§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what determines the conditions under which political offenders of various categories serve their sentences, particularly in regard to the work which they are required to undertake.]
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (EARL BATHURST)
My Lords, the only prisoners who might be regarded as political offenders are those convicted of sedition, seditious libel or (in England and Wales) seditious conspiracy. These prisoners are not compelled to work in the service or industries of the prison (though they may be so employed with their own consent) and, so far as the conditions of the prison and the requirements of discipline and safe custody permit, they may work at their own trade, employment or profession. There have been no prisoners in this category for many years.
BARONESS SUMMER SKILL
My Lords, while thanking the noble Earl for his reply, may I ask whether he could 549 tell me why the punishment for sedition is less severe than the punishment meted out to Miss Pat Arrowsmith?
My Lords, I must point out to the noble Lady that the punishment which was meted out to Miss Pat Arrowsmith had nothing to do with the sort of punishment that would be meted out to a political offender of the type I have just been describing. It had nothing to do with that at all.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, could I ask the noble Earl how he would define her position, and what is the punishment for that kind of offence?
My Lords, Miss Pat Arrowsmith broke the ordinary law, and was in exactly the same position as any other prisoner who had broken the law.
§ LORD MORRISON OF LAMBETH
My Lords, could the noble Earl say whether the regulation to which he has referred applies not only under the Home Office which deals with England and Wales, but also to the Scottish Home Department as well?
My Lords, the only difference with regard to the Scottish procedure in such cases is that there is no recognisance procedure in Scotland, as there is in England. But in the particular case of Miss Pat Arrowsmith, this does not arise at all.