HC Deb 27 February 1996 vol 272 cc499-500W
Mr. Austin-Walker

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy regarding the conduct of social visits for persons held in Her Majesty's prisons who do not speak English; and if he will make a statement on the matters raised by the hon. Member in his letter dated 14 February. [16649]

Miss Widdecombe

[holding answer 22 February 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 A. J. Pearson to Mr. John Austin-Walker, dated 27 February 1996: The Homes Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about prisoners' visits. Generally, prisoners and their visitors may conduct their conversations in the language of their choice. The exceptions and where conversations need to be overhead for reasons of prison security or control, or because there is reason to believe that the prisoner and visitor may discuss matters relevant to national security, public safety of the commission of crime. In these situations governors may require that the conversation is monitored and interpreted. Further details of Prison Service policy on the conduct of visits to prisoners are set out in the Security Manual, Standing Order 5, and Circular Instruction 11/1991, copies of which are in the Library. Your letter of 14 February to the Home Secretary, was passed to the Director General because it concerned a number of operational matters and he will reply to you shortly.