HL Deb 19 October 1961 vol 234 cc552-627

2.57 p.m.

THE EARL OF LONGFORD rose to call attention to the present state of the prisons and borstals, and to the aftercare system; and to move for Papers. The noble Earl said: My Lords, the problem on this kind of occasion is to keep one's speech within bounds without omitting vital topics—a problem which has invariably defeated me in the past. To-day, however, I am leaving borstals and after-care in better hands than mine, borstals in the hands of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, who has played such a fine part in previous debates, and after-care to the noble Marchioness, Lady Reading, who has led the W.V.S. to achievements in this field which have been one of the brighter spots in a depressing picture.

My own concern with after-care is, I think, fairly well known in this House, but I must not fail to pay tribute to many individuals who have laboured long and earnestly for after-care. Particularly I must not fail to make mention of officials like Commander Hague, who have brought in a new breath of life in the last few years. But I am afraid I must agree with the noble and gallant Field-Marshal, Lord Montgomery of Alamein (I do not think the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, will wish to call me a fellow traveller on this occasion) that in this field of after-care a complete revolution is needed; and I look forward with special interest to what the noble Marchioness, Lady Reading, is going to tell us this afternoon.

So much by way of introduction. I have said before, and I repeat it to-day, that in my opinion prison is a rotten answer to the question of what to do with delinquents. If any one could think of anything better than prison there would be little support for the whole idea of prison, an idea under which we shut all delinquents away from their families with every prospect of mutual contamination under conditions which make it extraordinarily difficult to do effective work. I am sure that the future lies much more with compulsory training and work for the community, outside, or largely outside, institutions. Incidentally, that would fit in much better with any State plan of compensating the victim.

Penal reformers, among whom I suppose I may number myself, are accused, sometimes justly and sometimes unjustly, of neglecting the victims of crime. I think that is a point of view of the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, who has left us at the moment. Personally I am very much concerned with the victims, and I have recently been honoured to become the Chairman of a Committee set up by "justice", a reputable society of lawyers, to work out a scheme of compensation for the victims of crimes of violence following the Government White Paper. But to-day I will try to concentrate on the prison situation as we find it, without looking too far ahead in time.

Over six years ago we in this House began to urge the need—and we began to urge it from all sides of the House, under the inspiration of the noble Viscount the late Lord Templewood—for a new and radical approach to penal policy, and for a much more ambitious programme of penal reform. Over five years ago The Times, commenting on one of our debates, described the prison services of this country, all too correctly, as "last in the queue." That was in 1956.

Four and a half years ago, at the beginning of 1957, the right honourable gentleman, Mr. Butler, assuming Office as Home Secretary, dedicated himself to penal reform more explicitly and enthusiastically than any Home Secretary within living memory. Of course, there are in this House—the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth—former Home Secretaries who have given very serious attention to penal reform during their own time of office. Mr. Butler set out to strike a new note. Whatever may be thought of the results of Mr. Butler's labours, no fair-minded person will deny that in spirit he has kept the faith. Yet a White Paper issued under his authority, after he had had time to diagnose the problem, described the prisons in which the majority of our prisoners are held as "monumental denials of the principles for which we stand." That was more than two years ago. To-day the material situation is still deplorable.

I myself have no doubt, though this cannot be demonstrated, that under the present dispensation the atmosphere in our prisons has steadily become more humane and civilised during the last few years. That is certainly the testimony of prisoners, and I hope that it will not altogether be set aside because of its origin. But the material facts are still appalling. When Mr. Butler assumed office at the beginning of 1957 he accepted the number sleeping three in a cell as a significant criterion. There were about 2,000 sleeping three in a cell when Mr. Butler took office; to-day there are much more than three times as many. According to the latest figures reaching me, there are now about 7,600 sleeping three in a cell. By chance, I was in a local prison yesterday, and there about 40 per cent. of the prisoners were sleeping three in a cell. I was told that that was quite a normal thing in local prisons, though not in all prisons.

As Mr. Fairn, a Prison Commissioner, pointed out last week, the numbers in local prisons and borstals reached a new record on October 3. If we include those in detention centres, in addition to those in prisons and borstals, the total is now 29,600, as compared with 11,000 before the war. This is about 2,000 higher than a year ago and about 2,000 higher, as I shall mention later, than last December. Of that total of nearly 30,000, fewer than 1,000 are women: as I have remarked before, with the support of the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, it is men who are the delinquent sex, though I am sure she would agree that it is perhaps the women—mothers, wives, sisters and daughters—who suffer most intensely through the crimes of the men.

To put the matter shortly, as a nation we have refused to face the fact that the post-war prison problem is far larger, vastly larger, than the pre-war problem. We have continued as a nation to make a pre-war effort to cope with a post-war problem. May I quote a striking passage in the speech which was delivered by the Minister of Health, Mr. Enoch Powell, to the Conservative Political Centre, last Thursday in Brighton, in connection with the Conservative Conference. Mr. Powell said: I am not referring to the debate on methods … he was referring to a debate that had been taking place; and I know that the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, who I am glad to see is going to speak to-day, played a most valuable part in it. The disagreements of the floggers and anti-floggers are dwarfed by the appalling facts of prison provision and the deficiencies of our penal system. I will dare to say that our prisons are our most important and our most deficient social service. It may have been harder for the Home Secretary to put it quite so bluntly, but I hardly think that Mr. Powell would speak without the consent of his colleague and the other members of the Cabinet. I will repeat what he said. According to the Minister of Health: … our prisons are our most important and our most deficient social service. A few minutes ago I called the facts appalling, and now here we find a greater authority than I am, the Minister of Health, Mr. Powell, using the same words. And no one would suspect him of having the same sort of bias as I might be supposed to possess.

May I say one word on crime—and it will be one word, because this is not a general debate on the causes, prevention and treatment of crime (that kind of debate I hope we shall have before long), but a debate on prisons. It is a part of the wider topic of the debate on crime, and the growth of crime is, of course, an essential element in the background of this discussion to-day. In 1938, there were 283,000 indictable crimes known to the police. In 1945, there were nearly 480,000; in 1951, 525,000; in 1960, 744,000. That is three times as many as in 1938. And I understand that already the figures for 1961 are higher than the figures for 1960. With crime at three times the pre-war figure it is not surprising, though of course the sentencing policy affects it also, that there are nearly three times as many people in prison.

Is there any connection between our modern penal methods and the growth of crime? Few will deny that the growth of crime since the war is a world-wide phenomenon, or a phenomenon common to all, or nearly all, industrialised societies. Few will deny that it springs, or largely springs, from deep-set causes, among which our direct approach to the convicted delinquent is only one factor, for good or ill. I entirely applaud, as I am sure we all do, the heavy emphasis laid by the Home Secretary last week on the need for increasing the police force. But that and other methods of preventing crime are outside our province to-day.

If anyone tells me that our official policy, the policy agreed by the Government, and certainly by my own Party, of penal reform is itself a cause of the great increase in crime, I would vehemently deny it. I would urge rather, and certainly on this side we should all agree, that the trouble has not been that we have gone too fast but that we have not gone fast enough. The choice to-day is not between more discipline and less discipline, but between, on the one hand, taking sufficient trouble over delinquents and ex-delinquents, and, on the other, skimping or neglecting our duty towards them; and it is the latter course we have pursued. It is quite false to say that penal reform has failed. Penal reform has not yet been given a proper chance.

Let me become a little more concrete. When he became Home Secretary, Mr. Butler singled out three targets to be attacked; overcrowding, shortage of work, and understaffing. The overcrowding I have touched on, when I gave the figures of the extraordinary increase in the numbers sleeping three in a cell. Mr. Powell went on, in the speech I have quoted, to speak about that matter in no uncertain terms. But at least let us give the Government credit for mounting the biggest prison-building programme for a century. The estimates for new building of prisons were about £1 million in 1956–57 and for the current year they are about £4½ million. I have no doubt that the Minister, who I am glad to see is to reply to the debate, will wish to give details about the building programme.

Then work. If I remember rightly, the situation in respect of work in most of our prisons was in the Government White Paper of 1959 said to be not only bad but deteriorating. To-day, it appears to he no better, judging from the Report of the Advisory Council on the Employment of Prisoners which was published quite recently. I am going to leave the whole of this vital topic of work to Lord Stonham who has specialised on it, except in so far as it is the result of a shortage of staff, to which I shall come in a moment. I should, however, like to put this one question to the Government—I have given them at any rate some notice of it.

In paragraph 79 of their Report the Advisory Council recommend what can only be called relatively minor improvements in prisoners' pay, about which we shall no doubt hear more from the Minister and others; but they felt that at this stage it was not possible for them to go into any fundamental alteration in the scale of earnings. I am one of those—I expect there are many in the House—who believe that the problem of prison labour will never begin to be solved until we have a completely different approach to pay—a proper wage for a full working week.

I realise that the Advisory Council felt that the other task was still more urgent, but may we take it that the Advisory Council are now investigating the wider question? Or do they reckon it beyond their powers—something, as one might say, above their level? If so, will the Government make sure that some other body qualified to deal with it investigates the question of principle? A number of countries including Sweden and Finland have experimented, not perhaps in all their prisons but in some institutions, by paying the normal rate for the job. Why should not we in this country at least make a start in that direction? As I say, I leave the Minister to answer that point.

I come now to what is my main topic. It will be my last topic, but it will be quite a long one. It concerns the staffing position. As I said earlier, I have recently been in touch with that admirable body, the Prison Officers' Association. The facts which I shall be submitting to the House have been mainly derived from them, though I have tried to check them with the official authorities. That does not mean that I accept the views of the prison officers on all points—far from it. It is a free country; they have their views, and I have mine. But the facts I am submitting are mainly derived from them.

I begin by reminding the House of what I said in June on the authority of their General Secretary, the highly regarded Mr. Cronin. He said that he had never known the morale of the staff so low—and one must not be surprised if there has been no improvement since. During 1960, for example (and things were pretty bad by the end of 1959), the net increase was 11 male officers. The number of women officers decreased by 22. But let us confine ourselves to the men, because it is here that the problem is most acute.

The number of male officers increased by 11, while women officers decreased by 22 in 1960. At the end of 1960 there were 4,705 male officers and 220 female officers. At the end of September, 1961, the respective figures were 4,788 and 221, which was an increase, if I may be permitted to leave out the women, of 83 men. That was after fairly strenuous exertions, though I think those exertions could have been greater. An increase of 83 male officers since last December may not sound too bad to the House, until we notice—this is the significant point—that the prisoners increased, between the end of last year and the end of September, by 2,000. Accepting that there ought to be about six prisoners to one officer, that means that since the end of December, last year, the prisoners have increased about four times as fast as the officers should have increased if the same ratio was to be preserved. That is the actual position which I am placing before the House this afternoon—an increase of 83 officers and 2,000 prisoners since last year.

More than that, the prison officers are convinced—and it is hard to resist the argument—that every reform (and most of us, at any rate, support these reforms) means more work for the prison officers, and requires a higher and not a lower ratio of officers to prisoners. This is obviously true of the building programme, which on other grounds we applaud and demand, and which is indeed long overdue. For example, the opening of the new remand centre at Ashford requires about 58 officers. Though it may be said that the prisoners at Ashford will come from somewhere else, the opening of the new centre does involve the officers in a higher burden. Of course (I am sorry to repeat this, but I do so in case there is some misunderstanding) no one on this side of the House is anything but anxious to see the present programme brought forward as fast as possible.

There is not, I am informed, a penal establishment in the country which is up to the agreed complement in staff, and the position will be worsened when Hindley, Lancashire, is opened at the end of the year. Grendon, Buckinghamshire, the long-delayed and long-desired psychiatric prison, is due to open early in 1962; and this again will require a large staff. I do not think anybody doubts that the building programme, which of course, as I have said, we support to the uttermost, will in the immediate future make the staffing position graver and graver. I am informed that at Birmingham recently the remand and trial prisoners, and all the young prisoners, were kept in their cells for 23 out of 24 hours for over a week, because there was not sufficient staff to supervise them out of their cells. Other instances can be provided.

My Lords, there is no doubt that, while the shortage of staff is not the only factor in the short hours worked, it is one of the main reasons why the hours worked in prison are so low. Prisoners in the local prisons rarely work for more than four hours each day. At Pentonville the work period is as low as 2½ hours daily. In their Report, published recently, the Advisory Council say that in some local prisons the hours worked are about 16 a week. It has been agreed between the Prison Commission and the staff that sufficient staff must be forthcoming in the next few years to enable early and late shifts to be worked. But at the present rate of recruitment, according to the calculation of the prison officers, which I am ready to accept provisionally, this ideal will not be reached during the present century.

What is the remedy? First, there is the question of conditions; and then there is the question of pay. At present, I am told, prison officers perform, on the average, about 20 hours per fortnight in overtime. They are completely unable to plan their social lives with any certainty, owing to their liability for evening duties following a normal day's attendance. Apparently notice for these duties is often very short. It is intended that officers should be off duty each alternate Saturday or Sunday, but the shortage of staff is such that an officer is very lucky indeed if he ever gets the two consecutive days. Cases have occurred in which men have worked for six weeks without getting a day off duty.

The remedy here is admittedly much easier to indicate than to apply. Hours should certainly be reduced from 84 to 80 per fortnight. Attendances should be based on the eleven-day fortnight, as recommended by the Wynn-Parry Committee in October, 1948, instead of the twelve-day fortnight as at present. I have no wish to question the good will of the Prison Commissioners or their desire to bring about such changes, but, of course, they and all the authorities are caught in a vicious circle. The conditions are very bad because of a staffing shortage, and one factor, at least, responsible for the shortage is these somewhat unattractive conditions. Somewhere we have to break through this vicious circle, and I myself have no doubt whatever that an increase in pay up to the level of the police is essential.

At present there is no doubt the police are better off. A constable starts at a somewhat higher rate than a prison officer, and in the tenth year he is receiving, according to my information, £2 6s. a week more than a prison officer receives. It is true that a policeman has to contribute to his pension, which a prison officer does not, but there are other advantages on the side of the policeman. For example, he gets two later increments after the tenth year, which the prison officer does not, and the housing allowance appears to be somewhat more favourable in the case of policemen. I do not think that anyone seriously denies to-day as a matter of actual fact that, since the last pay rise of the police, which of course was entirely justified, the police are better paid, are better off, than the prison officers.

There is much else that I could say about the reforms that could be introduced into the service which would increase its attractions. This division, which is hard to overcome in a hurry, between the so-called uniform and nonuniform sides must be tackled eventually. But let me take my stand fairly and squarely on the proposition that a prison officer is at least as essential as a police officer in the struggle for the prevention and treatment of crime. I know that the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, will agree with this, because I have heard him pay tribute to the prison officers before now.


My Lords, might I, as the noble Earl referred to me, ask him whether he would deal with this point? It is a very delicate one and I ask him to do so only because for some time I represented in another place the Prison Officers' Association. I am not taking sides one way or the other, but there is undoubtedly a feeling among prison officers, quite apart from the question of pay, that the system of control in prisons as a result of various reforms, while making it easier for the prisoner, has made it harder for the warders; and in some way that difference, which is not publicly stated, will have to be resolved.


My Lords, the noble Earl, who is an accomplished Parliamentary debater, will forgive me if I point out that it is now many years since prison officers were referred to as warders, and he has introduced a somewhat archaic approach, so, on the test of that particular use of words, I do not think he has represented them lately. But coming seriously to his point, as I said earlier—the noble Earl could not be with us to hear the earlier passages of my speech—I do not agree with all their views, but I do agree that these reforms (I said this to the House) make their job harder. But those of use who support reforms—and certainly the Government do and the Opposition do—have a special responsibility for seeing that the service is made attractive enough to obtain new recruits. So I think that the noble Earl and I are on that point at one.

I would venture to submit very strongly that a prison officer is at least as indispensable as a police officer, who is, of course, quite indispensable in the struggle for the prevention and treatment of crime. And in these days, now that the prison officer has ceased to be just a custodian, a sort of "Bung 'em in and lock 'em up gentleman", now that he is supposed to be a social servant, I would submit that the duties of the prison officers are at least as demanding as those of the police officer in terms of training, mind and character.


Hear, hear!


I am very glad the noble Earl agrees with me there. I was astonished—and I stand to be corrected here—that, so far as I could see, Mr. Butler, in that comprehensive and rather noble speech at Brighton, never even referred to the shortage of prison officers. He laid the greatest stress on the need to strengthen the police. Why did he not mention prison officers? That is a point which I have submitted in advance to the noble Earl who is to reply, and perhaps we shall hear him and we may hear the views of Mr. Butler on this subject this afternoon.

That brings me to my final submission. I cannot escape the feeling that too much complacency is being displayed by the Home Office on this whole question of the prison staff, and the whole subject is not being given the kind of priority it deserves. There has been, it is true, a recruitment campaign in the North-West. But it should have been led and conducted not only there but throughout the country by the Home Secretary and his colleagues at the Home Office. But far from doing that, the Home Secretary goes to Brighton and deals with crime and the building programme and everything else and misses an unrivalled opportunity—there is something peculiar about it—of dealing with the staff shortage. Is it permissible to think that there is a policy of deliberate silence here, a calculation that fewer recruits will be obtained if the true state of things is revealed? One can argue that way; I think it is very foolish, but it could be argued that people would be put off if they heard any speech such as I am inflicting on your Lordships this afternoon. Shall I be thought to have done a real disservice to recruitment by "blowing the gaff", "spilling the beans" in front of your Lordships to-day? I cannot help thinking that the House will not take that view; I cannot help thinking that the House will wish, as always, to see all the cards on the table.

Let us make no mistake about it, there is a real crisis. In the view of the prison officers, I accept against a mounting background of crime—2,000 more prisoners than last year—the situation is more in need of drastic action now than at any time since the war. It is supposed by some, but not those who are best informed, I think, that the choice before our country to-day is a choice between a philosophy of reform and a philosophy of reaction. I do not consider that that is the real issue. The philosophy of reform has come to stay, and Mr. Butler must not be denied a great deal of the share of credit. But the real choice to-day is between reform on paper and reform on the ground; between reform in theory and reform in practice.

At present we are in danger of paying lip service to the idea of reform without providing the material means, certainly, but still more, the human means which alone make it possible. I have in mind the human means which would enable us to combine discipline on the one side and compassion on the other and which would make of reform not an attitude of laissez-faire and just indiscriminating leniency, but a constructive character-building force. I implore the Government, whose motives I do not doubt, to realise that a building programme, long overdue though it is, is not the whole answer or, indeed, the main part of the answer. What we require is a programme pursued with passionate determination to raise the status and strength of our prison staff. Without a programme of that kind, pushed through just as one would push through a programme for recruitment for the armed forces in time of danger, the high and laudable ideas of the Government will be more of a fiction than a reality; and whether we are more concerned with prevention or treatment of crime, with the victims or the delinquents, we shall continue to fail in our Christian duty. Once again, I implore the Government to recognise this truth at last and to give effect to it. I beg to move for Papers.

3.30 p.m.


My Lords, I am very glad to see so large an attendance in your Lordships' House to-day; for, after all, none of us can know his fate exactly, and it is well that we should be interested in what may be our future residences, for shorter or for longer periods. My Lords, I cannot pretend to know anything like as much as the noble Earl, Lord Longford, does about prison, borstals and the problem of after-care, but I have been to a number of these places as a visitor and have endeavoured to make myself familiar with some of their most pressing problems. Also, I served for a good many years on the committee administering a Home Office approved school. I know the difficulties that the noble Earl has referred to in regard to the prison staff, but, after my own observations, I should like to pay tribute to the prison governors, the chaplains and the prison officers. They are short-handed, as we have heard, and they are very hard-worked. Recruiting is not satisfactory (that has been dealt with by the noble Earl), and I most certainly hope that their conditions will improve and that their pay becomes no less than that of police officers, because they deserve it.

My Lords, local prisons shock me. There is not only overcrowding, which means that they may be a breeding ground for future crime, but there seems to be lack of space for modern machinery and equipment to enable men to learn trades which will be of use to them on their discharge. Another type of prison, like Wakefield, is so different. There was no three in a cell when I was there, and every man can learn up-to-date methods in a number of trades. The men looked cheerful, and appeared to be on excellent terms with the Governor and staff.

My Lords, there is one class of prisoners, men and some women, who deliberately court prison sentences because they like being in prison. I used to meet such people in Hull Prison before it was bombed in the last war. The men told me that they were well fed, were warm and comfortable in winter, and had no worries and not too much work. I was informed that some time after they had been discharged they smashed windows or knocked policemen's hats off, or did things of that kind, and back they went to prison. We taxpayers have Ito pay for their keep, and I wonder whether means could not be found to make prison a little less attractive to them.

As we have been told this afternoon, of the 29,600 incarcerated, only a very small fraction is women. Whether this means that women are mare virtuous or more cunning, I do not know; possibly they are not exposed to the same temptations. I have been struck by the very, small number of women in open prisons who have failed to make good afterwards. They learn to be good housewives, and this accomplishment must help them in their lives afterwards. The problem is different in closed prisons for women serving short sentences. There is not time to influence them in the same way. Furthermore, the number of women sentenced since the Street Offences Act came into operation has shown a very big increase: from 98 to 352 admitted to Holloway. Few of these respond in any way to rehabilitation. They do not like work, and they have no intention of settling down to respectable employment.

I must not say much about borstals, because I know that another noble Lord is going to say a good deal more on that subject, but what is so depressing about borstals is the very high percentage of those who return to crime after discharge. The reasons are various. On a recent visit I asked about one rather nice-looking boy, and the Governor told me that when he interviewed him on his arrival the boy said, "Father is in prison, my four brothers are in prison, and I was not going to be the black sheep of the family". That is a pretty bad one. The acquisition of expensive tastes is another cause. A boy in that same borstal told the Governor, "I had a good enough wage, but I could not keep a car and a girl on it, so I had to steal". My Lords, I only wish that parents who fail to bring up their offspring properly could be penalised. At present, they seem to suffer only when fines are imposed.

I must not say much about after-care work, since the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, is going to deal more fully with that, but it is of the very highest importance to help to keep people in the middle of the road when they leave prison; and a start should be made as soon as they are received in prison. There should be far more welfare officers than there are at present, working hand in hand with probation officers, who are often so hard pressed that they are quite unable to do anything like what they would wish to do in that direction. Then, surely there should be an amalgamation of all societies dealing with discharged prisoners. I think the noble Lady will be dealing with this, but I will just make this remark. On reading the annual report of one organisation I saw that the after-care work of one prison was undertaken by 29 local societies. It is therefore inevitable that there should be overlapping and confusion.

One hopes very much that the Government will favour a scheme of amalgamation, much on the lines adopted for this work by the W.V.S., under its wonderful leader. That has worked so efficiently that I hope very much it will be a model on which to work. I am sure that such an organisation dealing with discharged prisoners could do a great deal of good, and could save the taxpayers' money very substantially. I, like others, feel very strongly that it would be a great mistake to have anything of this nature completely controlled as a branch of the Home Office. Government Departments are, perhaps necessarily, hedged in with regulations, which makes it so difficult to deal with unforeseen circumstances, and decisions from Government Departments come so slowly.

My Lords, there is one more matter: the Prison Commission being swallowed up by the Home Office. I know of one prison Governor who is not unduly worried, but others dread this change from a personal acquaintance with officials of the Prison Commission to something impersonal, and dealing with those who are not specialists in a very complicated business. The noble Earl has dealt fully with the question of increased prison acccommodation, and it is equally necessary to increase the prison staff and give them better conditions. We know that Holloway, which is only half full now, is to be closed for women and made available for men—some day. New prisons are planned—we have seen the plans of one in the Prince's Chamber—and we only hope that these plans will go through quickly and that the new detention centres which also have been planned can be accomplished soon. In the name of St. Leonard, the Patron Saint of prisoners and captives, I urge the Government to speed things up to the utmost extent and mitigate the appalling evils of overcrowding.

3.38 p.m.


My Lords, once more we are grateful to the noble Earl for initiating this debate on what is a vast and very important subject. He talked of six years ago, and more. I think it is rather regrettable, but if your Lordships were paid by results achieved purely in the reduction of crime, then we should all be very poor men. One of the unfortunate positions of to-day is that we are not paid by results; and, therefore, in our case, we are probably being given three times as much as we should be worth for about twice the amount of work. It is also regrettable that, at a time when so many people in all Parties agree that the accent in prisons should be on rehabilitation and not on punishment, we are getting so little progress. I sincerely hope that none of us is going to be so downhearted about this as to think that we are on the wrong lines, because I am quite sure that we are not.

This is not an economics debate, but I feel strongly that one of the chief reasons for crime among the young is that, through full employment and high wages, these young boys, as soon as they leave school, can get well-paid jobs without any help from their families. The result of this is that during their school years discipline in the home is lax, and the father—son relationship, which is so vastly important for the welfare of children, just does not exist any more. The young are growing up these days with a very exaggerated idea of their own importance and their own worth. In fact, the old belief that the worse the conditions are at home, the more likely it will lead to crime, is no longer true, if in fact it ever was true. Now it would appear that the better the conditions in the home, the more chance there is of crime.

My Lords, I would even go a little further than that and say that, in the present conditions of high wages far more girls go out to work, and so they make money earlier. They can marry earlier and now with the evil of hire-purchase we have the position which exists to-day. What has happened in the field of hire-purchase in the last two years is now well known. It shows how very easy it is to become dishonest and to get away with it. Once you are dishonest about one thing, you may very well become dishonest about others.

I have said that this is not an economics debate; nor is it an educational debate. But without discussing in any way the rights or wrongs of the case, I think the recent teachers' strikes—although I was very pleased this morning to see what had happened—will show that these strikes and these threats have damaged to a very considerable extent the minds of young children. Damage done at this age is very often irreparable. I think, looking to the future, that this again will make the criminal statistics of the future possibly very much higher than they might well have been otherwise, All this, my Lords, shows a continuing lack of high moral standards.

Although I do not want to disturb the noble Lords who represent the Church this afternoon, they are such an important part of this tremendous problem that I am rather sorry that they are not taking part to-day, because I do feel it is their responsibility and their example that can do as much as, if not more than, any of us here to help to solve this very difficult problem.


My Lords, I might just interrupt to say that there is quite a prospect of one of the leading members of the Church taking part.


My Lords, I am very delighted to hear it. He is not on the list of speakers, but the noble Earl will know that I am only too pleased that that should happen.

We have heard from both the noble Lords who have spoken so far about the question of prison officers, and I should like again to reinforce the point because I think we all should. They have had a welcome rise since the Wynn-Parry Report was published in 1958, but the experience and the character that is necessarily required of these people is such that I greatly query whether they are anything like well enough paid to-day. I think most of us who are looking back over the last several years have fought hardest for a complete rethinking of the present problem, and we are determined to make re-education, rather than punishment, what we are fighting for. But, my Lords, how can we really do this with over 7,000 prisoners three in a cell? Some have been lucky enough not to be one of the three. But a great many of us have been in those cells, and one has only to look around to feel exactly what it would be like to be there. With that kind of thing still in very many places, with such sanitary arrangements as there are, and with the very limited training given, how can we really fight hard for re-education and expect to succeed?

My Lords, we have heard one or two answers to this problem. There is one very simple answer. It may not be possible, but a simple answer is that if the prisons, as re-educational centres, cannot cope with the numbers, then we must reduce the numbers. Or, to put it another way, are there not many people in prison to-day who should not be there at all? If in the very near future (I do not mean three or four years, but I do mean in the very near future) we could bring down the number of those in prison so that the ideals we believe in could be practised, perhaps we could keep the number down and it would not rise again.

If your Lordships will look at the Report of 1960 you will see the following figures. There were 27,824 untried prisoners at the end of 1959, of whom 10.993 were not sent to prison on conviction when tried. There were 6,868 sentenced in default of payment of fines. There were 8,231, many of whom, I believe, were "hire-purchase prisoners", who were under the heading of "civil" prisoners. Very many of these need not have gone to prison at all. Even with the vast numbers in prison to-day that would be quite a good saving.

Then, my Lords, there is that subject which has been raised on many occasions by many of us before: the question of the treatment of first offenders. In a great number of cases could not a second chance be given to these people? Then if that second chance were not taken, it might mean a very considerably harsher punishment or sentence; but give them the chance. That would again be a very good way of reducing the number of people who are now in prison. A risk of some kind has to be taken, and in no case that I have suggested are we dealing with dangerous criminals.

As the noble Earl said, we have a vicious circle, but we have a vicious circle in another way. The present law says that people must go to prison for certain crimes. If they do, then there just are not enough prisons for them, and so there is overcrowding. The staffs which would be quite adequate if the prisons were not 'overcrowded become too small, so the only possible solution is to change the laws to prevent some of these people going to prison, and to instill on magistrates the need to be far more lenient in certain cases of first offenders. I would always except, of course, cases of violence.

My Lords, I rather appreciate the handing out of various portions of this debate this afternoon to certain people who are speaking after the noble Earl, and I welcome the fact that I have been allotted the young. I have always talked about them, for the simple reason that if we can cure crime in the young, then in ten or twenty years' there is not going to be any crime. So I always try and emphasise that side of the debate more than any other. Young criminals and prospective criminals revel in their own importance. They hero-worship only those who are more clever than they are in crime. They are cowards at heart, and they are brave only when the odds are at least three to one in their favour. Any association with adults who are criminals makes their chance of reform, even after full borstal sentence, that much the smaller. So, my Lords, the first priority for the young must be vocational centres, so that they can begin training at once, in no way associated with adults.

The whole point of borstal training is to bring the boy up to a standard of living which in most cases he has never had before or, if he has had it in the past, he has forgotten, so that when he comes out, he comes out with the possibility of tackling life as a normal boy should do. I am not thinking of detention centres but of a sort of medium-term course of rehabilitation. But none of this is any good, if there is prior association with adults or if a boy goes to a centre for some six or eight weeks where there is no training, because it is contact with adults or a long period of waiting without anything to do which kills any desire a boy may ever have had of pulling himself together.

We have been told that the reception centre at Ashford took all those boys who were at Wormwood Scrubs, and so one would assume now that there are not any boys at Wormwood Scrubs; but I understand that there are still some 300 to 450 boys at the prison associating with adults. You can go round there and still be told that this is not true; that they do not associate with the adults. They are kept quite separate. But I am absolutely certain in my own mind that that is just not correct. Somehow, in the clever way these people have, they do associate with the adults, to their very great disadvantage. And we shall not get a real answer to the borstal question or to the question of young in prison unless we know with absolute certainty that at no time whatsoever do the boys associate with any adult confirmed criminal.

I believe that new ideas are coming out for dealing with certain of these borstal boys after they have left. I will not go into the question of after-care, but I think that we must remember that we can train boys in a borstal for eighteen months or two-and-a-half years or whatever it may be, but the whole training is gone completely unless they are welcomed into life afterwards as normal young men should be. I am pleased to hear that some of the worst types of borstal boys who have not anywhere to go are being treated on a voluntary basis in the way in which they should be treated.

I should like to say one word on detention centres, because I still believe that this is one of the best things that has been thought of for many years. They do wonderful work, and I think that the falling curve of failures during the last three years is very encouraging. These centres are doing a splendid job and the whole theory behind them should be welcomed. It is what is called the "short, sharp shock", the insistence on discipline and on cleanliness, which I think is very important, and on the up-building of character. I have been to these centres and have noticed the number of times these boys are made to change. They get into P.T. kit, then change for breakfast, then into working clothes and change again for lunch. I think it makes them realise that there is somehing worth while in being clean and honest and part of a team. I cannot speak too highly of these centres.

I am delighted to see that many more are envisaged and I think that, when we do get more, we shall really have broken the back of teenage crime. But it is going to take a long time. The building programme is excellent. We may think it is slow, but in actual practice can it go any faster than it is doing? In theory, we all want to see it finished next year, but it is not only a question of money but of the practical possibility of building at a certain rate, which will require many years before we can say that we have enough buildings. It is in this pause between the overcrowding we have now and the time when we get all these buildings, that I wish the Government to consider seriously the reduction of prison reception in the ways I have suggested.

3.55 p.m.


My Lords, I have sat watching your Lordships ever since entering into this House, and I do not recollect a single time when a more sympathetic attendance has been in the House giving their attention to what is being discussed. Inasmuch as I can only touch on the after-care side of this question, I am conscious of the fact that much has to be left out so as not to weary your Lordships and that as concise as possible an approach should be made to the subject in order that your Lordships may appreciate the line that many voluntary organisations would like to see considered in regard to after-care.

After-care should not be only a means of re-establishing a human being; it should be a way of his re-entry into normal life so that the person concerned will not wish once more to return to crime. This is the line that I should like to take in discussing after-care. The absolutely essential feature of any aftercare work, especially for persons coming from prison and from borstal must be continuity. Therefore it is necessary that any after-care envisaged must be well planned, well organised and well carried through to its ultimate end. This is what we all must consider very deeply when we examine the methods of after-care which can be used in future.

A tremendous contribution to the whole problem could be achieved if it were possible to start after-care in prison and in borstal, as has already been mentioned, and continue it on release consecutively right through until complete re-establishment has been achieved. To me it seems clear that after-care should be available where needed and not be linked in any way with the prison sentence given. Anyone who has been detained, whether in prison, in borstal or in a detention centre should have after-care available to him. Positive after-care should be related to actual needs and not restricted to those who are subject to statutory after-care on release. I believe this to be a basically important point, which ought to be considered fundamentally.

To my mind it is clear that statutory and voluntary after-care should be one service, especially now that so many more persons will be subject to statutory after-care, and I believe that the participation of the voluntary worker in such a service would benefit the community as a whole, if a method were evolved by which the voluntary worker, within an agreed framework, could work with the person carrying out the statutory authority. In saying that I think it would benefit the community as a whole, I mean that members working within the community on this subject would begin to realise that they have to try to prevent entry into crime rather than merely to help after crime has been perpetrated.

I have thought about this a great deal and I am convinced that if any suggestion is to be of any use, it should be one acceptable in the country as a whole. It should be possible to work it easily, without too much red tape and must be easily understood by all concerned. Too much appears too often to be misunderstood by one person or another and in consequence work gets retarded or completely fogged. The suggestion I should like to make is that a central body for the provision of after-care should be set up by the Government and financed by the Government, this body to have the responsibility of taking over existing statutory and voluntary obligations and increasing the number of officers doing welfare work in the prisons, as well as outside, so as to establish throughout the whole country a skeleton network on which the operation can be based.

It would, in my view, be a mistake to set up a new organisation to undertake statutory after-care at central or local level, with the consequent risk of duplicating work on the ground. Too often the work of responsible social agencies is ruined by either the politeness of wondering who is going to step on whose toes or by internecine warfare. I believe that if the probation service were widened and strengthened so that its officers could take care of this work as a whole, a tremendous amount of overlapping would be avoided and a real and excellent result obtained.

I am as sick as many of your Lordships of hearing people talk about juvenile offenders, crime and punishment, without accepting any responsibility themselves in their community for any part of the question. I should like to be sure that an opportunity can be provided for those really disturbed by and truly interested in the whole question, so that they can play a part, however small, at the local level. My experience is, however (and I have had a good deal of experience in this field), that merely being interested in the subject is not enough. It is necessary, if one is going to undertake any part whatsoever in the whole, to fit oneself for that part by simple training, and maybe a test, so that one can be sure that one is in possession of what one needs to undertake the aim that one has ahead.

Usually in envisaging after-care the two determining factors, and often the two breaking points, are those of finance to meet the cost and the persons available to do the after-care. In this respect it would be necessary, of course, to enlarge and strengthen, and, indeed, widen, the present probation service make-up. It would naturally call for more expenditure, but it would be money spent in helping to prevent further trouble rather than incurring a heavy new budget, and it should eventually save money. It is essential that the responsible people—and by those I mean the probation officers—be paid on a scale which is right for the job and which establishes them in a strong personal situation to be able to pursue the job rather than be constantly looking about for something with better remuneration, which obviously is not good for the job in hand. I should like to see the voluntary worker brought into such an aftercare service to work to the person carrying the full responsibility; and I know from experience that such a scheme is both possible and advantageous.

Since the war many of us working with the statutory bodies in social services have learned much. Many new ways of operating the machinery of such services have been developed, and for those of us who spend our lives in this field the machinery of the National Assistance Board has a great attraction. It is a small body of independent members, constituted, on the basis of a British jury, of reputable and respected men and women. Its terms of reference are wide enough to permit of quick action and the easing of red tape. Its officers throughout Great Britain are known, admired and respected for the way in which they handle difficult and often terribly complicated cases. I should hone that if we could have a national after-care service for those who have been in borstal and in prison, it might well be modelled, as to its control, on the basis of the National Assistance Board, with a board in charge and with its members appointed by the Home Secretary.

I should wish this, because within my experience (and that of countless others) I have found that this method has the advantage of being quick in action, without the delays of departmental procedure; and it also has the great merit of having people of varying natures in charge, and therefore there is no ultimate dependence upon any one individual, which can be a difficulty as well as a retard. Retard and delay have been our bugbears in this work for too long, and if this suggestion I am putting forward were to be examined, there would be the additional virtue in it that both the probation service and the voluntary bodies are already in existence.

From the point of view of voluntary bodies, small things done locally on a national scale can be a great contribution, and I should like to quote two experiments that have been in operation for a short time, both of which seem to me to have a bearing on the case. Many of us have heard of a good deal of trouble through borstal boys coming out from borstal having difficulty in finding anybody to befriend them. Ex-borstal boys, as your Lordships well know, are normally licensed by the After-Care Association to the probation officer. Owing to pressure of work, the responsible officers do not have sufficient time to devote as much as they would like to each boy. Therefore, the homeless boy is often left to his own resources and has little choice between loneliness and bad companionship. In order to try to overcome this, the W.V.S., with which I am associated, tried to see whether it could get voluntary men friends to befriend the boys coming out of borstal, and with the approval of the Home Office and the Prison Commissioners voluntary men friends were established, in the first place, in Manchester.

Each voluntary man friend undertakes to befriend one boy, or more than one, coming out of borstal. So far as the lad is concerned, the scheme is entirely voluntary. The scheme started with people who were very carefully chosen and to whom it was explained that in order to fight the evil that is so often inherent in this type of thing three references would be required, and two of them would be taken up personally by the probation officer. This has been done, and in the time that has expired the men, twenty in number, ranging from a man driving a bus to a man who is a solicitor, have made a considerable success of the undertaking. The undertaking on the part of the men entails a good deal of personal self-sacrifice. That must be understood from the very start. They have to be ready to meet endless difficulties and to understand frustrations; they have to give much of their leisure in order to befriend the boy, so that he looks upon them as a real friend; and they also have to steep themselves in the boy himself, so that they can understand not only his aspirations but his depressions. I should like to pay the greatest tribute to the men who started this scheme. Since then it has been copied in other centres. The probation officers seem to think it is a very good idea.

The second scheme, which stems from the first, is a scheme to have houses to which these boys can go, if they have no homes or only bad homes, on their discharge from borstal. The undertaking of the second scheme stems from the first one because it was found that the reason most often dominating, in boys going back to borstal, was the lodgings in which they were. The boys were mostly lodged with landladies who were thankful to get rid of them and did not want them in the house more than just to sleep; they were impersonal and created no feeling of home for the boys. An undertaking has been started by which small houses will be provided in five or six major cities to house borstal boys of the type that cannot go home and need a real home for themselves. A woman will be in charge of each house and the house will aim to make a home for the boys, who will pay for their keep. As the boy develops into being "home-broken," a link will be kept with him as he is placed with a landlady, who in turn will be tied to the parent house, the parent house being a club to which the boys go.

A great deal of this scheme will depend on enthusing the landladies and helping them to try to be a "Mum" to the boys, so that in turn the community itself is participating in the scheme. This and other schemes are easily run by organisations working locally, but working to the responsible person. I will not burden your Lordships with further evidence that things can be done, but I know—and I think this is very important—that if a scheme is successful then other organisations will quickly copy it, and value would come to those who want to help on a local basis. It is known that within voluntary societies who may not at present be engaged on after-care work, there are members who would be deeply interested in this fresh outlet for their energies.

A board or after-care body could not of itself overcome the difficulty of recruiting and looking after a sufficient number of voluntary helpers to befriend all the discharged prisoners who would obviously need to be looked after, and a method of organisation to recruit, train and hold them, and to make them effective, would be necessary. The suggestion I would make, therefore, is that the statutory body, through its Board, should ask for the help of existing national organisations and ascertain whether they would be willing to enter into such a scheme. The working of this scheme should not involve heavy financial expenditure. The Board would have to pay a salary for a person in each of the national organisations with which agreement has been reached, and the Board would benefit as a result by acquiring a nation-wide number of trained and tested volunteers, activated and strengthened within their own organisation by the designated person. They would, however, be working at the local level to the statutory responsible officer.

A strong and efficient after-care service could be built up throughout the whole of the country, and the help could be enlisted of many who are both interested in the problem of re-establishment of ex-prisoners and willing to give voluntary service. Auxiliaries to do all kinds of supplementary work would result and could be of very real value. They could work to the local probation service and deal with those things which the responsible officer could delegate to them. Not only would the probation service have a number of persons to rely on for extra help, but within the community the individual doing the work would be of real value, making known to other people the part they could play in fighting crime in some shape or another. It is, after all, in the nature of a precedent that our magistrates' service is a voluntary one, and it should be possible, to my mind, to have a body of men and women who would work for ex-prisoners in a way which would meet the needs of to-day, and could well set a pattern for to-morrow, for yet another form of voluntary service integrated into statutory responsibility.

4.13 p.m.


My Lords, once more we have my noble friend Lord Longford to thank for an opportunity to consider the position in Her Majesty's prisons. Once more we have had from him a speech on a very serious subject, enthused with a personal kindliness in a way of which only he, perhaps, is capable. Once more we have had a speech in which the sharpest shafts have been sweetened by all he has been able to say of a kindly character about his intended victim. But this mixture, and the pleasant words with which his shafts have been covered, have failed to disguise the fact that, however praiseworthy the Government's intentions are with regard to the Prison Service, it is at present, as Mr. Enoch Powell, the Minister of Health, said the other day, a position where the appalling facts and deficiencies of the prison conditions thrust themselves on to our minds and our consciences. I think it is undeniable that these conditions, with their depressing, frustrating and brutalising effects, actually add to our prison population. I do not think there can be any question that that is one of the factors.

My noble friend, I thought, put forward unanswerable arguments for an increase in the pay of prison officers as one of the factors necessary in order to bring about an improvement. It will be within your Lordships' recollections that my noble friends and I raised the question of police pay. At that time we were met with the argument—a true argument—"it is not only a question of pay". I am quite sure that the Government will use this argument with regard to pay of prison officers. But we know to-day, so far as the police force is concerned, that whereas we had a situation in which the numbers were steadily declining, only a few months after the increases in pay the numbers have increased by more than 2,000 men. That surely indicates the effectiveness of the increases. I am quite certain that if prison officers were given a sensible increase in pay; if we put the pay and conditions right, we should get the men. In the same way, if we get prison conditions right we shall reduce the number of prisoners.

We are also greatly indebted to the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, for her words on after-care. The noble Lady has crystallised the views which my noble friends and I put forward on the discussions on this subject at all stages of the Criminal Justice Bill. I firmly support every word she has said, and I am extremely grateful for the details she gave of the experience she has had through the W.V.S. with the borstal boys. Unquestionably, quite apart from the need for a different and improved organisation, and for much better financing, one of the greatest needs is for a suitable home for ex-prisoners of all ages to go to if they have not a home of their own. I was with my noble friend Lord Longford at Leicester yesterday, and we paid a brief visit to Leicester Prison. There they are starting a private enterprise hostel for ex-prisoners. The number of men to be catered for will be only six. It is a wonderful and praiseworthy effort, but in relation to the need for such places, of course, it is very small indeed.

I most strongly support the noble Lady's suggestion for a combination of a statutory body, financed by the Government, and specialised, trained volunteers from existing organisations. Indeed, I echo, and accept, her suggestion for a body on the lines of the National Assistance Board, but certainly not part of that Board. This implies no criticism of Government Departments, because the National Assistance Board is different. Those of us who have been constituency M.P.s during the last ten years realise what a wonderful thing the N.A.B. piece of elastic is, and how it can be adjusted within the Board's terms of reference. We want a similar type of semi-independent but statutory organisation as the directing body for our after-care. In any case, although, of course, it is recognised that the Home Secretary must appoint the members of such a body, it is above all essential to keep after-care away from the Home Office. I hope that very early consideration will be given to the setting up of this body, and I believe that there can be no question that among the officers of such a future body there will be those who have already given, and are still giving, excellent service in existing bodies.

I would also support the point made by the noble Lady that there must be no difference in the method of treatment of prisoners or in supervision of statutory after-care. Not only would it be unnecessarily expensive but quite ludicrous, because those dealing with ex-prisoners, need not know whether it was given under one section or another. There are prisoners who need advice and assistance and I am sure that it is possible in this way, if the suggested method is adopted, to harness the great and growing volume of public interest and to provide every ex-prisoner with what he needs—a friend.

Those of us who have had experience with prisoners and ex-prisoners realise that in many ways that is the most important element of all. I myself have made friends, in the main of habitual criminals, those with long sentences, because I felt that not only were they the ones in greatest need and the most hopeless but they were the ones with whom it was possible to attempt to prove something. I have particularly in mind a man who is serving a 10-year sentence. When I first met him four or five years ago he was bitterly angry, frustrated, completely anti-social and wearing specially distinctive prison garb of an escapee—he was on the "A" list. The first and most urgent need was to get him to see that there was someone who believed in him. So he began to believe in himself.

One has to be frank and talk bluntly to a man like that, but certainly within a few months he was off the "A" list. Six months ago a quite remarkable change was apparent. He was given the third stage and third remission. He was, of course, in a hostel. He came to see me on his holidays in August—he was navvying, of course. He showed me his hands with the pride of a man working. He will not finish his hostel six months until about Christmastime, but he will go straight into a job. I am absolutely certain that that man is going to make good.

Work in prison is a major part of the solution, but in prison real satisfying work with a purpose is one of the most difficult and hardest things to get, and I believe that it is the cause of all the aspects of prison life of which there is most reason to complain. It is in the provision of work that the Prison Commissioners have failed most dismally. The reason, I think, is made clear, so far as it can be made clear, in the documents in the Report of the Council on the Employment of Prisoners. In paragraph 31 you can read this quite damning sentence—I quote: We do not say that the present approach is deliberately half-hearted. My Lords, I say it is far less even than half-hearted. In the matter of work, in my view, the Prison Commissioners are not trying a yard. Either they do not believe in it or they do not believe in their ability to organise it. In case your Lordships feel that that criticism is too strong I will try to prove my point.

During 1959 I introduced a Motion in your Lordships' House—the first Motion that I ever moved here—which submitted a policy calculated to provide full employment for blind and badly disabled people, and to increase the amount of work available to the inmates of Her Majesty's prisons. All the blind workshops are members of an employers' organisation of which I am President, and I was able at that time to point to the fact that, owing to the decline in Government orders they were receiving, many blind workshops were working only two or three days a week. I made a number of suggestions for improvement, and expressed the view that if they were adopted not only would there be plenty of work for the blind and disabled but we should eventually reach the position where most prisoners would be able to work for real wages, pay for their keep and help in support of their dependants.

The noble Earl, Lord Dundee, who replied to that debate, promised that these suggestions would be given consideration by the Supply Departments and by the newly-constituted Priority Suppliers' Committee, which was to sit under Ministry of Labour chairmanship. The priority suppliers are, of course, the blind and disabled workshops and the Prison Commissioners. Lord Dundee's promise was faithfully kept, and only recently the present Minister of Labour, Mr. John Hare, wrote to tell me how well this scheme is working. These blind workshops now have all the work they can possibly handle and, as your Lordships are doubtless aware, the turnover of Remploy has increased very considerably indeed.

But not so the prisons, on whose behalf I was also pleading at the same time, and the reason is to be clearly found in a letter I received a month or two back from the General Secretary of the National League of the Blind, which is the blind people's trade union. He informed me that the Prison Commission had given up tendering to Government Departments for the supply of baskets and brushes, and had given up tendering to nationalised industries, hospital boards, and local authorities for the supply of mats. The letter concluded: Please accept my warmest thanks on behalf of my members and myself for the valuable contribution you have made to this achievement. My Lords, I disown the achievement. The discredit belongs entirely to the Prison Commissioners. My entire plea was for an enlargement of the field of Government orders so as to provide enough work for all. In fact the Committee has been constituted. It is doing the job that we proposed it should do, but only two sections of the priority suppliers are benefiting.

In the course of the debate to which I referred I pointed out that the Service Departments alone have inventories amounting to the staggering figure of 700,000 different items, many of which they are ordering every year. Very large quantities of many of these items are, of course, light engineering products, which are essential for prison workshops but which the handicapped workers and blind workers do not wish to make; and with proper selection there need be no clash of interests with the disabled.

In a fully employed society the problem of finding work for prisoners is microscopic. As the Report to which I have just referred mentions, only about 20,000 men in prison are capable of working, and many of these are on domestic tasks, and always will be. So the size of the problem, the real need, is to find regular employment for about 10,000 men—that is, one two-thousandth part of our working population; one-tenth of a penny in the pound on our whole industrial output. That is the size of the problem. Any businessman of modest experience, given the assistance of two typists and two medium-grade civil servants, and the backing of the Government and Government goodwill, could within two years see that the prisoners were fully employed.

Of course we need more prison workshops, and there were about 24 new prison workshops due in the year 1959 to 1960. I should be glad to know from the noble Earl, when he comes to reply, whether they were completed, and why they are not working to full capacity. I know why they are not working to full capacity. I have just given the reason. But why should we have gone on in this stupid way and built workshops without taking care that there would be work available for the men, and the necessary supplies? Why is it that the Prison Commissioners have ceased to tender for their traditional types of work without first making sure of regular orders for these other types?

We are always being told that there are difficulties with regard to the employment of prisoners, difficulties with the trade unions. But there would, and there could, be no difficulties with the trade unions if the prisoners were paid the rate for the job, instead of these miserable few shillings they now receive. Even the recent tiny increase to which my noble friend referred has relieved a lot of the tension in many prisons where there was trouble or likely to be trouble. How much better it would be if they were properly trained, fully employed, could earn their keep and, in the process, be prepared for a decent working life when they go into the world again! Last year in August the United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders met in London and published two reports on the integration of prison labour with the national economy. The Congress accepted certain basic principles which I would briefly summarise. First, the principle of equal pay for equal work second, that a sentence of imprisonment as a protection of society against crime is only justified if on his return to society the offender is able to lead a law-abiding and self-supporting life. There must be after-care for that, of course. Thirdly, the treatment of offenders should emphasise not their exclusion from the community but their continuing part in it, and nothing could better demonstrate this than their continued paid employment. The fourth principle was that prison labour must not be of an afflictive nature but regarded as a means of rehabilitation of the prisoner and his training for work. Its organisation should be as much as possible like that of free labour. They are the principles agreed by the United Nations Congress. They are the principles to which we, as members of that Congress, as indeed hosts of that Congress, subscribed and paid lip service.


My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend? I believe that equal pay for equal work there means equal pay with civilian employees.


I am most grateful to my noble friend. I was trying to summarise. It is, of course, a reference to the question of human rights, but it is a reference of that principle in the Charter of Human Rights to the employment of prisoners, and it means that they should have a right to equal pay with those working in a free society.


My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will allow me to intervene. Is it his contention that if prisoners received equal pay with those free workers outside, any form of trade union objection would subside? Is that his contention?


It is my contention, based on experience, that the major form of trade union objection, and indeed the objection of employers of labour in competing with prisons, is that the workers in prisons are not paid the rate for the job, and indeed that the selling prices from prisons are not comparable with those in ordinary industry. My contention is that if men in prison were paid the rate for the job the major part of that objection would vanish. I would very much like to have the job of discussing this with trade union leaders, if the point were granted, and I am certain there would be no objections on the part of trade unions at all, any more than there were when I had to do a comparable job on behalf of the blind and disabled. I know there is a difference of sentiment. But I have had sufficient experience of these negotiations with employers and in connection with prison labour to think that if these objections were removed the job could be done.

I was referring to our participation in these United Nations decisions. I would submit that although we were sub scribers to that Congress our present system of prison labour cruelly and stupidly violates every one of those principles. Indeed in this matter we are a very long way behind many countries very much poorer and smaller than we are. This is quite apparent from the second report, which was written by Mr. Carlos Basalo, the Inspector General of the National Penal Institute of Argentina. He instances many countries where prisoners are paid the whole or a substantial percentage of the wages paid for similar work to free employees. In most cases a deduction is made for board and lodging, some money is set aside for the maintenance of dependants, and, apart from a pocket money allowance, the balance is retained as compulsory savings until the prisoner's release.

In principle there is no difference between that system and the one we have in this country now, where perhaps for the last six months of his sentence a man goes to a hostel and goes out to work freely with other people, and perhaps when he comes out after doing his six months he has £100 left after paying his whole dues. There is no difference in principle with that at all. There is in fact quoted by Mr. Basalo an example of a full pay experiment in Sweden which was greatly favoured by the prisoners, who expressed the view that recidivism was fostered by the hopeless indebtedness of many prisoners on release. They declared that reasonable wages were an incentive and that it was most important to a prisoner to be able to help his family, as indeed it is. They found the earnings, performance and morale of prisoners under this system were tremendously improved. That is the system to which we pay lip service in international conferences. It is the system. I submit, we should adopt without delay.

Availability of work is not a problem. It can be made available just as easily as it was for the blind and disabled. In my submission, the real problem in this particular matter—and I hate to have to say this—is that the Government lacks the will, and the Prison Commissioners lack both the will and the know-how. It is my contention that if we adopted a policy of full prison employment with pay, and coupled this with the aftercare administration outlined by the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, we should before long make a substantial and permanent reduction in the prison population, and thus obviate the need for new prisons other than as replacements for obsolete ones. Incidentally, if we had a sufficiently large and sufficiently enlightened youth service we should not need so many approved schools and borstals, but that is a matter for another debate which I hope we may have before very long.

I am conscious of the fact, as the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, is equally conscious, that I have had to gloss over quite a lot of details. But I have in this matter of prison work spoken from a working lifetime of experience of negotiations in such matters. I have for 28 years been president of an employers' federation in a prison industry which has virtually been under attack all the time and is so no longer. I know what can be done both with employers and with trade unions; and certainly, although I would not wish to go into any further detail now (I am conscious I have spoken over long), if I can later speak to the noble Earl on these points and be in any way helpful I shall be very glad to do so.

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, we are deeply indebted, as we very often are, to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, for raising this subject in your Lordships' House, and enabling many of us who are keenly interested in the subject to listen to a number of interesting speeches, and also to try, as I shall try, as one of your Lordships, to make a small contribution to this debate.

This is a matter of tremendous importance. As Lord Longford rightly said, it does not involve a discussion on crime, although I think it would be quite interesting if we could have such a discussion, because we might, somehow or other, find out how it is that, in this era of prosperity and of people having in many ways a much higher standard of living, we have such a terribly high crime rate. Lord Longford has already said that we must regard it not as a problem which is confined to the United Kingdom, but as an international problem and one which all nations in the world, judging by the conference to which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has just referred, the United Nations Conference, are at the moment trying to solve.

But to-day we are dealing with a specific subject, one which has many facets and one on which many of your Lordships have made a contribution. If I may go back even further than anyone else, I should like to say that the Home Office, in 1946, I think (I shall be corrected if I am wrong) when the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, was Home Secretary, appointed the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders. In those days we were much concerned to try to finds new ways and new ideas, somehow or other to deal with this great problem. I have been a humble member of that Council, since it started and have been delighted, listening here to-day, to hear people praising the detention centres which were a direct outcome of our deliberations. Nobody has mentioned the attendance centres. They, too, were suggested by us, and I think are working quite successfully in a number of places. A good many of the reforms that have gone into the prison service at the present time arose directly out of our deliberations.


My Lords, might I interrupt the noble Baroness? She is quite right in saying that I had the honour of first appointing that Committee; but it was not in 1946, it was during the war. I had become Lord President of the Council by 1946.


It is a long time ago. I have been on it since the beginning, but I could not remember when it was first appointed. The noble Lord says it was in the middle of the war. At any rate, we have one member of that committee who is in another place and who is a great expert on these matters—I refer to Sir George Benson. He is a great statistician. He is continually trying to prove to us that, whatever you do and whatever changes and improvements you make in the prison system, you come to the same result—namely, that between ten and twenty per cent. of the people who go to prison come back again once or twice, or are recidivists, and nothing makes any difference. I have argued with him many times on that point. I think that statistics can be made to prove anything. And I still do not believe that that is any argument for not trying to find ways of improving and bettering the system under which our penal reform is being directed.

I should like to pay a tribute to the Prison Commissioners. Lord Stonham made a great many attacks on them. I have worked now for a number of years in close association with the Prison Commissioners, and I would pay a tribute to that body of men and women who give most devoted service to the subject of prisons. They are a splendid body of people. They are the people who take the risks—often there are risks in these reforms. They are the people who have to put them through and are in every way a most remarkable and expert body of experienced people. I should like to say here how deeply I regret the death of Sir Lionel Fox who was a Prison Commissioner for a great many years and who became Chairman of the Prison Commission, He died only recently, but he was a most remarkable man. I should like to pay my tribute to him here, in your Lordships' House.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Baroness, just to say that I am sure everyone in the House would wish to echo those sentiments? I should certainly have paid such a tribute myself. It is an omission of mine, and I am extremely glad that the noble Baroness has said what she has said.


I should like to take up one or two points that have arisen during the debate. I shall not delay your Lordships long. Let me refer in the first place to the building programme. As we know, the Home Office is engaged on one of the biggest building programmes in connection with prisons, borstal, detention centres, attendance centres and so on, that have ever been undertaken by any Government. There is one great obstacle in all this. Every time the Prison Commissioners try to find a new site or place to put up one or other of these penal institutions—they are not all prisons; sometimes they are other institutions—instantly there is the most tremendous opposition from everybody in the particular area concerned. I appreciate that the ordinary public is terrified at the idea of having anything in the nature of a prison or similar institution, near their home. But I am quite sure that all that is unnecessary and that we ought to encourage people to realise that there is no danger in living within range of one or other of the prison institutions, any more than there is in living far away. In fact, I think that if you are far away you are much more likely to become a victim following upon an escape than if you are nearby, because a person who escapes is going to try to get as far away as possible from the prison. These things are not serious objections, and I wish that we could persuade the public and local authorities to co-operate more with the Prison Commissioners, so that they might find it easier to obtain places to put up these new establishments.

Nobody, I think, has mentioned what is an improvement, although perhaps not the most important of improvements —namely, the improvements that have gone on inside existing prisons. During the war, when we started the Advisory Council, I visited a great number of prisons throughout the country. Although in wartime they were nothing like as full as they are now, they were quite unmodernised and undecorated, compared with prisons to-day. If your Lordships will look in the Prince's Chamber you will see a model of one of the new prisons which are now being built. In addition to putting up new prisons. Even the deep green dadoes older prisons, the curse of all our lives, the chocolate paint which used to be spread about in many of our institutions, I am glad to say has been thrown down the drain. It is not painted all over prisons. Even the deep green dados which I particularly dislike have gone. Although these are small things, they still brighten slightly the atmosphere in regard to the arrangements which are being made in prisons, many admittedly old and out of date.

Then I am glad to say that there has been improvement in many of the sanitary arrangements in the older prisons. In the newer prisons they are completely modernised. Another small but important thing, is in regard to the clothing in women's prisons. The Advisory Council were always pressing that there should not be such hideous clothing. That is improving; a choice of clothing is being allowed and generally a more humane and acceptable attitude is taken towards women's clothing. That is another thing which is going on in the prisons. I suppose these are not very large and new improvements, but we must go by degrees. Considering the enormous building programme which is outlined in the Report of the Commissioners, if we can get that through it will be of tremendous help. In regard to building we must obtain good relations with local authorities and we must try to make people co-operative towards and not opposed to the idea of these new prisons.

Lord Moynihan has praised the detention centres. I am most interested to hear that, because when we recommended detention centres quite a number of people were much against them; they thought they would not be suitable or successful. They have been a success, particularly with a certain type of prisoner—that is to say, a boy who has not already served a sentence either in an approved school or in a borstal institution. It has been what we had always intended it to be: a short, sharp shock which has pulled them to their senses and made them say. "We are going to give up the idea of a life of crime". Those centres have been a success. As I have indicated, they are a failure with the type of boy who has already had a number of experiences in a borstal or in an approved school; but with those who have not had this experience they have been a success, and the Home Office is going to enlarge them and build considerably more.

It is a possibility that there may be one for girls, and I should like to assure your Lordships that the idea of a detention centre for girls is not to produce something of a similar nature, with a similar kind of training, to detention centres for boys. Far from it; the idea is to provide something quite different, with firm discipline and with as much training as possible, but something which is in the nature of a short, sharp shock effective for girls. There are, as your Lordships know, far fewer girls than boys concerned, and the problem will therefore be a very much smaller one.

A great many people have drawn attention to the real importance of staff, and to the payment of staff. I do not know, because I am not in the Home Office (although I work very closely with them), what the Home Secretary's ideas on the subject of staff are likely to be. But he has shown such drive, such imagination and such advanced views about the police that I cannot believe, having heard him make a really great speech at Brighton the other day, that he does not also have ideas about the staff and staffing of prisons and borstal institutions.

I should like to pursue something mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham—and I am sorry he is not here. He spoke just now at some length about the question of work for prisoners, and my noble friend Lord Mancroft, who was for many years at the Home Office and who knows a great deal about it, challenged him about this. I remember very well that some years ago there was a Commission—I do know whether it was a Royal Commission or not—on the question of work in prisons which produced a very extensive Report. It so happens that I was in touch with the Home Office this morning, before this debate, in fact with the Prison Commissioners, and I asked them this very question on the subject of work in prisons. I was told that, at the present time, they have far more work than they are able to execute. They have reintroduced machinery where for some time, because they had not had enough work, they had been using hand labour. The position in prisons today is not that there is not enough work—there is plenty of work—but there is a shortage of staff and a consequent inability to organise that work.

I am sure your Lordships will realise that in overcrowded prisons the movement of prisoners is naturally a very difficult problem. To move a great number of prisoners from one section of a prison to another, into workshops or away from workshops, with an inadequate supply of prison officers is a very difficult thing. It is just a vicious circle. If we could get more staff, and if we could get more workshops—I do not know how great is the shortage of workshops, but there may be a shortage of them—there would be plenty of work for the prisoners to do. But the fact is, as I say, it is a vicious circle, and it is very difficult to get the work, the prisoners, the machines and all the rest of it geared up to take in so many people for so many hours during the day. I strongly support the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and the other Members of your Lordships' House who have stressed the importance of improving the conditions and the pay of the prison officers, so that we may have a sufficient number to solve this problem of the staffing of prisons.

Lastly, I should like to back up my noble friend Lady Swanborough in her suggestion with regard to mobilising the voluntary interests among the public to co-operate with either the probation or the prison staffs—the professionals, as it were—in this work. I am sure that she is quite right: we could do a tremendous amount to help the prison service and the after-care service by mobilising the interests of the voluntary societies as she has done on many occasions very successfully in the past. She instanced two very interesting schemes of after-care which are at the present moment working. From my experience in my own area I know of a probation officer who has a great deal of help from voluntary probation officers whom he supervises and trains, and they relieve him of individual cases and look after the boy or the girl. It has worked very well indeed. I think there is a lot we could do there.

Here again, I would remind your Lordships that the Home Secretary has set up a part of the Advisory Council as a small committee to go into the question of after-care, and I am sure that the suggestions put forward by the noble Baroness this afternoon will be read by them with great interest, because they are of great importance and also because they work; and that is one of the acid tests of any scheme.

I will not detain your Lordships any longer, but I should like to say that I think this whole problem of crime, of prisons and other institutions, of probation, borstal and so on is something which affects every single person in the community. If we could only get the whole community really aware of this. For my part, I am glad that we have had all these facts and figures brought out by the noble Earl, Lord Longford. It can do nothing but good. It is no good being frightened about these things; these things could be overcome. After all, to take juvenile delinquency, which has been mentioned by many noble Lords this afternoon, at the end of the day it is only 3 per cent. of the school population of the country which comes before the courts and the total number of criminals, although it is very high, is not as great a percentage of the population as that.

But the problem does need the help of everybody, and I hope that if we in your Lordships' House have done nothing else to-day we have at least aired this problem in its simple form, saying what is fact and what the Home Office is up against. I am perfectly certain that, with the present Home Secretary, with his representative who is going to reply here, Lord Bathurst, and with all the people who work in the Home Office—not forgetting the Prison Commissioners, a splendid body of people who have been anxious to undertake any work they possibly could and to experiment in any way they could—this problem can be solved; but it requires the help of every single one of us in the country.

4.58 p.m.


My Lords, I am an original member of what the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, once described as the "Crime Club"—or words to that effect. Incidentally, I am sorry that his name is not on the list of speakers. When he was in his place a few minutes ago, I hoped for a minute or two that he would be joining us in this discussion, because his contributions are always of great interest and originality.

I confess that I often feel very discouraged in connection with this particular problem. The number of prisoners in the prisons since the "Crime Club" started these debates in your Lordships' House, I suppose quite ten years ago, has more than doubled—a great deal more than doubled—and there is no sign that the progressive increase is coming to an end. If our arrangements were better, no doubt there would be improvements. I appreciate what the noble Lady who has just resumed her seat said—that it is still a very small percentage of the population; but it is a very much larger percentage than it ought to be. And that, despite a much greater amount of sincere, informed and very able work which has been done by a large number of people on all sorts of different aspects of this problem over these last years.

I was very glad that the noble Lady paid such a high tribute to the Prison Commission. I entirely agree with her views. Some Members of your Lordships' House will remember that we did our best to prevent their possible dissolution under the Government's Bill. And I still feel that that would be a very great mistake. I was particularly glad that she took the opportunity of paying a tribute to the late Sir Lionel Fox, one of the greatest criminal reformers, I think, we have had. It always gives me great pleasure to feel that this country has produced a number of prison reformers who have captured the attention of the world—men such as John Howard.

I am told by people who were there (unfortunately I had not the pleasure of being present myself) that when Sir Lionel Fox rose from a bed of sickness to appear at the meeting of the International Conference on Penal Problems a year or two ago, he was held in such high honour by all those people who attended, from every country of the world pretty well, that the whole meeting rose to their feet and acclaimed him—a touching and most wonderful tribute to a great man. He was there as a reformer rather than as an official. It is interesting to realise that, although he was a great official and Chairman of the Prison Commission during a very crucial period, he was being honoured on that occasion as a reformer, not as an official. It is interesting to remember that, although he was in charge of the prisons, his great ambition was to see prisons come to an end, because he did not believe that prison was the best way of dealing with the criminal. And that is, of course, the view of almost everybody who has spent a great deal of time and taken a great deal of trouble over this particular problem.

My Lords, there are always on these occasions a number of contributions made to these discussions which give one encouragement and renew one's courage to go on with the battle; and this afternoon we have had a number of speeches of that kind. If I may say so, one which was particularly encouraging was that of the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough. Everybody who has seen her work in the W.V.S. during the war, as I had the opportunity of doing rather intimately, has a great love, regard and admiration for her; and I am quite sure that if she can get this superb organisation engaged on its job, we shall begin to see things happen. I entirely agree with everything that has been said about the importance of after-care. I should just like to refer to two points which she mentioned.

One was in regard to the improvement in the position of probation officers, particularly having regard to the absurdly small remuneration which they receive. When one considers how much the probation officers save for the country every year, it really is heartbreaking to see how little they are regarded and honoured, so to speak, in the sense of their position in society. I know several probation officers who save the community ten or twenty times their salary every year in regard to the lads and young men they keep out of prison, and whom they keep at work doing good work for the community. Therefore, I support very strongly all that the noble Baroness said on that side.

I think, too, that there is a great deal in what she said about the need for looking to the whole problem of the overlapping which, from what I have seen, I am sure exists with regard to the different social services concerned with this particular problem. I mean the probation officers, the children's officers, and all sorts of other social officers, who are all doing good work but often overlapping and criss-crossing with each other. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, asked me, when he was organising this debate, in that thorough fashion of his which is so useful, to deal particularly with research. I should like to suggest that one very sensible piece of research would be into this overlapping. It should be carried out by somebody who was skilled in judging on matters of this sort—possibly somebody from outside the Civil Service. I am sure that that might lead to a very considerable improvement.

The noble Earl said that this is not a general debate on crime, and it is a little difficult, perhaps, to fit in the question of research. I appreciate that there may be research just into prisons and borstals, but research is a general subject. Even in the excellent Report of the Prison Commission for 1960, which contains one or two paragraphs dealing with the subject, and also an Appendix, the Commissioners themselves tend to stray a little outside research into prisons and borstals, and I hope that your Lordships will forgive me if I stray with them, and perhaps stray rather further than they have strayed.

It is interesting and encouraging to see that a great deal of useful psychological research is going on inside the Prison Service. Obviously, one of the researches referred to in the Report is already producing pretty good value; that is, the research into the sort of mentalities which are benefited by corrective training and those which are not. If we can eliminate at an early stage the sort of lad who is not going to benefit by corrective training, there is obviously going to be a considerable saving. I am not, as I say, clear how far the Appendix, which sets out some fifteen researches which are going on, is intended to give a complete picture of current research into delinquency. I do not think it is quite complete, although it certainly goes rather wider than researches into prisons and borstals. In particular, it contains very little to show what is being done in the way of research into juvenile delinquency which, of course, is really at the basis of the whole problem.

It certainly does not mention one important research which has been going on for a year or two at the Institute for the Study and Treatment of Delinquency. I have been associated with that Institute for a long time. We particularly miss Sir Lionel, who on his retirement from the Chairmanship of the Prison Commission had taken over the Chairmanship of our Council, and from whose knowledge and interest in research we were expecting to derive very great advantage. That is another reason why we mourn him particularly. But during the last two or three years we have been doing a very useful piece of research, which will soon be published, on shoplifting. That is not mentioned in the Prison Commission's Report, and perhaps the Commissioners would say that it was a little outside the area of prisons and borstals. However, I feel that further research into juvenile delinquency is highly important.

In our Institute, over the last ten years or so, we have carried through three most important researches into various aspects of juvenile delinquency, but we are, as are so many other institutes, hampered all the time by lack of finance. The truth is that the amount of serious research which is going on into these matters is still woefully small. As I said, I think there are only about thirteen mentioned in the Appendix to the Prison Commission's Report; I have no doubt that there are a certain number of others. But when one considers the amount of public money which is poured week by week, month by month, year by year, into researches into nuclear fission, and into physical scientific problems of one kind or another, and the minute fraction of public money going into research in social sciences, particularly into research into the fundamental problems of crime—because they are fundamental to any civilised society—it is very discouraging.

I do not want to appear ungrateful to the Home Secretary, whose work has had high tribute paid to it by several speakers this afternoon. He has been undoubtedly a pioneer of Government research work into criminal matters. There was a sort of rudimentary arrangement for research in the Home Office before he arrived, but it did not really get going until during his tenure of office. It has begun to show that valuable work can be done and that the Home Secretary's encouragement—indeed, his personal interest in what is going on—has been a very considerable factor. From the little I have heard, I understand that he has himself made suggestions of a valuable character for certain aspects of research which might be carried through. But the Home Secretary really must persuade his colleagues at the Treasury to be more liberal in the supply of finance, because we cannot do valuable research without a good deal of money. Money is needed not only for the Home Office Research Unit but also for outside organisations. My Institute could certainly pull a great deal more weight if more money could be made available for it.

It is not for me to make a detailed examination of this problem, but I should like to say a word or two in regard to some matters into which I think useful researches could be made. After fifteen years of intensive effort on the problem of crime since the war, research into what has been going on and the comparative value of the different new methods introduced under the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, and by the Prison Commissioners themselves is needed. There is a real need for original research into the causation of crime and also into what is going on in the way of handling prisoners and organising prisons. It is important that we should have a much clearer picture of these matters before we embark on new experiments, otherwise we may find ourselves wasting a good deal of money and, more important, skilled ability.

Among the questions which I think should be looked at is the value of institutional treatment itself, particularly of such innovations as probation centres and hostels, especially when the work which is being done there is combined with probation orders. We want to look at the results and also the comparable results, so that, for instance, we may know whether small or large hostels are the more useful—indeed, so that we may know what value, if any, has resulted from the setting up of this system. There has been a good deal of talk recently about Boston and whether we should imitate what appear, on the face of it, to be the valuable results which are being achieved there. But I feel that before we rush off in that direction, researches into the results of what we ourselves have been doing, over recent years, might well be carried through as quickly as possible. I think that that is the view of many people who have a considerable knowledge of this problem.

At the Institute, we feel that there is a special need to study, perhaps by the method of prediction but also by other methods, how particular types of offender respond to particular types of treatment, such as probation, detention centre and borstal. I think that something on these lines is already being contemplated in the Home Office Research Unit, if it is not already in preparation. From the point of view of the, Institute, researches into what is actually going on in the penal field are just as important as more basic researches into such questions as the causation of crime.

With regard to the borstal age group, 16 to 21, and the rather older boys in the approved schools, there is also need to study the sort of disorders and the proportions of them which are found particularly in those institutions. This is especially important in regard to psychopathic cases. We are only at the beginning of our knowledge of the problem of the psychopath, which we were discussing in connection with the Mental Health Act not so long ago. It is certainly the view of the psychiatrists at the Institute that there is need for a good deal more research work into this problem. The Institute has used its limited resources in specialising in researches into juvenile delinquency. A tremendous amount more work can be done in this important field, particularly in the study of the early maladjustment of children, from the time they first begin to go to school.

I have given a few illustrations of the fields of intensely important work in which hardly any research, or certainly not enough research, is going on at the present time, and which call for an intensive effort, if we are to deal with these problems successfully. I hope that the Home Secretary, whose heart is certainly in this, will not give up his efforts to get the necessary money and will continue to encourage not only the Home Office Research Unit but also the universities, the Institute at Cambridge and our own little Institute, and enable us to press on with the work which we have been attempting to carry through during these past years.

5.20 p.m.


My Lords, first of all, I should like to explain why I did not put my name on the list of speakers. I had fully intended to do so until yesterday, but after discussing the Motion with some Members of your Lordships' House, I came to the conclusion that it was primarily concerned with the more material side of this problem, such as bricks and mortar, the improvement of prisons, better equipment for prisons, the building and equipping of detention centres and providing equipment for the personnel. It was so restricted that I felt it was not a subject on which I should intervene, for other noble Lords will know about that as much as, and more, than I can possibly hope to learn. But when in the House earlier in the debate the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, challenged me to speak by saying he was sorry that no representative of the Church in the House was taking part in the debate, I felt that I should intervene. Fortunately, I had been preparing a little, and although this speech is not as well prepared as I should like, it has, nevertheless, received a fair amount of attention.

In the preparation I turned to read again carefully the White Paper, Penal Practice in a Changing Society, presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for the Home Department in February, 1959. In the course of reading this Paper I came across something that seems to me to be of great importance if we are to give adequate attention to this subject of the penal code. I have also read the very instructive book by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, The Idea of Punishment, and I can warmly commend it. I am not advertising the book—it is free for anyone to read in the Library—but it is a very good one and most illuminating. I hope that the noble Earl will give us some more of it in this House. In this White Paper I read: A fundamental re-examination of penal methods, based on studies of the causes of crime, or rather of the factors which foster or inhibit crime, and supported by a reliable assessment of the results achieved by existing methods, could be a landmark in penal history and illuminate the course ahead for a generation. Such a re-examination, though based on practical studies, need not—and indeed should not—be purely pragmatic. If it were not merely to assess past progress, but also to point the way forward, it must concern itself with the philosophy as well as the practice of punishment. It goes on to say, later: Indeed in, the public mind the interests of the offender may not infrequently seem to be placed before those of his victim. The next paragraph says: This is certainly not the correct emphasis. It may well be that our penal system would not only provide a more effective deterrent to crime, but would also find a greater moral value, if the concept of personal reparation to the victim were added to the concepts of deterrence by punishment and of reform by training. I apologise for quoting such a long passage, but it seems to me to be basic to the whole consideration of this subject. What is the basic purpose of prison, or of a sentence of detention? Until we have a clear answer to that, I do not think we can find our way to a satisfactory solution.

Let me put it briefly in this way. I should like to quote from a distinguished Professor at Oxford, Dr. Goodhart. In dealing with this subject of the basic idea of punishment, he says: There is a great danger that without a sense of retribution we may lose our sense of wrong. I noticed to-day that one speaker seemed to regard punishment as some form of sadism. But it ought to be emphasised that there is a strong and respectable body of opinion which believes that basically in all punishment there must be some element of retribution as well as an element of reformation and deterrence. Dr. Good-hart sums it up in this way: A community which is too ready to forgive the wrong-doer may end by condoning the crime. I am not going to comment on that statement, beyond saying that I believe what Dr. Goodhart is saying there needs to be seriously considered. The Church has been interested in this subject all its life. The Church's Lord was crucified between two prisoners, and the Church down the ages has never been far away from the prisons. We have in this country chaplains appointed by our Church to serve in prisons. Only last year the Church Assembly produced a small Report on the Church and the prisoner, urging that chaplains needed greater preparation and better equipment for their important work; and the Church Assembly encouraged a Motion to that effect. I mention this lest anyone should think that the Church is in any way indifferent to the problem of the prisons or careless about its duty in this matter.

Going back to the question of the aim of a penalty, when I worked in East London I was brought into contact with a number of prisoners. I had two particular men who came to me every time almost as soon as they came out of prison. One was an elderly man who had been in prison for half of his life, and every time he came out he was delighted. He came to see me full of remorse for what he had done and full of confidence that he would never do it again. All would be well for about a month, and then, poor man!he would begin to feel lost and lonely, and unable to adjust himself to life in freedom. He always reached the point when he would come and say to me: "I must do it again"; he would, and he would go back to prison. I do not know whether there is any way in which we could help such a man to adjust himself to the environment of freedom after a long period of imprisonment. I am all in favour of methods designed for the after-care of prisoners, and I support them to the utmost.

The other man who used to come to me was quite different from the first: he was much more defiant. I do not know why he used to come to me, but he did. I once found him a job, which he kept for about a month, but then he went wrong again. The next time he came out of prison he came back to me and I said to him, "Would you like me to try to find you a job again?" He said, "Yes". I said, "I will do so if you will promise me to go straight". At that he rebelled very strongly. It was an emotional reaction to an attempt to reform him by pressure. I understood it—he was not going to be bribed into going straight. This is an element in human nature which needs to be understood. It is said that you cannot compel people to be honest or moral by Act of Parliament. Quite true. It is true to a point that you cannot reform some prisoners by any kind of imprisonment, because there is a continuous reaction against the forceful method. You have something like it in society in general. I do not know whether your Lordships would agree with me, but there seems to-day to be a kind of cynical attitude on the part of society, or sections of society, to people who are engaged in welfare work. They are called "Do-gooders" and cynically commented upon. It is society reacting against attempts to improve people.

We have to be rather careful that in all our attempts for after-care and reform we should not give the impression that the only thing we are concerned about is the reform of the individual by some kind of gentle, compelling force, because I am sure that with some prisoners it brings out the exact opposite reaction to the one we expect. Having said that, I do not want anyone to conclude that I am not in favour of providing for aftercare. But it requires tremendous sensitivity on the part of people engaged in this work, or else they will do as much harm as good.

I talked about the basic purpose of punishment. I could talk a long time about that, but it is not as relevant as it ought to be to this debate. Nevertheless, I bring it in because I feel that we cannot make much headway without a fresh consideration of it. What I should like to do is to ask a question. I do not expect an answer from the noble Earl who is to reply on behalf of the Home Office. The question is based upon an article I read about a year ago. The contention of this article was that the proportion of first offenders who became second offenders was pretty much the same whatever the punishment inflicted, whether it was remand, borstal, prison or something else; the same proportion of first offenders became second offenders. It may not be easy to find an answer to this question, but it bears on the subject and is deserving of considerable research. I do not expect an answer this evening, but I would hope that an answer might one day be found to it, because if there is any truth in that, we have to look again at the forms of punishment. If one form is as effective as another, we have to think again.


My Lords, will the right reverend Prelate allow me to interrupt? I am not quite sure what his question is. I know he is referring to the article written by Sir George Benson, but what is the nature of his question arising from that article?


Let me try to put it in this way. I am quoting from an article. The contention in the article was that if you had 100 prisoners and you sent them all to prison, a proportion of them would offend again. If you had prescribed some other penalty, about the same proportion would have offended again. My question is whether there has been any research into the effect of the various forms of penalty imposed to discover whether any one is more effective than another in reforming the offender. I hope that puts the question very clearly.

The last point I want to make I raise with a sense of my own responsibility, as well as a sense of responsibility imposed upon others. It may be a bit severe to say that the state of crime in this country is a reflection of the state of our society. The boil on my neck is an indication of something poisonous going right through the system. I should not like to assert, but I sometimes wonder whether the increase in crime is not due to a large extent to a greatly diminished sense of responsibility on the part of the whole nation. Let me put it very bluntly. The distinction between right and wrong is becoming blurred. When I spoke to a schoolmaster not long ago, he told me that he put this question to a number of young boys: "What is wrong with stealing? "He got the answer, "Oh. sir, it's dangerous; you might get caught." We do not speak very much to-day about right and wrong in respect of thieving and that sort of thing. We tend to speak of it as being "anti-social". That is quite a good description, but "anti-social" does not convey anything like the same sense of guilt that the word "wrong" conveys to an offender. The amount of petty pilfering that goes on in this country is very great. There is a diminished sense of respect for law, and there is a great deal of dishonesty. Some people might call it petty dishonesty, but it goes by the more or less respectable name of "fiddling". There is a lot of it, and you cannot have fiddles without a great deal of other offences developing as a consequence.

I believe that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, emphasised, we shall not be able to deal with this whole problem unless we are able to make the community feel that it has a tremendous responsibility for it, and I think we ought to get that realisation that only a society which respects truth, honesty and integrity right through from top to bottom is a society that can hope to escape an increase in crime. I believe that if we made more use of the words "right" and "wrong", "truth" and "falsehoods", and used them with conviction, we might inspire an attitude which would do much for the wellbeing of our country. Because dishonesty can go right through. Stealing is not just taking something that is there which does not belong to you; it includes stealing other people's time, failing to give of our best, and that kind of thing, which can infect the whole body corporeal.

Consequently we need to identify ourselves with the prisoners and the offenders. The Church is concerned with the prisoner because Our Lord identified Himself with two prisoners, one on either side of Him, and because that was done He shared some of their guilt, and he said to one: To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise". A Christian society, a Christian nation, must identify itself with the unfortunate criminals and prisoners and must be prepared, in suffering and sacrifice, to share and enter into their lives and conditions.

While I am going to say that I want to support the noble Earl in all his pleas for more financial support for improvement of prisons and for the building of detention centres and for the equipment, and while I want to press upon the Government the need for spending money, let it be said that it is our money. We give it even when it hurts because in that way we can identify ourselves with the less fortunate members of society and thereby we shall probably do a great deal of good to our own souls.

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, we are all waiting to hear the reply from the noble Earl to to-day's most interesting debate to which I have listened all the afternoon. I have no intention of delaying that reply, and I rise just for one moment to refer to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Middleton, in the course of which he pointed out the responsibility of parents where delinquency was concerned in young people, boys and girls. He referred to this so rightly, and I agree with him so completely.

It is all very well to point to the church or schoolteachers, and to expect them to take responsibility for these things; but of course it is parents who matter, and I should like to ask the noble Earl whether Her Majesty's Government are aware—probably they are —that in the capital city of Vienna it is the practice that when a young person is brought to court for delinquency the parents must be there too. They have to be there in the dock with the accused, and the court questions the parents extensively as to the upbringing of that boy or girl. In fact, they are asked more questions than the accused, because the view is that they hold the primary responsibility. When the question of penalty arises, quite obviously, if it is a question of a fine, again the parents are involved; if it is anything else, probably not. That is a point of law into which I should not like to delve, but it puts the spotlight on the people who are primarily responsible. I cannot help feeling that that attitude is most sound and correct, and I therefore put it to the noble Earl, just in case Her Majesty's Government do not know about it, or have never fully appreciated it. For what it is worth, I am putting it forward now for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government.

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, once again we are indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, for bringing this complicated but intensely interesting subject before your Lordships this afternoon. All your Lordships who have been speaking are experts in this particular field and, as we have already understood to-day, it is an enormous field to consider, as indeed the noble Earl pointed out at the very beginning of his speech.

I particularly want to thank the noble Earl for the handsome compliments that he paid in the course of his speech to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, and I should like to ask him if he would also include in these compliments, compliments to my right honourable friend, the former Minister of State at the Home Office, Mr. Dennis Vosper, who played a tremendous part in tackling the very problems the noble Earl has been discussing. I should like to thank my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who paid particularly kind comments to the late Sir Lionel Fox, and also to all his comrades in the Prison Commission who carry out such service on behalf of the public.

My Lords, we have had the noble Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle speak in our deliberations this afternoon, and we are most pleased that a Church of England representative should have spoken. I feel that I should like to commend his words to all members of the Church of England. I should also like forthwith to say how much we in the Home Office appreciate the work that is done by all Churches. It would be unfair to favour one particular Church, but suffice it to say that all those members of the Church and other societies and bodies carry out great work, both inside and outside the prisons. Not only individuals but particular sects of the noble Earl's Church carry out tremendous service inside and outside prisons. I want to pay compliments to these devoted people.

As the noble Earl, Lord Longford, has said, this discussion takes place against a background of yet a further increase of crime. I accept all the noble Earl's figures, and they are not very encouraging. I admit that there is a chronic and serious overcrowding in our local prisons. As the noble Earl has mentioned, there are some 7,500 men sleeping three in a cell. The administrative machine is overloaded to a degree that must give rise to concern. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and of course the noble Earl, the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, and the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, all referred to this state of affairs.

As your Lordships are aware, there have this year been a number of demonstrations of concerted indiscipline. Though most of them were trivial and foolish, none of them was allowed to get out of hand, and the fact that they happened at all is an indication of the heavy responsibilities borne by the prison staffs at the present time. It is an indication of that overcrowding to which I have referred and to which the noble Earl particularly referred. The right reverend Prelate gave us a graphic description of this problem. I should like to tell your Lordships, too, that among those 7,500 men there are not only men who suddenly find an urge to go back into prison, as the right reverend Prelate described, but there are also men—and a large number of them, I regret to state —who find themselves broke and find that prison is not quite such a bad place to go when in such circumstances. I must, with regret, draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that within those 7,500, and particularly so in certain prisons, many are not residents of the United Kingdom. Further than that I will not go, my Lords, but it does have considerable bearing upon the problem of the 7,500 men who are sleeping three in a cell.

Despite the incidents to which I referred before that, the standard of discipline in general has remained remarkably high in view of the tremendous difficulties under which the prison officer works, and there has never been, and there is not now, any indication that discipline in general is in danger of breaking down. I am sorry to say that the same high record of achievement has not been attained in the matter of security. The number of prisoners who escaped from prisons and from prison escorts showed a marked increase in the first half of this year. There have been indications of more careful planning of some of these escapes, such as the escape of ten prisoners from Wandsworth in June. The escape of any prisoner is a most serious matter. It adds to the burden of the police at a time when they are already over-stretched. It causes anxiety to the public, and all too often means that a prisoner, who is unable to return home with safety, resorts to further crime to maintain himself. This anxiety to the public was referred to by my noble friend, Lady Elliot of Harwood.

My right honourable friend has accordingly given urgent directions for special preventive measures to be taken —that is, special escorts, special wings in Durham and Hull prisons, and many other measures. These measures are distasteful to some degree. Security measures generally are, since they are normally oppressive upon the man who has escaped. But it is a primary truth that the first duty of any prison administration is to retain in custody those committed to their care by the courts. This consideration is in no way inconsistent with a programme of penal reform; indeed, it is an essential part of it, as I am quite certain that the noble Earl would agree.

The first requisite in the reformation of a prisoner is to establish his confidence in the security, good order and discipline in the prison. I want to assure the noble Lord, Lord Middleton, on this point that there is no softness in the régime of a prison; and, as I have mentioned the noble Lord's name, I should also like to tell him that there are now 50 resident welfare officers appointed in prisons and establishments.


My Lords, may I suggest that that figure be multiplied by four or five very soon?


Let me now turn to some of the other points which have been raised in this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, both talked of the particular problems concerned with crime, as also did the right reverend Prelate. I assure the noble Lords that there is a Home Office research team, and they are carrying out research into the particular kinds of problems noble Lords mentioned, but I think this debate would be no place to describe the work of that particular body, or the teams who are outside the Home Office but working under the auspices of the unit. The right reverend Prelate asked me a particular question about percentages and figures. I rather suspect that, when his question is carefully analysed, it will be a somewhat hypothetical question; nevertheless, it is just the sort of question that we should examine, and I will send the right reverend Prelate an answer in due course.

The noble Baroness, Lady Swan-borough, put forward some most interesting ideas about the future organisation of after-care, and all your Lordships were most impressed with what she said. In particular, noble Lords will appreciate everything that the noble Lady has done for the Women's Voluntary Service. I cannot comment very far upon the subject of after-care because, as your Lordships know, the whole matter is being considered by a sub-committee of my right honourable friend's Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders. That is lucky for me and it is also lucky for your Lordships, because it is an enormous subject, and I hope that the noble Earl will raise a debate upon this subject when the time comes.

The sub-committee are receiving a great deal of evidence from various sources and I have no doubt that the noble Lady and her friends will bring their views to it. I invite her to do so now, together with the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, if they have not already put their expert views before this sub-committee. I would tell the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, that for every one view that is held there are half-a-dozen other views. In fact, I have had the privilege of inviting the noble and gallant Field Marshal, who assured me that he will come to this sub-committee and knock everybody's heads together in this particular field. Well, my Lords, we shall see what happens after one of these sessions. I say that to the noble Baroness only because I know she is well aware of the false steps that can be taken with regard to this enormous subject.

The noble Earl referred especially to the prison building programme, which, as he said, is the largest which has been undertaken in this country for over a century. Although the programme is designed to relieve overcrowding, I should like to emphasise that that is not its most immediate aim. It has much wider objects, of which perhaps the most important is to provide additional accommodation, which will enable us to get youths and boys out of the local prisons; and that was a particular point that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, raised. It is impossible for these local prisons to provide the exacting and stimulating régime which they require.

The first important group is that of the unconvicted prisoners, who have at the moment to be held in prison because there is nowhere else to put them. The Government's intention is that remand centres shall be provided urgently to receive this category of inmate, and a programme for nine such remand centres has been approved and begun. The first one for boys is already open at Ashford in Middlesex, and I am glad to be able to tell the noble Lord that it has already very considerably relieved the pressure on Wormwood Scrubs. I would also assure him that, in fact, young prisoners, borstal boys and other boys are not mixed up with old prisoners at Wormwood Scrubs. The second remand centre is at Risley in Lancashire, and tenders have been received and are under consideration. These nine centres should suffice for the whole of the country, but they can be expanded if necessary.

The next important group of establishments is that of the detention centres, which again the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, described and is particularly interested in. It is surprising how quickly lads become disciplined, and even take pride in their attainments at these centres. We believe that these detention centres are a vital part, as described in the White Paper, of our penal programme. There are now nine and three more will be ready by next summer. There is to be a detention centre for girls, and this also will be ready next year. I must emphasise that this will not be a copy of a boys' detention centre but will have its own specially designed régime. I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, for bringing that subject before your Lordships.


Is the noble Earl yet in a position to say where that detention centre for girls will be built?


I cannot at the moment recall its name, but it is to be attached to a women's prison somewhere near Manchester, I think. I will let the noble Lord know the answer later.

We are also pressing on with the provision of borstals. At the moment we are very short of borstals for boys, particularly closed ones, and this not merely hampers training but leads to boys sentenced to borstal training having to wait too long in the local prisons before they can be accepted at an allocation centre. The new satellite borstal for boys was opened last November, and a further open borstal will be ready next summer. A new closed borstal is under construction; tenders for a second are being considered, and the site for a third is settled. A new closed borstal for girls will be opened next March, and a site for another in the North is being sought. These measures for getting young offenders out of prison will provide further accommodation for adults in local prisons; that is self-evident.

I now turn to the further measures directly designed to relieve overcrowding in the men's prisons. Three new open prisons for men have been opened since the publication of the White Paper, and a fourth will be ready early next year. There are to be two new prisons for women, which will release for use by men security accommodation at present reserved for women. One of these will be completed next summer. The principal relief of overcrowding is the programme for eight new security prisons for men. The location of these prisons is important. First, they must be so disposed regionally as to make it possible to keep the majority of prisoners in the same part of the country as their homes. Seccond, they must not be too isolated. Third, they must be accessible to visiting teachers and to prisoners' families. Those are some of the reasons why the rebuilding of Dartmoor prison has been given up, and why we do not propose to build a new prison in that area. I know that that is of particular interest to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham.

Two of the new prisons will be in the North, three in the Midlands, including East Anglia, two in the South, and one in the Bristol-South Wales-Black Country triangle. Of that total, three are built, or building; three further sites are settled, and two proposed sites await planning clearance. Next spring we shall open the psychiatric prison at Grendon Underwood, in Buckinghamshire, and this prison will make a special study of all the points which were brought up by the noble Lord, Lord Chorley.

The object of the programme is to provide not only more prisons but better prisons. In May this year my right honourable friend laid the foundation stone of the new prison at Blundeston, in Suffolk. It is a model of this that is in the Prince's Chamber, and was referred to by the noble Lady. We believe that this is a major breakthrough in the design of secure prisons. I cannot say when the building programme will be finished, since sites for a number of establishments have not yet been settled, and the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, indicated some of the problems we are up against when acquiring sites for these prisons. We are fully aware of the importance of this programme and are pressing on with it at all possible speed.

The problem of providing prisoners with suitable work is probably the most important factor in modern prison life to-day, and was dwelt upon with great expertise, as always, by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who has such experience in this particular problem and in the allied problems of sheltered workshops. In spite of the overcrowding and other difficulties, to which I will refer in a moment, I am glad to be able to tell your Lordships that there has been a great improvement. There was sufficient work last year to occupy all prisoners during the available working hours, and we were spared the shame of having mailbag machines idle while prisoners sewed mailbags by hand to spin out the work. This improvement is reflected in the value of goods and labour provided either for prison use or to outside customers, mostly, obviously, Government Departments. In 1960, the total was £½ million, which was an increase of £100,000 on 1959.

Gratifying though it is to be able to report on the slight progress in the face of such immense difficulties, I do not wish to suggest that the situation in local prisons is satisfactory. The noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, mentioned the difficulties that we are up against, and if your Lordships will look at the photograph in the Prince's Chamber of Leeds Prison (possibly your Lordships took the advantage to have it explained before this debate), I think all these problems will be self-evident.

The most important recent development in connection with prisoners' work has been the publication of the first Report of the Advisory Council on the Employment of Prisoners. As mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, this Report was published some two months ago and deals with work in the prison workshops. In the Report Sir Wilfrid Anson and his colleagues have made a most valuable contribution to the study of these problems, for which we are most grateful. And here I would assure the noble Lord that we are grateful to Sir Wilfrid for this Report and not, as I think he put it, that we begrudge the Report and are not willing to carry out its recommendations. I do assure the noble Lord we acknowledge the Report, and that the Prison Commissioners are doing all possible to implement its recommendations.

It is most helpful, for example, to have had the authoritative view of the Council, which represents both employers and the unions, that prison industries should be regarded as part of the industries of the country, and that the highly desirable expansion of prison industries can be achieved without any appreciable effect on the interests of employers or workers outside the prisons. I am most glad to have had that authoritative view reinforced by the noble Lord and the noble Earl opposite. On this question of a possible clash between the interests of prison industries and those of other suppliers (the noble Lord referred to this matter) I may say, in regard to work suitable for the blind workshops, that the Prison Commissioners have undertaken to run down basket-making and brush-making until the end of 1962. Then they will be making these items for prison use only. With effect from January 1 this year, 1961, they have ceased tendering for mats, except for other Government Departments. This, so far as we can judge, leaves no significant field in which prison industries might deprive the sheltered workshops of work. I think that it is a credit to the Prison Commissioners, and I think that is what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, meant, though I am not sure that your Lordships understood him to mean it as a credit to the Prison Commissioners.

Secondly, as priority suppliers to other Government Departments the prison industries are in the same position as other priority suppliers—that is, the noble Lord's sheltered workshops. The scheme is not intended to give any price preference to the Prison Commissioners over the outside suppliers. Thirdly, when undertaking any kind of work for an outside employer, whether by way of manufacture or otherwise, the Department invariably consult the Ministry of Labour to ensure that there is no detriment to the interests of outside workers. The Report makes the important point that, even in the overcrowded conditions and with the shorter working hours (the noble Earl particularly referred to these), the activities of prison workshops can be stepped up so as to achieve the double objective of obtaining a higher output from prison labour and making employment in prison a better preparation for discharge. The Report points out that while trade training may have its place, most jobs in modern industry which may be open to prisoners on discharge are jobs requiring not so much specific skill in a trade as general experience in modern industrial techniques and conditions and the aim should be to give industrial experience to the great majority of prisoners by employing them on fairly simple repetitive work, at a brisk tempo, on efficiently organised line production in the prison workshop. The Council's recommendation on improving production management and job training can be implemented only gradually, but a beginning has already been made.

One recommendation relating to prisoners' earnings has been immediately implemented. Some disappointment has been expressed about the limited scope of the Council's recommendation on this matter, and in your Lordships' debate that was particularly brought out by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. The Council's main recommendation was that the range of prisoners' earnings should be extended and put on a piece work basis, so far as possible, in order to give more opportunities to the industrious prisoner to earn extra pocket money. A new earnings scheme, based on the Council's recommendation, was introduced in prisons in the early part of August. It is too early to arrive at any considered judgment of the results, which must be carefully studied over a period before firm conclusions can be reached. But, with this important reservation, it is fair to say that the first indications encourage us to hope that the scheme may achieve the Council's object in producing in prison workshops a tempo more like that found in a well-run workshop outside. To take a sample of work in nine workshops, four of them increased their production by from 64 per cent. to 114 per cent. I will not go on to weary your Lordships with further figures, but as you will see there has been a quite considerable increase in production.

This new scheme of prisoners' earnings, useful though it promises to be, is not intended to represent a major revolution. In particular, it makes no attempt to achieve the goal advocated by some penologists to pay prisoners "the rate for the job". I admit that we are on a pocket-money basis. We have already made known our views on this proposal, which was so graphically described by the noble Lord, in paragraph 74 of the White Paper, Penal Practice in a Changing Society.


Would the noble Earl be good enough to read out the passage?


I was just going to do so. I will not read the whole paragraph, because the noble Earl probably has it in front of him. In it certain difficulties of principle are referred to, arid it is also pointed out that, whatever view may be taken of these difficulties, a prisoner could hardly be paid the wages of a free employee until the productivity and efficiency of the prisoner's work can be raised to something nearer the standards of outside industry. That is stated in the White Paper; and we find that the broad conclusion of the 1960 United Nations Congress in London, also referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, supports this point of view. I admit, with the noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that we must find a way to improve matters. We must find some method of allowing the hours of work to be increased.


Before the noble Earl leaves the question of work, could he please answer my question about the 24 new workshops promised in 1960—whether they are in operation; and, if so, why output increased by only £100,000–6 per cent.? That is really derisory and underlines more than any words that I can use how ineffective the present system is.


It is possible to put up workshops—we have seen them. The noble Lord knows that they are being put up. I do not know how many there are, but there is an impressive number of workshops. In the picture of Leeds prison you can see them squeezed into odd corners. But the difficulties of getting the men and women to and from the workshops, and of keeping a supply of suitable work going, are very nearly insuperable, as I have already indicated. The problem has been most graphically described by my noble friend Lady Elliot of Harwood. Nevertheless, we must tackle the problems. I assure the noble Lord that the Prison Commissioners are doing everything possible, and will be doing still more as this building programme gathers momentum, to increase the efficiency of these workshops.


Is the noble Earl leaving work at this point, as I have a question to ask?


Yes; I was just about to leave work.


We are most grateful for what the noble Earl has told us—and very depressed, let me add, by this part of his answer. I asked the question whether the Advisory Council were investigating the possibility, in some institutions at least, of paying a full working wage. Do I gather from the noble Earl that that idea has definitely been turned down; that the Government have closed their minds to the possibility of that?


No, my Lords. I assure the noble Earl that the Government have not closed their mind on this matter. But the Advisory Council have many other problems with which to concern themselves, as the noble Earl knows: they have work in borstals, vocational training, and so forth. They will study these problems, and no doubt, at some time, they will be able to turn their mind to this particular problem. I think the noble Earl will agree that that is a much bigger problem and a more difficult one. The noble Earl said that my answer was most depressing. I wish that it was more impressive. Nevertheless, a great deal has been done, and I can only say that the increase in morale and spirit, and the increase in tempo in a prison workshop as a result of the Anson proposal for increased pocket money—I will not say wages, but the increased opportunities for earning pocket-money—have made an electric difference upon the prison workshop.

In the last five years the population of our penal establishments has risen by over 9,000—an increase of nearly 45 per cent. on the 1956 figure. During the same period, there has been a rise of 26 per cent. in prison officer grades. I admit that, as the noble Earl has said, this has not kept pace with the unprecedented increase in the prison population. It is true that the ratio of prisoners to staff has increased, as the noble Earl indicated. In 1956, the overall figures were 46 prisoners for every 10 officers. It is now 51 prisoners for every 10 officers. That means, my Lords, that, in 1956, one officer would have had four prisoners and pretty well two-thirds of a prisoner to look after, whereas now he would have five prisoners and one-tenth of a prisoner to look after. I do not quite know how one would work on those fractions, but I hope the figures show that, in spite of what the noble Earl has said—and I admit all that he has said—it is not, in fact, on average, a very big increase in the ratio.


I am sorry to keep breaking in, but it is a very interesting point. Surely the noble Earl agrees with what I said earlier—indeed, it is common sense—that the duties of a prison officer are becoming more exacting as prison reform advances.


Yes, my Lords, and I believe that in two or three pages' time I shall have an opportunity to agree with the noble Earl upon that. I do agree; but these are the ratios of prisoners to officers at present, compared to 1956.

Our penal establishments are at the moment 170 below their authorised strength. This is serious enough, but if one sets this against the present number of male officers in prison officer grades, which is 5,600 (I am sorry to leave out the female prison officers but, as the noble Earl has explained, this chronic shortage does not really apply to the female grades), and then distributes this deficiency of 170 among the 70 to 80 establishments, the position can hardly be described as catastrophic. I go all the way with what the noble Earl has said, but I do ask your Lordships also to bear in mind these figures. We are 170 short of our authorised establishment, and that shortage is spread among 70 to 80 establishments.

The noble Earl, Lord Longford, has mentioned the number of prison officer grades needed to staff certain establishments which he named. I do not think the noble Earl would wish me to go into all of them: suffice it to say that these establishments will gradually get under way. They will not require all their grades at the same time. It is true that the remand centre at Ashford, which he mentioned, and which was also mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, had to be started at full strength straight away. This will not be the case with Hindley or Grendon. We do not expect the staff needed to man these establishments to be as many as the noble Earl feels; and, whatever the ultimate number will be, they will not all be needed at once. In fact, staffing will be spread over a considerable period of time, and will be built up as the population is built up.

The noble Earl also mentioned specific conditions in certain prisons where prisoners are kept locked up for considerable periods because of shortages of staff. Those prisons were Birmingham, Leicester and Brixton.


I am sorry to interrupt again. I supplied the noble Earl with rather full notes, but if he had followed my speech closely he would have seen that I did not in all places adhere to those notes—on some points I had second thoughts. I think I must ask to be taken on what I said to the House, and not on an advance copy of notes.


But the noble Earl specifically referred to these particular prisons. I will check it most carefully in Hansard, but he specifically said that prisoners had been locked up for a considerable time. I am certain of it. I fully admit he was most kind and most courteous in sending notes. The only reason I mentioned it was because I did not want to weary your Lordships with the full list which he gave. However, I will explain that it was because of specific shortages due to heavy case-loading, as they call it; of taking prisoners to the Assize and Quarter Sessions. But I shall be very pleased to let him know the details in all those cases. I am quite sure the noble Earl did mention them.


I mentioned only one. I left out two or three.


The noble Earl specifically mentioned the point that prisoners were kept in their cells for a long time.

The Prison Commission have recently concluded a series of regional conferences which have been held in local prisons all over the country between the members of the staffs of local prisons drawn from all grades. These conferences show that the staffs have a high morale, in spite of the exceptional pressure of work. I go all the way with the noble Earl in What he says as to the exceptional pressure of work, but I will not go all the way with him (I think it was) and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, when they say that morale is low. My Lords, it is not low. I do assure the noble Earl that that is not so, and that his information is not right. New and useful ideas have been obtained from the staff members at these regional conferences, and all these ideas are being considered by the Prison Commissioners.

The need for additional staff arises not only from the situation of overcrowding in prisons to-day but from three other factors, the importance of which I do not want to underestimate. They are, first, the need to reduce the excessive overtime which is being worked by many officers; secondly, the need to improve conditions in existing establishments in such matters as prisoners' working hours, to Which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has referred; and, thirdly, the need to meet staffing demands which, as has been pointed out, will result from an expansion of the Prison Service as the new establishments come into operation. That was the point on which the noble Earl interrupted me a little while ago, and I assure him that we do not expect these establishments to require such large numbers of staff as quickly as he fears.

He has suggested that insufficient attention has been given to the means of stimulating recruitment. Your Lordships will wish to know what has been done in this matter, and what has been proposed. I will not go into all that we have done in recruiting, as time is going on; but because the noble Earl is so insistent that recruiting is going so slowly, and is so behindhand, I think I must refer to it at least to some extent. I want to make it clear that the Prison Commissioners pay special regard to all the representatives of the Navy, Army and Air Force resettlement panels, and to their re-employment officers. That, of course, is a particular ground for finding recruits to the Prison Service. There are pamphlets available at all public libraries; there are new posters being designed and being put in more prominent places; articles on recruitment in the Press and in other journals have been revised; and radio and television have been used. A special effort is being made to recruit candidates from Northern Ireland, and one prison Governor, by special arrangement, attends interview boards at Belfast.

The noble Earl and the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, were most depressing about the numbers of recruits coming forward to the service, but I assure him again that the figures are not quite so bad as they would lead your Lordships to believe. I admit that it was bad in 1960. In April, 1960, 79 men passed through the training course at Wakefield. In January, 1961, that figure had fallen to only 38. I go all the way with the noble Earl there. But from then on the trend is reversed. In March, 1961, the number was 43, and in September it had risen to 72. That shows an improvement, a considerable reverse in the trend. Beyond the month of September I can only guess. However, 98 persons joined the current training course, which is expected to disband this November.

We know that the class to disband next January will be even larger. Following this course about 280 men who have passed their preliminary tests have been inivited to attend, and on the basis of past experience this could produce a class of about 170 to 180. I have had to put that point forward at some length because the noble Earl and the noble Lord have painted such a very distressing and really false picture of the falling away in recruitment to this service.


My Lords, I am sorry to break in, as it is very late, but I never painted a false picture so far as I am aware. I never said that recruiting was falling away. The noble Earl must withdraw that, please.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt. But the only reference I made to the subject was that if you paid the men more money, you would get more men.


My Lords, I apologise to the noble Earl if I attributed it to him; it must have been said by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. I certainly thought we were given the impression—and it is a false impression—that the recruiting figures were so bad that this great service was wasting away. Maybe the noble Lord did not use that expression, but that is certainly the idea he put over, and it just is not true.

The noble Lord has now brought me to the question of pay, which I was about to deal with. He has suggested that an increase in pay for prison officers would provide an immediate solution, and the noble Earl, Lord Longford, suggested that their pay should be related to that of the police. Many of your Lordships have brought forward the subject of equating police with prison officers. There is much to be said, I have no doubt, on both sides, but suffice it to say now that it is not the same job. I hope I can also show why my right honourable friend did not in fact mention prison officers in the course of his speech at Brighton. The noble Earl, except for that particular point, has most kindly paid tribute to him.


My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Earl—I hope he will not think it impertinent—but we have an important debate following this which also affects law and order. I had hoped—and I say this with the greatest respect—that it would be possible for the noble Earl to go into these matters rather cursorily.


My Lords, I have certainly taken note of what the noble Earl has said, and nothing he would say could I ever consider impertinent. Nevertheless, my Lords, I am in your Lordships' hands. The noble Earl has made many points about this vital service to the country, and I think I should say something with regard to the pay of our prison staff. I think if the noble Earl will just bear with me a few more moments—


I was thinking of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor and the House.


Will the noble Earl be so kind as to allow me to continue?


Yes, certainly.


My Lords, if we were to equate prison officers' pay with police pay this would involve a radical departure from principles recommended by the Wynn-Parry Committee, which reviewed the pay and conditions of the prison service three years ago. The noble Earl has referred to this Committee. This Committee made recommendations for increased scales of pay which were related to the nature of the prison officer's job, and they were accepted by the Government. They also recommended that future movements of pay of prison officer grades should be linked to the movement of pay of other civil servants in pay ranges similar to those recommended for officer grades. In accordance with this recommendation, prison officers received further agreed increases in pay in January of this year. These amounted to a 12½ per cent. addition to the scales recommended by the Wynn-Parry Committee. No further request has come from the Prison Officers' Association. The present starting rate of pay of prison officers is £10 16s. 6d. a week. After passing a probationary period, usually of about a year, an officer gets an increase of just over £1 a week; after that, annual increments of 8s. a week, up to £15 3s., which is the maximum for the basic grade, are granted. In addition there is free accommodation and uniform or allowance in lieu. Overtime rates are generous, and, above all, prison officers may retire at 55 on very generous pension terms which are noncontributory, as has been mentioned by the noble Earl.

I must put that before your Lordships because of what the noble Earl has said with regard to pay. The Prison Officers' Association have not put forward any proposals that the principles recommended by the Committee three years ago regarding pay rates should now be abandoned. They are, of course, perfectly at liberty to do so—it is done in the case of all other grades of civil servants. It was for that reason that my right honourable friend could not bring any one particular category of civil servant into his speech, because, of course, had he done so, it would completely have upset all pay arrangements within those grades of the Civil Service. But, my Lords, I would say this. One cannot help but be impressed, as I think the noble Earl must have been, too, with the number of young men and young women who are in the Prison Service, as he would see in his visits to the prisons. I think that is a point worth stating.

My Lords, in ending, I wish again to thank the noble Earl, because this debate has let it be known that recruits, both men and women, for this important public service are needed, not because it is in danger of collapse, but because of the great opportunities and the constructive social work which are being created by the expansion of the prison system to carry out the objectives of the White Paper on Penal Practice in a Changing Society.

I wish to pay tribute to those men and women of all grades of the service, whether uniformed or civilian, and to congratulate them on the manner in which they carry out their duties under the difficulties which have been described. I want to thank, too, all the voluntary organisations mentioned, in particular, by the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, for all their help; and all the individuals, both official and voluntary; and in particular the prison visitors, of whom I think the noble Lord, Lord Middleton, is one, who have given, and give, and will give still more, vital assistance to my right honourable friend, both inside and outside prison walls. Lastly, I beg your Lordships' forgiveness for a long speech, but there have been so many points covered by noble Lords who are experts on this subject that I have had to deal with matters at some length. Above all, I want your Lordships to know that my right honourable friend has this problem very much in his mind at the present time. Again I thank the noble Earl for his great courtesy and kindness in the course of this debate.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, I do not wish to detain the House long in any case, but with the pistol of the noble Earl, Lord Winterton, levelled at my head I shall cut my remarks down to the absolute minimum. I should like to thank all speakers, including noticeably the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, who has been so undeservedly kind about me. I should like to thank the noble Lords, Lord Middleton, Lord Moynihan, Lord Chorley and Lord Stonham, my comrade in so many enterprises of this kind, and particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Elliot of Harwood, not only for her own important contribution but also for recalling to me the fact that I had not paid tribute to Sir Lionel Fox. As we all remember, he was a great servant of humanity and of this country. Many a time he sat in that box and listened to this sort of speech from me and he was only concerned with whether the facts were right. It did not matter how his own personal position was affected. So I am glad to be able to participate in a tribute of this kind to-day.

As to the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Swanborough, it may well be that, when all these things are finally sorted out, and when the Advisory Committee have reported and legislation has, as I hope, been passed, her speech will prove to be the most significant of all the speeches made in the course of the series of debates on penal reform. I should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, for joining what the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, has called the "Crime Club" and for being a most stimulating member at once.

I find it hard to comment properly on the reply which the noble Earl has made to us. I certainly do not complain of its length. Indeed, it would be ignoble if I did so, because I interrupted him repeatedly and must be thought to have lengthened his speech. I would thank him for the great trouble he has taken, for his courtesy and for the delightful way in which he put his points. I remember years ago, when I was an Under-Secretary, I made a reply on behalf of the Government which seemed to me to be pretty good, but a noble Lord who had a unique standing in the House said that it was the most intolerable reply he had ever heard from the Government Front Bench, and that made me feel quite ill. I do not intend to say anything of that sort about the noble Earl's speech.

I am very disappointed that the Home Secretary and the Home Office did not take the opportunity of indicating a fresh approach to these problems. We were told what they are doing sand were given the impression that that was all that was possible. I do not myself take that view. One point to which I must allude was put in quite a fantastic way. The noble Earl said that the reason why Mr. Butler, in that fine speech of his at Brighton, could not refer to the shortage of staff was that in some way it would have involved the pay position of other civil servants. He might well have refrained from discussing the question of pay, but so far as I can discover he did not even allude to the question of shortage, and that has made a painful impression on some prison officers at least. I hope that when he next speaks at Brighton or Scarborough, anyway before the next Party conference, he will put that right. The noble Earl's speech was not a moment too long, but I hope that the next time he speaks he will have a better story to tell us. I am most grateful to the noble Earl and beg leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.