HC Deb 14 June 1881 vol 262 c465

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether the alarm and discontent felt by matmakers and others, who believe that they are subject to the competition of produce obtained by prison labour, would not be in great part if not entirely obviated if the governors of prisons were directed to dispose of such produce to the various Departments of Government only, and for Government use, and were restrained from disposing of such produce in the open market?


, in reply, said, he had communicated with the Prison Commissioners on this subject, and they stated that it was their desire that the production of prison labour should be, so far as possible, disposed of to the Public Departments, but that it was not possible that that should be done exclusively. He felt sure his hon. Friend, who was a distinguished political economist, would recognize the fact that it was a very important matter that prisoners should be employed in industrial occupation, and that the best price should be obtained for the produce of their labour in order to lighten the public expense. Keeping these points in view, the Commissioners would act in. reference to this matter in such a way as to disturb the labour market as little as possible. At the same time, it must be remembered that if these 14,000 prisoners, or thereabouts, were honest men at large, they would be more formidable competitors in the market than they were at present.