HC Deb 08 November 1973 vol 863 cc1156-7
11. Mr. Thomas Cox

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met representatives of the Prison Officers' Association.

Mr. R. Carr

On 16th October.

Mr. Cox

Is the Home Secretary aware of existing conditions in the prison service? Recruitment is down, there are frequently resignations from the service, and massive overtime now has to be worked. When will the Minister do something that will start to rebuild the confidence of prison officers that it is a job worth keeping? Many of them do not think so now.

Mr. Carr

I believe that the terms of the pay code for stage 3 will give allowances which will help people working unsocial hours of the sort that prison officers have to work. That possibility, of course, will now come up for review and negotiation under the code. We must wait to see what it does for prison officers, but I hope that it will be of some help, as it is intended to be.

But I do not think that the hon. Gentleman does the case any good by exaggeration.

Mr. Cox

It is not exaggeration.

Mr. Carr

There are almost 2,000 more prison officers in post today than there were when we took office—that is a substantial increase—with 4,000 fewer prisoners. So at least the position has improved substantially, although there is still plenty of room for further improvement.

Mr. Roger White

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there are anomalies between the prison service and the police and that it is a matter of contention? Will he look into that, too, as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Carr

I cannot add to what I have already said, but we are now due for a new negotiation in the normal course of events for the prison officers. That will take place under the pay code, stage 3, and I hope that the prison officers will find that not unhelpful.