HC Deb 18 March 1970 vol 798 cc379-80
25. Mr. Adam Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total sum spent on capital improvements and new developments in Scottish penal institutions since 1965; and what was the sum spent in the periods 1951–54, 1955–59 and 1960 to 1964.

Mr. Buchan

The total sum spent on capital improvements and new developments in Scottish penal establishments from the beginning of the financial year 1965–66 to 28th February, 1970 was £4,358,000; the corresponding figures for the financial years 1951–52 to 1954–55, 1955–56 to 1959–60 and 1960–61 to 1964–65 were £455,000, £575,000 and £2,232,000 respectively.

Mr. Hunter

Is my hon. Friend aware that the money spent on such institutions has improved the conditions of those who work in the prison service? Does he agree that hon. Gentlemen opposite ignored this aspect of the penal system during their term of office?

Mr. Buchan

My answer to both parts of my hon. Friend's supplementary question is "Yes". One of the great difficulties I have had has been precisely because of the neglect to create penal institutions during the 1950s. I am very pleased to see that at least right hon. Members who sit on the Front Bench opposite, including their Leader, are now reversing their trend. We have been spending about eight times as much on penal institutions in Scotland as was spent in the mid-1950s. by the party opposite.

Mr. MacArthur

Will the hon. Gentleman set these figures against, first, the regrettable increase in the crime figures; second, the constant rise in prison overcrowding; and, third, the unending rise in building costs under the present Government?

Mr. Buchan

I have taken all the factors into consideration. The hon. Gentleman might remember that in the last five years in office of the party opposite there was a steeply rising trend in the crime rate. The trend in Scotland now is downwards. During that period of neglect by the party opposite it might have been possible to cope with the situation much more easily than we can now.