HC Deb 27 November 1975 vol 901 c1020
3. Mr. Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfid with the conditions in prison of those awaiting deportation; and if he will make a statement.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon)

In general, yes, although efforts are being made to improve them.

Mr. Atkinson

Does my hon. Friend not agree that the time has come to draw aside the curtains which heavily veil this dark corner of our society, where men and women are whisked away for long periods and locked up either in Holloway or in Pentonville for up to five months at a time, without trial and without appeal? Should we not do something about this in order to gain much more respect for our kind of society and our way of dealing with such problems?

Mr. Lyon

I am very concerned—I am glad that my hon. Friend shares the concern—about the amount of time that people spend in detention awaiting deportation while their cases are being reviewed, but one difficulty is that we take the most careful note of representations made to us, particularly by Members of Parliament, which frequently takes a long time. In the case with which my hon. Friend is most concerned—that which lasted five months—he knows that I investigated his representations at great length.

Mr. Lane

To put the record straight after the wild question of the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson), will the Minister confirm that great care is taken by those responsible, whether in Harmondsworth, Pentonville or Hollo-way, to see that, at a time when it is unavoidable for individuals to be kept in detention, conditions are made as civilised for them as possible?

Mr. Lyon

I know that the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is difficult to describe the conditions in Pentonville or in Harmondsworth as civilised. I should like a situation in which we did not need to use either, but, as long as we do, we certainly do our best to make the situation tolerable.

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