HC Deb 16 February 1961 vol 634 cc1751-2
34. Miss Vickers

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons, male and female, were sent to gaol for debt in 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960; and what was the average length of imprisonment.

Mr. Vosper

In 1957 there were 6,962 males and 94 females so sent to prison; in 1958 the figures were 8,880 males and 160 females, and in 1959 7,366 males and 201 females. The figures for 1960 are not yet available, and figures have not been kept of the average period of imprisonment.

Miss Vickers

Does my right hon. Friend think that the figures are increasing because people have very much better earnings these days? Has he seen the report in The Times that two learned gentlemen, one in 1869 and the other in 1960, have expressed the opinion that there is a real case for the abolition of imprisonment for debt? Will he consider this, especially in view of the fact that many of these people are unemployed or are on National Assistance?

Mr. Vosper

I could not answer the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question without further information and my right hon. Friend is considering whether this should be collected. I think that the second part goes rather beyond her original Question.

Miss Bacon

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how many of these cases arose from difficulties concerning hire-purchase agreements?

Mr. Vosper

I could not answer that without notice and probably without the further information which might have to be collected.