HC Deb 20 November 1969 vol 791 cc1495-6
16. Mr. Woodnutt

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will arrange for the number of category A prisoners at Parkhurst Prison to be reduced by sending a proportion of them to other prisons; and if he will introduce regulations to enable prison governors regularly to transfer category A prisoners from one prison to another.

Mr. Callaghan

The category A population of Parkhurst, excluding the special security wing, is being reduced from 46 to about 30 during the next few weeks. Allocations of category A prisoners must be controlled centrally, but they are reviewed frequently, and governors are free to propose transfers.

Mr. Woodnutt

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the first part of that reply, which is very welcome. As regards the second part, he will know that rumours get round prisons when trouble is brewing, and that the best way to deal with it is to take immediate action to remove the ringleaders to other prisons. The right hon. Gentleman would be wise to give governors the power to do that.

Mr. Callaghan

I accept what the hon. Gentleman says in the first part of his question, but this is a matter that must be controlled centrally. There are relatively few of these prisoners. I am often consulted about the proposed allocations. I am certain that we must have regard to the whole policy for the country as a whole and the limited number of prisoners concerned.

Mr. Lipton

Does my right hon. Friend's reply mean that from now on his policy will be to reduce the number of category A prisoners in various prisons where they at present form a kind of inverted aristocracy in the prison, which has a very bad effect on the other prisoners?

Mr. Callaghan

We have a limited number of prisons and prisoners. I have from time to time thought it a good thing to have a general post when trouble seemed to be brewing, but one must have regard to a number of factors, including the need to have people settled in one place for a period, and I think that the policy is working out as reasonably as one can get it to do, recognising that we are dealing with a particularly violent group of men.

Mr. Deedes

How many prisons are there which can take category A prisoners?

Mr. Callaghan

I think seven, but may I check that?