HC Deb 31 October 1906 vol 163 cc1111-2
*MR. SEARS (Cheltenham)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the case of Mr. Nettleton, of Southend-on-Sea, who was sentenced to seven days' imprisonment in Chelmsford Gaol for passive resistance, although on the previous occasion he was only sentenced to three days and detained one day; that, although he attended the Court, his case was not mentioned during the public hearing of the business of the Court, but was dealt with and the warrant for his arrest issued privately; that he was placed in a dirty cell with two w.c.'s at the police station; that the gaol regulation prescribed tea and bread for the two early meals, and an eight ounce loaf and a pint of cocoa at night, which latter he could not drink owing to its fatty nature, and in fact he lived on bread and water the whole of the seven days of his detention, and has suffered in health in consequence; and will he cause inquiries to be made into the case.


The question of the term for which a person in default of payment of rates should be committed to prison is one for the justices. I have no authority to interfere in the matter, and I have no reason to think there was in this case any irregularity in the procedure. The condition of the police cells is a matter for the local police authority, to whom complaint may be made if anything was wrong. As regards Mr. Nettleton's prison treatment, I have made inquiry and am satisfied that there was no ground for complaint. The prisoner was allowed the diet prescribed for debtors, which, besides bread and tea in the morning and bread and cocoa in the evening, gives a considerable variety of diet for dinner, meat, soup, beans and other things. He made no complaint whilst he was in prison, and there is no record of his having returned any of his food.