HC Deb 01 May 1969 vol 782 cc1591-2
3. Sir B. Janner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the recent attack on the Governor of Leicester Prison, he will now take steps to house prisoners serving long sentences in a special separate prison.

Mr. Callaghan

No, Sir. Among other considerations, this would not reduce the risk to staff from dangerous prisoners.

Sir B. Janner

Does my right hon. Friend mean by that that the report produced by Lord Mountbatten is to be entirely ignored? Does not he think that the provision of separate prisons would avoid the kind of thing which happened in Leicester the other day—which is a serious matter—and prevent the long-term prisoners from being held in such conditions that it is practically impossible to avoid further such occurrences? Should not he give consideration to this very important proposal?

Mr. Callaghan

I think that my hon. Friend has forgotten that the House debated this matter last October following the Report of the Advisory Council on the Penal System, which recommended that there should not be a special separate prison of this sort, and that the House came to a broad conclusion about the policy being followed at this stage. I would not ask the House to reconsider it again yet.

Mr. Hogg

Quite apart from last autumn's debate, is there not a danger that the right hon. Gentleman may be falling between two stools? He has not implemented the full policy of the Advisory Committee and he has not implemented the Mountbatten Report. Is it not the result that prisoners are being kept in inhumane circumstances when a more secure perimeter might enable both them to have a greater degree of relaxatiton and greater security to be preserved?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Supplementary questions must be brief.

Mr. Callaghan

The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) is wrong about this. The new prisons which are being prepared and the existing prisons being adapted are for precisely that purpose. The only recommendation of the Advisory Committee which I did not implement was that prison officers should be armed. There was general agreement in the House that we should be wrong to accept that recommendation.

Mrs. Renée Short

Does my right hon. Friend accept that there is an urgent need for a much more realistic use of the working day for the top security, long-term prisoners, and that this is an area where we need to reform the prison system?

Mr. Callaghan

This goes very wide of the original Question. I certainly agree on the need to make the best use of the working day, and hope to be able to produce some proposals to that end. Later this year I expect to open the prison at Coldingley, which will revolve around the industrial life of the inmates.

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