§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the unlawful action of the Home Secretary in accommodating prisoners in association rooms, classrooms, storerooms, visiting rooms, a library, offices, a dormitory floor, hospital annexes and a corridor.This matter is specific, in that the Home Secretary is illegally accommodating 150 prisoners at any one time in accommodation that has not been properly 505 certified for sleeping. In doing so, the right hon. Gentleman is breaching the terms of the Prison Act 1952 and the 1964 prison rules. That is happening today at Oxford prison, at two female remand centres, Low Newton and Risley, East Sutton Park borstal and at six detention centres, where prisoners are having to sleep in association rooms, classrooms, on corridor floors and in a library.
The matter is important. The Government, more than anyone should adhere to the law, especially when they parade themselves as a Government of law and order. The Prime Minister today said that the Government should set an example to others, but on this occasion the Home Secretary is breaking the law when he more than anyone should comply with it. There can be no excuse for breaking the law. In this instance the right hon. Gentleman is acting in a cavalier manner that can only bring the law into disrepute and disrespect. It makes a mockery of the exhortations of the Home Secretary and his Ministers to others to comply with the law. It is serious when anyone breaks the law. It is profoundly worrying when the Government do so.
The matter is urgent. The practice is going on now. It is a direct and inevitable consequence of overcrowding in our prisons. In addition, 150 prisoners are accommodated in police cells for up to two days because of lack of accommodation in our prisons. That state of affairs will continue unless and until the Home Secretary has the courage to 506 embark on urgent and radical action to reduce the massive overcrowding in our prison system.
A decent and responsible Home Secretary would have explained to the House the unusual and peculiar circumstances in which he finds himself. If he had a proper sense of responsibility, he might even resign. He should at least have the courtesy to explain to the House and the country why he is breaking the law and when the Tory lawbreakers will comply with it.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman gave me notice before noon today that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,
the unlawful action of the Home Secretary in accommodating prisoners in association rooms, classrooms, storerooms, visiting rooms, a library, offices, a dormitory floor, hospital annexes and a corridor".The hon. Gentleman made a serious speech and the House will have listened with concern to what he had to say.
As the House knows, it is not for me to decide whether this matter shall be debated. I have to decide only whether a debate shall take priority over our business today or tomorrow.
I regret that, having carefully considered the hon. Gentleman's representations, I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.