Oral Answers to Questions — Customs Proceedings (C. H. Attfield).

– in the House of Commons on 1st October 1924.

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Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

(by Private Notice)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Captain C. H. Attfield has been in solitary confinement in prison since 30th July without being brought to trial, whether the criminal proceedings against him have been abandoned, and whether any steps are being taken to bring him to speedy trial or to release him, on reasonable bail being furnished?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

C. H. Attfield has been held in prison since 1st August under a Writ of Capias issued out of the High Court in connection with Customs proceedings for penalties of about £26,000. He had been in custody since 24th July in connection with Customs proceedings in the police court, which were abandoned on 1st August, and other summonses obtained by the police stand adjourned sine die since 15th August. Attfield is being treated in the same way as a prisoner awaiting trial. The Customs applied for a hearing during the Vacation, but the Vacation Judge made no order. The hearing is now fixed for 14th instant. The question of bail is entirely for the Court.

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that when the application was made for bail for this man at the instance of the Attorney-General, the Judge said he was helpless in the matter owing to the lateness of the application; and is it not also the fact that the Attorney-General authorised criminal proceedings in this case, then abandoned them and then started civil proceedings, and that this man has remained waiting for trial since 30th July?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

I am afraid all the supplementary questions which have been put to me are questions which should be addressed to another Department. I was dealing entirely with the question originally raised by my hon. Friend.

Photo of Captain Reginald Berkeley Captain Reginald Berkeley , Nottingham Central

Is it correct to suggest that the prisoner has been in solitary confinement?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

No, that is not correct. In fact he has been located in a cell, but has been allowed out for exercise, chapel and so on. He can also receive visitors and have all facilities for preparing his defence.

Photo of Captain Reginald Berkeley Captain Reginald Berkeley , Nottingham Central

Is that not rather as though he were awaiting execution?

Photo of Sir Kingsley Wood Sir Kingsley Wood , Woolwich West

Is it a fact that there are at the present time only civil proceedings against this man, and that he has been kept in prison in the circumstances mentioned by the hon. Gentleman since 30th July, and owing to the action of the authorities has not yet been brought to trial?

Photo of Mr Rhys Davies Mr Rhys Davies , Westhoughton

I have already dealt with that point fully in the answer I gave.

Photo of Mr Walter Ayles Mr Walter Ayles , Bristol North

How many hours a day does this man spend in what is really solitary confinement; how many hours are actually spent in exercise, and how many times a week does he go to chapel?