§ Mr. Michael McGuire
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list in the Official Report the financial assistance made available by his Department to enable prisoners' wives554W
living in Northern Ireland to visit their husbands in prison (a) in England and Wales, (b) in Scotland, and (c) in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Alison
An assisted visits scheme is administered by the Northern Ireland Supplementary Benefits Commission on behalf of the Northern Ireland Office and is similar to a scheme which operates in Great Britain. The scheme provides financial assistance to prisoners' close relatives who receive supplementary benefit or who are in part-time work and whose earnings are close to the supplementary benefit qualifying limit. Assistance is generally limited to one visit every four weeks; visits may be accumulated to allow 13 visits in any 12 month period. Payment is made for all reasonable expenses.
It is not possible, without disproportionate effort, to break down the expenditure as requested. However, the number of claims and the total amounts paid in recent years are as follows:
Year No. of Claims Amount £ 1977 1,310 8,683.54 1978 1,763 11,648.45 Jan-Sept. 1979 1,159 8,572.66