HC Deb 26 April 1956 vol 551 cc1946-8
6. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the fact that the average earnings of prisoners in local prisons amounts to 2s. 6d. weekly for flat-rate workers and 2s. 9d. for piece-rate workers, what changes he contemplates in the present system of payment which would result in greater output and efficiency and would assist prisoners on their return to normal life; and when he hopes to put these changes into effect.

18. Mr. de Freitas

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what decision he has now reached with regard to increasing the scale of payment for piece-work done by prisoners to enable them to value more what constructive work they do and to allow them, by their own efforts, to accumulate savings which can be used by them to rehabilitate themselves on their release.

Major Lloyd-George

A scheme has been prepared for improving the present system of prisoners' earnings which will, I hope, have the effect of increasing output and this will be put into effect as soon as financial considerations permit.

Mr. Yates

Whilst thanking the Home Secretary for that reply, which I am sure will be very acceptable, may I ask him whether, in order to give effect to the fine sentiments he expressed at the weekend, and in order to improve the position of prisoners so that they will be better able to lead normal life outside, he will make the changes very soon and will press the Treasury very hard on the matter?

Major Lloyd-George

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I am very interested in these matters. It is very important to attend not only to what happens to these prisoners when they get outside but to what happens to them while they are inside.

7. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many hours prisoners are now working weekly in local prisons; and what action he is taking which would result in a longer and more productive working week.

Major Lloyd-George

The hours worked vary from one local prison to another and range generally between 23 and 28 hours weekly for men's prisons. Increasing the working hours is mainly a matter of getting more staff for supervision; I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, North (Mr. Hyde) on 19th April about recruiting.

Mr. Yates

While appreciating that answer, may I ask the Home Secretary whether he is not aware that some of the prisoners are not even working 20 hours a week? Should there not be some kind of conference with the people responsible for prison officers to see whether further action can be taken to speed up recruitment for the prison service in order to give a longer working day in the prisons?

Major Lloyd-George

As my hon. Friend pointed out in answering the Question to which I have just referred, since the new pay award the number of inquiries from people who want to come into the prison service has greatly increased.

Mr. Paget

Could not something be done to use star prisoners as foremen and thus to some extent get over the difficulties of supervision and give them a sense of responsibility which will prepare them for normal life?

Major Lloyd-George

I would not like to answer that question without notice. I should certainly like to look into it.

22. Mr. Hyde

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the maximum weekly sum a prisoner in a local prison can earn on flat-rate and piecework, respectively.

Major Lloyd-George

Four shillings is the maximum for flat rates; there is no maximum fixed for piece-work rates.

Mr. Hyde

Is not my right hon. and gallant Friend aware that the earnings he has mentioned are still the lowest in the world? Could he press forward with whatever steps he has in mind to improve the position and enable prisoners to save something to give them a fresh start in life when they are released?

Major Lloyd-George

As my hon. Friend will remember, I answered Questions earlier and said that I had a scheme prepared for that.

Mr. C. Howell

Will the Home Secretary take steps to recommend these prisoners to invest this money in Premium Bonds?