§ Mr. Alex Carlile
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date the Prison Service first issued instructions for the use of restraints on women prisoners attending hospital; and if he will list the dates of subsequent instructions issued. 
§ Miss Widdecombe
[holding answer 31 January 1996]: Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the temporary Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from Richard Tilt to Mr. Alex Carlile, dated 5 February 1996:
The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question asking on what date the Prison Service first issued instructions for the use of restraints on women prisoners attending hospital, and the dates of subsequent instructions.
The policy on the use of restraints on all prisoners in hospital, including women prisoners, is a long standing one. Guidance on the use of restraints under Prison Rule 46 was set out in a variety of circular instructions, standing orders and letters to individual governors. These instructions were issued over many years.
The Security Manual, which codified security instructions was first issued in autumn 1991. A section bringing together instructions on handcuffing, including handcuffing of women prisoner generally and prisoners of either sex in hospital was added in October 1992. Amendments in April 1994 gave further guidance about handcuffing women. In April 1995 an amendment to the manual gave guidance about complying with medical requests when handcuffing women prisoners attending hospital, including for childbirth. In November 1995 a letter was sent to governors which reiterated the policy that women in labour and childbirth should not be restrained.
On 18 January, the Home Secretary Announced a revised policy to the House. This took into account the meeting I had with representatives of the Royal College of Midwives on 15 January. Instructions reflecting the new arrangements were sent to governors on 19 January.