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Prisoner's Transfer To Bucks Asylum

Volume 65: debated on Thursday 30 July 1914

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93, 94 and 95.

asked the Home Secretary (1) how long Harry Humphries was in prison before he was removed to Bucks County Lunatic Asylum; how many times he was forcibly fed while in prison; how many other prisoners have recently been sent to lunatic asylums as a result of hunger striking; (2) whether he can state the names of the magistrates and of the two registered medical practitioners who certified Harry Humphries as insane; whether they each personally examined him and, if so, upon what dates; and (3) whether he will state what particular form of insanity Harry Humphries has been certified as suffering from; whether he has been examined by any doctors since his admission to the Bucks County Lunatic Asylum; and, if so, by how many; and whether he can state the nature of their report upon his mental condition?

Harry Humphries had been ten months in prison before he was certified insane. He had been forcibly fed from 4th June to 23rd July, 1913, when he resumed taking food naturally, and again from 26th February to 23rd March, 1914, when he was removed to the asylum. I am unable to say how many other cases have recently occurred in which a prisoner has been certified insane when refusal of food has been one of the symptoms. I do not think any useful purpose would be served by the publication of the names of the magistrates and medical practitioners who signed the certificate in this case. They had all personally examined the prisoner —the magistrates on the day of certification and the doctors on that day and on many previous occasions. The certificate in the form prescribed under the Criminal Lunatics Act, 1884, does not give particulars of the form of insanity from which the patient is suffering. Since Humphries' admission to the Bucks County Asylum he has, of course, been under the care of the medical staff. I am now in communication with the superintendent, and as soon as he is in a position to give a certificate that Humphries is sane the question of remitting him to prison will be considered.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this man has been examined by two doctors in the asylum, one of whom was Sir Victor Horsley, and both state that they have been unable to find a single trace of insanity?

I should doubt whether a casual examination would be satisfactory. On the other hand, as I told the Noble Lord, the superintendent, who has full responsibility in the matter, informs me that the question of transferring Humphries to prison will be considered.

Did not the right hon. Gentleman tell me that no doctors at all examined him?

No. I told the hon. Gentleman that two doctors and two magistrates had signed the certificate.

Is it not a fact that the medical superintendent in this asylum has already informed the right hon. Gentleman that, in his opinion, this man is not insane?