§ Mr. Iremonger
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what amendments he proposes to make to the prison standing orders governing correspondence between prisoners and Members of Parliament; and whether he will make a statement.379W
§ Mr. Brooke
Yes. A new Standing Order has been issued in the following terms(1) Any prisoner may communicate with a Member of Parliament by using one of his ordinary letters. In addition, at any time after completing his first two months in custody he may be allowed a special letter for the purpose.(2) Contents of letters to Members of Parliament:
- (a) The following matter may be included subject to the conditions set out below:
- (i) All ordinary matter, including news of and comments on public affairs except where objectionable reference is made to persons in public life. Such a case should be referred to Head Office for instructions.
- (ii) Complaints of prison treatment, where the prisoner has either petitioned the Secretary of State, or seen the Visiting Committee or Board of Visitors, or a visiting officer of the Secretary of State hearing applications, as the case may be, on the complaint and has had his petition or request refused.
- (iii) Allegations against the staff of the prison, if these have previously been made separately and investigated or if, upon request for investigation, investigation has been refused.
- (iv) A request to the Member of Parliament to visit the prisoner, if the object of the visit is stated and, where the object is a complaint against prison treatment or allegations against the staff, the conditions set out in (ii) and (iii) above have been satisfied.
- (b) The following matter may not be included:
- (i) Complaints about the courts, the police and the prison authorities, including the Secretary of State in his responsibility for prison administration, if these complaints are deliberate and calculated attempts to hold these authorities up to contempt.
- (ii) Statements about private individuals which are patently scandalous or libellous or otherwise deliberately calculated to do them harm.
- (iii) Threats of violence.
- (iv) Grossly improper language.
- (v) Matter intended for insertion in the press.
- (vi) Begging requests for money or valuable property.
- (vii) Requests to Members of Parliament to approach persons whom the prisoner is forbidden by rule or standing order to approach direct.
- (c) No letter to a Member of Parliament should be stopped unless it clearly offends against the provisions of the statutory rules or this standing order, and any doubtful case should be referred to Head Office for instructions.