HC Deb 15 December 1989 vol 163 cc827-8W
Mr. Battle

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to ensure British prisons comply with recommendation 12(873) of European prison rules and in particular with regard to(a) part II, 10, 2, regarding preparation of reports on every prisoner, (b) part II, 14, 1, on individual cells, (c) part II, 14, 2, on night supervision, (d) part 11, 11,1, on allocation of prisoners with regard to their age, status and medical needs, (e) part II, 11, 4, on detention of young prisoners under conditions which protect them from harmful influences, (f) part III, 52, on training of prison staff, (g) part III, 57, on inclusion of specialist staff, such as psychiatrists and (h) part IV, 100, 2 and 3, on availability of specialised institutions under medical management; and how many British prisons fulfil these conditions.

Mr. Mellor

The recommendation adopted by the Committee of Ministers in respect of the European prison rules states that the governments of member states should be guided in their internal legislation and practice by the principles set out in the text of the European Prison Rules … with a view to their progressive implementation".

The Government comply with this recommendation.

Every establishment in Her Majety's prison service in England and Wales meets in full all the rules referred to specifically in the question, apart from those aspects of rule 14 which relate to the sharing of accommodation. On the latest available figures for the use of cellular accommodation designed for fewer prisoners than it currently holds over 70 prisons in England and Wales met its requirements. The current building programme provides for progressive reduction of overcrowding. Responsibility for prisons in Scotland rests with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Battle

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to ensure British prisons comply with article 10 of the international covenant on civil and political rights.

Mr. Mellor

The United Kingdom ratified the International covenant on civil and political rights on 20 May 1976, subject to the reservation that where there is a lack of suitable facilities or where the mixing of adults and juveniles is deemed to be mutually beneficial the Government reserved the right not to apply article 10.2(b) and 10.3 so far as those provisions required juveniles who are detained to be accommodated separately from adults.

In England and Wales the statutory rules, and supplementary guidance issued from time to time in the form of standing orders and circular instructions (copies of which are available in the Library), comply with the principles of article 10 subject to that reservation. They are also reflected in the prison service's statement of purpose issued in November 1988.

Governors of all prison service establishments have been asked to ensure that a copy of the international convenant is freely available to prisoners and staff in prison libraries.

Mr. Battle

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he has taken to ensure British prisons comply with resolution (73) 5 standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners adopted on 19 January 1973, and in particular with the stipulation regarding the medical examination of sick prisoners; and which British prisons fulfil this stipulation.

Mr. Waddington

The European standard minimum rules have been superseded by European prison rules adopted by the Council of Europe on 12 February 1987. The rules are not legally binding on member countries, but the prison service in England and Wales aims to reflect them in its policies and practice. Copies of the rules were sent to governors in 1988. There is no reasons to believe that any prison is failing to conform with the principles of prison rule 30(1) as regards the care of prisoners who fall sick.