HC Deb 27 July 1914 vol 65 cc912-4

asked the Home Secretary whether, since those who have published incitement to civil war in Ireland are still at liberty, he will advise His Majesty to extend his royal clemency to Mr. Drew, the imprisoned printer of the "Suffragette"?


I regret I am unable to advise any remission of sentence in this case.


Will the right hon. Gentleman not reconsider his attitude, seeing that the incitations of the Ulster press have resulted in the loss of human life, whereas the incitations of this man—


The hon. Member is making a statement which, whether true or not, has nothing whatever to do with this question.


Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the question, which is whether Mr. Drew, who has been put in prison for printing the "Suffragette," in which there are incitements to violence, is not more innocent than—


Order, order.


Will the right hon. Gentleman advise His Majesty to invite Mr. Drew to Buckingham Palace—


The hon. Member has no business to make offensive observations.


asked the Secretary for Scotland whether Miss Arabella Scott is still in Perth prison; whether she is being forcibly fed; and whether he has any report upon her present state of health?


asked for how long Miss Arabella Scott, who is in Perth prison, has been forcibly fed; whether she is resisting and has to be strapped down; by what process is food being given to her; and what is the present state of her health?

44. Mr. TOUCHE

asked the Secretary for Scotland whether Miss Arabella Scott has been forcibly fed at any time during the last four weeks in Perth prison; is he aware that Miss Scott, who was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment in May, 1913, and was released after hunger-striking, has since confined herself to speaking and working in a law-abiding and constitutional manner; if forcible feeding was revived because some persons released under the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act continued in acts of destruction during the intervals of recovery from hunger-strikes; why forcible feeding has been resorted to in Miss Scott's case, seeing that she has done no act of militancy while out of prison; and has she been advised or invited to give any undertaking not to speak in support of the suffrage cause?


Miss Arabella Scott was convicted on 19th May, 1913, of attempted fire-raising and was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment. She has several times been released on license under the Prisoners' (Discharge for Temporary Ill-health) Act, 1913, after serving only a few days and without being forcibly fed. On one occasion when released on license she refused to leave the prison and said she would continue her hunger strike outside the prison gates. On another occasion, when released, she refused for some hours to enter any house. On the occasion of her last re-arrest as she persistently refused to observe the terms of the licenses it was thought desirable that she should serve a substantial portion of her sentence, and from 20th June to 26th July (when she was, again released on license) she has been detained in Perth Prison. During this last period of imprisonment she was artificially fed by the mouth. She has offered some resistance but has never been strapped down. Her state of health on release is reported good, but it was not deemed advisable on medical grounds to continue artificial feeding for a longer period. I am not aware that she has abandoned the advocacy of militant methods. She has not been advised or invited to give an undertaking not to speak in support of the suffrage cause.


Is this lady sent to Perth because Perth is the only prison in Scotland where prisoners can be forcibly fed?


No, Sir. It is not the only prison in Scotland where they can be forcibly fed. There are other prisons in Scotland where they can be forcibly fed, but we have there medical officers who are accustomed to perform the operation in the criminal lunatic department there.

43. Mr. T. M. HEALY

asked the Secretary for Scotland if his attention has been drawn to the statement published by Dr. Mabel Jones, M.D., that there is no foundation for the allegation that Miss Frances Gordon had undergone a course of drugging before admission to prison, and, in view of this, accompanied by Miss Gordon's denial, will he say on what evidence the statement was founded; if Dr. Watson, the medical officer for Perth prison, is the same doctor who, when forcibly feeding Miss Moorhead in Calton prison, allowed food to enter the lungs, causing pneumonia; was it by the doctor's orders that Miss Gordon was held down by the assistant doctor and wardresses for an hour and a half after the forcible feeding; was a hand or a towel held over her mouth to prevent vomiting, and is this included in the description of medical treatment; will he state why the doctor found it necessary to administer three enemas daily to Miss Gordon; was it explained to her they were not food: and, if not, what did they consist of?


My attention has not been drawn to the statement referred to. The opinion of the doctor that Miss Gordon had undergone a course of drugging was based upon her symptoms and appearance on admission to the prison. The medical officer of Perth prison conducted the artificial feeding of Miss Moorhead in the Calton prison, Edinburgh. There is no foundation for the statement that in Miss Moorhead's case food was allowed to enter the lungs, and this matter was fully dealt with in my reply to the hon. Member for Blackfriars Division on 9th March. In the case of Miss Gordon it was necessary to exercise some restraint after artificial feeding, and this was done under medical directions. The necessity for treatment by enema was explained m my reply to the hon. and learned Member on 16th July.


Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the methods of forcible feeding employed in America, in which only women doctors are employed, and the operation is carried out much more humanely?


No, my attention has not been drawn to any more humane method. I shall be very glad to I have it drawn to it.