§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to the results of the punishment of two years' imprisonment, as shown in the last Report of the Prison Commissioners for England and Wales, from which it appeared that during the year ended March 31, 1889, four persons who were undergoing this punishment died in prison, two became insane during their imprisonment, and five had to be released before the expiration of their sentences on account of disease; and whether, having regard to these facts, he will take steps to stop or at least to modify this punishment, which was lately characterised by the Lord Chief Justice as one of "terrible severity?"
§ * MR. MATTHEWS
It is not correct to say that the cases referred to show the results of a long term of imprisonment. For instance, of the four deaths one was from typhoid fever, one from ulceration of the intestines another from strangulation; and of the two men who became insane, one had a weak mind on admission, and the other suffered from an old injury to the head, and their insanity was developed after 18 and 11 months' imprisonment. The hon. Member will find an interesting memorandum on this subject by Dr. Gover, 1144 printed as an appendix to the Report of the Directors of Convict Prisons for 1887–8, to which I beg to refer him. The punishment of two years' imprisonment is, no doubt, severe; but that is taken into account by Judges in awarding punishment, and a constant watch is kept on the health of prisoners by the medical officers, upon whose Report the Home Office frequently remits part of the imprisonment on medical grounds.