Women Detainees (Transference from Holloway Gaol).

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence. – in the House of Commons on 6th August 1942.

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Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

asked the Home Secretary why it was found necessary to remove four women, detained under Regulation 18B, at three hours' notice from Holloway gaol to Aylesbury; why com- munication with their legal advisers was refused them; whether, in view of the fact that conditions of detention are supposed to be preventive and not punitive, he will give an assurance that in future notice of at least a week will be given before any such change is made; and whether, should any of the four persons concerned so wish, he will afford them an opportunity of returning to Holloway gaol?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

The need for removing these women at short notice arose from special circumstances which are not likely to recur. In the short interval there was not time to arrange for them to get in touch with their solicitors, but they were told that they could communicate with them after their arrival at Aylesbury. While the responsibility for deciding in what establishment a person is to be detained must rest with the Home Secretary and not with the persons detained, I fully recognise the desirability of giving to such persons information some time beforehand of any decision to transfer them; and though I cannot guarantee that it will always be practicable to give a week's notice I can give an assurance that it will be the policy, so far as circumstances may permit, to give the information some days beforehand and to do everything possible to mitigate any inconvenience or any sense of grievance when transfers have to be arranged.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Whilst I understand the special circumstances, does not my right hon. Friend really think it most unreasonable even in this case to uproot these people at such short notice, having regard to the fact that two of them were over 60?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I hope that my hon. Friend will not, even by inference, associate himself with the unmannerly conduct of these ladies at the time.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

My question has to do with the treatment of these people. It is a question not of what they did but what the Home Office did. Surely it was most unreasonable, and if the right hon. Gentleman does not think so I am afraid that he goes down very much in my estimation.