HC Deb 22 March 1935 vol 299 cc1482-3W

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is aware that a dormitory building in the criminal lunatic department, Perth, approximately 70 yards long, has only one wooden staircase at the south end; what provision is made for the inmates to escape if this staircase caught fire; and whether the authorities are satisfied that an emergency window at the other end, approximately 15 feet above the ground to which an ordinary ladder can be placed, is an efficient means of safeguarding men certified insane?


The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. If the staircase were destroyed by fire before all the inmates on the second floor had descended to the ground floor, escape from the second floor would take place by means of ladders placed at two windows, one at each end of the building and readily accessible. All officers are instructed in the use of fire appliances and in the action to be taken in the event of fire, and officers on duty in the dormitory have telephonic facilities for summoning immediate assistance from any part of the prison. I am satisfied that these arrangements would not prove ineffective if a fire occurred. If, however, the Criminal Lunatics (Scotland) Bill, which has already had a Second Reading in another place, becomes law this session, immediate steps will be taken to proceed with the erection of the new asylum at Carstairs which will supersede the obsolete building at Perth.