HC Deb 17 February 1881 vol 258 cc1087-8

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, If he would state in detail the differences between a cell that a convicted prisoner is confined in and the cell in which an untried prisoner is confined; and, whether those differences, if any, apply all over the United Kingdom?


Sir, I have only had time since Notice of this Question was given to ascertain the facts with respect to the English prisons. The Irish prisons are not under the direct control of the Home Office, and I have not had an opportunity of consulting the Scotch Commissioners. I can, therefore, only answer the hon. Member's Question with regard to England. In the arrangement of English prisons there is no distinction between the cells in which different classes of prisoners are confined. It has been the object of recent legislation to carry out the view expressed in the Act of 1865—namely, that all cells should be of such a size, lighted and warmed, ventilated and fitted up in such a manner as may be requisite for health. Of late years much pains have been taken and expense incurred to bring all prison cells up to the standard fitted for that purpose; and that object, I am glad to say, has been generally attained. The distinction between the case of tried and untried prisoners is, therefore, not in the cell itself, but in its fittings and accommodation, and extra indulgences in the prison are subject to the discretion of the Visiting Justices.


wished to know what was the average size of the cells in the prisons, and also whether, as a rule, the floors of the cells were of stone or brick?


Sir, I am afraid I must ask for Notice of that Question. My recollection, however, of the fixed standard is this. [Laughter.] Well, I am not ashamed to say that, in the performance of my official duties, it has been my duty to see a good many prison cells; and, therefore, I may speak of my recollection. Speaking oil-hand, I should say that the size is from 800 to 900 cubic feet; but I would rather answer the Question accurately, if the hon. Member will put it down on the Paper.