HC Deb 05 November 1959 vol 612 cc1195-6
29. Mr. C. Royle

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been called to the suicide of a young man whilst on remand in prison; and what steps he proposes to take to ensure that a repetition of such a case shall be avoided.

Mr. Vosper

Yes, Sir, and I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my deep sympathy with the boy's family. The boy had been for six days in a room in Durham prison hospital because of an earlier attack of hysteria. He appeared to have completely recovered and, on the morning of his death, had asked to be discharged from the hospital. He ate well when the midday meal was served just before noon. He was found to be dead during a routine check at 12.35 p.m. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that no other steps could have been taken to prevent the suicide.

Mr. Royle

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider two questions; the possibility of giving some more guidance to magistrates, and even judges, with regard to the general question of bail; also, will the Home Office go into the question of the great need for remand centres, which would save young people from being sent to prison on remand?

Mr. Vosper

In reply to the first part of his supplementary question, the hon. Gentleman has great knowledge of these matters, but I think it would be difficult to do as he suggests. Of course, I will consider it. On the second point, that is a matter which is to be discussed in this House later today, but my right hon. Friend does agree about the great need for remand centres.

Dame Irene Ward

Would it be possible at this stage for my right hon. Friend to confirm on this matter of bail that an application was made to the judge in chambers and that the judge in chambers supported the magistrate? If he could confirm that, then I would ask my right hon. Friend whether he agrees that it is only fair that that should be put on the record so that the public may be informed of the present situation.

Mr. Vosper

My advice is that the application for bail was not made to the magistrate but to the judge in chambers, who refused it.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Did not the observations of Mr. Justice Elwes in this case support the recommendation of the Wolfenden Committee that in cases of this kind proceedings should not be taken except by the Director of the Public Prosecutions or with the consent of the Attorney-General?

Mr. Vosper

It is a rather complicated matter on which to comment at this stage, but I think that in this particular case it would be an exception to the Wolfenden recommendations.