HC Deb 24 November 1960 vol 630 cc1287-8
11. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made towards enabling all prisoners, on their release, to have fully stamped National Insurance cards.

Mr. Vosper

As the hon. Member knows this question is tied up with that of prisoners' earnings and raises very difficult issues to which reference was made in the White Paper on "Penal Practice in a Changing Society". The payment of increased earnings to prisoners is largely dependent on improvements in prison industries, which are at present being considered by the Advisory Council on the Employment of Prisoners.

Mr. Driberg

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware, as I am sure he is, that this is a continuing factor which tends to prevent men from going straight when they come out of prison? As, on the last occasion that I asked a Question—many months ago—I was told that it was under consideration, I am asking today what progress has been made.

Mr. Vosper

The real solution of the problem will be found only when prisoners are able to earn a full wage in prison, and thereby pay the contribution on their cards. There is no shortcut to a solution to this particular problem. The unstamped card is not normally a bar to a prisoner obtaining employment.

Mr. Dance

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in my constituency there is the Harris Brush Works, and that that firm does tremendous good in this way, to the extent that, in Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, it has set up a factory which employs some of the prisoners there, who are found employment when they leave?

Mr. Vosper

Yes, there has been a great advance in prison industry. That is a matter which the Advisory Council is considering, and about which it will report shortly.

Mr. Fletcher

Is the Minister of State aware that a number of ex-prisoners and the Prisoners Aid Society have repeatedly pointed out that this inability to have a properly-stamped card is a tremendous handicap in enabling prisoners to get work?

Mr. Vosper

I do not know where that allegation is made, but I should like the hon. Gentleman to send me particular cases, as I have not come across examples of that in my own inquiries.

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