HC Deb 14 May 1981 vol 4 c873
8. Mr. J. Enoch Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will institute an inquiry into the prevalence and incidence of anorexia nervosa in Northern Ireland and preventive measures which ought to be taken in consequence.

The Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. John Patten)

No, Sir. The information available on numbers admitted to hospital suffering from this disorder do not suggest that the problem calls for a special inquiry.

Mr. Powell

In view of the importance—especially at the present time—of firmness, consistency and justice in Northern Ireland's prison administration, do the Government realise the anxiety that has arisen, because no releases have been made in Great Britain as a result of this complaint, that one such release happened to coincide with the critical stage of a recent hunger strike, and that those who have been released have made remarkable recoveries?

Mr. Patten

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman appreciates that people have been released only on clear, uneqivocal and independent medical evidence to the effect that they would have suffered imminent death if their condition had continued to deteriorate in prison.

Mr. Flannery

Does the Minister accept that the vast majority of human beings accepts the answer that he has given? Will not he accept that the question raised by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) bears a macabre affinity to the sort of things that the right hon. Gentleman believes about those black people who come into Britain? Will not the hon. Gentleman accept that such sentiments, if continued, will lead to a great deal of killing?

Mr. Patten

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his support. However, the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) voices the fears that are held by some on this side of the water and on the other. It is in our interests to point out that those fears are completely unfounded and baseless.

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