§ 12. Mr. KING
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that in 1914 704 prisoners were sentenced for prison offences to sleeping on a wooden guard bed; if he will state the kind of bed thus used and the maximum term for which a prisoner may be condemned to sleep on it; whether he is aware that in England no prisoner may be deprived of his mattress; and whether he will consider the making of a similar rule with respect to prisons in Scotland?
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
The figure stated by my hon. Friend is correct. A guard bed is simply the ordinary type of prison bed, made of wooden boards. The period of punishment is fixed by the governor, subject to the concurrence of the medical officer. No maximum term is laid down. I am informed that it is not the case that no prisoner in England may be deprived of his mattress. On the contrary, prison rules expressly permit of such deprivation as a punishment.
§ 13 and 14. Mr. KING
asked the Secretary for Scotland (1) what is the maximum term for which a prisoner in Scotland may 195 be sentenced to solitary confinement for a prison offence; and what was the average term for which the seventy-five prisoners sentenced in 1914 to such confinement were so sentenced; and (2) whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that in 1914 no prisoner in Scotland was sentenced to solitary confinement except at Peterhead, where seventy-five prisoners were so sentenced; and whether, in view of the fact that elsewhere in Scotland the punishment has been found to be unnecessary, he will order the abolition of the punishment?
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
Peterhead is the only prison for male convicts in Scotland. The convicts are chiefly employed on quarrying and working granite, in association, and the punishment of separate confinement means that they are required to work in their cells at a light form of labour instead of in association. The period of punishment is imposed by the Governor, up to a maximum of twenty-eight days for minor offences, and by the Prison Commissioners, up to a maximum of nine months, for serious offences, subject in each case to the concurrence of the medical officer; the average term during which the seventy-five convicts were so confined in 1914 was six days. The conditions in a convict prison are necessarily different from those in ordinary prisons, and it is not possible to draw general inferences from one to the other.
§ Sir J. D. REES
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if it is likely that any real grievance exists in Scotland, which the Scottish Members have not discovered?