§ 63 Mr. JAMES GARDNER
asked the Home Secretary (1) the dates on which Prisoner Bottomley was received at and removed from Wormwood Scrubs and Maidstone prisons, respectively; the number of visits the prisoner had during each of the months from March to September, 1923, inclusive; if any visitor or visitors received a special permit or permits to visit the prisoner on any day without renewing the formal application; if so, to whom the permit or permits were issued and under whose authority; and for what purpose the visits were made;
(2) whether he is aware that special facilities as regards prison restrictions were given to Horatio Bottomley at Wormwood Scrubs and Maidstone prisons; that he wrote his diary in an official book; that the prisoner was allowed to have in 2062 his cell a tin document box containing a large number of papers, the box being locked and the prisoner holding the key; if the box was searched, and, if so, by whom, when the prisoner took it with him on his transfer from Wormwood Scrubs to Maidstone prison; whether any or all of the papers have since been taken out of Maidstone prison, and, if so, by whom and upon whose authority; and will he undertake to see that the regulations are observed strictly in future;
(3) whether he will explain why Horatio Bottomley has been awarded full remission marks for good conduct during the whole of his time in prison, after having written the Press articles and aided and abetted smuggling them, out of the prison?
The answer to these questions is necessarily very long, and, with the hon. Member's permission, I propose to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. LORIMER
In view of the lengthy reply, may I, Mr. Speaker, point out that I have an important question on the Paper, No. 71, to which I should like to have a reply.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The question of the way of giving his reply is a matter for the discretion of the Minister.
I hope the House will bear with me while I read the reply. [HON. MEMBERS "Read it!" and "Oh!"]
§ Sir B. FALLE
Is there any necessity vindictively to follow up this matter as to which way this reply should be given?
Bottomley was received into Wormwood Scrubs prison on the 29th May, 1922, and removed to Maidstone prison on the 2nd July, 1923. In addition to the ordinary visits to which he became entitled under the rules, he had to be allowed numerous special visits from his solicitors, secretary and accountant and other persons, for the purpose of preparing his statement called for by the Official Receiver in Bankruptcy, and in connection with his appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal. The visits were allowed by the Commissioners, or by the Governor, in pursuance of general directions given by the Secretary of State, in some cases by a special permit for a single occasion, in others for a series of visits. The Prison Commissioners know nothing of any diary written by Bottomley in an official book. Bottomley was allowed to have a box in which to keep the numerous forms, returns and papers, to which it was necessary for him to refer in connection with his bankruptcy proceedings. To what extent he was allowed to hold a key to this box cannot be stated now, but the Governor or officers acting under his direction had access to it. This box was searched at Wormwood Scrubs by the Governor before the prisoner was removed to Maidstone. Certain papers were allowed to be handed over by Bottomley to his solicitor after his arrival at Maidstone. The regulations have been, and will be, strictly observed. As regards the question of Bottomley's good conduct marks, when it became evident that an inquiry would have to be held into the whole matter of the publication of the Press articles, Bottomley was informed that he might make a statement, and that he would lose nothing by frankness.
§ Mr. GARDNER
Will the Minister be good enough to give us the number of visits, and the months conerned; and will he kindly inform the House why visits were allowed at Maidstone, seeing that the bankruptcy proceedings were completed on 25th May of that year; also is the hon. Member aware—