29 MARCH 1913, Page 3

The text of Mr. McKenna's Bill for preventing the successful

practice of the hunger strike by suffragist prisoners was published in the papers of Thursday. It provides for the temporary release for a fixed period of a prisoner who is suffering in health. When the period has elapsed the prisoner must return to prison, or be rearrested. The periods of release are not to be reckoned in the term of imprisonment. One clause says that "nothing in this Act shall affect the duties of the medical officer of a prison," which we understand to mean that forcible feeding will still be resorted to in the ordinary course. This clause appears to us to be based on a too pedantic interpretation of the needs of prison discipline. We had always thought that if the principle of compelling hunger strikers to serve their term of imprisonment in sections were adopted forcible feeding would be unnecessary. Other- wise the Bill seems to us excellent. If the suffragettes wish to starve themselves in spite of being supplied with food, let them do so unmolested. Directly the doctor thinks their health is suffering, let them be temporarily released. Surely that is the best plan. It does not make martyrs. Forcible feeding, though it is not to be condemned per se, does.