Oral Answers to Questions — Sentenced Youth (Death in Hospital).

– in the House of Commons on 4th June 1942.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Henderson Mr Thomas Henderson , Glasgow Tradeston

asked the Home Secretary whether he will cause an inquiry to be made into the cause of death of H. Mitchell, of Raw-marsh, Rotherham, aged 17, who was sentenced to three months' imprisonment under the Essential Work Order, was taken to Armley gaol after his sentence on 5th March, returned to the municipal hospital at Rotherham on 6th May, and died on 14th May, before his sentence was completed; and will he arrange that, in future, when boys are tried under this Order and sent to prison, investigations are made as to their physical condition and a medical examination made before they are sent to prison?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I have received full reports on this case. In accordance with the usual arrangements Mitchell was medically examined on his reception into prison on 5th March and he was then reported to be in good health. He first complained of not feeling well on 2nd May and was at once admitted to the prison hospital. His condition did not improve and on 5th May he was removed on the advice of the medical officer to Rotherham Hospital for examination. It was then found after laboratory investigation that the lad was suffering from an acute form of sleepy sickness, and though he was given expert treatment at the hospital he died on 14th May. I much regret that all the care devoted to this patient both at the prison and the hospital proved of no avail and I should like to express my sympathy with the lad's parents.

Mr. Sbinwell:

Does not this show how wrong it is to send boys of this age to prison under the Essential Work Order without at least conducting a medical examination?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That is not my responsibility—

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

It is the Government's.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I am answering for the Home Office—but I have no reason to believe that the fact that this lad went to prison had a damaging effect on his health.