HC Deb 12 May 1960 vol 623 cc611-2
29. Mr. J. Silverman

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further instruction 'he has given to Her Majesty's Prison Commissioners to take steps to ensure that goods produced and services provided by prison labour should be offered at fair prices and should not unfairly undercut goods produced and services provided by disabled workers' organisations; and whether the Prison Commissioners, in consultation with the Ministry of Labour, have completed their review of this problem as promised on 27th March. 1958.

Mr. Vosper

Since 1958 the Prison Commissioners have ceased to compete with disabled workers' organisations for supplies of brushes and baskets to local authorities. The review of tenders for Government Department contracts will be completed in the near future.

Mr. Silverman

Is the right hon Gentleman aware that a serious problem has arisen in regard to competition in the repair of shoes and that blind people's organisations and workshops are being very seriously prejudiced and there is a possibility of them having to close down? Is it not possible to get some sort of co-ordination with the Ministry of Labour in this matter? Whilst one realises that it is necessary to provide suitable labour for prisoners, there should not be this competition, which throws blind people out of work.

Mr. Vosper

Yes. I am aware of the point the hon. Gentleman has in mind in relation to Birmingham, but I find it very difficult to reconcile that with the facts, because the Prison Commissioners did not compete for the Army contract in the Birmingham area. The purpose of this review, which is very nearly concluded, is to do exactly what the hon. Gentleman has in mind, and I am so glad that he appreciates, on the other hand, the importance of finding work for the rehabilitation of prisoners, to which the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Fitch) directed attention on an earlier Question.