§ 35. Mr. Mackie
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the strong local feeling existing on the question, he will reconsider his decision to acquire Penninghame House, Wigtownshire, for use as an open prison.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)
No, Sir. This property has already been acquired for use as an open prison. I can assure my hon. Friend that I gave most careful consideration to the representations made by the local authorities and others concerned before I authorised the purchase.
§ Mr. Mackie
While regretting the decision of the Secretary of State, a regret which I know is shared by many people in Southern Scotland, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will repeat the assurance which he gave to a delegation of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire County Councils which visited him at St. Andrew's House recently, to the effect that no prisoner would be allowed out of this institution without an escort? The reason I do so is that representatives of the Scottish Office who visited the locality before Easter gave local authorities a different impression.
§ Mr. Stuart
I assure my hon. Friend that prisoners working in the district outside the open prison will be escorted to and from their work, in the same way as in a number of cases elsewhere at the present time.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that most people with humanitarian and social views regard it as a step forward that some useful purpose will be served by the labour of these men, instead of having the men shut up in boxes and being perfectly useless?
§ Mr. Stuart
I assure the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend that these men are only first offenders. They are very carefully selected and are nearing the end of their term of imprisonment when they would in normal circumstances become free citizens in any event.