§ MR. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there is any practical difference in the work of a warder and assistant warder in Her Majesty's local prisons; whether he can inform the House of the average number of years it takes an assistant warder to rise to the post of warder; whether his attention has been called to the inequality of promotion in some prisons, as compared with others, sometimes caused by the drafting of warders from one prison to another, as in the case of the Walton Gaol; and whether his attention was drawn to a Petition from the assistant warders at Walton Gaol, sent to him on the 2nd February, before 795 it was refused by the Commissioners on the 4th?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH, Fife, E.)
The warder takes charge of a ward of prisoners and is responsible to the Governor for their safe custody, employment and discipline. In some cases it may happen that the assistant warder performs almost identical duties, but his normal function is, as the name implies, to assist, and in the absence of the warder to take his place. The answer to the second paragraph is that during the last five years the average period has been nine years. My attention has been called to complaints on the subject referred to in the third paragraph. The matter was investigated by a Departmental Committee in 1891, who reported that they did not consider it advisable to alter the present system of promotion or to abolish the distinctions of rank, and the Prison Commissioners are of the same opinion. The Petition in question has now reached me, and will receive my careful consideration. It was not, in the first instance, observed that the Petition was addressed to the Secretary of State, and owing to this inadvertence it was dealt with by the Commissioners.