HC Deb 28 October 1908 vol 195 cc272-3
MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether an allowance of beer is given daily to all inmates of criminal asylums; will he say the total amount of beer consumed in such criminal asylums during the year 1907; and whether a daily allowance of beer is given, to men and women in any other institution of prison under his administration.

I beg also to ask the Secretary or State for the Home Department whether, seeing that during the year 1907, 14,768 gallons of beer were consumed by the inmates of Broadmoor Asylum, he will say whether, in the opinion of his medical advisers, beer is a commodity which it necessary for the health and comfors of the inmates; and, if he still proposes to continue this supply of beer, will he say how many total abstainers there are in this asylum and whether an allowance of beer is given to the women inmates, and, excluding total abstainers and women who do not take beer, will he say the average quantity of beer consumed per day by the inmates; also what proportion of the crimes committed by the inmates were due to drink.


I will answer my hon. friend's two Questions together. It has always been the governing principle in the treatment of patients at Broad-moor to eliminate the penal element from their detention as far as possible, and I am advised that it conduces to the comfort, and indirectly to the mental health, of a large number of the inmates that they should have a small daily allowance of beer. At present 42 per cent. of the male and 34 per cent. of the female patients do not drink beer. The beer supplied is of very mild quality, and the allowance is three-quarters of a pint for a man and half a pint for a woman per day. The daily consumption is about forty gallons. I may add that the past history of the asylum has been altogether free from any difficulty or detriment to health which could in any way be attributed to the allowance of beer, and any material change in the dietary would be likely to cause great discontent among a large part of the inmates. In no other institution under my control is beer allowed to the inmates except on medical grounds. The question whether or how far a crime can be said to be due to drink is in some cases a difficult one to answer. I am examining the figures, and will communicate further with my hon. friend when I have done so.

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