§ MR. HEALY
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether prisoners in English county and convict prisons are released, upon application, when their health is known to be in such a state that death is near at hand; and, if it is the practice, where death occurs in prison, for the authorities to give up the body for interment to any friends who may apply for it?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Yes, Sir; it is the practice in all cases where prisoners are reported to be near death, or where it is reported by the medical officer that further imprisonment would endanger life, that the prisoner is released. That is the general practice, and it is quite necessary to prevent punishment degenerating into barbarity and cruelty. Of course, proper inquiry is made whether the prisoners have a home to go to, where they could receive some degree of comfort, otherwise they would remain in prison. With reference to the last Question, as a general rule, when a prisoner dies in prison and the friends desire to remove the body for burial, it is allowed. I am not speaking, of course, of cases of capital execution, and there might be rare exceptions in other eases in which the practice was likely to be abused. These are the rules pursued in the English county and convict prisons.
§ MR. HEALY
Consequent upon the statement of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, I would like to ask the Chief Secretary for Ireland, if he can explain why Michael Waters, one of the Crossmaglen prisoners, was kept in gaol until he died, although the Government knew he was dying, for they telegraphed that he was dying to his friends; and why it was that when his unfortunate uncle claimed his body it was re-'fused, and was subsequently buried at dead of night in Glasnevin by policemen?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
I remember the general circumstances of this case very well, but I would prefer to have the particulars, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman will ask the Question on Monday.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
I wish to ask whether, in the recent deaths in Cork Gaol, one prisoner sentenced to 12 months, and one to two months, died in the course of three weeks; and why their friends were not previously communicated with?
§ MR. TREVELYAN
Because the Home Secretary has answered a Question is no reason why I should be asked over again a Question which I answered a few days ago. I gave the reasons on that occasion why one of those prisoners was not discharged. Those reasons were considered by the Irish Government satisfactory. In the other case I said the Irish Government wanted further particulars.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
Has the right hon. Gentleman observed that his right hon. and learned Colleague has just characterized such conduct as heartless barbarity?