HC Deb 23 July 1970 vol 804 cc745-6
46. Mr. George Cunningham

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to be able to release the site of Pentonville Prison to the Islington borough for building purposes.

Mr. Carlisle

My right hon. Friend could not contemplate doing so until the supply of prison places in London and the South East is more nearly in line with the need.

Mr. Cunningham

Will the hon. Gentleman recognise that at present Islington is carrying a very heavy burden by having two 12-acre prisons on its territory at a time when it is desperately short of new land for house-building? Will he do his utmost to speed the time when Pentonville Prison can be re-sited, particularly since a decision has apparently been made that Holloway prison will be rebuilt on its present site?

Mr. Carlisle

We are well aware of the acute housing problems in Islington and that there are two prisons in the Borough. It would be raising false hopes if I suggested that we could give up Pentonville in the near future, but we shall consider this in long-term planning when the supply of prison places in London and the South-East is more nearly in line with the needs of the Prison Department, which I am sure the hon. Gentleman will accept are very grave.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

May I ask two questions?—[HON. MEMBERS: "No"] First, will my hon. Friend pay particular regard to any questions on prisons from someone with the name "Cunningham"?—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Second, will my hon. Friend look into the totally ridiculous financial provisions regarding the reversion of prison sites to local authorities? Those financial provisions are quite out of date in the modern world.

Mr. Carlisle

If I may answer my hon. Friend's second question, I am aware that Section 38 of the Prison Act gives local authorities reversionary rights on the sites of certain prisons at prices fixed when they were first taken over in 1887. I am advised that that does not apply to Pentonville.

Mr. Robert Hughes

On a point of order. The point of the first supplementary question of the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) was quite lost on me. I wonder whether it was meant to be insulting to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South-West (Mr. George Cunningham). Could we have the purport of the question which was asked and not answered by the Minister?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I share the hon. Gentleman's ignorance of the meaning of the first part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's supplementary Question.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

On a point of order. One of the most distinguished names in the history of the administration of prisons is that of Sir Andrew Cunningham, as I think the hon. Gentleman would admit.