HC Deb 09 July 1957 vol 573 c188
30. Sir L. Plummer

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies in which Colonial Territories the use of leg irons for the transportation or detention of prisoners is still permitted.

Mr. Profumo

The use of leg irons is still permitted in twenty-three Colonial Territories but they have been used in recent years in Bahamas, Fiji, Kenya, the Federation of Nigeria, St. Vincent, Tanganyika and Uganda only. They are in no cases used as a punishment, but to prevent escape during transfer or to ensure that a prisoner does not injure himself or others.

Sir L. Plummer

Is the Minister aware that early last month the Australian Government banned the use of leg irons in New Guinea and that, clearly, the Australian Government regard this as a medieval and barbaric practice? Does not the Minister agree that this is contrary to the Declaration of Human Rights and will he now use his influence to see that these instruments are banned throughout the territories for which he is responsible?

Mr. Profumo

I think it important to remember what I said in the last part of my Answer. These have not been used in all the territories. They are not used as a punishment. The laws governing the use of mechanical restraints are constantly being reviewed in the various territories and there is much evidence to show that legislation is gradually being brought into line with accepted practice.

Mrs. Slater

Why not quicken it up?

Mr. Shinwell

Will the Minister reconsider this matter? Is he aware that in the past this form of punishment was used in this country and in other so-called civilised countries, but we departed from that method? Is not it possible to do something to prevent this going on?

Mr. Profumo

I need hardly ask my right hon. Friend to look into the matter. I am sure that he has noted what the right hon. Gentleman said.

Mr. Gower

Will the Minister consider to what extent effective use might be made of handcuffs instead of leg irons?