HC Deb 06 May 1952 vol 500 cc197-8
Mr. Crookshank

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House, I should like to make this brief statement. The Government have decided that the recent incident at Broad-moor has raised problems which require further independent inquiry, and the arrangements to this end will be announced to Parliament as soon as possible.

Colonel Malcolm Stoddart-Scott

May I ask two questions? First, has any Minister of the Crown visited Broadmoor in the last 25 years? Has the Minister been there himself, and if not, will he take the earliest opportunity of going there personally to see the condition of the work as it is done there?

Mr. Crookshank

Of course, the phrase "visiting Broadmoor" is liable to misunderstanding, but assuming that what my hon. and gallant Friend means is whether anybody has inspected it, it so happens that I did that six weeks ago myself. [An HON. MEMBER: "You were lucky to get out."] As I also found it within my duty, when I was Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department many years ago, then to inspect it, I have the advantage of being a Minister who has seen it working under the two systems, and I can say that I did not find the change had resulted in any diminution of the precautions previously taken.

Mr. Peter Remnant

I am afraid that I did not hear all my right hon. Friend's statement, but I understood that he said he would appoint an independent inquiry. If that is so, may I express gratitude to him for his quick appreciation of the serious issues involved in this and the decision reached, and inform him that his decision will do a great deal to temper the feelings of the people in that area? We shall await the terms of reference for the inquiry with interest. Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to give an assurance that, in the meantime, every possible step will be taken to prevent escapes and, if escapes. should take place, to give adequate warning to the neighbourhood?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot prejudge matters which will be investigated, but it was because of the recognition of public anxiety in this matter that the Government decided on a further independent inquiry.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton

As I have a Question down to the Prime Minister for tomorrow about this, does the statement mean that my Question will be out of order, or will it still appear on the Order Paper?

Mr. Speaker

It will still remain on the Order Paper, but the statement today may modify the answer which the hon. and gallant Gentleman will receive.