HC Deb 27 May 1908 vol 189 cc1111-2
MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

I beg to ask the Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland whether prison doctors in Ireland are entitled to pensions under their original appointments; whether recently this right has been defeated by the appointments being made for three years only, with the result of depriving prison doctors of their independence by compelling them to rely on executive favour for their continuance in office; whether prison doctors are frequently called on to decide as between prisoners and gaolers on matters of health and treatment, so that the office is one peculiarly requiring permanency of tenure unless misconduct is proved; and was it at the instance of the Treasury that the Irish Government reduced the status of prison medical officers.


Prior to 1877 the Prison Medical Officers in Ireland were entitled to pension under the Acts then in force, but since the passing of the Prisons (Ireland) Act, 1877, only those medical officers who are members of the established Civil Service and give their whole time to the service are entitled to pension. The only officers so entitled are two at Mountjoy Prison and one at Maryborough. Two of the existing medical officers of local prisons who were appointed before 1877 are also entitled to pension. The remainder of the prison doctors are local medical men who have private practice. The fact that they are appointed for temporary terms of three years does not affect the question of pension, which depends upon the established principle that those persons only who devote their whole time to the service of the State are entitled to pensions. The Government are not aware of any instance in which prison doctors have been called upon to decide as between prisoners and gaolers in matters of health and treatment, and there is, I am informed, no ground for the assumption that these officers are not fully independent in the discharge of their duties. No case has yet occurred in which the temporary appointment has not been renewed at the expiration of the term of three years. The change in the status of medical officers as regards pension was not made by any Government Department, but, as I have indicated, by statute.