HC Deb 12 December 1912 vol 45 cc758-60
52 and 53. Mr. DOUGLAS HALL

asked the Home Secretary (1) whether the convicts confined in the Camp Hill Prison. Isle of Wight, many of whom are habitual criminals of the worst type, are allowed to dine together and smoke and chat after meals; whether tablecloths and floral decorations are provided for them, and they are allowed, out of the moneys which they earn in prison, to buy confectionery, sardines, and other tinned meats; whether their cells are fitted with electric bells and hot shaving water is supplied to them when they ring for it; whether they are allowed to adorn their cells with photographs; and whether these luxuries and privileges have been granted with the object of deterring other criminals from seeking to qualify for admission to this prison or inducing those at present confined there to do everything they can to remain there; and (2) whether lie will lay upon the Table of the House of Commons copies of the rules and regulations regarding the privileges and general treatment of the convicts confined in the Camp Hill prison, Isle of Wight?


The rules for preventive detention were laid on the Table of the House in February, 1908, and they will be found in Appendix No. 17a of the Annual Report of the Prison Commissioners, 1910–11. Full information as to the operation of this—a new and experimental system, devised to give effect to the Prevention of Crime Act, 1908—will be found in paragraph 29 of the Commissioners' Report for 1910–11, and in paragraphs 44 to 46 of the last Annual Report, 1911–12, lately issued and presented to Parliament. The hon. Member will find in these documents a statement of the object and purpose of the new system and of the rules for giving effect to it; of the progress made, and of the hopes entertained that, in spite of great inherent difficulties, a successful attempt may be made to segregate from the community persons found on indictment to be habitual criminals, under conditions which, it has been enacted by Parliament, shall, so far as practicable, "be less rigorous than those of penal servitude, and shall admit of such reformative influences as may be best fitted to make these men willing to earn an honest livelihood on discharge." A sentence of preventive detention can only be imposed as supplementary to a sentence of penal servitude, and no convict goes to Camp Hill until he has served the sentence of penal servitude in the ordinary way in a convict prison.


May I appeal to the hon. Gentleman to inform me about the floral decorations?


I have no precise information as to the floral decorations.


Will the hon. Member accept the hospitality of Camp Hill for a month and see how he will like it?


Has there not been serious complaint amongst the convicts that their bells are not answered when they ring for hot water?


In regard to the floral decorations and the unanswered bells, I shall be very glad to make further inquiries.


Are these prisoners detained for life or for any definite period, and is flogging part of the amenities of this prison?


When an hon. Member asks a question of a right hon. Member opposite, is it not considered courteous on the part of the right hon. Member to give some answer to the question put upon the paper?


I gather from the answer given that all these suggestions were admitted and explained.


I beg to give notice that owing to the unsatisfactory answer I propose to raise this question on the Adjournment of the House on Tuesday.