Detainees, Holloway Prison (Incidents).

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence. – in the House of Commons on 23rd July 1942.

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Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

asked the Home Secretary whether he is in a position to make any statement about the incidents in Holloway gaol on 1st July; and what information was supplied to the Press by the prison authorities?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Yes, Sir. I arranged for a special inquiry to be made by Mrs. Earengey, a Justice of the Peace, who is Chairman of the Visiting Committee at Holloway Prison, and Miss Lilian Barker, of the Prison Commission. Their report makes it clear that after four women had been told on 1st July that they were to be transferred that afternoon to Aylesbury Prison, some of the other detainees encouraged them to make, by way of protest, a demonstration of passive obstruction, and arranged to help them by seating themselves in the common room in such a way that it would be difficult for the prison officers to reach and remove those who were to be transferred, and would compel the officers to use some measure of physical force. One of the women had to be carried out by the women officers, and the others then went without resistance.

The inquiry makes it clear that the prison officers performed their duties properly, and without the use of any unnecessary force. There is no gound for any criticism of their conduct in carrying out a disagreeable task, which was forced upon them by some of the women detainees, for the purpose of staging a demonstration. The reply to the last part of the Question is that no information was supplied to the Press by the prison authorities.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Why was it necessary to remove these four women at such short notice?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

It was a move in connection with the comfort of another detainee. After all, the preparations for removal from one prison to another do not take long, and I think there was adequate time. It is an arguable point whether a little more time might have been given, but the time was adequate for the purpose. People have no right to argue as to which prison they should be in.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Does my right hon. Friend think it reasonable that people who have been detained in these circumstances—

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

I am afraid I must give notice, as I have done already, that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment.