HC Deb 07 March 1895 vol 31 cc568-9
MR. C. A. V. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether Callaghan, who is undergoing a life sentence for treason felony, is still in Portland Prison; whether his eyesight has been entirely lost to him since he has been in gaol; can he explain why Callaghan's wife has received no letter from or news of him for about 12 months, although he is entitled to write a letter once every three months; and, whether it is the rule to require the full term to be served by prisoners who have lost either wholly or partially their eyesight while in prison?


Callaghan is still in Portland Prison. It is not the fact that his eyesight has been lost to him since he has been in gaol. He was blind in the left eye before conviction, and as he complained of pains in the right eye and in the head, I had him specially examined about 18 months ago by an ophthalmic expert, who advised the removal of the blind eye. Callaghan assented to this being done, and the operation was successfully performed in July 1893, with the result that the right eye has ceased to give him any trouble, that the pain in the head has gone, and that he is able to read with glasses. I have taken great personal interest in his case, and I am satisfied that he could not have been more skilfully or humanely treated in any hospital. I find that he has not availed himself of the opportunities which he has had for writing letters for some time back, but so far as the authorities of the, gaol are concerned, there is no reason why he should not have done so. As Callaghan has not lost his sight while in prison, the last question does not in strictness arise, but I may say that considerations of health are always taken into account in determining how long a prisoner shall serve. In the present case I hope to be very soon in a position to order the prisoner's release.


I had no intention of suggesting that the treatment had not been proper. But with reference to the statement that Callaghan's eyesight was bad from the first, I wish to ask whether it is not a fact that an accident occurred during an operation, and that that accident is supposed to have led to the final obstruction of his sight?


Certainly not in my term of office. I have no knowledge of such an accident.