§ 10. Mr. GINNELL
asked the Home Secretary whether the food supplied to the Irish prisoners at Frongoch is wholly insufficient for the healthy young countrymen; that in the south camp sleep is rendered impossible by defective ventilation, the heat of a boiler, and the constant noise of a dynamo, and that some of the prisoners could remedy these defects if permitted; that the sanitary arrangements are dangerous; that the visits allowed are too few and of too short duration, and impose needless expense on relatives coming from Ireland; that, without interfering with visits of relatives, persons appointed by committees formed for supplying comforts should be allowed to enter all the camps once a week and to ascertain the needs of all the prisoners; that the promise to admit all Irish newspapers is not yet redeemed; and, now that these prisoners are relieving the Government of much expense, whether these grievances will be redressed?
I have taken steps to keep myself informed as to the conditions at Frongoch. The hon. Member's allegation with regard to the supply of food is quite unfounded. The diet is identical with that supplied to military and naval prisoners of war and is amply sufficient 1639 to keep the prisoners in good health. The dormitory in the South Camp to which reference is made was formerly occupied by German prisoners, when it accommodated about double the present number of men. I have had this dormitory specially examined, and am informed that it is quite suitable for sleeping accommodation. The sanitary arrangements are reported to me to be excellent. With the existing staff it is impossible to increase the number of visitors or extend the time for their visits. I regret that I cannot alter the present arrangements in this respect, nor can I give authority for the visits of representatives of committees. Irish news papers are allowed in the camp. Careful consideration is given to all reasonable requests which may be made to the commandant by the representatives selected by the prisoners.
13. Mr. HEALY
asked the Home Secretary if Mr. Ernest Blyth, who was deported to Abingdon and was living there quietly during the rebellion, has been interned in Brixton Prison by his order, and has been kept in solitary confinement since 10th May; why, if Frongoch Camp has been found suitable for untried Irishmen, has Mr. Blyth been isolated in Brixton Gaol; and what offence is he accused of and the date thereof?
I would refer the hon. and learned Member to the reply I gave yesterday to the hon. Member for North Westmeath.
§ 18. Sir W. BYLES
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that the conditions of internment of Irish Sinn Fein prisoners in this country, many of them known to be innocent, are unneces- 1640 sarily harsh; whether their friends, after travelling from Ireland to some remote and inaccessible camp in this country, are only allowed fifteen minutes' interview at long intervals and in the presence of warders; and, if so, whether these military restrictions can now be relaxed?
The conditions in which these persons are interned have been carefully devised so as to avoid all unnecessary harshness. I regret that I cannot, owing to the exigencies of staff, increase the facilities for visits from friends.
14. Mr. HEALY
asked the Home Secretary whether he was aware, when he stated that no untried Irish prisoners were kept in solitary confinement, of the case of Conor Deere, of Goolds Cross, kept isolated in Wakefield Prison by War Office Order of 29th May, although this man had no connection with the rebellion; and will he investigate the treatment meted out to other innocent men in Knutsford Prison, such as Dr. Dundon and Frank Healy, barrister-at-law?
I am informed by the military authorities that these persons were not kept in solitary confinement. They were allowed to exercise out of doors from the first; and, after a few days, as soon as the necessary arrangements could be made, they were placed in association with other prisoners of the same class and allowed to receive visitors.
16. Mr. HEALY
asked the Home Secretary if interned alien enemies' visits are limited to a quarter of an hour, as in the case of the Irish subjects of His Majesty unaccused of crime; is any internment camp for Germans so inconveniently situated for visitors as Frongoch; and why was it not selected for alien enemies instead of for Irishmen?
Yes, Sir. Visits to interned alien enemies are limited to a quarter of an hour. Several internment camps for Germans are, I should say, at least as inconveniently situated for visitors as Frongoch, while those in the Isle of Man, which contain over two-thirds of the whole number of interned enemy subjects, are certainly much more so. Frongoch was used for a long time for German prisoners.
It is not a question of its not being good enough. The War 1641 Office made arrangements which enabled that camp to be allocated for the internment of Irish prisoners.
Had the United States officer who visited Frongoch Prison anything to say to the fact that this prison was no longer considered suitable to Germans?
§ 52. Mr. BYRNE
asked the Prime Minister if he will grant power to the Advisory Committee dealing with Irish prisoners to reopen and examine the evidence and adjudicate on the cases of all the Irish prisoners who were tried by court-martial and sentenced to terms of imprisonment from six months to life sentences?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
With regard to the first part of the question, I am not aware of any general desire for such a discussion. With regard to the last part of the question, the decisions of the Advisory Committee will be forwarded to the Home Secretary as soon as possible.
§ 66. Mr. GINNELL
asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether the victims of pneumonia among the Irish prisoners of war at Wakefield belonged to the party imprisoned at Kilmainham, three in each cell, with no bed or bedding, not even a plank, nothing to lie or sit upon except one blanket on the flagged floor, from Thursday, 27th April till Friday, 5th May; whether they were brought on 5th May to Richmond Barracks, and a party of about 360 prisoners lined up in the barrack square and kept standing there in heavy rain without overcoats, many without any coats or boots, as they had been dragged from their homes at dead of night, and were wet through before the guard was ready to start; whether they were then marched to North Wall and put on board an un-cleaned cattle boat for Holyhead, and crammed into an inadequate train for Wakefield; whether in consequence of this treatment in wet clothes many were ill, but received no medical attention; on what dates the sickness of those who have died was first admitted; on what dates they died; whether a priest was allowed to attend them; and whether inquests were held?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY Of STATE for WAR (Mr. Tennant)
Only one case of pneumonia occurred amongst the Irish prisoners at Wakefield. A priest was present with the man during his illness and an inquest was held. Arrangements were made for the presence of his mother and sister at the funeral. As regards the rest of the question, I can only repeat what I have previously stated, that the prisoners whilst in Dublin were treated with every consideration consistent with the conditions existing at the time, but it is not possible entirely to eliminate hardship when a considerable number of prisoners have to be provided for hurriedly.
§ Mr. TENNANT
As I have previously stated on more than one occasion, I cannot undertake to make inquiries into the particulars as to whereabouts, conduct or treatment of individual soldiers, unless there be valid cause to fear that there has been any irregularity in the action of the military authorities. As no cause to fear anything of the kind is disclosed in this question I see no reason to call for a report.