HC Deb 14 June 1951 vol 488 cc2503-5
30. Mr. George Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered the views of the Prison Officers' Association expressed at their recent conference, an account of which has been sent to him, about the small amount of work being done by prisoners; and whether he will review the position to enable prisoners to make a more useful contribution to production needs.

Mr. Ede

I am, of course, well aware of the desirability of making the most effective use of prison labour. As regards work in prison workshops, I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) on 14th December and 22nd February last. I am glad to be able to inform the House that there has been an appreciable improvement in the position this year as compared with last year and the year before. It is unfortunately true that in many prisons the workshop hours do not exceed 25 a week, but that is due not to the shortage of work but to the continued shortage of staff.

Mr. Jeger

Would it not be possible for my right hon. Friend to institute a Departmental inquiry into the prospect of putting these people to proper work in the prisons, so that they could rehabilitate themselves as worthy citizens, earn some money which would enable them to pay their National Insurance contributions, and, at the same time, perhaps make a useful contribution to our rearmament needs?

Mr. Ede

The employment position has improved considerably. I do all I can to increase amounts, and I do not think that a further inquiry would be helpful, because the fullest efforts are made now to do what my hon. Friend wishes.

Mr. Heathcoat Amory

While I am sure that what the right hon. Gentleman says is right, and that there has been a considerable improvement, will he keep at this case because I am quite certain that there is much more that can still be done?

Mr. Ede

This matter is continually under my personal attention in an effort to ensure that these men have a chance to have their hands and minds usefully occupied.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Does the Home Secretary not agree that the hours of work which he imposes upon the occupants of His Majesty's prisons compare unfavourably with the hours of work which he imposes upon hon. Members of this House?

Mr. Ede

Unfortunately, hon. Members impose their own hours of work here.

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