HC Deb 11 June 1959 vol 606 cc1170-2
47. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the disappointment among prison officers at his failure to implement important recommendations in the Wynn-Parry Report on pay and conditions; and if he will make a statement in view of the unrest in the Prison Service.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The recommendations of the Wynn-Parry Committee relating to scales of pay, which will cost about £475,000 in a full year, were accepted as they stood and given retrospective effect to 1st January, 1958. Since then the Prison Officers' Association have made a claim for a further 3½ per cent, increase in pay. The Prison Commission has been unable to accept the argument that this is justified by the recommendation of the Committee about future movements in pay, and the issue is going to arbitration.

The only important recommendation of the Committee upon which agreement has not been reached is one relating to the remuneration of officers who have passed the promotion examination for principal officer but have not yet been promoted; this question is arbitrable.

Prison officers are loyally carrying out their difficult duties in very trying circumstances. I should be reluctant to believe that failure to reach agreement on one recommendation of the Committee, and on the new pay claim—both issues being arbitrable—has led to general disappointment; nor should it be allowed to obscure the substantial improvement in pay and conditions which has resulted from the Committee's Report.

Mr. Dodds

While thanking the Home Secretary for what he said and while I appreciate his remarks about the prison officers, may I ask whether he can state why he has been unable to receive a deputation of the Prison Officers' Association on these matters when he is usually very courteous in matters of this sort? Is he not aware of the resentment, which seems to be unnecessary, at his refusal to meet them in what they believe to be genuine complaints?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I am glad to answer that question. The initial negotiations which took place with the prison officers were conducted by the Prison Commission on the Wynn-Parry recommendations and, as my Answer indicated, on the whole they have been successful. Then there was a request for me to see the prison officers, but, as I understood the position, the issues concerned were arbitrable and one issue, namely the 3½ per cent. increase, was going to arbitration, and I thought that it was not right for me to receive them at that time when the matter was at that stage. As soon as I can possibly arrange it and these inhibitions do not exist, I should very much like to see them.