HC Deb 26 March 1969 vol 780 cc1620-1
43. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the average annual cost per prison inmate in 1967 was lower than the comparable figure in 1966; and if he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Merlyn Rees)

Mainly because, although the relevant total expenditure in England and Wales rose in 1966–67 compared with the previous year, the increase in the size of the prison population was proportionately greater, thus producing a lower per capita cost figure. Other factors were that receipts were greater in 1966–67 and some charges relating to welfare and after-care, previously charged to the prisons vote, were transferred to other votes.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Does not the hon. Gentleman think that the overcrowding to which he refers in his Answer as being the main reason is a serious problem now for our prison staff, and what estimate does his Department seek to make for how many years ahead of the amount by which this will either increase or decrease?

Mr. Rees

In reply to the first part of the question, I said that there was an increase in the size of the prison population, and I should be the last to deny the problems of overcrowding. A great deal of thought is being given to the provision of places in prisons over the years. This is an extremely complicated matter and if the hon. Gentleman wishes, I should be prepared to discuss the figures with him.

Mr. Carlisle

The Minister referred to receipts of money, presumably partly from the output of prison workshops. Will he tell the House what efforts are being made to expand the profitability of prison workshops, as a means both of increasing receipts by the Treasury and of finding full-time work for those in prison?

Mr. Rees

I cannot give a snap answer, but I undertake to write to the hon. Gentleman.