87. Viscountess ASTOR
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether an education adviser has been appointed to His Majesty's Convict Prison, Dartmoor; and, if not, whether he proposes to make such an appointment in the near future?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)
An education adviser has not been appointed at this prison. Dartmoor is the prison for "recidivist" convicts who have had repeated sentences of penal servitude or imprisonment for grave offences, and until further experience has been acquired of educational work amongst the "Star" convicts at Maidstone and the convicts of the "Intermediate" class at Parkhurst, it would be premature to attempt the introduction at Dartmoor of any elaborate educational scheme.
Was it not the original plan of the right hon. Gentleman to appoint someone at Dartmoor?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
No; I really want to see how the scheme can be put on foot. In the reply to the next question, I can give the Noble Lady some information.
88. Viscountess ASTOR
asked the Home Secretary how many lectures and classes have been held for convicts at His Majesty's convict prison, Dartmoor, and the average attendance, during the past 12 months?
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Nineteen general lectures and concerts have been held at Dartmoor Prison during the last 12 months. It has not been possible in the short time since the question was put down to ascertain the average attendance on these occasions, but I will send the information to the Noble Lady as soon as I receive it. In addition, 95 classes have been held for young convicts only, in such subjects as geography, history, travel, making a career, 'etc., at which the average attendance was 11.
89. Viscountess ASTOR
asked the Home Secretary how many classes are being held weekly at His Majesty's prison, Parkhurst; what subjects are taught and by whom the instruction is given; what, is the average attendance; what percentage of the total number of convicts have not attended any class during the past 12 months; how many of these convicts are under 25 years of age and how many between the ages of 25 to 30 and 30 to 40, respectively; and what is the test by which the ability of a convict to profit by a class is determined.
§ Sir. W. JOYNSON-HICKS
As the answer is long, I will, with the Noble Lady's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Following is the answer:
§ The number of classes held weekly varies with the number of lecturers available, but at present six are being held each week.
§ The subjects covered recently include music, singing, reading, writing, arithmetic, imperial and general history, studies of other countries, the history of flying, the care of the horse. The lecturers are drawn from all classes, and have included officers of the Church Army, working men, Army officers and prison officers.
§ The average attendance at each class is 17.
§ The approximate percentage of convicts who have not attended any classes during the last 12 months is 85 per cent.; of these 28 were under 25 years of age, 62 between 25 and 30, and 128 between 30 and 40.
§ Convicts are selected for classes by the Governor in co-operation with the Educational Adviser. At a prison like Park-hurst the field of selection is necessarily limited; a large proportion of the convicts fall into classes which are clearly ruled out, such as aged convicts, hospital cases, weak-minded convicts, sexual perverts, violent and ill-conducted convicts. Of the remainder it is necessary to consider whether they are teachable, and whether their general conduct justifies selection, and of those who are favourably considered it is not all who wish to attend classes.