HC Deb 31 May 1951 vol 488 cc31-2W
42. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will, in view of the proposed new rule introduced by the Prison Commission, take steps to ensure that prisoners may retain the right to write to Members of Parliament.

Mr. Ede

The change recently introduced does not involve any substantial alteration in the arrangements previously in force. I originally informed the House in July, 1948, that I had authorised the issue of instructions permitting prisoners to use letters from their ordinary allowance to write to a Member of Parliament of their choice, but after experience had been gained of this concession I found it necessary to introduce certain limitations, for reasons which I explained to the House at some length on 29th July, 1949.

In particular, a prisoner was not in future to be allowed to make complaints about his prison treatment in a letter to a Member unless he had already exhausted his rights of making the complaints through one of the appointed channels by which such grievances can be considered and redressed. It subsequently appeared that these new instructions left a prisoner in a position to make with impunity malicious and unfounded allegations against prison officers in a letter to a Member if those allegations did not relate to the prisoner's treatment in prison, and a clarifying instruction was issued on 28th March last to secure that allegations against prison officers, whether or not they also constituted complaints about prison treatment, should not be made in letters to Members unless the allegations had already been investigated.

Forward to