HC Deb 27 November 1975 vol 901 cc1027-8
9. Mr. Whitehead

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what instructions Ian Brady has been force-fed whilst on hunger strike in prison.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

The responsible medical officer has decided, on the basis of his professional judgment, that Ian Brady should be fed artificially. The use of force has not, I understand, arisen.

Mr. Whitehead

Does my right hon. Friend accept that most hon. Members thought that after his courageous decision in the case of the Price sisters, the practice of artificial feeding as a response to hunger strikes was ended? As this man knows that his crime means that he cannot be released from prison for many years, if ever, cannot it be made clear to him that his requests for better treatment in prison must be considered on their merits and in terms of his own protection from other prisoners, and that the response to a hunger strike will not result in artificial feeding?

Mr. Jenkins

His requests for better treatment in prison will certainly be considered on their merits and not in relation to any hunger strike activities.

On the wider point that my hon. Friend has raised, in my statement of July last year I made it clear that there was nothing in the Prison Rules or in the expectations of the Home Office that medical officers should feed prisoners artificially when they went on hunger strike. I also made it clear that I could not interpose myself between the clinical judgment of a doctor and his patient. I completed a reply to a supplementary question by saying: Perhaps the best way to sum it up is that I hope in future a medical officer confronted with a prisoner who is going on hunger strike will treat him in the prison as nearly as possible in the way in which a doctor would treat a free man or woman outside prison."—[Official Report, 17th July 1974; Vol. 877, c. 453.]

That remains my decision.

Mr. Beith

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that those who supported the announcement that he made believe that it is implicit in that announcement that neither he nor the prison authorities have any obligation at all to prolong the life of someone such as Brady against his determined wishes to be on hunger strike?

Mr. Jenkins

That is exactly the position. I agree with the hon. Gentleman. But I cannot interpose a clinical judgment between a doctor and his patient, whether the patient be inside or outside prison.