HC Deb 06 February 1958 vol 581 cc1348-9
36. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners sentenced to preventive detention since 1948 have been remitted to the third stage; how many have been refused this remission; whether he is satisfied that the present system does not adversely affect the rehabilitation of prisoners; and what alternative methods he is considering for dealing with such prisoners.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Of 1,005 prisoners serving sentences of preventive detention who have been considered for admission to third stage, 151 have been admitted and 854 rejected. The system has not been in force long enough to enable it to be effectively reviewed; but I have initiated some research projects in preparation for a review which I agree should be carried out as soon as we are in a position to do so.

Mr. Yates

In view of the large number of these long-term prisoners who have not passed to that stage, will the Home Secretary consider having the review as early as possible, particularly because of the adverse circumstances affecting the rehabilitation of prisoners?

Mr. Butler

Yes; as I say, we will have the review as soon as we are in a position to do so. I wrote to the hon. Gentleman, and, if he cares to keep in touch with me, I will tell him of the latest developments.

38. Mr. V. Yates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department the number of prisoners at present in Her Majesty's prisons; how many of these are sleeping three in a cell; and the comparable figures, in both cases, for the same date in 1957.

Mr. Renton

On 14th January, 1958, there were 19,214 male prisoners, of whom 3,810 were sleeping three in a cell. The corresponding figures for 15th January, 1957, were 17,434 and 2,103. In 1958 there were 670 women, and in 1957 there were 647; none of these was sleeping three in a cell.

Mr. Yates

Did I understand from the Minister that there is still a large number sleeping three in a cell? [An HON. MEMBER: "Three thousand."] In view of that figure, will the Minister tell us whether there are any plans which may reduce this number, especially bearing in mind that many prisoners in this large number sleeping three in a cell are being kept locked up for 18 hours a day?

Mr. Renton

To make the position clear, there are 3,810 men and no women sleeping three in a cell. As regards overcoming this anxious problem of overcrowding, I will tell the hon. Gentleman that the Prison Commissioners are inspecting a number of defence and other Government establishments likely to be redundant, in the hope of finding premises suitable for conversion into open prisons.