§ Mr. H. H. MARKS
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether in any, and how many, cases during the present year it has, in consequence of the refusal of female prisoners to take food while in prison, been thought necessary to release them before the expiration of their sentences; whether any complaint or protest has been made by these prisoners against the food or accommodation provided for them; and whether he considers it impossible to introduce 1931 such amendments into the prison regulations as will ensure that all prisoners shall serve out the term of the sentences imposed upon them by lawful authority?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Masterman)
The number of cases in which during the present year female prisoners have been released on medical grounds before the expiration of their sentences on account of their self-starvation has been 41. Thirty-seven women in all were so released, four of them twice over. None of them complained of the food supplied to them. Certain complaints as to their accommodation were made by some of those imprisoned at Holloway but, after being fully inquired into, were found to be baseless. The matter is an increasingly grave one, and the best means of dealing with it are now under serious consideration.
§ Mr. LUPTON
May I ask the hon. Member whether the complaints were found to be baseless by those against whom they were made, and as a result of this investigation would it not be a good thing to decline to let these women enter these prisons which are so very perfect?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
The complaints were found to be baseless after more than one investigation, including more than one visit by the Secretary of State himself.
§ Mr. HORATIO MYER
Will the hon. Member state whether in the case of male prisoners they would have been so released?
§ Mr. ARTHUR LYNCH
May I ask if the ladies in question were called as witnesses in their own cases, and were they perfectly free?