HC Deb 23 May 1973 vol 857 cc458-9
18. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total sum of money spent on special courses for those detained in Scottish prisons over the last year.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

Expenditure on correspondence courses in the year ended 31st March 1973 amounted to £2,605. Expenditure on other kinds of educational courses could not be ascertained without disproportionate cost to public funds.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. In view of certain controversy in the prison service about the value of some of these courses, and in order to clarify the matter, will my hon. Friend say who is responsible for recommending prisoners for special courses and who is responsible for ensuring that these courses are of direct and real benefit and value to the prisoners?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

The House should realise that it is provided in prison rules—I am sure that this is generally supported in the House—that prisoners who wish in their leisure time to improve their education should be given reasonable facilities for so doing. That is right.

These courses are supervised by the assistant governor, who is in charge of training, and the International Correspondence College gives periodic reports on those who are undertaking the courses.

Mr. Maclennan

Does not the Minister accept that that is a pitifully small amount of money to be spending on such courses? Does it not reflect the very small number of people benefiting from them?

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

We must put this matter into the proper perspective. I am talking about correspondence courses. The initiative in a correspondence course is for the prisoner himself to volunteer to undertake it. What is much more important in education is vocational training, practical courses and evening classes, and these, and the many other ways, I should like to see extended even further.

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