HC Deb 01 July 1959 vol 608 cc449-50
26. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for War what protests he has received from Colchester about his proposal to transfer military prisoners from Shepton Mallet to the prison there; and what has been the nature of his reply.

Mr. H. Fraser

My right hon. Friend has written in answer to an inquiry by my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Mr. Alport), to say that we are considering an extension of Berechurch Camp, Colchester, to house those soldiers undergoing long terms of detention who are now kept at Shepton Mallet. This transfer would not apply to men serving sentences of imprisonment—as distinct from detention—whom it is hoped will be confined in civil prisons when the Army tenure of Shepton Mallet expires.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Would the Minister tell us something of the nature of the protests which he has received from the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations? Is it in accordance with the principle of Governmental collective responsibility for one Minister to complain to another in this way? Is he aware that there are eight Scottish soldiers serving in Shepton Mallet who do not want to go to Colchester? They want to go home.

Mr. Fraser

Clearly the hon. Member belongs to so many different nationalities that he comes under the office of the Minister for Commonwealth Relations. I am sure that the Minister will be extremely grateful to the hon. Member for having raised this question. If the people of Colchester are worried it can be said that if we proceed with this plan there are two aspects which should reassure them. First, the real criminals, the men who have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment, will not be sent there. They will be sent to civil prisons. Secondly, long-term detainees who are due to be discharged from the Army will be kept in a separate wing under conditions of special security. They will be separate from the short-sentence detainees, who will be kept in the Military Corrective Training Establishment, as at present.