HC Deb 09 July 1964 vol 698 cc600-1
17. Mr. Harold Davies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was spent per week per prisoner to cover food and drink, clothing, bedding, furniure, equipment, and medicines in the years 1939, 1950, 1960 and 1963; and if it is his policy that prisoners should in future be employed on more useful work, thus earning money which can supplement the sums devoted to their health and welfare.

Mr. Brooke

Comparable figures for the various years are not available because the basis of accounting and methods of provision have changed. Such figures for earlier years as are available have been published in the annual reports of the Commissioners of Prisons. I will, with permission, circulate figures for 1963 in the OFFICIAL REPORT, together with an explanation of the basis on which they have been calculated. As I have said on many occasions, I am extremely anxious that prisoners should be employed more productively, but the level of expenditure on prison services does not depend on this.

Mr. Davies

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some of us noted with pleasure his Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Fitch) on the advisory committees, and does he not think that it would help in this question of employment if there was trade union representation on these advisory committees? Is he also aware that some of us who have seen these figures nevertheless believe that they are not really in keeping with the figures that are necessary for expenditure to keep a prisoner in health and welfare and to help to restore his dignity? I am grateful to hear that the right hon. Gentleman intends to try to extend this issue of further employment, and I thank him for his Answer.

Mr. Brooke

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the food in prisons, although monotonous, is adequate and good. I have often eaten it myself. I am assisted by a very valuable advisory council on the employment of prisoners, under the chairmanship of Sir Wilfrid Anson, on which trade union representatives serve.

Following is the information:

s. d.
Victualling 14 4
Clothing, bedding, equipment, etc. 9 10
Medicines, etc. 6


1. The cost of the food comprises the amount spent on bulk purchase and the estimated value, at growers' prices, of the produce of prison farms. At retail prices the cost would be more than double.

2. The cost of the clothing, bedding, equipment, etc., includes the amount spent on bulk purchase and the cost (plus a small percentage) of the materials used in the manufacture of those goods which are produced in prison workshops.

3. The cost of the medicines, etc., is the cost of purchase.

4. These figures relate to the inmates of establishments the major use of which is as prisons.