be subjected to, and it is to such punishment that the right hon. Gentleman is subjecting his prisoners at 255 the present time. It has been said in the House of Commons that men are sent to Tullamore because the system is so very perfect, and because the Governor of the prison is specially capable of carrying out the system. Let me relate what happened in my own case. By the order of the Judges of the Royal Commission we were permitted to have an Irish newspaper, which contained a report of what occurred in the Commission Court. While we were imprisoned in Clonmel Gaol we saw a newspaper. Certainly, everything else but the report was cut away, but while the report was on one side there were advertisements or, perhaps, little scraps of news on the other side. What occurred in Tullamore? What did the fertile ingenuity of the model Governor of a model Chief Secretary of a model Prisons Board do? In order to deprive us of the pleasure of reading the advertisements in the Freeman's Journal he got a piece of brown paper, carefully gummed it, and plastered it all over the back of the newspaper to prevent us reading anything but the Report of the Commission. The Russians have a very perfect system of stamping out, but Captain Featherstonhaugh had no such system, and he was obliged to resort to brown paper and gum. I mention this circumstance to show that this model Governor strained every rule of law he possibly could in order to make the position of the prisoners more irksome and cruel than it otherwise would be, and I maintain it is because it is such a prison, and Captain Featherstonhaugh is such a Governor, that the Chief Secretary has selected Tullamore as the place for the punishment of his political opponents. It may be interesting to the Committee to know what I did when I found the advertisements obliterated. I steeped the paper very carefully in my basin of water, and freed the report from the brown paper. I showed the paper to the doctor, and told him I despised such petty tyranny as the Governor had displayed in trying to obliterate all but the Report. From that day I was permitted to read the advertisements. Let me mention the case of Mr. O'Brien, who was in the Cork prison a short time ago. When Mr. O'Brien went to the Cork prison, the Chief Governor must have been away. I should be sorry to 256 believe that Colonel Roberts was capable of such petty tyranny as was practised in the case of Mr. O'Brien. I have been in the charge of Colonel Roberts under all circumstances of imprisonment. I bave been under him as a first-class-misdemeanant, as a man waiting trial, as a convict, and as an accessory, and I have experienced nothing but the most kindly treatment from Colonel Roberts. But when I was under the charge of Colonel Roberts, it was under the humane administration of the Liberal Government, and I may say I can almost tell by the way in which a gaoler turns the key in the lock who is in Office. By the way in which your goaler looks at you, by the way in which he hands you your food—if you can call it food—you know what is the spirit that prevails in Dublin Castle. It is said that O'Brien's underclothing was taken from him because it was not perfectly bleached. What an absurd reason to give in the case of a man who is in such a position that he can offer the Magistrates £1,000 down as bail. It is too absurd to say that the linen of such a man will not bear the inspection of a common gaoler. Mr. O'Brien would not have been persecuted as he was if the right hon. Gentleman's gaolers and police did not know that they can with impunity inflict these petty punishments on the right hon. Gentleman's victims, because he is certain to defend them in this House, no matter how atrocious their conduct has been. That is the true meaning of the manner in which law is administered, both in prison and out of prison, in Ireland. The Prison Governors, the gaolers, and the warders of Ireland fast become inoculated and permeated with that spirit of bitter hostility which the right hon. Gentleman expresses in this House, and which is reflected in the proceedings of his subordinates in Ireland.
§ (6.53.) MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I will do the right hon. Gentleman the credit of believing that he has not himself realised the measureless sufferings which his policy has inflicted on political opponents who are quite as honourable as himself. If I thought he did realise them I should speak of him not in terms of vituperation, but rather in terms of pity. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that he never took the trouble of visiting a gaol or realising 257 the régime of a gaol. I would advise him, if it be too irksome to him to visit a gaol, to read a few chapters of that celebrated book by that distinguished man Michael Davitt, Leaves from a Prison Diary, If he wants a scenic representation of sufferings such as those he has inflicted in Ireland, I would advise him to go the Lyceum, and see "The Taking of the Bastille." He will there see the emaciated forms of people from whom all hope of life has gone, and will realise the sufferings he has inflicted on his political opponents in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman has told us what he would do if he were in prison. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, although we do not like his political ways and looks, if he were in prison in our hands not one of us would show him the slightest personal indignity, and we should refrain not for his sake but for our own. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) was allowed to visit the Member for North-East Cork in Galway Gaol without the intervention of a warder. The right hon. Gentleman, however, need not think much of the privilege. The same privilege was, under the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary's régime, accorded to Mr. Shannon, agent of the Times, when he was endeavouring, with the permit of the right hon. Gentleman, to trump up evidence on behalf of the Times. Now, I say that during the right hon. Gentleman's régime there has been a remarkable difference in prison treatment with reference, firstly, to the prison chaplains; secondly, to the prison doctors; and thirdly, to the warders. I will deal with the warders first. Before the right hon. Gentleman entered into Office warders were allowed very generous holidays, and could go about the town without wearing uniform. Since he has entered upon Office warders have been dismissed for refusing to wear the prison uniform in public. I take it to be the policy of the Irish Executive that warders shall be made a distinct class, who shall have no communication with the rest of the community, and who shall be kept as far as possible out of sympathy with the poople. I bring this charge not so much against the right hon. Gentleman personally as against his officials. In other days the chaplains in 258 gaols have been the friends of the prisoners. They have been allowed to have special keys to the cells, and have been allowed to visit without being accompanied by a warder. They have, in fact, been regarded by the prisoners as the only friends they have. But now, Sir, all this has been altered and scandalously so in Derry Gaol. In that gaol a number of persons from my constituency were unfortunately lodged for political offences, and will the House believe that the Governor of that gaol remonstrated with the Roman Catholic chaplain because he made more than the usual number of regulation visits. I asked the Attorney General a question on that point a few months ago, and he replied—The General Prisons Board report that it is the case that the Governor of Londonderry prison communicated with the Roman Catholic chaplain for calling to see a certain class of prisoners more often than others. He did so in pursuance of general instructions on the subject issued by the General Prisons Board. It is not the duty of a chaplain to see every prisoner on each occasion of visiting a prisoner. His duties are fully defined in the prison rules. When a chaplain uses the privilege of his office in paying frequent or protracted personal visits to individual prisoners of a particular class, in a manner not contemplated by the prison rules, it is, in the opinion of the Board, absolutely necessary that the Governor should interfere to prevent such an abuse of his privileges as chaplain.Last year I brought a charge of gross personal cruelty and malignity against the Governor of this prison, and he thereupon proceeded, by depriving the prisoners of the ministrations of a chaplain, to make their condition still more miserable. On the 31st August last, the day after the prorogation of Parliament, Mr. Joyce, a Prisons' Inspector, went down to Londonderry Prison and wrote a letter of a friendly kind to the chaplain, asking him to call and see him. Father Doherty did so, and Mr. Joyce then requested him to give evidence at an inquiry by the Prisons Board. Father Doherty replied that he could not do so, and that he knew nothing about prison discipline. He was not in the gaol as a prison officer or a spy, and it would limit his usefulness with prisoners if he did any such thing as had been requested. Thereupon he was dismissed by order of the Prisons Board. At that time—the 16th Septem- 259 ber—there were no fewer than 125 Catholic prisoners in the gaol, and since then the Roman Catholic prisoners have been without the ministrations of any priest whatever. The compromise which was arrived at only adds to the scandal, for all prisoners sent to gaol for a month or longer, are now sent at vast expense to Belfast and other prisons. All prisoners for a shorter term than one month in Derry gaol, have to do without the ministrations of a priest. Father Doherty having been dismissed, the Prisons Board wrote to the Vicar Capitular of the Diocese, speaking of the matter as an urgent one, and asking his serious attention, in order that the Roman Catholic prisoners in Londonderry Prison might not be deprived of the ordinary services of their Church. I may here state that Father Doherty was asked to give evidence as to how letters written by the hon. Member for Camborne were got out of the prison. The Vicar Capitular, in the course of his reply, said—If you require him ("Father Doherty) to depose on oath against any of the inmates of the prison, and if he complied, henceforward they would look upon their clergyman as a warder in disguise, and his influence ever after would be useless for good—a result painful to think of. Chaplains, like other professional men, should he safeguarded; they should he perfectly free to observe silence on matters that may come to their official knowledge in their intercourse with prisoners.The Prisons Board, in their letter, accused Father Doherty of gross insubordination to prison authority, and in regard to that the Vicar Capitular replied—If Father Doherty could have given any information—which I do not admit—touching the subject matter of the inquiry, he could only have obtained that information in his capacity as chaplain, and Acts of Parliament notwithstanding, the Courts of Law have heretofore recognised a clergyman's right to refuse such information for the reasons stated in my former letters. I do hope the Prisons Board will allow no consideration to weigh with them other than the good of the unfortunate prisoners in the gaol.The Prisons Board have, however, held out, and from that day to this no Roman Catholic chaplain has been appointed. There has been some correspondence between the right hon. Gentleman and the newly-appointed Bishop of Derry. It has been stated that the Bishop was communicated with, but in a letter, dated the 19th June, the Bishop of Derry 260 denies having received, either directly or indirectly, any communication from the Prisons Board. He adds—Supposing Father Doherty had allowed himself to be sworn, then, whether he answered the questions put to him or whether he did not, it would have equally served the ends of the Government, for, from his very silence, conclusions would have been drawn more detrimental, perhaps, to the prisoners than his answers themselves. But had he consented to answer the questions, who does not see that he would have been abusing his position as Catholic chaplain in divulging what he could only have learned as chaplain? Is a medical man expected to abuse the confidence of his patient, or a lawyer to divulge the secrets of his clients?Now, I wish to know, are Catholic prisoners all over Ireland to be deprived of the benefits of the ministrations of a priest because he is not content to be a warder in disguise? Can a prisoner communicate with the chaplain without a fear that that official will be hauled before the Star Chamber and compelled to state all he knows? But as if to show the utter absurdity of the suggestion that the letters of the hon. Member for Camborne were conveyed out of the prison by the chaplain, they were far more numerous after Mr. Doherty's dismissal than before. I have one in my hand which was published on September 30, and in which Mr. Conybeare ridicules the idea that Mr. Doherty had anything to do with getting the letters out of the gaol. He adds—No decent Catholic priest, I am confident, will accept any appointment as chaplain here until Father Doherty is reinstated. If such a one were found he would he a blackleg, or as we may say, a clerical land grabber, and with such a one, I for one will refuse to have anything to do.…They have condemned me unheard, and condemned me to the loss of my writing materials for 10 days. Fortunately I found means of being even with them, and being able to write you this letter can, as you see, snap my fingers at their paltry tyranny.I am not much of a correspondent, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman there never was such close correspondence with my hon. Friend the Member for Camborne during the 20 years I have known him, as while he was an inmate of this prison. As a distinguished politician said, "The Derry Gaol Post Office was in full working order." Whoever brought the letters out I do not know, nor am I concerned to inquire. But I do want to know what the right hon. Gentleman intends to do in connection with these Catholic chaplains. Are 261 the only chaplains to be employed to be men whom the prisoners will regard as the ministers of an odious and atrocious tyranny? Does the right hon. Gentleman wish to make the ministration of religion in Ireland as odious and contemptible as the administration of justice? And now I will pass on to the case of the prison doctors. The most humane men of all are medical men: they love to alleviate suffering, and are not actuated by mercenary motives. But the right hon. Gentleman in his prison administration has used them not to alleviate pain, but for the purpose of torturing them, so far as is consistent, with not murdering them. They have to see not how well a prisoner can be kept, but what amount of suffering he can endure without dying in gaol. No sooner did the right hon. Gentleman accede to office, than down came an order from the Prisons Board, demanding prompt Reports immediately any indulgence, dietary or otherwise, was granted to a prisoner, and the reason for the grant. Poor Dr. Ridley again and again assured the hon. Member for North-East Cork that he would gladly do something for him, but that if he did, he would be dismissed. He asked Mr. Lane, another prisoner, to go into hospital, or otherwise he could do nothing for him. One of the most recent cases that has come under my notice has been that of Michael Cleary, who has been actually murdered—who was given up as a blood offering to the Smith-Barry brigade. These are the circumstances. On the 5th September, a boy named Heffernan was shot by the police, against whom a Coroner's jury returned a verdict of wilful murder. Of course the Government screened their friends, and prevented a prosecution. In the mêlée which attended the murder of this boy, several men were injured by the police, others were prosecuted for throwing stones, and among them was Michael Cleary, the support of an aged mother. He declared that he took no part in these disturbances, but still, he was sentenced to two months hard labour. He went into gaol on the 14th November, he left on the 11th June, and he died on the 26th February. When he went into gaol he was suffering' from consumption in an advanced stage, although it was possible he might have been cured of it. Dr. Hewetson, who has 262 been in a lunatic asylum, a fact which may account for his cruelty and want of care in this case—never looked at Cleary until the 25th"November, and he then certified him as able to do hard labour. During the whole of the time Cleary was spitting blood, and as a result of his punishment, and the wretched food he had, his illness was aggravated to a fatal extent, for, as I have already stated, he died soon after his release from prison, constituting another victim of this shameful and scandalous system of prison torture. I now pass to another subject. The right hon. Gentleman, with his usual inaccuracy, jauntily declared the other day that the prisons were in a healthy state, whereas, they are in the worst possible condition. A remarkable letter by Dr. Roche, one of the heads of the profession in Dublin—contains these words:—The undeniable and indisputable facts which present themselves are that all the prisons were built in olden times, and after an antiquated system, and when the value of light, air, and basement drainage was not understood. There is ample testimony that pallor, tremor, loss of weight, and frequently diarrhœa supervene in many cases after admission to a large number of gaols throughout Ireland. There is no record given by the Prisons Board of the percentage of those constantly sick, but there is of those constantly mad, and this is over 7 per cent., which, is 16 times as great as the general community's proportion. The prison officials have admitted that there are cells in Tullamore and Derry Gaols 9ft. by 6ft. by 10ft. high, 540 cubic feet, and without a fireplace or chimney. Mr. Blunt has written that his cell was 10ft. by 7ft. by 9ft., and without a chimney. The history of Larkin, Mandeville, and others all indicate insufficient aeration. The affections of the eyes complained of by many prisoners denote the same.We know that Mr. Cox, the Member for Clare, and Mr. Wilfrid Blunt, complained of their eyes when they left gaol. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks it necessary to keep people in prison for anything, will he endeavour to secure that their health shall not be ruined? I ask the right hon. Gentleman, in conclusion, will he persist in making chaplains warders and gaolers in disguise, and will he use the medical officers not as protectors of health, but as instruments to enable the Government to torture prisoners without actually murdering them? I hope that he will give us some information on the points I have raised.
§ (7.30.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
Of all the Votes in Supply none deserve more thorough investigation than this Prisons Vote. The Chief Secretary in the course of his remarks just now, which I must stigmatise as "most unladylike," could make no answer to the charges against his prison administration, and the treatment of his political opponents, but his tone and manner were most exasperating. However, we are accustomed to this, and to make allowance for the right hon. Gentleman's shortcomings in temper and manners. I do not hesitate to say that Michael Cleary was foully murdered, done to death in Clonmel Gaol. What was the verdict of the Coroner's Jury which sat on the case? The Coroner was not in the least a sympathiser with Nationalist politics, so it cannot be alleged that he biased the jury. The inquiry lasted a long time, and I listened to the evidence given by Dr. Conway, and the cross-examination of Dr. Hewetson, and I never felt more distressed in my life than I did at the efforts made by that poor medical man, Dr. Hewetson, to make good his position. I do not blame that unfortunate gentleman; it is not his fault; he is a victim of the Chief Secretary's system. Everybody knows he was brought from a lunatic asylum to the gaol. But we have it in black and white that this poor young man, Cleary, was a month in Clonmel Gaol without being examined, and he was suffering from incipient phthisis, as sworn to by his medical adviser. When he became too weak to be neglected longer he was sent into hospital for three weeks. Three weeks! I should like to see the medical card for this case. It does not need to be a doctor to know that consumption cannot be cured in three weeks. The dying boy was sent back at the end of three weeks to pick oakum and lie on a plank bed! Let anybody imagine this frightful condition of things. There was no want of confirmation of the fact that he was suffering from the disease. Every day for three weeks he suffered from vomiting, and, what is more, he spat blood, and this, of course, as we know, thoroughly confirmed the diagnosis of Dr. Conway. The Chief Secretary, I am afraid, has grown callous in the course of his administration, not that at any time he had 264 a very sympathetic turn, but I wish to call attention to this awful example of what may result from the position of these unfortunate people, shut out as it were from the light of day in gaol. The public have no means of knowing what is taking place. I recollect when I was in Clonmel Gaol last year three lads being brought in from one of the northern districts. Their cell was opposite to mine, and I heard their expostulations against being deprived of their clothes, but of course expostulation was in vain; they were stripped and their own clothes taken away. We are told that if this is done in an illegal manner then proceedings can be taken against the warders, but it is quite possible for a man to be in prison for six months and not know the name of one of his warders. I was three months in Clonmel and three months in Galway gaols, and I only happened to learn the name of two or three warders at Clonmel. If you ask for information you are punished for doing so, and so it is difficult to get any light thrown on the system in Irish prisons, which I must call abominable. I had an opportunity of comparing, of differentiating between the Irish and the English systems, because I spent three weeks in Holloway Prison, and I can testify to the striking difference in favour of the humanity of the English system. The right hon. Gentleman sneered at the remark of my hon. Friend the Member for South Tipperary that while in prison it was easy for us to tell how the great political light was going on by the demeanour of our gaolers as they handed us our food, but that was so. I recollect quite well the hang-dog look of the Governor of the gaol, Mr. Andrews, who was appointed because he was a facile instrument for carrying out the behests of his superiors in the meanest, nastiest way; certainly he was one of the worst of the officials I met with during the time I was the guest of the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. I recollect full well when the Liberal cause was triumphing at Peterborough, Elgin, Nairn, and elsewhere, how we were better treated by the warders, and of course, if there appeared a check to Liberal progress, we suffered a little more, for you see a dog takes his tone from his master. There are three or 265 four questions to which I should like to get answers. First, I demand a reply on the subject of bail prisoners. Last year, in debate I think on this same Vote, in connection with this subject, my own case was brought up. For my own part, I have never made any complaint of my treatment, but I shall try to obtain a reform in prison discipline. In last year's Debate, on this question of bail prisoners, the Chief Secretary was subjected to some pressure, and first he stated that bail prisoners would be quite as well if not better treated than first class misdemeanants. Inquiry being pressed, the right hon. Gentleman found out that bail prisoners were not usually allowed to tee their visitors in a private room, but having made the statement that these prisoners should be treated as well as first class misdemeanants, this privilege was granted. This was the result of our agitation, and we can get nothing without that even in gaol. Many advantages I thus secured, and hope to do so again when next I go in. I was allowed a separate room, and any bail prisoner is entitled to a room if he pays for it, and there is one to be had; but in third-class gaols it is not always possible to get one. I also obtained the advantage of seeing my visitors, not in the "cage" as it is called, but in the Governor's room. Now this year, I have tried again and again, by nailing the Chief Secretary to his word, to get him to carry out his promise. I have tried to secure for other prisoners the advantage I obtained under the rules, for of course I should not have got them if I had not been able to point out the rule allowing them. I have pointed out how Mr. John Slattery, a respectable man, a bail prisoner from Cork, was obliged day after day to see his wife in the ordinary "cage." The Chief Secretary said, "Oh, he will have every advantage under the rules that can be offered." Now, that is not the answer we might expect. The right hon. Gentleman gave a pledge that bail prisoners should be as well treated as first-class misdemeanants, and I claim that he shall be as good as his word in the case of Mr. John Slattery. I saw this gentleman on each occasion when I went home to Ireland this Session, and I must say that on each occasion he looked 266 decidedly worse than before. I also took occasion to speak to the prison doctor, a friend of mine, and an estimable gentleman, Dr. Moriarty. I do not like to praise an official, for that may be set down to his disadvantage, for our attacks upon some of them seem to lead to promotion; however, speaking to Dr. Moriarty, he agreed with me it would be a great deal better for Mr. Slattery's health if he were placed in a room with more breathing space. Persons accustomed to outdoor exercise, and confined to a small cell for a long period, suffer materially in their health, and this is certainly the case with Mr. Slattery. With special reference to this case I think we are entitled to have an understanding from the Chief Secretary that bail prisoners should have the advantages they are entitled to under the rules and in accordance with his promise. There is another matter I should like to ventilate, and that is in relation to the exercise allowed to prisoners. In our country we must expect during the year considerable rainfall, and when bad weather sets in and prevents open-air exercise prisoners suffer severely. It may be remembered that a former Member of this House, Alderman Hooper, suffered severely in health from confinement to his cell, he refusing to take exercise with criminals. Very frequently for weeks together, and notably in Galway, Sligo, and some of our western counties, we have a continuous rainfall, and then unfortunate prisoners are deprived of the daily two hours' exercise to which they are entitled. A remedy for this can easily be provided. I gather from the remarks of the Chief Secretary, and I see from the Estimates, that a certain amount of money is to be expended upon Irish prisons, and I certainly ask on grounds of common humanity that covered exercise grounds should be provided for all prisons. It could be done at very small cost. At Galway Gaol, for instance, the cost would be very slight indeed, simply the enlarging and extending of a shed that already exists. I am not going into the case of Mr. James O'Brien, for my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Cork has sufficiently dealt with that, but there is another small matter in connection with Galway Gaol 267 which has rather a ludicrous side to it. Prisoners committed at Clifden for a week are sent to Galway because at Clifden there is only a Bridewell. The first night they sleep in the Clifden Bridewell and then the next day they are taken in a special outside car to Galway Gaol in the custody of a constable and two sub-constables; at Galway they pass three days in gaol and then they are brought away from Galway and lodged in Clifden again. So that a person fined 2s. 6d., or sentenced in default to a week's imprisonment, spends a couple of days of that time in driving round the country with an armed escort, and the sum total of the cost of every such conviction is, when all is defrayed, something like £3 10s. This sheds a little light on the way money is wasted in this Department. Then there is one small personal matter I have to mention. I do not like speaking about my own imprisonment, because if ever a Member on these Benches illustrates an argument by reference to his own experience in prison, the Chief Secretary gets up afterwards and says that Gentlemen opposite are always complaining, and never satisfied with their prison accommodation. Certainly I did feel hurt at one incident. When I was sent to Clonmel, on the third or fourth occasion, on arrival at the station I found a horrible old prison van, a ramshackle, antediluvian instrument of torture, drawn up at the station door. I am sure if any hon. Member here had an opportunity of inspecting the vehicle, he would condemn it in a most emphatic way, as I certainly did when I was required to ride in it. To my certain knowledge it had not been used for three or four months before. In this superannuated old vehicle, which was not considered good enough for the conveyance of passengers of a more distinguished criminal character, I was conveyed to my very considerable personal inconvenience. The Chief Secretary may smile at the incident, and think I am unduly fastidious, but I may mention that the warder who accompanied me inside got sick from the shaking and jolting of the machine on the way from the station to the gaol. Of course, I suppose the Chief Secretary thought my physique was equal to the trial. The vehicle had not been used 268 before since Special Assize time, and on three previous occasions I had been taken on to the gaol without this addistional torture, but this was in keeping with the policy of insult towards Irish Members inside and outside prison. There is good work to be done in connection with Irish gaols. In England you have a good gaol system, properly looked after by responsible people, but in Ireland there is a bad system controlled by a selection from the Castle Party. The sooner the system is swept away the better for people inside and outside the prisons; and it is for us who have had experience as guests of the right hon. Gentleman to let in the light "on the ways that are dark and the tricks that are vain" of the right hon. Gentleman and his subordinates.
§ *(7.47.) MR. H. HARRISON (Tipperary, Mid)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary what course he proposes to pursue with reference to Londonderry Gaol. In a Debate upon the Estimates last year the-condition of this gaol was raised with fulness in somewhat heated discussions. I do not propose now to hark back at any length on the matter, for the circum-stances must be fresh in the recollection; of most Members, but the Debates are instructive reading, and admirably illustrate the temper and touch of the right hon. Gentleman when he handles questions of Irish administration brought before him. At that time there had been reports that the sanitary arrangements of Londonderry Gaol were not all that they should be; there were rumours that typhoid fever was prevalent in the city, and that there had been cases in the gaol itself. Beyond that, there was the undoubted, undenied, and undisputed fact that five persons within six weeks had been dismissed from the gaol on account of ill-health, and that two of these, at least, had died shortly after their release, one of them- within 48 hours, of typhoid fever, contracted, according to the testimony of a competent medical authority, in the gaol. There was also the notorious fact, well known in Londonderry, that a peculiar unhealthy pallor was the accompaniment in almost all cases of a tenure for any length of time of a cell in Londonderry Gaol. Furthermore, there was the fact 269 that my hon. Friend the Member for Camborne (Mr. Conybeare) suffered from a pest not necessary for me to describe. Beyond this were the experiences related in Committee by the hon. Member for South Armagh (Mr. Blane), experiences which formed a formidable indictment against the prison officials and Prison administration—an indictment to which, I am sorry to say, the Chief Secretary did not see fit, so far as the Debates are reported in Hansard, to return any reply. In answering- the strong prima facie case for inquiry, what course did the right hon. Gentleman take? He scoffed at the rumours, denied or minimised the facts and scouted the inferences based upon them, and, mounting the high horse, rode off on a side issue, denouncing, in most vehement terms, those Members of the House who had seen fit, or dared, as he put it, to question either the competency or the integrity of the medical officer of the gaol, and who had dared to hint that any of the responsibility for what had occurred should be brought home to his door. The right hon. Gentleman, in the first instance, relied on the information given by the officials, and when further pressed he relied on the Report made by Dr. O'Farrell, the Medical Officer of the Prisons Board, in which the right hon. Gentleman professed to find ample refutation of all the allegations made against the condition of Derry Gaol. The complaints were that the cells were unhealthy, that the prison arrangements were not such as to ensure cleanliness, and that the whole of the drains were in a bad condition, and likely to create sickness. But, after the Debate, the right hon. Gentleman, though professing to see no ground to doubt the condition of Derry Gaol, and, therefore, no ground for granting an Inquiry, said that, in order to allay apprehension on the subject, he would have the state of the gaol inquired into by an independent official of the English Prisons Board; and the result is that we now have the Report of Major Beamish before us. With regard to the cells in Derry Gaol, it is found, according to this Report, that the ventilation is excessively insufficient, and that, in consequence, the prisoners confined there must suffer from the effects of bad air or from draughts; 270 While it is evident that the arrangements are not, in all cases, such as to ensure cleanliness, and, although the question of the sewers is dealt with in guarded language, it is abundantly clear that they are not all they ought to be. I do not now propose to enter into the question of the sanitary arrangements of Derry Gaol at any length, though, if the right hon. Gentleman wishes it, I am quite prepared to do so. But the significance of this Report is thrown into the shade by the admissions made by the Prisons Board attached to the Report of Major Beamish. Hon. Members who study the question will find that quite sufficient justification is made out for the action taken by those who raised this question last years, and that, in point of fact, there is substantial confirmation for every complaint then brought argainst Derry Gaol. The General Prisons Board give away the-whole case in the first few words of their remarks. They say—This gaol is one of the old type, and is so constructed that unless it be entirely levelled and rebuilt, it would be impossible to adopt it to the latest requirements as regards size of the cells, ventilation, and sanitary arrangements.Can any more sweeping condemnation of the whole arrangements be well imagined? The Prisons Board also say that, in the future they do not propose to confine within the walls of the gaol any prisoners sentenced to terms exceeding three months, while in many minor respects they have seen fit to adopt the recommendations of Major Beamish. Therefore, I say that hon. Members who brought forward complaints as to the state of this gaol last year were completely justified in the course they took. I now wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he intends to continue to-confine prisoners in a gaol which is found to be so unhealthy, and by what process of reasoning it is considered justifiable that prisoners whose offences are so small that they are sentenced to less than three months' imprisonment, should be kept there at imminent peril to their health, while those whose guilt is far greater are to be sent to more healthy establishments? I put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether, in view of the observations of the Prisons Board, he 271 cannot see his way to have this gaol closed for the time being, so that it may be re-constructed in conformity with the sanitary, principles applicable to modern gaols.
§ (8.10.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I must remind the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down that the accusations he has made are not the same as were brought forward on previous occasions. The prison is undoubtedly an old one, and many of the cells are not equal in size to those that are to be found in modern prisons. All that is required at present is that the number of prisoners in Derry Gaol should not be such as to necessitate the use of the small cells. With regard to the case of Cleary, I may state that it was by his own express wish that he had been discharged from hospital. I assume that his was a case of very rapid consumption. With regard to the prison chaplain to whom the hon. Member for South Donegal has referred, it should be remembered that the chaplain of a gaol is an official of the gaol, and when the Prisons Board had to hold an inquiry the chaplain in question refused to give information, which, as chaplain of the gaol, it was his duty to give. It was, therefore, obviously impossible that he should be allowed to remain. The Bishop, or the gentleman who acted for the Bishop at the time, refused to appoint another chaplain, and the result was that the Roman Catholic prisoners in Derry Gaol had been deprived of the services of their religion. It appears to me that that concerned not so much the Prisons Board as the Bishop of the diocese. At all events, no other course than that which they have taken was left open to the Board.
§ (8.14.) MR. J. G. FITZGERALD (Longford, S.)
It is impossible in the course of a single evening, to say nothing of a mere two or three hours, to travel over the whole of the barren waste of the Irish prisons question. During the régime of the right hon. Gentleman the prisons of Ireland have been filled to overflowing, and, unfortunately, many of those who have been confined in them are now dead, and it is the duty of the Irish Representatives to ask the Committee of this House for some consolation for 272 the relatives of those persons, and to press for some guarantee that in future those who are sent to these places shall not be dealt with in the same way as those whose lives have thus been sacrificed. When we were upon this Vote last year it was my duty to direct attention to the sanitary condition of Derry Prison. Owing to the state of the prison it became necessary for the Government to institute a special inquiry, which was carried out by the successor of Dr. Barr, as representative of the Irish Government. The right hon. Gentleman still undertakes to say that Derry Prison is a healthy prison. Here is the Report of Mr. O'Farrel. He says—A careful examination of the sanitary condition of this prison has satisfied me that there is nothing in the condition of the prison which could in any way he injurious to health.I apprehend that the Chief Secretary, when he made his statement to-night, had in his mind the Report of Dr. O'Farrel rather than the Report of the English Inspector, Mr. Edward Beamish, who says, in this prison three Irish prisoners have to put up with 1,592 cubic feet of air, whereas in an English prison one prisoner gets 1,200 cubic feet. He reports that there are 75 square inches of space for the inlet and outlet of air in the Irish cell, whereas in the English cell there are 108 square inches. With regard to the drainage of Derry Prison, he reports that the soil pipe is not trapped, and that it is defective, and states that one of the dust-holes has been left uncleaned six months at a time. Is there any reason for the Chief Secretary standing up and declaring, on the authority of a Report made 12 months ago, and now clearly discarded, that this prison, really a pest-hole, is in a sanitary condition. If any hon. Member is satisfied to live in a residence in which the soil pipe is untrapped, and if he is prepared to say that no sewer gas passes up through that pipe, then I say that he has arrived at a lamentable state of sanitary knowledge. I am perfectly sure that the right hon. Gentleman must have been misled by the Report of Dr. O'Farrel, and forgotten altogether the Report of Mr. Beamish. The prison is apparently condemned by the Prisons 273 Board, and is said to be only worthy of being razed, that a fitting receptacle for prisoners may be erected. But I am not so much concerned with the sanitary condition of the prison as with what happened to the prisoners confined there. I do not wish to rake up old sores, but this House is the last Court of Appeal to the humblest in the land, and we ought not to forget, because a few months have passed, the poor people who have been done to death. It is certain, Mr. Courtney, that in a prison where there is not sufficient air, and in which the drainage is defective, the disease will be generated of which the prisoners died in Derry. Last year I made the charge that Dr. O'Parrel had issued a garbled Report in order to shield Sir William Miller. The Report of Mr. Beamish enables me to drive that charge home. I assert that Sir William Miller is an incompetent physician; that he did not treat these poor prisoners with inhumanity, but that he treated them wrongly on account of his ignorance and incompetency; that he saw these prisoners day after day, and hour after hour; and that he actually did not know the disease from which they were suffering. And I accuse Dr. O'Farrel, if he did know, of not having stated it in his Report. We have the case of four prisoners, two of whom died, one got well, and the fourth, a woman, left the prison with typhoid fever and afterwards died. It was stated in the Report of Dr. O' Farrel that there had never been any typhoid fever in the prison for 10 years. I do not see how else it could have been, seeing that Sir William Miller always took care to turn out every prisoner before he found out what was the matter with him. It has been actually proved, beyond yea or nay, that he did turn out one man, who died on the roadside, though he had known, from the evidence of the warder, that the man had been delirious the night before. We have heard, though it is hard to conceive, that any professional man should still be retained in the service even of the Government of Ireland after hearing such a statement, that in the case of one man he would allow him to go 12 days without knowing what was the matter, and without using that instrument which would have told him at once the nature of the disease—the thermo- 274 meter. I charge the Government with being party to the murder of three persons. I say that Sir William Miller did not know what was the matter with them. I say they had typhoid fever with pneumonia, and that, in consequence of that disease, generated in this fever den, they died. On behalf of those poor dead people and their friends I protest in this House. If they want to kill people let them do it in the open like men and not put men in those fever dens which generate disease and end in death. I charge them not to put these fever dens in charge of men so incompetent that they will not have a dust-bin cleared out once in six months. Another case I would allude to in the hope of getting some satisfaction from the right hon. Gentleman is that of Jasper Tully, of the Roscommon Herald, who was confined in Sligo Gaol for four weeks for a Press offence under the Crimes Act. I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman about the case, and asked why Mr. Tully was removed from Sligo Gaol to Tullamore, but he did not give me a very precise answer. I shall, perhaps, be in order in calling the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that the recent Commission which was appointed to inquire into the grievances of prisoners in Her Majesty's convict prison at Chatham—where prisoners are detained for treason-felony, and where there are many who have received the dreadful sentence of penal servitude for life—recommended that prisoners who had committed offences at a distance from home, though they were confined in gaols nearest to the places where the offences had been committed, should be allowed to receive letters in lieu of visits from their friends. The Commission found that it is undoubtedly a dreadful hardship for prisoners who have committed offences in certain places to be moved into penal servitude at great distances away, because such prisoners cannot receive the visits from their friends to which they are entitled. I say that there was ample accommodation in Sligo Gaol for Jasper Tully. He has made no complaint, but if he had been confined in the district in which his offence was committed, he would have been able to receive visits from his friends. We say 275 it is a piece of petty spite on the part of the Prison Authorities to remove him to Tullamore, and so deprive him of the visits of his friends. I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to give us some satisfaction on this point. I am bound to say I get very little satisfaction either from the right hon. Gentleman the Irish Attorney General or the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary. Probably it is because I speak so little in this House, and I am sometimes inclined to think, notwithstanding the persuasion of hon. Friends who sit around me, that one day I shall have to commence and be troublesome and keep the right hon. Gentlemen and their Friends here until morning unless they give me the satisfaction on these points for which I am entitled to ask. In connection with the case to which I have referred a warder was dismissed. He asked what he was dismissed for—whether his conduct had not been good—and he was simply told that though his previous conduct and character had been perfectly right he was to be dismissed. We want some assurance from the Government that this man will be restored to his position, or if not restored that he should have some compensation for having had his character damaged by being dismissed summarily without being told what his offence was. (8.45.)
§ (9.11.) Vote agreed to.