§ Mr. LYNCH
asked (1), whether the right hon. Gentleman can make a statement with regard to the circumstances under which William Ball was removed from Pentonville Prison to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum; (2), whether, in the case of William Ball, who was recently removed from Pentonville Prison to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum, forcible feeding had been adopted; and, if so, whether he can state the circumstances which rendered this course necessary; and (3), whether, in the case of William Ball, there was sent to his wife by the Governor of His Majesty's prison, Pentonville, a fortnight before the expiration of the term of his imprisonment, a letter stating that he was in good health; whether on Monday last William Ball was certified before a magistrate as insane; and whether, within a few hours of his wife having received notice of certification, and before she could send a medical man to see her husband on her behalf, he was removed to Colney Hatch?
§ Mr. McKENNA
William Ball was convicted at Bow Street on 22nd December last of doing wilful damage, and sentenced to two months' imprisonment with hard labour. He was, therefore, not eligible for the special treatment which may be accorded to certain classes of prisoners under the prison rule recently made by my predecessor, as that rule applies only to persons placed by the Court in the second or third division, and does not apply to those sentenced to hard labour. This was explained to Ball, but from his reception into prison he refused all food, and on the 25th December it became necessary to feed him artificially. He was admitted to hospital on that day, and remained in hospital till the day of his discharge. He was fed twice daily by mouth tube. There was no difficulty in doing this, as the prisoner not only did not resist the process, but assisted as much as possible. No force whatever was used towards him, and the statement which appeared in the Press that he was punished is untrue. His weight and physical health were fairly well maintained, and on 21st January his wife, in answer to an inquiry by her, was informed that he was in his usual health. No disturbing mental symptoms were observed until the night of 25th January, when he was restless, and talking wildly. On 29th January he began to take food naturally, and continued to do so until 285 his discharge on 12th February. His mental condition, however, became worse. On 9th February he was reported to be certifiably insane, and it was decided that he should be removed to an asylum. A letter notifying this decision to Mrs. Ball was written from the prison on the 10th; but, by an unfortunate mistake on the part of a messenger, it was not posted till the following day, Sunday the 11th, and, presumably, reached Mrs. Ball by the first post on Monday. No application to delay the prisoner's removal was made to the governor, and although the contrary has been stated the prisoner himself made no protest. He was removed from Pentonville to the asylum at 2.30 p.m. on Monday. The prisoner's treatment while in Pentonville was strictly in accordance with the law as laid down by the Lord Chief Justice in the case of Leigh v. Gladstone, and I am satisfied that he received every care and attention from the medical officers of the prison.
§ Mr. McKENNA
No, Sir; I shall be glad to have notice of that question, but my memory is that there was nothing in the prisoner's conduct at the time of his admission which led the medical officer to think he was not of sound mind.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the medical officer has any theory as to what drove this man insane?
§ Mr. McKENNA
I think I would rather have notice of the Noble Lord's question. I should like to read the medical officer's statement.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Home Secretary has it in his power to order an alteration in the sentence in the case of a political offender by placing him in the second 286 division instead of in the third, thus relieving him of the sentence of hard labour; and whether this was not a political offence in the ordinary meaning of the term?
§ Mr. McKENNA
No doubt the Home Secretary could remit that part of his sentence which gave hard labour; and, if that were done, I suppose the prison rule made by my predecessor would then apply in such a case.