HL Deb 18 March 1997 vol 579 c762

2.50 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they remain of the opinion that the Home Secretary was correct in telling the House of Commons on 19th October 1995 that "there was no question of overruling the director-general" of the Prison Service on the suspension of the governor of Parkhurst Prison.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch)

Yes, my Lords.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, is not there a conflict of evidence, if the Government are so satisfied, between the Answer we have just been given and the evidence given by Mr. Derek Lewis in his book, with which the Minister will no doubt be familiar? It reported the Permanent Secretary as saying that, if he did not suspend Marriott—the governor of Parkhurst—he would go to the House that afternoon and announce that he had been sacked.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I am familiar with the book; it is misleading and inaccurate. The Home Secretary was not only anxious about that affair, he also needed to be consulted and had a right to know. There was grave concern about the escapes from Parkhurst. They worried the Home Secretary, as they should have done. He was entitled to be consulted and was consulted. The book is misleading and inaccurate.

Lord Merlyn-Rees

My Lords, given the status of the Prison Service Agency, could the Home Secretary have overruled the director of the Prison Service on this matter?

Baroness Blatch

No, my Lords, he could not.