HC Deb 08 April 1976 vol 909 cc611-2
1. Mr. Kilroy-Silk

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to liberalise prison rules.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Roy Jenkins)

Yes, Sir. On 5th April I laid before the House amendments to the prison and borstal rules arising, amongst other things, from the Golder case. I intend to consider the possibility for further liberalisation of the rules in the light of these changes and of the new arrangements that I announced in relation to prisoners' correspondence on 1st December. I shall naturally take into account points of concern which hon. Members may have in mind.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there will be a welcome for the Statutory Instruments that he has laid? Nevertheless, there is some disappointment that they are so restricted and narrow in their scope. Does he accept that prisoners need access to solicitors for advice as well as for taking action in civil proceedings, and that they require unimpeded access to Members of Parliament? Will he allow Government time for the House to debate the Order?

Mr. Jenkins

My hon. Friend knows that I do not control Government time.

Mr. Marten

Not yet.

Mr. Jenkins

I do not control Government time—not yet, or in the future. I shall bear in mind the point that my hon. Friend has made. This is an area in which we have made progress, and I hope to make further progress. The progress that has been made has been carefully thought out. I welcome constructive suggestions, such as those that my hon. Friend has frequently put forward.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. Does he agree that on previous occasions when Statutory Instruments have been amended they have been debated in the House? It would be extremely valuable if he could press the Leader of the House for Government time to enable these matters to be debated.

Mr. Jenkins

My hon. Friend reverts to the previous point. I am anxious to encourage full discussion of these matters and to hear varying views from different parts of the House. I cannot guarantee time, but I shall welcome the fullest possible expression of opinion.