HC Deb 12 March 1963 vol 673 cc1251-313

Postponed Proceeding on Motion, That the Prison Commissioners Dissolution Order, 1963, a draft of which was laid before this House on 5th February, be approved, resumed.

7.18 p.m.

Mr. Brooke

When our proceedings were interrupted for a short time, I was about to quote from the Report of a Departmental Committee on Scottish Administration for the year 1937. It was that Report which preceded a similar amalgamation of the Prison Department of Scotland with the Scottish Home Department. What is said is closely relevant to our discussions now. This is the passage: It is a constitutional principle that a Department and its Minister are indistinguish- able, but a Department incorporated and established by statute to carry out specified functions in the name of the Department, although acting under the control and direction of the Minister, is necessarily regarded as a separate entity. We consider that this is an anomaly which should be rectified. The responsibility of a Minister to Parliament is inconsistent with any measure of independence (even if only apparent) in any Department for which he speaks. I seldom find myself arguing that we can learn from the Scots, but I believe that those words are profoundly true. My information is that the amalgamation worked out perfectly well in the case of Scotland.

Here in England the Prison Commission and the Home Office have already come as close together as the statutory bar in 1877 Act will allow. The headquarters staff of the Commission has long been strengthened by the secondment of administrative staff from the Home Office. Several of the specialist branches of the Home Office—for instance, the legal advisers' branch—already serve the Prison Commission as well. The chief architect's branch of the Home Office and the directorate of works of the Prison Commission have been combined under the former director of works of the Prison Commission. But we cannot achieve complete and efficient integration until the last barriers are removed by the making of this Order.

The House will wish me to explain how things will go on when the Order takes effect. There are various elements within the staff of the Prison Commission. There is the professional prison service, from the prison officers up through the governor grades to the senior professional officers at headquarters. In addition, there are members of particular professions—doctors, psychologists, architects, and so on—with their own professional status and professional hierarchies. There are also members of the ordinary administrative, executive and clerical grades of the Civil Service who work either in prisons or at headquarters.

Administrative grade officers have never been recruited direct to the Prison Commission they are all seconded from the Home Office. That includes the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary of the Prison Commission and the establishment officer. The first three —that is, the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman and the Secretary—are Prison Commissioners. The other two Prison Commissioners are the Chief Director and the Director of Borstal Administration. Those two posts, along with the Director of Prison Administration, who is not a Prison Commissioner but is a member of the Prisons Board, are the top posts of the professional prison service. There are also nine assistant commissioners all of whom are members of the prison service. The other professional staff have their own chief posts—the director of medical services, the chief psychologist, the director of works and so on.

I have heard it suggested that integration threatens a take-over by administrative and executive civil servants of the functions of the trained staff of the prison service. That is completely untrue. The position and the work of the professional prison service, from the Commissioners who have been trained in the prison service, through to the prison officers, will be wholly unaffected by this Order. Their conditions of service and prospects of promotion will not be altered in any way. The more men of ability I see working their way up in the prison service and showing the qualifications necessary to take the highest posts in it, the happier I shall be. There will be just as many posts for them to take in future as at present—maybe more.

Another fear which I have come across is that this Order will lead to a more rapid turnover of senior administrative staff. That is certainly not my idea. I have no intention of allowing the close personal links between headquarters and the prison service, or, as someone suggested, between headquarters and all those voluntary workers who give splendid service to the country on boards of visitors, or visiting committees or as prison visitors or in after-care work, to get broken. Therefore, that, also, is a false fear.

I have already said that the senior posts in the professional prison service will not be affected. There will be the same continuity and the same personal contact. I have said that the administrative officers have always been seconded from the Home Office. Some of them, like Sir Lionel Fox, have served for many years; others have served for shorter periods. There is no reason why this Order should bring any change in that situation.

There is a great deal to learn for anyone appointed to a department responsible for the organisation of the prison service, and there is need for full confidence between those actually working in the prisons and those working at headquarters. I shall do everything in my power to sustain that. I feel sure that we shall produce as many men dedicated to the improvement of prisons and of prison treatment in future as we have done in the past, and I assure the House that their opportunities of service will be as great.

In case hon. Members may be wondering about the question of ranks, may I point out that the three Commissioners who are now seconded from the Home Office—that is, the Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Secretary—when they cease to be called Commissioners, will retain their present ranks in the Civil Service of Assistant Under-Secretary of State and Assistant Secretary respectively. They will continue with their work in the new prison department in the same way that they were working in the Prison Commission.

The other two Commissioners—the professional Commissioners, if I may so call them—namely, the Chief Director and the Director of Borstal Administration, will retain the same titles as well as the same jobs. That also applies to the Director of Prison Administration. The present Assistant Commissioners will become Assistant Directors, but their status and responsibilities will remain exactly the same. The Prisons Board will continue to meet in the present way. In case hon. Members are not familiar with the term, the Prisons Board is a body of senior administrative and specialist officers of the Prison Commission which meets to discuss general questions of policy. The Board will have just as important part as ever in the administration of the prison service.

Finally, there seems to be some suspicion that the Home Secretary wilt find it simpler to forget about prisoners and prisons if the prison service becomes part of the Home Office. I should have thought that exactly the opposite would have been the result, because under the Order it becomes plainer than ever that the responsibility for it is directly on him. I cannot believe that any Home Secretary —I speak very seriously now—will forget the responsibility which he has for about 11,000 men and women in the prison service and more than 30,000 human beings in detention. The House should not forget it either, for this is a responsibility which the whole country shares.

I am not content by any means with everything concerning our prisons, particularly the closed local prisons, for the reasons which I have given, although I hope and think that the House will agree that wonderful work is being done in prisons, and I should like the public to know much more about it. I welcome the responsible articles about prison conditions like some which have appeared in the Press recently and during the last few days. I should like more hon. Members to go to prisons—[Laughter.] As visitors, I mean. I should be glad to arrange it. I had never been to a prison before I became Home Secretary. I have held office as Home Secretary for eight months, in which time I have visited eight prisons, borstals and remand and detention centres, and I intend to visit many more. Thirty out of the 90 establishments which come under the Prison Commissioners have been visited during the past year by one or the other of the Home Office Ministers, including my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), who did such excellent work while he was at the Home Office.

It is because I believe that the continuing improvement of our prisons is such an outstandingly important part of the functions of the Home Office and of the duties of the Home Secretary that I want to see his responsibility for it made perfectly clear and correct. I ask the House to approve the Order because I know that it is a sensible and forward step.

7.31 p.m.

Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, South-East)

One thing which I want to make clear at the beginning of my speech is that we on this side of the House do not regard this as a party political issue. For that reason, we have tonight taken off our official Whips and if there is a vote at the end of the debate, my right hon. and hon. Friends will be free to vote in whichever Lobby they wish. I trust that the same freedom will be afforded to hon. Members opposite, because I know that there is a difference of opinion about the Order on the Government side of the House.

Before discussing the Order itself, I should like to say a few words about the way in which the subject has been brought before the House. This is an important issue and one in which there has been great interest. My opinion is that it would have been much better to have had a Bill dealing with this whole subject which we could have discussed properly and which we could have amended in Committee.

Instead, this proposal was included as a rather incongruous part of the Criminal Justice Act, 1961, which dealt chiefly with the treatment of offenders under the age of 21. Tucked away in Section 23 of that Act was the proposal to give the Home Secretary power to bring in an Order in Council to absorb the Prison Commissioners within the Home Office. Now, we have before us an Order which we must either approve or disapprove. We must either take it or leave it.

It is only because hon. Members on both sides objected that we are having adequate time to debate this proposal. Indeed, in spite of the assurances given by the previous Home Secretary, now the First Secretary of State, it was originally suggested that we should start to debate this important matter at about 10 or 11 o'clock at night.

As the Home Secretary has said, the Order means that the Commission as it was set up in 1877 will no longer exist. I should like to bring to the attention of the Home Secretary the fact that most informed opinion is against him in this matter. The subject has been debated in another place and I have read with great interest the debate which took place there. While it is true that at the end of the day the Government had a decided majority, it is significant that apart from the Minister of State, Home Office, and the Lord Chancellor, every speech which was made in another place, from both sides of that House, was against the Order.

All the informed Press is against the Order. I will not weary the House with quotations but merely say that over the last year or two, the Lancet, the Observer, The Times on several occasions and the Guardian have all been against the Order. Within the last two or three weeks, there have been several leading articles in different newspapers. We have had the Economist and, quite recently, the Sunday Telegraph. The Times had a long leader with the heading, "A Step Backward" only about a fortnight ago. Today, The Times has another leader, again asking the Home Secretary whether, even at this late hour, he will not lay aside the Order.

There has also been considerable correspondence in The Times, including a letter some time ago from Sir Harold Scott, a former Chairman of the Prison Commission, who was very much against the Order being put into effect. I will not, however, weary the House with quoting all these various leaders in the Press, but they have been many and they have been strong in their language.

This is not the first time that this proposal has come before the House of Commons. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), when Home Secretary, tried to bring in a similar proposal in the Criminal Justice Bill of 1948, but so great was the outcry on that occasion that my right hon. Friend decided to withdraw the proposal and, indeed, he was put in the position of voting against his own proposal.

At that time, my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson), who is waiting to speak this evening and who, I understand, has changed his mind somewhat in the last few years, made a speech in which he said that he regarded the Clause in question as thoroughly obnoxious and that he saw no reason whatever for abolishing the Prison Commission. He also said that he did not know anybody interested in penal reform who did not regard the Clause with a great deal of misgiving. Therefore, whenever this matter has come before us, there has been strong criticism from both sides.

During the passage of the 1960 Criminal Justice Bill, one Clause of which gave effect to tonight's proposal, we had a good debate in Committee and we also had a considerable debate late at night on Report. On 12th April, 1961, with the exception of those who spoke from the Government Front Bench, everybody spoke against this proposal, including the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) and, rather surprisingly, the present Attorney-General, who said that he had grave misgivings about this whole proposal.

On that occasion, the hon. and learned Gentleman said: There is a world of difference between people who are part of the headquarters, as it were, exercising a subordinate responsibility under the Home Secretary, and a person who has a separate responsibility even though it is subject to the direction of the Home Secretary. He went on to say that he hoped that his right hon. Friend the then Home Secretary would be able to reassure the House that we are nod losing something by abolishing the Prison Commissioners, in the sense that we are losing an independently exercised responsibility."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th April, 1961; Vol. 638, c. 389.] I have reread the debates we had on the Criminal Justice Act and the debates in another place recently. I have listened to the Home Secretary's speech tonight. But still I am not quite clear just what we are doing and why we are taking this step. The right hon. Gentleman told us what the Order does not do. He did not tell us very much about what it will do and about the advantages which will accrue if it is passed. Looking through these debates, it seems that the Government say at one time that this proposal will make no difference and at another time that there are to he great changes. We still do not know exactly what the right hon. Gentleman envisages.

There is no point in arguing whether or not the Prison Commissioners have been independent in the past. Of course, they have not been, and I do not think that anybody would argue that they have, because we all know that in the last resort the prisons are the responsibility of the Home Secretary. But in this respect it is true to say that there has been a unique arrangement whereby the Prison Commissioners, although not an independent body, have had a separate identity, and I believe that this separate identity has been beneficial to the prison service as a whole and that much would be lost by sinking it as an anonymous part of the Home Office.

We have been told that this is administrative. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman said that this is only a matter of machinery and, at great length, he talked about promotion and interchange within the Home Office and between the prison service and the Home Office itself. It is true that the top three people in the prison service are from the Civil Service, but there is a fear that many more of the assistant commissioners will be drawn from the Civil Service and not go through the avenues of the prison service.

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman did not repeat what the Minister of State said in another place. The Minister of State overstated the case by saying that in future it would be possible for a prison officer working in any prison in the country to rise to the rank of Under-Secretary at the Home Office, for that really was quite a lot of nonsense.

It is sometimes argued that it is a good thing—I am sure that it is so— for outsiders to help to run the prison service, but we must make sure that those who have had a good deal of experience in prisons get their chance to go higher up in the service. As I have said, there is the fear that many more civil servants with very little knowledge of prisons will be put in to help run the prison service.

It has been said that this is a matter of economy, although the right hon. Gentleman did not use that argument tonight. The only case put forward for this is that there would be co-ordination between the prison department and other departments of the Home Office. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would be better able to co-ordinate the departments which look after the after-care of prisoners with the prisoners themselves, and also co-ordinate the prison service with other services concerned with delinquency, particularly juvenile delinquency.

If the right hon. Gentleman is arguing that the prison service will be better for being treated in the same way in the Home Office as after-care is treated, and as the children's department has been run, that is not a very good recommendation for transferring the functions of the Prison Commission into the Home Office, for everybody who knows anything at all about after-care knows that it is in a very sad state. If this has been the responsibility of the Home Secretary, it leaves a great deal to be desired. The right hon. Gentleman said that we must ensure co-ordination in showing prisoners how they could settle down to a good and useful life.

Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

The hon. Lady also embraced the children's department in her criticism.

Miss Bacon

I am coming to that in a moment.

After-care is one of the most disgraceful parts of our care of prisoners today. It is very unsatisfactory. It has been said, and the right hon. Gentleman repeated, that we shall be able to co-ordinate the work which is now being done by the Prison Commission with other work being done for juvenile delinquency, and connect up the work of the Commission with the approved schools. That fills me with horror.

I believe that there is a very good case for approved schools being transferred to the Ministry of Education, but, so long as the responsibility for approved schools remains with the Home Office, then I hope that it stays with the children's department, because, while I have often criticised that department—and will do so again in a few minutes —and want to see it improved, it would be very wrong to link the work of approved schools, which are supposed to be educational, with the criminal establishment inside the Home Office. I rope that we shall not see the schools regarded as criminal establishments. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make that clear. Rather than absorbing the Prison Commission into the Home Office, there is more to be said for setting up a youth commission on similar lines to the Prison Commission.

I want now to come to the point on which the hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) interrupted. Anyone who sat through the proceedings on the Criminal Justice Act will know that we had a great deal of difficulty in finding out exactly what was happining in the children's department. Year by year, the Prison Commission has given a first-class report and we have had no difficulty whatever in knowing exactly what it was doing because the reports have been full and detailed.

But there was no report from the children's department of the Home Office between 1955 and 1961, and we had to fight hard in Committee on the Criminal Justice Act for an Amendment ensuring that we would in future have a report from the department every three years. Indeed, we tried to get an annual report but had to compromise on three years.

Thus, for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would like the Prison Commission to be completely absorbed into the Home Office in order that it can be dealt with in the same way as the children's department does not commend this proposal at all, because we have not had, over the years, the full information from the children's department that we would like to have.

The Prison Commission has built up a reputation and great confidence. As the right hon. Gentleman said, there is a good deal wrong with our prisons, and, like him, I have visited a great many over the last two or three years. One could speak for half an hour or an hour about things that are wrong with our prisons, and I agree with him about the scandal of having three prisoners in a cell, although I also believe that the prisoners themselves do not seem to object to this very much. The worst feature of having three in a cell is not the sleeping arrangement but the fact that that number means that the cells are overcrowded in the daytime and the prisoners cannot do a useful day's work. Another reason why our prisons are full today is that there are many young people there who ought to be in remand centres, when we get remand centres built by the Government. Although we can all say what is wrong with the prison service, a great deal of good has been done by the Prison Commissioners over the years. They have experimented and there have been progressive ventures—open prisons, training prisons, group counselling and the hostel system. These things would have been much more difficult to accomplish without the Prison Commissioners having an identity of their own.

Prison reform is not popular—let us face it—except with a small section of the community. Although it is many years since the House accepted that the prisoner goes to prison not for punishment but as punishment, and that a man should come out of prison a better man, physically and morally, than when he went in, the general public has still not accepted it. When so much money is needed for schools and hospitals and houses, it is never easy for the Government to embark on prison building. It is very difficult for any Government in these circumstances, but that fact is one more reason for keeping a separate, identifiable body which, although not independent of the Government, seems to be so. Such a separate, identifiable body can probably go ahead with these things better than a Government Department in the climate of public opinion which we so often experience.

There are many people inside and outside the House, a great mass of informed opinion, who are against the Order and who have always taken a very great interest in prisons and prison reform. The right hon. Gentleman has not made a very good case for the Order. He told us what it would not do, but he did not tell us what it would do. I hope that even at this late stage, even though he knows that he can get a majority in the Lobbies, he will take note of this informed opinion, and of all the leaders which have appeared in all the informed newspapers over the last few weeks, and agree to withdraw the Order.

If it does not make much difference, why bring in the Order at all? If it makes a great deal of difference, then it will make a great deal of difference which he has not succeeded in explaining to the House tonight. Although my right hon. and hon. Friends have a free vote tonight, I hope that as many hon. Members as possible on both sides of the House will be prepared to go into the Division Lobbies against the Order and that we can go on with what has been the satisfactory way of the past.

7.54 p.m.

Mr. John Wells (Maidstone)

I support my right hon. Friend on this Order. Some weeks ago, I was more of the opinion of the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon), but I have changed my opinion for a variety of reasons. I have had a number of assurances, and if we are to hear from my right hon. Friend again tonight I hope that we will be able to answer one or two small questions.

My first doubt in the past was whether in future assistant directors, now assistant commissioners, will continue to be recruited in approximately the same numbers: and, as at present, from the ranks of those with considerable prison experience. I understand that that is the case, but I should be glad to have a categorical assurance.

Secondly, I was very perturbed in the past by the slow rate of promotion of she basic grade of prison officer to principal prison officer. The Prison Officers' Association is perturbed by the slowness of the promotion of its members and because of that slowness it has been pressing for appointments to the grade of assistant governor II not to be made from outside the uniformed service. That is part of the policy of the official professional body.

Like the hon. Lady, I believe that it is very important that people should come into the prison service at all levels and I am sorry that these ladies and gentlemen should argue through their professional body against having this intake. But unless there is some speeding up in their promotion system, they are bound to continue to have this doubt. I therefore ask my right hon Friend the specific question whether he can see earlier promotion than the present speed of about twelve years with a certain pay increment for the first promotion. It is too slow. Can he offer prison officers in the basic grade quicker promotion?

Recruiting is said to be running at a satisfactory figure. This was said by my noble Friend in another place when he introduced the Order there ten days ago. However, if I recollect the figures in the 1961 Report of the Prison Commissioners correctly—I do not have it before me—about 45,000 persons inquired about joining the prison service of whom only 430 actually became established officers. That is fewer than one in a hundred of those who sought information with a view to making this a career. I hope that the position has improved during the past year, for we cannot go forward with the great experiments to which both my right hon. Friend and the hon. Lady referred unless there are adequate and contented staffs of all grades.

My next concern is with the prison medical service. It is now more than sixteen years since a member of this service was appointed a Prison Com- missioner. I forget the name of the last gentleman to have such an appointment, but I believe that the one before him was Dr. Methven, who, at one time, was Governor of Maidstone Prison, which means that he was appointed to the Commission as an ex-governor and not as an ex-member of the prison medical service.

More appointments to assistant directorships must be made from gentlemen —and ladies, if need be—from the prison medical service. I should also like to see closer interchange between men and women from the medical service and doctors in outside practice. It takes years to become an experienced prison medical officer, but there are certain onerous and tedious duties which experienced prison medical officers have to undertake in courts away from their prisons and which could be done for a small fee by local practitioners.

Another of my worries is concerned with the chaplains branch. I understand that chaplains are appointed for seven years and then on a year-to-year basis to a maximum of twelve years.

I believe that this is right and that there should not be a long-established chaplains department. These chaplains should have close contact with parochial life outside. They should bring in a breath of fresh air from ordinary parish life, but there is a substantial body of opinion among the chaplains who would like to see themselves and various other ancillary members of the staff, the non-disciplinary staff, reorganised on a regional basis, which I believe might be one of the advantages which will flow from this Order. Is there any hope of the non-disciplinary staff having some sort of regional organisation to assist them in their work?

My right hon. Friend has said, and I am grateful to him for saying it, that one of the advantages of this Order is that those in charge of prison administration will be in closer contact with the Home Office Research Unit. I believe that this is extremely valuable. The hon. Lady mentioned the woeful state of after-care. It is in after-care that we are really, in the long run, seeking to help ex-prisoners, and I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend will institute some new arrangement for after-care.

So far, this debate has been conducted without party antagonism, and the same might be said of the debate on this Order in another place, but those who know training prisons are somewhat perturbed at the attitude of the trade unions. I do not want to bring in any party point, and I hope that those hon. Members who are trade unionists will go along with me in what I am saying. It seems a tragedy to teach a man a trade in a training prison which he cannot possibly expect to follow if he goes outside, because of the attitude of various trade unions.

Miss Bacon

Will the hon. Gentleman make it quite clear from where he gets his impression? My information, and I have gone into this very carefully, is that there is no antagonism on the part of the trade unions In fact, there is a committee, on which trade unionists sit, to assist in this matter. This is the excuse rather than the reason for these men not being employed. The real reason is that there is not the proper accommodation in prisons to enable them to do a proper day's work.

Mr. Wells

The hon. Lady has got me wrong. I was talking about training prisons and prisoners learning a trade. I shall say something later about the point made by the hon. Lady. In the training prisons men learn certain trades which they cannot follow on release. This is my information, but I am not going to divulge my sources; and I hope that I shall not be sent to prison for failing to do so. Will my right hon. Friend, as a result of this Order, take deliberate and definite steps to get closer to the trade unions so that we may have the benefit of their help and advice?

Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)

The hon. Gentleman said that he welcomed the Home Secretary's assurance that the people in charge of prison administration would be closer to the Research Unit of the Home Office. Can he explain why this Order is necessary to bring that about?

Mr. Wells

I do not think that it is for me to explain that. I think that that is for my right hon. Friend, but if the administration is brought within the Home Office, and if the regionalisation which I have suggested is carried out, the practical experience gained by the Research Unit can be made available to the prisons more quickly.

Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the various prisons men are trained to be builders, painters, decorators, tailors, and many other things? They are trained in many trades which they can follow in ordinary life, and this training was started after discussions with the trade unions.

Mr. Wells

The hon. Gentleman will have the opportunity of making his points in his own speech. I said that there were certain trades to which my remarks applied.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

Mention the trades.

Mr. Wells

Printing, for one.

Mr. V. Yates


Mr. Wells

The hon. Gentleman must not just say "Oh" and dismiss my point.

Perhaps I might now deal with the point about work in local prisons. The fact remains that it is very difficult for prisoners to do a full day's work, for two reasons. First, the work is not available, for one reason or another. Here I do not specifically blame the trade unions, and I am sorry that the hon. Lady misunderstood by point. I hope that there will be closer liaison with the trade unions so that in future there can be no possible misunderstanding.

Secondly, I hope that there will be greater recruitment of staff, because until there are more staff to deal with men getting to and from work, and to speed up unlocking and locking up the men, we cannot make any progress in the matter of daily work.

My right hon. Friend mentioned integration with the architects department, which has begun. I hope that this integration and the building programme will be speeded up. Hon. Members are no doubt aware that in many large prisons on the Continent it is customary to have a W.C. in every cell. Pentonville was built to take them, but they were removed because of the habits of prisoners in earlier days. I am not advocating tonight that we should put W.C.s into every cell of our great and ancient prisons, but I am advocating a substantial speed-up of the building programme and the provision of more small units where better sanitary conditions can be provided.

I have two more specific questions to put to my right hon. Friend. First, will there be any actual cash saving as a result of this proposal, and if so, how much? I think that we would all like to know the measure of saving. Secondly, will there be some form of annual report? The hon. Lady mentioned the lack of annual reports in certain other departments of the Home Office. In past years we have all welcomed the Prison Commissioners' reports, or at least the more factual parts of them, and I hope that we shall continue to have some realistic report every year.

Finally, I remind the House, as did my right hon. Friend, that prisons and prisoners are the responsibility of us all, not only in this House, but outside, and I hope that the nation will take a more responsible view of this great problem.

8.8 p.m.

Sir George Benson (Chesterfield)

Some years ago the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) and I defeated a proposal to abolish the Prison Commissioners. Tonight, I propose, rather regretfully, to support the proposal.

The Prison Commissioners have a long and honourable record and I shall be sorry to see them go, but I do not think that any question of principle is involved. The final responsibility for the administration of our prisons rests not with the Prison Commissioners or with the Prisons Board, but with the Home Secretary, and any change of any kind in the administration must have the approval of the Home Secretary.

I have changed my point of view. The reason for this is that the late Sir Lionel Fox, Chairman of the Prison Commissioners for 20 years, approved of the abolition of the Prison Commissioners. I am not prepared to pit my judgment against his. Fox was probably the greatest penal reformer since Howard, in the 18th century. When he took over the chairmanship of the Prison Commission there was one open borstal and one small open prison camp which was dependent upon Wakefield Prison. When he retired there were over 20 open institutions, many of them large and important like Sudbury, Leyhill and the great modern prison of Ford, close to Arundel.

It will be remembered that at the end of the 19th century the Gladstone Committee repudiated the idea that punishment was the purpose of prison, and said that the dual and concurrent aims of the penal system should be deterrence and reforms. Many years later, Sir Lionel Fox went a step further. He repudiated the idea of deterrence as a deliberate aim of the prison system. He said that deterrence must be expected to lie in the loss of liberty, and not in the prison régime. It was only under those conditions that the Prison Commissioners could get on with their real job, which was to make our penal system as reformative as possible.

There are not many people who can look back for as long as I can over our prison system. It is just short of 50 years since I was serving a prison sentence, and I am reasonably familiar with the majority of our large prisons at any rate. It is easy to criticise the prison system. For the most part, our maximum security prisons are nearly a century old, and were built for a purpose entirely different from that which we have in view today. They were built for one purpose, and it is a very difficult job to adapt them for another. But within the limitations imposed upon them the Prison Commissioners have done a good job, and I shall be sorry to see them go.

8.13 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)

On one point at least I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson), namely, that the Order does not involve an issue of principle. It is a matter of working out what one believes to be its administrative effects.

The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department revealed an approach to the whole problem of our prison system which is fundamentally different from that of hon. Members on this side of the House. He suggested that it was difficult to do a lot of the things that he would like to do so long as the crime wave continued. The approach of hon. Members on this side of the House is that the crime wave is likely to continue until there is effective penal reform. I should like to read to the House a short extract from an article in the current issue of Peace News, written by a man undergoing preventive detention. Talking of the crime wave, he says: The basic reason for this return to crime by the majority is—I think they call it a sense of not belonging, in actual fact loneliness. … Nine out of ten of those men have been subtly brainwashed (though not perhaps deliberately) by long hours of solitary, day after day, year after year. They have become introverts with a bad inferiority complex. Some can scarcely think, save eratically, through not being able to talk and meet on equal terms outside their own sphere. How they got into this predicament, in the first instance, who knows?—a bad background, not necessarily poor, but a lack of something, love and affection to say the least. The net result of this is a show of bravado as a gesture of defiance to the world when faced with the facts of everyday living. That expresses to many of us the root cause of the crime wave that we are now unhappily experiencing.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield paid proper tribute to the Prison Commissioners, but it is easy to take too rosy a view of their achievements. There is a great deal on which we have to congratulate them, especially when we remember that what they have achieved has been achieved in the teeth of parsimony on the part of the Treasury. But not all the defects in the prison system today are due to financial causes.

We must all have been disturbed by the articles recently appearing in the Guardian, written by a former Member of the House, Mrs. Lena Jeger. Those of us who have read it must also have been extremely disturbed by the document recently published by the Prison Reform Council, entitled inside Story, written by a number of men and women who have had recent experience of prison sentences. Whatever one may think of civil disobedience—and I am as bitterly opposed to it as anybody in the House—it has brought into contact with the prison system men and women of high intelligence, of the utmost probity, and with a profound sense of social responsibility.

The reactions of these people to the prison system are contained in Inside Story. It is based on the experience of a number of men and women in 12 English prisons. The document makes it clear that many of the defects are due to the buildings in which the prisoners are housed. I do not propose to deal with those tonight, but there are two other classes of complaint which are not due to the physical circumstances obtaining in the prison buildings. There are some for which the Home Office and the Treasury must be held responsible, and I want to give some examples from Inside Story.

For example, the report refers to the failure to provide disposable paper handkerchiefs for prisoners with colds, making them, instead, rely upon the two cotton handkerchiefs which are issued to them. Attention is also drawn to the fact that the diet for pregnant women is not up to the standard generally recommended outside. Chamber pots do not have lids—which, in cells occupied by two or three men, is an essential requirement. The report complains of the fact that in Stafford Prison, for example, there is one lavatory and sink for over one hundred prisoners. In some prisons the only way of washing up eating utensils is by using the bowls provided for the prisoners' personal hygiene.

The young prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs have to use sheets for as long as four weeks without their being changed. Only in exceptional circumstances are prisoners giving protective clothing. The clothing for women in winter is described as being inadequate. Complaint is made of the fact that remand libraries and young prisoners' libraries are often seriously short of good material, and that the books are dilapidated. The report also states that there were many broken windows in Stafford Prison. In the same prison there are only enough knives and forks to supply 30 out of 250 men. Those complaints are presumably attributable to lack of financial provision in the prison service.

The second class of defects shows lack of imagination, or, at any rate, lack of persistence on the part of the Prison Commissioners themselves. The report draws attention to the fact that on admission prisoners are not allowed to keep drugs which have been prescribed for them by their own private doctors. It mentions that atomisers, which are essential for asthmatics, are not allowed, and suggests that the medical officer should always check on such matters with the prisoners' private doctors. It says that epileptics should either sleep in hospital or be provided with special facilities for calling for help. Ft complains that women are given venereal disease tests without their permission being sought. The writers draw attention to the fact that the lavatories for women prisoners have no inside bolts which is a matter of considerable embarrassment to many prisoners. They describe how Mr. Michael Randle last year at Wormwood Scrubs, was put on report for insisting on calling an officer to let out a fellow prisoner who was suffering from diarrhoea and in great pain.

Another matter about which they complain is the restriction on the writing of letters by prisoners. They draw attention to the fact that most prisoners are not great letter writers. They complain that newspapers sent into the prison must not be passed on to other prisoners, for some completely inexplicable reason. The placing of prisoners on restricted diet as a method of punishment attracts their attention. They suggest that qualified prisoners ought to be allowed to give instruction to other prisoners, for example in reading. They suggest that when prisoners are in prison, not only should they be allowed to do useful work but their insurance card should be stamped and their P.A.Y.E. form completed. Another suggestion which they make is that it is quite improper and inhuman for a prisoner, when discharged, to be given a travel warrant clearly marked "Her Majesty's Prison".

Those are not points involving any expenditure of finance by the Treasury. They represent a failure of imagination on the part of the Prison Commissioners or the Home Office and they certainly do not measure up to the recommendations of the Gladstone Report of 1895 to which my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) referred and to which reference was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield. The Gladstone Committee said that the prison treatment should be designed to maintain, stimulate or awaken the higher susceptibilities of prisoners and turn them out of prison better men and women both physically and morally than when they came in.

The sort of conditions revealed by Inside Story certainly suggests that those high standards are not being applied at the present time. But if the Commissioners have failed, the Home Secretary has also failed in the discharge of his overall responsibility and therefore come to this conclusion. Having listened very carefully to the speech of the Home Secretary, which was really a speech telling us that this Order would not make the slightest difference whatever to the Prison Service, I have come to the conclusion that, although I am not convinced that the change will make things even worse than at present, I see no reason to suppose that it will produce any improvement.

Therefore, if my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East goes into the Division Lobby against this Order, as I hope she will, I shall go with her.

8.23 p.m.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)

I listened with care and interest to the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) and I wondered what would be the outcome of his argument. I remained in breathless anxiety until the very last word, because it seemed to me that there was no logic whatever in his reason for wishing to vote against this Motion.

In this debate we are probing into the very entrails of Government. Here we are concerned with the internal affairs of a Department, the Home Office, and nothing less. It is extremely difficult for anyone who has not had actual experience of working in this Department to understand exactly the nature of the problem. It is also extremely difficult for anyone who has had that experience, as I have, to speak about it.

In the first place, there is, of course, some danger of impropriety. I do not think that it would be a good thing if those who have been Ministers discussed what passed between them and their advisers. But that would be relevant to the debate this evening. If one defends a particular action, one lays oneself open to the charge of being merely loyal to old advisers. If one is critical one is disloyal and soured-up. The fact is that the responsibility for this decision is that of the Home Secretary and nobody else.

If the Home Secretary tells the House, "This step I regard as being necessary in the interests of the good administration of my Department" the House is bound to accept his ipsi dixit—[HON MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members express surprise. But they must suppose that some day they will be responsible for running a Government Department. If they are to be told that they are not to run that Department as they think best, but in some way laid down by the vote of this House, I do not think that they will be successful.

At all events, if the Home Secretary says that the proper running of his Department requires a particular course of action, the onus lies on those who deny that to prove that the course of action is not necessary.

Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)

This Department has been run adequately since 1877—

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

It has not.

Mr. Scholefield Allen

Well, as adequately as the Home Office ever would be run. When did the Home Secretary come to this decision? It was only a year ago. Why has it been delayed so long if it is so necessary?

Sir Lucas-Tooth

I was interested to hear the hon. and learned Member for Crewe (Mr. Scholefield Allen) say that this Department has been run so adequately all that time. I was there for four years of that time, and I have never received such a compliment from a constituent in my life before. In saying that the Department has been well run the hon. and learned Gentleman is complimenting the successive Ministers who have been in charge of that Department—

Mr. Scholefield Allen


Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

—including the present Home Secretary.

The Prison Commission is an historical anomaly. It was set up in the last century when constitutional ideas were somewhat different from now and the anomaly is one which is leading to great inconvenience in administration. I do not think that it needs a great streteli of imagination to appreciate that a small enclave of civil servants incorporated for a particular purpose is something which cannot be expected to function properly in a great modern Department of State.

The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) objected to this transfer being made on the ground that the other responsibilities of the Home Secretary in this connection were not such as she thought were being carried out. She cited in particular the function of after-care. I go so far in agreeing with her as to say that I do not think after-care was the service of which I felt most proud during the time I was at the Home Office. But does it not occur to her that that possibly may be due to the fact that there has been something of an artificial wall placed between the Prison Commission and those responsible for after-care? Is not that possibly some part of the explanation why the one service is not so satisfactory as the other?

The existence of a commission, an incorporated body, obscures the true constitutional position. The Prison Commission is an incorporated civil servant. It is literally that. It has no independence of any kind whatsoever other than that which any other civil servant may have. The advice of the Commission is simply the advice of a civil servant. I am bound to say that, searching my memory, I cannot remember any occasion on which the Commission, as a Commission, gave corporate advice. Here I am speaking of a good many years ago and it may be that occasionally it did, but, in practice, I do not think that it ever did.

The existence of the Commission, however, is a standing temptation to poor administration. I can remember occasionally having letters given me to sign which referred to the Prison Commission as if it were an outside body. There was a tendency to pass away responsibility. That is quite wrong. It would be absolutely as wrong as if I said that it was a matter which was being attended to by the Permanent Under-Secretary of State. If that were done there would be an outcry in this House. To my mind, there should be just such an outcry if any attempt were made to pass responsibility to the Prison Commission, which is just as responsible to the Home Secretary and in precisely the same way as any other civil servant.

I was astonished when I read The Times leading article this morning and found this phrase: … the present remarkably good standing of the commission in the public eye … One thing which has always seemed essential about our constitution is that we should not praise our civil servants because the next thing we would be doing would be blaming them. Then we would be getting away from the soundness of our constitutional principles. I feel that there is very sound constitutional ground for the step which is being taken this evening. I am glad that it is being taken, and if a Division is called on the Order I shall vote in favour.

Mr. Mendelson

The hon. Member once served in the Home Office as an Under-Secretary. He has told the House very solemnly that the Prison Commission, as a body, never gave advice to him. Will he tell us whether he is aware of any occasion when the Commission did not give advice to his right hon. Friend, who was at that time in charge of the Department?

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

I cannot remember corporate advice being given. I am not saying that it was never given. In the ordinary way the Chairman or individual Commissioners gave advice. Probably the Commissioners took counsel together, but if they had given corporate advice it would have been the advice of a corporate civil servant and nothing more.

8.33 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

I approach this question in, I suppose, a way which is unique in this House. There are many hon. Members who have themselves had the experience of serving a prison sentence. There is my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) and there was sitting beside me until a few moments ago my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). A little time ago I saw below the Bar of the House my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen). There is also my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Creech Jones) and my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway). All of us a generation or more ago had the experience of serving prison sentences and therefore we talk with some personal experience of the matters which are in dispute.

My position is a little different from theirs in that, in addition, I have had some professional connection with these matters over the whole, or nearly the whole, of the intervening period. I hope, therefore, that the House will believe me when I say that I try to approach this matter in a constructive, objective way and that I am not anxious to score debating or party points one way or another for or against the Order which is being recommended to us.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) gave us a formidable list of people who are against the Order. I was a little frgihtened of it. There were one or two in the list whose opinions might influence my own, but on the whole I could not help sympathising with the little boy in the Sunday school class who, when the class was asked to hold up their hands to show which little boys would like to go to Heaven, refrained from doing so. When he was asked, "Jimmy, do you not want to go to Heaven?", he was irreverent and mischievous enough to answer, "Not if that crowd is going". Therefore, I should like to approach it in a purely personal way, without being influenced by that kind of considertaion.

The Prison Commission was set up in 1877 in order administratively to be responsible, subject to the control of the Home Secretary, for prisons. That is 86 years ago. The ultimate purpose of having a prison system, whether it is by means of deterrents or by reform or by any other principle that recommends itself, is to reduce crime. Has it done so? Figures have been given of the rapid increase in the numbers. There were 11,000 people in detention, was it 20 years ago?

Mr. Scholefield Allen

In 1938.

Mr. Silverman

Twenty-five years ago there were 11,000. A quarter of a century later there are 30,000. That is not a tribute to the efficiency of the system. It has wholly and lamentably failed to achieve any part of its social function.

Those of us who have seen the thing from the inside are in no doubt as to why it has failed. All of us came out of it with a feeling about prisons which can best be described by borrowing a phrase from another branch of the law. We came out regarding them with hatred, with ridicule, and with contempt, but especially with contempt. I cannot imagine that there is any man or woman—there may be a few, but not enough to affect the result—who came out of one of these institutions at the end of a short or a long period in any way a better man than the man who went in. The longer the period he was in, the worse he became. He gets a habit. He becomes institutionalised. He acquires characteristics that make it impossible for him to live a normal life outside the institution after long years of incarceration.

Of course prisons mould people's personalities. The idea was that they would mould them for the better, but they do not. They mould them for the worse. That is what is wrong with them.

Mr. Ellis Smith

That still applies, does it?

Mr. S. Silverman

Yes, certainly it still applies. The description by my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) was not of the conditions 40, 50, 60 or 70 years ago. They are the conditions today. I would confess that in some respects prisons today are a little better than they were in my time. In other respects they are worse. The horrible conditions of overcrowded prisons and cells are the product of comparatively recent years.

I say with great respect and, indeed, affection to my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale that I could not follow his argument. What he was saying, as far as I could understand—and I hope that I do his argument no injustice—was that the Prison Commissioners are partly responsible, that the Home Secretary is partly responsible and that, therefore, if I am asked to transfer the responsibility for this from a body which has admittedly failed to someone else, some other institution of which I have no guarantee that it will succeed, I leave the responsibility in the hands of those who admittedly have failed. With due respect to my hon. Friend, that argument just does not make sense.

I hope that the Home Secretary will not mind my saying what I intend to say because it is no good hon. Members making contributions to these debates unless they are prepared to say what is in their minds. If it were a question of handing over these responsibilities to the present Home Secretary I would have very serious doubts about what I was doing. I am not saying that in a partisan way and I certainly would not like it to be said of me. If it were said of me I would certainly not think it funny so I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will accept the spirit in which I say it. The Home Secretary has been in that office for some time and I must say that he has lost the confidence of a great many people regarding his capacity to understand, his compassion, and in other matters.

The hon. Member who said that we are not concerned with the personalities of particular Ministers at any moment is quite right. They can change. They have changed, even without a change of Government. And when a change of Government takes place they certainly change. What we must consider is the change on its merits without regard to the particular Minister who may have to administer the office. Is it any more sensible on my part to say that I support the change from one authority that has failed to another—an authority about which I have no reasonable expectation of success? Is that any more sensible than the argument my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale advanced and which I have criticised?

It is a difficult question to answer, but I think that, on balance, the answer must be "Yes". It is in every way better, failure or success. The responsibility should rest fairly and squarely—and, as the Home Secretary so rightly said, should be seen to rest fairly and squarely—on those who are responsible, first to the House of Commons and then to the country, for what is done. At the moment our prisons are said to be overcrowded and, indeed, they are. But they are overcrowded very largely with people who should not be there. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East mentioned some of the classes, but there are others.

Two men were recently sent to prison—I am not debating the merits of this; certainly this is not the time to do so—for refusing to give evidence before a tribunal. It would have been inadmissible evidence before any other court in the country; hearsay evidence. Because they refused to give hearsay evidence, they go to prison. Is that the proper way to deal with people like that? There are all the other people who, however mistakenly, but nevertheless with a spirit of self-sacrifice and devotion, perhaps thought it right to do certain things that were an inconvenience to the police, to traffic or to other users of the road. No doubt they should not have done it, but what earthly good was done by sending them to prison if they only added their own quota to an overcrowded situation which is a disgrace to our country in the eyes of the world?

Then there are the children of quite a young age who are sent to prison and kept there for weeks or months, not as part of their sentence but waiting until they can begin their sentence in some other institution in which for the moment there is no place. After weeks or months they are sent to the other institutions which make a genuine attempt at reform. The opportunity has been lost by then. There are the children sent to prison because there is no room in a remand home. They are sent to prison for safe custody, maybe not having committed any offence at all. They are children in need of care and protection, children to whom enough wrong has surely been done already without adding to it because of our administrative inefficiency.

We could reduce the population of the prisons very quickly if we took out of them just those, and only those, of whom people would say that they ought not to have been there. And in these things it is better, on the whole, that the Home Secretary or other Ministers at the Home Office should stand at the Dispatch Box and explain and defend if they can, and not write letters, as the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) said, saying, "I will consult the Prison Commissioners" or, "The Commissioners advise me so-and-so." There is nothing to be gained by that.

I think it was the Home Secretary who said that if we did not have the Prison Commissioners nobody would dream today of setting them up. I think that was right. If that is so, then on balance of argument we ought to support the Order. It was complained that we could not amend the Order, but why should we be able to amend it? The question is simply one not capable of any answer except "Yes" or "No". We keep the Prison Commissioners or we do not. What room for amendment is there in that? But let the responsibility rest where it should rest and where constitutionally it should always rest. When responsibility is borne in that way, and is seen to be borne in that way, let us see an immediate improvement in the situation and let there be no more excuses and no more lapses.

8.49 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I was very glad to hear the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson), because but for a speech of his, fifteen years ago, the Prison Commissioners would have been abolished then. I am glad to know that after waiting fifteen years he has accepted the advice given to him then which at that time he rejected.

This idea of Commissioners is a nineteenth century idea. In many of the alterations that were made in the Government machine of the nineteenth century, Commissioners played a part. Even the great Reform Parliament of 1832, when it set about reforming the Poor Laws of the day, to relieve the country from the disgrace of what was known as the Speenhamland system, appointed Poor Law Commissioners whose administration was so terrible that The Times of those days was the first and the loudest critic.

In this century we have come to believe in the doctrine held by our great predecessors of the seventeenth century, that the advisers of the Crown are responsible to this House for the actions they take as the Executive. I held that view in 1948. I was quite prepared to accept the responsibility that if I was Home Secretary and accepted advice tendered to me by a civil servant—whether a corporate civil servant or an individual civil servant—I was responsible to this House for accepting that advice and acting on it. I do not believe that, in the twentieth century we can conduct Government on any other basis.

It is true that that sometimes leads us into doing same very foolish things and thinking very foolish thoughts. I regret that if there is a Division this evening I shall have to go into the same Lobby as the Home Secretary, and I know that will take me a long time to live down with some of my colleagues—

Mr. V. Yates

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will be with my right hon. Friend there.

Mr. Ede

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) should judge how much a consolation that will be.

In this Motion we are dealing with the fundamentals of our modern Parliamentary Government. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on bringing forward this proposal, because from now onwards there will be no doubt as to who is responsible for anything that occurs in the prison service. In so far as they could, the Prison Commissioners have improved the system during the years they have been in office. Whether Alexander Paterson would have been able to do more or less had he not been a Commissioner, I do not know. All I can say is that I had many conversations with him, and received many recommendations from him. Where those recommendations did not involve too much money, it was possible to accept them, but it has been rightly said more than once this evening that the amount of money that will be available for providing a prison system that lives up to the views of the Gladstone Commission of 1895 largely depends upon the attitude of the Government as a whole.

I agree with all that has been said about the majority of the prison buildings. They were designed for a different system from that which the conscience of the country now demands. I did the best I could to persuade colleagues to let me build more prisons, but in the conditions of the first six years after the war one could not expect to be able to build new prisons when housing was so terrific a problem for ordinary people. There is nothing yet proposed by the Government for building that was not in the scheme I then brought forward, and I hope that, increasingly, it may be possible to help the prison officers, from governors downwards, in their attempt to get a more humane atmosphere into the prison system by the provision of buildings designed to deal with the modern requirements of the service.

I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman himself is from time to time faced with the same problem of priorities: "With this, that and the other thing needed, how can I expect to get money for this particular service, in view of the antiquated ideas still held in some quarters as to what the service should be allowed?"

I do not share all the misgivings that my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) feels about the administration of the Home Office in some of its other services. I feel that the children's service and the newly appointed head of the children's department of the Home Office are doing excellent work and that the service will be considerably increased in value to the community.

I have no doubt that the Order before us tonight ought to have been carried years ago. I regret that I was responsible for being overborne by my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield, because in those days, on this subject, he was a tremendous power, and I had enough trouble on that Bill without looking for trouble.

I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on bringing forward this Motion. I am quite certain that he will get from whatever group of officials within his Department to whom he has to look for advice in the future the same sort of advice that he has received in the past from the Prison Commissioners, and I have no doubt that if he accepts that advice and carries it out vigorously tonight's debate will not have been in vain.

8.58 p.m.

Mrs. E. M. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)

I have listened carefully to the debate and I am not satisfied that any alternative has been suggested which will give more confidence to those who are serving prison sentences. A body slightly outside the Home Office, which was by way of being an adviser to the Home Office, is to be removed and one method of drawing attention to difficulties will be removed from the prisoners.

Will the Home Secretary tell us what the changes will mean and what the benefits will be—not the things that the Commissioners cannot do or that they fail to do, but what real benefits will result from disbanding the Commissioners?

I have a great contempt for the sort of thing that is happening at present. I was talking today to a man who was discharged from Durham Prison yesterday. I feel that the Home Secretary and this House will hear some very bad statements made about Durham Prison and what has been happening there over the past three years. Some inquiry will have to be made into them. Who is to inquire? It is the Commissioners' responsibility sometimes to find out, to go and see whether something is going on in a prison or whether suggestions should be made about alterations. When there are no Commissioners, who is to inquire? Will the job be passed to someone in the Home Office whose inquiry and report will be based not on what is said by the prisoners but on what is said by officials in the prisons?

Is the Home Secretary aware that a public statement will very soon be made, and will, quite possibly, appear in the Press—it could cause quite a sensation—that over the past three years 18 prisoners in Durham Prison have either committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide? Who is to deal with these things? I have in my hand two letters smuggled out of a prison. If the Commissioners' advice had been taken about necessary changes, some of the things now going on in our prisons could not have happened.

I am sorry to disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) because I know of his vast experience. I knew him when he was in prison, and I know what he suggested should be done and what was said about our prisons then. Preston Prison has not changed very much since my hon. Friend was there, has it? It was a long time ago, I know.

Mr. S. Silverman

That was exactly my point, that the Prison Commissioners have so far completely failed to do anything.

Mrs. Braddock

I do not agree with my hon. Friend. The recommendations and suggestions of the Commissioners have not been accepted by the Home Office. If the Commissioners go, will it mean that no one outside will be able to make suggestions, that everything will have to come from the Home Office which, for years, refused to accept the recommendations of the Commissioners? Will the Home Office say that there is no one now to make recommendations, so it does not matter and nothing need be done?

I shall say something now that I have been waiting a long time to say. As I feel at the moment, I shall vote in favour of the Prison Commissioners being retained until such time as a statement is made about satisfactory alternative arrangements for some body, some committee or responsible official outside the Home Office, to report to the Home Office and have more power than the Commissioners have had up to now.

Fortunately, from my point of view—that is the way I look at it—I mix with working-class people. Very often, after a prisoner is released from prison at 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning, he appears in my office at about 10 o'clock. Prisoners tell me about some of the things which go on and of which more notice should have been taken when references to them have appeared in the report of the Prison Commissioners. Only recently, I received a letter from a prisoner in Wakefield Prison. In that letter, which had been allowed to come out of the prison, he complained that he was being compelled to mix with homosexuals although he did not want to. I sent that letter to the Home Office. I received the staggering reply that, while he was working and in association with the other prisoners, nothing could happen in the way of homosexuality, but as soon as he came on to free time and could mix with them whenever he wanted to, no steps, so far as the Home Secretary was concerned, were taken and nothing was done in the prison to prevent what he complained of. Have we gone completely mad?

Men have told me that, before they went to prison, they had no knowledge whatever of what homosexuality was, but after they came out they had been homosexuals because of the associations they had had in prison. This is a shocking business, and it could not have happened if the recommendations of the Prison Commissioners had been accepted.

I do not want to go into this too much, but we have to face it. The Home Secretary will have to face it. There will be some statements made within the next few days which will show the need for an inquiry into what has been happening in our prisons.

I was amazed to discover that five of the warders who were involved in the reports and inquiry at Walton are now in Durham Prison. It would appear that there is something wrong in the Home Office if this sort of thing is not attended to. It is wrong that this sort of thing should happen when there has been an inquiry and names have been mentioned and reports have been made by the Commissioners about the sort of changes which should take place. As I say, five warders who were involved in an inquiry concerning one prison are now in another prison where things are going on which should never go on.

There will have to be an inquiry and a report made about this matter. I do not know who will make the inquiry if we get rid of the Commissioners before April in order to find out whether the statements which will be made by a certain gentleman who was discharged yesterday are true. I will mention his name because if anything happens to him arising out of the statements which he makes I will hold the Home Secretary responsible. I believe that he will do a great service to the prisoners in prisons by the statements which he will make. I hope that he will be protected from being put in a difficult position or being framed to put him out of the way so that he cannot open his mouth for a long time. His name is Cronkshaw. I hope that note is taken of it. I hope that when he asks for an inquiry into what is going on in the prison that he was in there will be no framing of him. If there is, somebody will have to take responsibility for it and account to me for it because I have made the statement.

I have seen my noble friend Lord Stonham today. He tells me that he has sent details to the Home Secretary about a most shocking case of a man being injured and damaged in one prison. I shall not give the details, although I have them here from Lord Stonham.

I believe that if notice had been taken of the Commissioners' reports about the sort of things which can happen, then these things would not be happening today in what is supposed to be a civilised community. I do not want to go on for too long, because I think that I have said enough to draw attention to the position. I support my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) because I believe that, until such time as some other outside body is appointed to be responsible for what is happening in prisons and for what it is necessary to do about them, the Prison Commissioners should be retained. Until we have information about who will replace the Commissioners, about who will be responsible for these matters and about whether the prisons will be in the same position in the next 20 years as they have been over the last 40 or 50 years with very little change, we should keep the Prison Commissioners.

If it is a question of getting rid of the Prison Commissioners because they are a nuisance and an awkward body because they have made too many reports of which no one takes any notice, then we should be told. If the Order goes through—and if the Whips are on I suppose that it will—those of us who get to know what is going on in prisons and who make inquiries to find out about the integrity of the people who make these comments will put many more very difficult questions to the Home Secretary about prison conditions and prisoners than he has had in the past. If that is what he wants, I assure him that I will take jolly good care to see that that is what he gets.

9.10 p.m.

Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), who spoke with characteristic vigour, is one of the hon. Members who have widened this debate very usefully. I hope that in the fairly near future we will have a general debate on prison conditions, prison reform, all the nonsense that goes on, which my hon. Friend has put her finger on—the bad things that still happen in prisons, the deficiencies of after-care, which my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) also mentioned, and the question of the unstamped card, which we have constantly raised in the House of Commons.

If a man comes out of prison without a stamped insurance card, naturally—if he is lucky enough to get a job at all nowadays—the firm knows and the buzz soon goes round that he has just come out of prison. Whenever we have raised this detail in the House, we have always been told that the problem is inseparably associated with the problem of providing work at adequate wages in prison, or for prisoners to go out of prison to do. I quite see that point, but year after year passes and successive Home Secretaries tell us that a working party or a departmental committee has been considering the problem. When will they come to a conclusion about it? When will adequate wages be provided for work done by prisoners, so that the burden on the taxpayer can be saved to a considerable extent in various ways, and so that men can come out with stamped cards?

The Home Secretary paid tribute to the "wonderful work", as he put it, that is being done in the prison service, and I agree with him that some fine, dedicated work is being done there. One of the difficulties about criticising is that one does not want to say anything that will deter good new recruits from going into the prison service. We know that one of the difficulties about organising a proper working day and working week for prisoners is the understaffing of the prison service. Therefore, we do not like to say things that may indirectly deter recruits from joining.

I wonder whether any copies of tonight's HANSARD will get into any of the prison libraries? I expect they will get lost on the way. After what my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange said about Durham Prison, I am pretty sure that, somehow, HANSARD will not arrive in the Durham Prison library. If any copies do arrive, however, there will be a good deal of cynical laughter among prisoners who may happen to read the tributes paid tonight, when they read about the "wonderful work" that goes on in prison. I am thinking of people like the man I saw in Leeds Prison on Sunday afternoon—a man whom I have known for some years. He is only 31, but he has spent more than half his life inside, including the whole of his adolescence and youth. He is, of course, totally embittered. If one were to talk to him about the wonderful work that goes on in prisons, he would simply call it "a load of bull".

This is the most interesting kind of debate—the sort in which different views are expressed on both sides, and there is a free vote. I feel great diffidence in expressing any views that differ in even the smallest degree, on a subject like this, from those of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson). Until half an hour or so ago, I did not expect that I should also have to tackle my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who picked on my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) for lack of logic because he had pointed to some of the things wrong with prison life today. "Well", says my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne, "that shows that you should not oppose the Order, because the Prison Commissioners are, after all, partly responsible for what is wrong with prison life today."

Mr. S. Silverman

My hon. Friend would not wish to misunderstand the point. That is not what I said at all. My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale said that he preferred to keep the responsibility with the Prison Commissioners because he had no hope that the Home Secretary would do any better. I may be wrong, but I do not think that that would be a very good move.

Mr. Driberg

I am sorry if I misinterpreted my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne, but as I understood his rebuke of my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale, it was that his speech was illogical because he wanted to preserve a status quo in which bad things had been able to occur in prisons.

Mr. Silverman


Mr. Driberg

Very well. HANSARD will judge between us tomorrow.

The answer to what I think my hon. Friend's point would have been, if he had made it, is to be found in a letter from Sir Harold Scott, which was quoted in one of the debates on the 1961 Act. It is a long letter and at this stage I will only read a sentence or two from it. Sir Harold, who had himself been Chairman of the Commission for seven years, and therefore knew its work well, wrote: It is the simple truth that over the last forty years it is the Prison Commissioners themselves and not the Home Office who have originated almost every project of development and reform. I think that is the answer to the point that I thought had been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne.

Major Sir Frank Markham (Buckingham)

That was their job. It was one of their responsibilities to initiate reforms.

Mr. Driberg

Quite so—and their recommendations have been constantly rejected and their attempts at reform frustrated. They are, as it were, the good side of the Home Office in this matter. We are now wiping them out and handing everything over to the bureaucracy presided over so grimly by the present Home Secretary.

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange, made the point that it was the Commissioners who have tried to get things done to improve the service. In some cases they have succeeded, and, of course, there have been some improvements. In other respects, however, they have been frustrated by the Home Office and still more, no doubt, by the Treasury, by the shortage of money for building and other improvements.

The other argument used by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne—I hope that he will not tell me that I have completely misunderstood this one as well—was also used by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields. It is the argument about the desirability of concentrating Ministerial responsibility, of being able to get at the political head of the Department here in Parliament, making him totally responsible for everything that goes on. But as I understand it—no doubt the Home Secretary will correct me if I am wrong—the right hon. Gentleman is responsible to Parliament already for the Prison Commissioners: so, in that respect, this change does not seem necessary. When we talk about Ministers having to answer at that Box for their Departments, and when it is said that it is not desirable that there should be outside Commissions, who are only half-responsible, or something like that, then I say, with the greatest respect to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields, that this is not only a nineteenth-century idea.

There are a vast number of degrees and shades of Ministerial responsibility. These range, for instance, from the complete responsibility of the Minister of Health for the working of the National Health Service—even though he will not answer, as he would not answer yesterday, about the labelling of boxes of pills—to the limited responsibility of the Minister of Power, for instance, for some of the nationalised industries.

By a self-denying ordinance, which should perhaps now be looked at again, Parliament agreed, in the time of the Labour Government, not to ask questions about matters of day-to-day administration in the nationalised industries; but we still have the right to raise all these matters in debates on the Adjournment, or in a major debate about a nationalised industry, and the Minister of Power, or whoever the appropriate Minister is, is there to answer. There are these various degrees of responsibility and I do not see that the Prison Commissioners fall outside the scope of proper Ministerial responsibility in this respect.

Another minor example is that of the responsibility of the Treasury for bodies such as the Arts Council. The Treasury Ministers will not reply in detail about Arts Council expenditure, but, of course, they are ultimately responsible, and once a year, or whenever Parliament chooses to have it, there can be a debate about the administration of such bodies. I do not seriously think that this is a strong argument for the Order.

I did not think that the Home Secretary made a positive case for the Order anything like as strong as the case my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East, made against it. The hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) made a slightly stronger case than the Home Secretary himself did, except for the extraordinary opening passage of his speech in which he implied that Parliament had practically no right to question the Home Secretary on a matter affecting the internal administration of his Department, and that if he came to the House and told us that this was so, we jolly well ought to take it and not doubt or dare to vote against it, or raise our voices at all. That is a recipe for a Reichstag rather than a Parliament.

One point which I noticed in reading through the debates on the 1961 Act was the very close voting which there was in the Standing Committee. This Section was carried by only 14 votes to 12 and there was, as I hope there will be tonight, a certain amount of cross-voting. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields voted for the Section and several hon. Members who were supporters of the Government voted against it.

Possibly it was because of this that the then Home Secretary, now the First Secretary of State, was still unsure some months later whether this Order was ever to be brought forward. I was rather surprised to find that on 12th April, 1961, the then Home Secretary said: … we are not absolutely decided on taking the powers, but it is likely …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th April, 1961; Vol. 638, c. 393.] It cannot be so very important, or so utterly essential to the good administration of the Home Office, that this Order should go through if, after all those debates on the Measure which enabled the Order to be brought to Parliament, the Home Secretary could say that the Government were "not absolutely decided on taking the powers". He was still hesitant then. Why, now, is it necessary? There is an old Conservative axiom, "If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change". It is surprising that a Conservative Home Secretary should ignore that principle when, clearly, it is not necessary, or his predecessor would not have made that remark in 1961.

hope that in his winding-up speech the Home Secretary will clear up some of the contradictions which have arisen both here and in another place. One contradiction which underlay his speech was less crudely expressed than in the speech of the noble Lord who spoke for him in another place, who really, if I may say so without too much disrespect—though I do not feel too much respect for him, anyway, on this issue made a proper mess of his handling of the Order—

Hon. Members

Who was it?

Mr. Driberg

Earl Jellicoe.

Mr. J. Wells

If the hon. Gentleman has a copy of the debate in another place, perhaps he will remind us what his noble Friend Lord Stonham said immediately after my noble Friend had spoken.

Mr. Speaker

Order. A certain amount of rope is allowed in referring to debates in another place, but they become tedious if repeated here, and, therefore, become out of order.

Mr. Driberg

With great respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I was about to say that I would be delighted to quote the speech of my noble Friend Lord Stonham in extenso—and that could never have been thought tedious even by you—but that I had always understood that it was out of order to quote from debates in another place in the same Session, except for Ministerial statements. If I am wrong, you will probably correct me.

But I was going to quote what the noble Lord who spoke for the Home Office in another place said, because it was rather different from what the Home Secretary said tonight, and I hope that the Home Secretary can clear up a certain amount of confusion which was caused thereby.

The noble Lord, Earl Jellicoe, who, I think, is Minister of State, Home Department, speaking on the question of promotion in the prison service, said: It is not impossible, in my view, to conceive of that imaginary young officer at Wakefield one day becoming head of the Prison Department or, for that matter, Permanent Under-Secretary … I think that the young officer probably is imaginary, but let that pass. It would be a fine thing if that happened, just as a lad who went down the pits when he was 14 was able to become Chairman of the National Coal Board, thanks to the nationalisation of the coal mines.

Mr. Greenwood

Or the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir G. Nabarro).

Mr. Driberg

When Earl Jellicoe said that, he was interrupted by one of my noble Friends, whose words I shall not quote so that I may remain within the bounds of order. He was, naturally, asking for a little more enlightenment on this point, and Earl Jellicoe said: My Lords, I am saying that for the exceptional young prison officer there will be no limit to where he can get; although that type of class-to-class transfer would … be exceptional. However, a few columns later, in column 1462, Earl Jellicoe returned to this point and said, to clarify it further because other noble Lords had been puzzled by it: All I was saying, in answer to an interjection … was that a young man coming into the prison service would have in the future, as indeed he has now, a carrière ouverte au talent. In the other place they do not have to have these phrases translated. He could go right to the top, and right to the very top in exceptional circumstances. He did not say "over the top", but "to the very top" in exceptional circumstances. One of my noble, but clearly obtuse, Friends still could not quite understand what he meant, and Earl Jellicoe then said: I said 'right to the top'. I was not meaning right to the top at the moment of the Civil Service."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 21st February, 1963; Vol. 246. c. 1445–62.] I honestly do not understand what these successive observations by the noble Lord mean. I hope that the Home Secretary will enlighten us further on the matter.

Although I have expressed this in a somewhat satirical way, this is a serious point, because of the underlying contradiction of which I have spoken. Many people have said that the Prison Commissioners are a body of men who have dedicated themselves to the prison service, have studied it and understand it thoroughly, and have occasionally produced a genius—a Paterson or a Fox—and who, therefore, should not be disbanded and turned into ordinary departmental civil servants.

We have had assurances that there will be no change in practice; that specialists in prison work will still be specialists in prison work. But if we also have what, in general, we would welcome—the possibility that any young civil servant can rise rapidly to the top, according to his abilities—it follows inevitably that a civil servant coming into the prison department of the Home Office, as it will now be called, will, when a vacancy occurs in some other department—perhaps the aliens department, which has nothing whatever to do with prisons—be transferred.

Is there not a contradiction between the glowing assurances of much wider and better opportunities of promotion for civil servants which Earl Jellicoe held out, and which the Home Secretary also touched on, and the other and converse assurance that there will be no interference at all with the specialist character of the prison department? I seriously ask the Home Secretary to deal again with this point, because the contradiction has not been cleared up.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale quoted from the document called inside Story, which was drafted by a number of highly articulate ex-prisoners. Incidentally, unless the Home Secretary lets them out very soon, I hope that there will be some further factual evidence about prison life from our two journalistic colleagues whom he has now locked up. I hope that no prison regulations will stand in the way of their being allowed to write about their prison experiences, and to keep notes from day to day. I do not know whether the Home Secretary can give me an assurance on that point?

There is one point which my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale did not mention in connection with Inside Story. It is an obvious point. It occurs in all disciplined services—certainly in the Armed Forces—and it does not reflect particularly well or particularly badly on the Prison Commissioners. The document says: At most prisons a special show is arranged for the visits of Prison Commissioners. Table cloths are put out, special meals are served and little extras like condiments and water appear on the meal tables, which are not usually considered important. This window dressing does not give the Commissioners a proper picture and only increases the prisoners' contempt for what he considers to be the dishonesty of the authorities. Surprise visits are the only way of seeing prisons in their normal routine.

Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)

I follow my hon. Friend's argument, but in fairness it should be pointed out that there are visiting magistrates—one on duty each week—who can look in at a prison at any time in order to see what the conditions are.

Mr. Driberg

I am glad to be reminded of that, but it would be better still if the Prison Commissioners could arrive unexpectedly and look round. If it has been difficult for the Commissioners to do that, how much more difficult will it be for a Home Office official, or the Home Secretary himself, to pay a surprise visit? He could not do it. It would be regarded as discourteous to the Governor.

Mr. Ede

May I say to my hon. Friend that when I was Home Secretary I paid a surprise visit to Dartmoor. When I announced who I was at the wicket gate the man behind the window said, "Oh yeah!"

Mr. Driberg

I am delighted to hear it. That confirms my view that it was only during my right hon. Friend's tenure of office at the Home Department that it became for a time one of the less reactionary Government Departments. However, the very fact that he has felt obliged to tell us that anecdote indicates that it is a rather exceptional thing for a Home Secretary to arrive—in fact, we must know that it is very unusual for an inspecting officer of any kind, in any service, to arrive—unexpectedly, and that a lot of "window-dressing" is done.

A year or two ago, the previous Home Secretary, who is now First Secretary of State, gave a peculiarly fatuous Answer to a Question in this House about the quality of the food being served in prisons. The right hon. Gentleman said that whenever he had visited prisons he had always found the food excellent. I was so staggered that I could not ask a supplementary question. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to have expected to be given the same food as the prisoners got every day was ridiculous—

Sir G. Benson

When I visit a prison, invariably I have a meal with the prisoners and I have found the "grub" exceedingly good.

Mr. Driberg

Perhaps they knew that my hon. Friend was coming.

Sir G. Benson


Mr. Driberg

They probably did.

Of course, the food varies in prisons as in Army units, or anywhere else. Sometimes it is abominable and sometimes it is tolerable. I should be surprised to find it "extremely" good in any prison.

I have one other point, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry to have gone on for so long, but I have been interrupted quite a lot and interruptions, as you always remind us, tend to prolong speeches. This is a purely personal experience of my own, relating to a constituent who is still in a certain prison which I will not name, although there is no reflection on the prison at all. Just before Christmas his mother was dying of cancer in London and, naturally, she was anxious to see him again; and he was anxious to come home and see her. But there was one difficulty. She was in hospital and she was extremely anxious that nobody else should know that her son was in prison. She did not want the people in the hospital wards to know, or any of her neighbours, or any- body. We were able to arrange with the Prison Commissioners—I am glad to say that they went out of their way to arrange it—a visit to the hospital by the prisoner—who was serving a longish sentence for a quite serious crime—unescorted. He was allowed to go on parole to see his mother, and he returned the same night to the prison.

Not only was this done, but the Prison Commissioners arranged with me that I should have the private telephone numbers, at home, of members of their staff—because this was a holiday weekend—so that we could let them know at once if the mother's health took a turn for the worse, and she was dying, and so that they could then get in touch with the prison, even though it was a holiday weekend. I pay tribute to them for this, and I must also say that it was, of course, the Home Secretary's staff at the Home Office who were good enough to put me in touch with the Prison Commissioners for this service to be done. But I cannot help wondering whether one would get such personal, humane, and detailed service from the regular staff of a Government Department. Indeed, I do not know that one could expect it, and that is one reason why I support my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East in opposing this Order.

9.40 p.m.

Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)

I have listened to every speech made in this debate and I think that what has been said justifies our demand for a discussion of this matter. The debate has revealed the urgency of discussing in this House the whole question of prisons.

I have never heard so many illogical reasons as those given for supporting this Order. The hon. Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) supported the Order because the Home Secretary thought that it was right. My hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) supported it because Sir Lionel Fox had come to the conclusion that it was right, as though that were a reason. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I think wrongly, inferred that the Prison Commissioners had totally failed. No one seems to have got down to the fundamental question. I am surprised that my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne did not attempt to ask it. What evidence is there that if the Home Office took over the Prison Commissioners we should get more satisfaction in future than we have had in the past?

The hon. Member for Hendon, South —who is now walking out of the Chamber —has been Under-Secretary at the Home Office. A point he made in the debate was that he had never had a corporate decision of the Prison Commissioners put to him. Did he never read any of the Reports which have been sent? I had the privilege of being a member of the Estimates Committee and presiding over the Committee which examined prisons. We submitted a Report to the House. If the hon. Member, and all hon. Members who have been Ministers at the Home Office, had examined the evidence submitted by the Prison Commissioners themselves, they would never talk about not having decisions put to them. Those were corporate decisions.

In that Report, which was submitted to the House in 1952, we pointed out the crimes which had arisen as a result of overcrowding and lack of work in the prisons. From my experience of visiting many prisons in the country and talking to Prison Commissioners, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne did a grave injustice to the Commissioners. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] He did. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), in a very forthright speech, said that the Commissioners have not failed—it is our failure. I put it on all of us, the Government and Parliament. We have failed to accept the recommendations put to us from time to time.

Mr. S. Silverman

I am very sorry if I expressed myself so badly as to lead anyone to think that I thought that the Prison Commissioners had personally failed. What I thought was admitted by everyone was that the situation was wrong and that the Commissioners, although they have tried to cure it, have failed to cure it because they had insufficient power. In my opinion, that is not a good reason for leaving the power with them.

Mr. Yates

I appreciate that explanation. My hon. Friend said that the system had lamentably failed, but what worries me is that the new system which we are asked to approve is not likely to improve the position. My view is that which was expressed in The Times leading article today. It says: It is only to be expected that serious fears should exist as to how far the absorption of the commission would encourage the growth of a Civil Service mentality, a loss of the old esprit de corps, and an increasing compulsive avoidance of public scrutiny. Rather than this fate the Government should be thinking in terms of encouraging both the commission and the existing Home Office departments to establish freer direct relations with the world at large. The Government have already recognised that substantial misgivings exist on these scores. I agree with that.

This matter was debated when the Criminal Justice Bill was going through the House in 1961. I want to refer to the speech to which my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) has called attention and in which I was interested at the time, because the then Home Secretary was not clear that this would definitely be done. The then Home Secretary said in that same speech that when it was done he would be here. He is not here. The right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) has taken his place. The then Home Secretary said this: … I will give the assurance that when the Order does come before the House there will be full opportunity for it to be considered and that, if it is prayed against, I shall personally he here to answer points; and further than that, I will make it my business to study all of them."—[OFFICIAL REPORT 12th April, 1961; Vol. 638, c. 395.] However, the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) is not here tonight. Let me say at once that I do not feel inclined to be quite so bard on the right hon. Member for Hampstead, who has succeeded him, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne was prepared to be. My hon. Friend will go into the Lobby and support the right hon. Gentleman with a sort of back-handed compliment.

Mr. S. Silverman

I did not notice the compliment.

Mr. Yates

It certainly was a compliment, but it was a back-handed one and not a very nice one. I believe that the Home Secretary is genuine in his desire to see that right is done. So that there shall be no misunderstanding, I congratulate him right away on one matter. I have wanted to say for a few days that I congratulate him upon his courage in refusing to endorse the decision of the magistrates to inflict corporal punishment upon two Dartmoor prisoners. I want to see the Home Secretary doing more of that. I hope that he will go to Dartmoor. My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) went there and afterwards said that when he got there it was like seeing a notice saying, "Abandon hope all ye that enter here".

Mr. Ede

I did not say that.

Mr. Yates

I thought that was the impression that Dartmoor made on my right hon. Friend, that all who entered there abandoned hope.

The Home Secretary has told us that he is visiting prisons. I am very glad that he is doing so. I wish that more magistrates, who after all are responsible for sending people to prison, would visit prisons. Visiting magistrates are all right, because they are opposed to the Order. The Home Secretary now proposes the Order. He says that there will not be much change. He also said that there is an urgent and vast need for something to be done. I do not understand how it will be done more easily by this method.

I put this question to the former Home Secretary in the same debate. I expressed the same fear as is expressed in today's leading article in The Times. I expressed the fear that Home Office officials would not be so accessible as the Prison Commissioners. I pointed out to the former Home Secretary that, when I wanted to discuss matters, I could ring up the Prison Commissioners and could go and discuss matters with them. The former Home Secretary gave me an assurance that all would be the same if this change were made and that I would have equal access. What happened? I have made only one approach since and that was in connection with the Dartmoor disturbance last December. I do not wish to be unfair to the Prison Commissioners or any civil servants but, frankly, I was not at all happy about the information I received on that occasion.

I tried to put a Question to the Home Secretary. I attempted to ask a Private Notice Question of him, but I was told by the Chair that my Question was not permissible. I was unable to place a Question on the Order Paper without having to wait two months for it to be answered so I asked the Leader of the House if we could have a statement on the matter. The Home Secretary must have known about the Dartmoor disturbance and all the facts involved. Unable to get satisfaction in this direction, I went to the Prison Commissioners and asked them to give me some information about the riot in Dartmoor in which 11 prison officers were injured. I found a reluctance on their part. "Would it not be better for you to go to the Home Office?" I was asked. Eventually they wrote to me sending me some information. I then tried to put a Question to the Home Secretary. Unfortunately, my Question appeared on the Order Paper as No. 27 and it was not reached, although the right hon. Gentleman was answering first on that day. Thus we never had a detailed examination of the happenings in Dartmoor on that occasion.

Are we likely to get more satisfaction if we transfer this important matter to the Home Office? The Prison Commissioners have exercised an independence which I can admire. It is not their fault if the things they have asked to be done have not been done. The Home Secretary should assure the House much more than he does about how the sort of happenings I have described can be reasonably examined. After all, these points have been put to the right hon. Gentleman not only in reports but in Parliamentary Questions.

Time and again we have asked him to make a statement about prisoners sleeping three in a cell. We have particularly raised the question of prison work. A committee over which I presided recommended that certain work in prisons should be abolished; title sewing of mailbags in particular, for we thought that such work was soul-destroying and might have been the beginning of the dispute not only in Dartmoor but earlier—in Wandsworth and elsewhere. Disputes have arisen in prisons because the work the prisoners have been asked to do has been unacceptable to them and they have considered it unfair.

Consider the average working week in Winson Green Prison, Birmingham. It is no more than 16 hours a week—a figure given by the Home Secretary himself. We must also consider what happens in the detention centres. I visited one at Ashford a few weeks ago and found boys of 14 to 20 years of age—361 of them—in their cells for 161 hours a day.

Miss Bacon

I think that my hon. Friend has made a slight mistake because he is referring, I believe, to the remand centre at Ashford—I raised this matter earlier—and not to what he described as a detention centre.

Mr. Yates

I apologise. Although I am referring to a remand centre at which the Home Office is carrying out an experiment, there are 361 boys confined to their cells for this number of hours each day. It appears that the Home Office cannot even find adequate work for these youngsters. This is simply horrible and the tragedy is that for many years these matters have been brought to the attention of the Home Office.

Mr. Philip M. Hocking (Coventry, South)

I have visited Winson Green Prison as well. Is it not true that the problem of work there is that they cannot find a sufficient variety of work? When I discussed the matter with the prison officers they said that the unions were largely against it.

Mr. Yates

That matter has already been discussed tonight. Had the hon. Member been present he would have heard it. What he says is not true of Winson Green Prison. In fact, a Quaker firm in Birmingham is providing a good deal of work to be done there. This is solely a question of providing work and not one of trade union antagonism. The trade unions have agreed to do certain things and have relaxed some of the opposition which may have been forthcoming from time to time and I believe that, by negotiation, many of the outstanding difficulties will be overcome. If the hon. Member visits some of the training prisons he will find the prisoners being trained in bricklaying, painting, decorating and tailoring. This is in training prisons. It is in the local prisons that difficulties occur.

I am terrified of the argument that we should simply hand over to another body of civil servants in the Home Office. This is a great responsibility, and we should be breaking with the past. The Prison Com- missioners did their job extremely well and gained a great deal of public support. I have said previously in the House that when I am asked to meet a Minister and I find him surrounded by a body of civil servants I think it easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for an hon. Member to reach a Minister.

This proposal may lead to some economy but I am concerned about the humanity of the question. We shall never be satisfied until we have a reasonable approach. If the Home Secretary says that much has been done and he is concerned about this matter, may I ask whether as a result of passing the Order we shall have more debates in the House? It is years since we last had a debate on prisons. Shall we have more opportunities if we accept the Order, and will the Home Secretary address the House on occasion and tell us about his difficulties? If that is to be the case, there might be some satisfaction in passing the Order, but I do not accept that it will be so. I am opposed to the Order on the basis of all the information I have on the subject and I hope that my hon. Friends will vote against it.

9.58 p.m.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

The debate has roamed over a wide field. In view of the late hour, I do not think that I need detain the House for more than a few minutes before the Home Secretary is called upon to answer and the House is called upon to come to a conclusion. We have heard a great deal about the prison service, and if the debate has done nothing else I hope that it has shaken the Home Secretary out of the apparent complacency with which in his speech he approached the state of that service.

It seemed to be the masterly understatement of all time for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was not content about everything in our prisons. I hope that the revelations made in the debate tonight, including those in the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Coble (Mr. S. Silverman) and my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), will by now have made the right hon. Gentleman realise that there is a great deal wrong with the service and that a great deal needs looking into. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman has completely failed to make out any case for the Order for the abolition of the Prison Commissioners.

It is not the fault of the Commissioners that the state of the prisons is what it is. No one has suggested in the debate that it is their fault, and the Home Secretary went out of his way to acknowledge that his is the responsibility for the state of the prisons. He argued that the Order, if passed, would make little difference and that to a large extent the same people would still be doing the same jobs. He put forward the argument that the case, if there is one, for the Order is merely one of administrative tidiness and convenience, but even that did not strike home to any great extent, because what is quite apparent is that once we destroy the independence of the Prison Commission, such as it is, the whole service will lose a very valuable safeguard.

It is no use, in a debate like this, quoting what one ex-Prison Commissioner or another has said. A variety of opinion has been expressed on both sides. Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends have changed the opinions they held a few years ago, and I have no doubt that if we had another debate in ten years' time they might change their minds again. As my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) pointed out, it is evident that the Home Office itself has shown a great deal of hesitation in bringing forward the Order. There does not seem to have been any great enthusiasm for it in the Home Office itself. I agree with the comments that have been made in the Press that this Order is really inspired, as The Times says today, in a leading article headed "Into the Maw?", by just another Home Office attempt at "administrative empire-building."

The Home Secretary has said that the present position is not constitutional. If it is not constitutional, when did it cease so to be? The present system resulted from an Act of Parliament of 1877—it has the hallmark of constitutionality about it. It has worked very well for going on for ninety years—when did it cease to be constitutional? Haw will the abolition of the Commissioners in any way affect the responsibility of the Home Secretary? The right hon. Gentleman has conceded that he is the person who is ultimately responsible. He can be questioned at any time about the conditions of our prisons.

Here I must say that it cannot in any circumstances be the fault of the Commission that the prisons are overcrowded. If anything, that overcrowding is due to the increase in crime which must, in turn, be partly the responsibility of the Home Office and the police for their failure to deal with it. As to the conditions in the prisons, I am sure that every hon. Member will agree that the Commissioners have rendered notable service to the community and are recognised by the public as having done so. Apart from anything else, the mere existence of the Commissioners attracts a good deal of voluntary effort in prison work, and I doubt whether that voluntary effort would be so readily forthcoming if the Commission were abolished and the whole responsibility for running the prisons appeared to be a mere departmental concern and activity of the Home Secretary.

I would, therefore, say that the fact that the Prison Commission has existed for a number of years, has discharged a very valuable function, stands well in the eyes of the public, has a certain amount of statutory independence, is entitled occasionally to say things that it would not be able to say if its members were mere civil servants and had not, in addition, this statutory independence, has been a valuable public safeguard, and is recognised as such, in our social system.

It is quite needless to destroy it. That can serve no useful purpose, but can do very considerable harm both to the conditions in the prisons and in the way in which the service is regarded and administered. I should have thought that it required far more justification than we have yet had from the Home Secretary to bring forward an Order like this. It seems that there has been some mystery about why the Order is brought forward at all. The Home Secretary cannot have it both ways he cannot claim that this is a vital necessity to enable the Home Office to do its work better and, at the same time, say that it does not really make very much difference—that the people will be the same, and that there will be the same degree of integration.

If the Home Secretary says that he wants more integration in the Home Office, he must justify it. Why does he want more integration? Do we want more integration in the Home Office? Do we want more bureaucracy in the Home Office? Do not we want a measure of independence on the part of the Prison Commissioners? It may not be very substantial, but in so far as it exists I should have thought that it was valuable, and I hope that, for the reasons which my hon. Friend has given, the House will reject the Order.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) has pointed out that on this side of the House we do not regard this as a party matter. There are no party Whips on on this side of the House and I very much hope that the Government will take the view that this is a matter which transcends party politics and in which divisions have been expressed which do not divide the House on party lines. I hope that a good many hon. Members opposite will have been influenced by the speeches made by hon. Members on this side of the House and, in a free vote, will be able to reject this proposal.

10.6 p.m.

Mr. Brooke

I should like to comment on a number of points made by hon. Members on both sides of the House. In so doing I cannot presume to be successful in reconciling the views of the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) with the views of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), or the views of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), a distinguished former Home Secretary.

Having listened to the debate, I cannot accept the statement that was made by the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) that most informed opinion is against the Government on this matter. On the whole, the Government have had the best of this debate, with help from hon. Members on the other side of the House. Although I have great respect for people who have given yeoman service in this field in the past, I doubt whether Parliament should make up its mind on the views expressed by Sir Harold Scott, who ceased to be Chairman of the Prison Commissioners 24 years ago. It may very well be that in days gone by before the time of the right hon. Member for South Shields or mine there were deep divisions and clashes between the Prison Commissioners and the Home Office of those days. My personal experience does not go so far back as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South (Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth) or the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but the inquiries I have made have unearthed no substantial cases in recent years where there appears to have been a clash of opinion between the Prison Commissioners and the Home Office advisers to the Home Secretary of the day. In the eight months that I have been Home Secretary I have not come across a single trace of that.

I was rather troubled by the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), because she appeared to be attacking vigorously a great deal that went on in the prisons today, yet she was saying that this was entirely because the recommendations of the Prison Commissioners had not been accepted, even turned down, otherwise things would have been much better. I have investigated this and probed into it because it is something of a mystery that the idea is current that progress has been held up by Home Office resistance. I can tell the House with absolute sincerity that, at any rate in recent years, so far as I have been able to carry my investigations, there has not been the slightest sign of that kind of thing occurring.

The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East, asked whether there was a danger that the assistant commissioners might be replaced by Home Office officials. The answer is "No". We expect the number of assistant commissioners and their method of recruitment to continue. The number of them, of course, will depend partly upon the prison population of the day. The hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Driberg) referred to proceedings in another place. My reply to him is that, so far as I can judge, the opportunities for promotion open to prison officers will be just the same as they are now. They will certainly not be worsened in any way.

Mr. Driberg

Or better?

Mr. Brooke

I cannot say whether they will be better. I think that a prison officer who now shows himself worthy of higher responsibilities will receive them. For my part, I long for the day when there will be more men coming up through the ranks of prison officers who show themselves capable of carrying higher responsibilities.

Mr. Driberg

I entirely agree with that, but can the right hon. Gentleman explain why so much emphasis was laid in the other place on the point about better and easier promotion opportunities? The noble Lord was, after all, speaking for the Home Office. Also, can he deal with the underlying contradiction which I put to him?

Mr. Brooke

The explanation is that there were certain suggestions or allegations being made that the transfer of the Prison Commission to the Home Office would mean that senior posts now occupied by people who were promoted from within the professional prison service might in future be handed to Home Office people who had not come up that way. My noble Friend was seeking to rebut that and was perfectly fairly pointing out that, if a man coming up through the prison service showed a genius for administration, it would be quite wrong that he should be held back. We should use him to the uttermost. Nevertheless, what I hope is that every prison officer who has ability will be given the fullest opportunity to exercise that ability in the higher ranks of the prisons department of the Home Office. My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Mr. J. Wells) also asked about the assistant directors. I think that the answer I have given will cover that. The assistant commissioners will be called assistant directors in future.

My hon. Friend said that the Prison Officers' Association wanted no appointments from outside the prison service, but I think that he recognised, as the House recognises, that, at least at present, we could not fill the ranks of assistant governor and governor entirely by promotion through the prison officer ranks. I hope that the assurance I have given about the situation which I should desire to see will meet any apprehensions which are expressed anywhere.

My hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone spoke about aftercare. I agree with him and other hon. Members who said that this is a subject on which a great deal of thinking needs to be done. I am at present waiting for a report on aftercare from the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders. I am told that I am likely to receive this report within the next few months. I have no idea what it will say. I hope that it will be a valuable and constructive report and that it will show the lines for the future development of our aftercare work.

My hon. Friend spoke also about the trade unions in connection with work for prisoners. At present, our difficulty is not that of getting sufficient work, though it might be if we could have all the workshops and all the prison officers we wanted as I explained in my earlier speech. We have representation of trade unions and of employers on the Advisory Council on the Employment of Prisoners which was set up by my predecessor and which produced its second report, a valuable report on vocational training in borstals, the other day. I am sure that that is the right way to handle the matter to which my hon. Friend referred and that we should get well qualified people from both sides of industry and from elsewhere to advise us through this Council.

The hon. Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) exerted great influence on the debate. He expressed clearly and decisively how his mind had changed. I believe that he is only one of those who, if they give profound thought to the matter, as I know he has done, would come to the same conclusion as the hon. Member and myself. It has been suggested that the Home Office is not really keen on this change. I am extremely keen on it. I had no doubt about bringing forward this Order. I have no doubt that 1st April, the turn of the financial year, will be the appropriate moment to make a change of this kind, and that is why the Order comes forward at this moment.

Although, as I said, the financial implications of the Order are minimal, I was asked by one hon. Gentleman whether I could estimate the savings. I cannot. If we achieve administrative savings, I should like to use them in improving the service. The Estimates for the prison service came out today, and, while one or two hon. Members sought to hold the Treasury responsible for all that was deficient in the prison service, I point out that the buildings Vote in the Estimates published today, which, after all, is the most important for the development of prison accommodation, is up by no less than 25 per cent.

The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) quoted extensively from the booklet called Inside Story. I am certainly not to be taken as writing off what was said there, but it is only fair to point out that there are grave in-accuracies in that booklet. The hon. Gentleman himself spoke of women being given V.D. tests in Holloway without permission. That is completely untrue. Any woman in Holloway can refuse to undergo a V.D. test if she wishes.

Mr. Greenwood

I wonder whether the Home Secretary has studied the statement by Miss Oonagh Lahr on this subject. She states categorically that many women are not told that they can object to these tests being made.

Mr. Brooke

The hon. Member referred with approval to a former Member of the House, Mrs. Jeger, who wrote an article in the Guardian the other day. What she said was in line with what I am saying, and I must ask the hon. Gentleman and the House to accept that I have investigated this and that what I am saying is the truth.

I was also troubled to read the allegations in this report, which are quite untrue, that food which has been rejected for ordinary use is given to prisoners and that the porridge is made of pig meal No. 3. There is not the faintest trace of foundation for those allegations. The hon. Member for Rossendale quoted complaints at Stafford Prison about broken windows. It is true that it is the habit of some prisoners to break windows. It is very difficult to catch up with that, and the remedy lies in the hands of the prisoners themselves.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, South spoke with knowledge from within the Home Office. He pointed out that there seemed to be little logic in the conclusion of the hon. Member for Rossendale, who had bitterly criticised what went on in prisons hut ended by saying that he wished to vote against any change in the method of administration. I was much obliged to my hon. Friend for his speech.

I have already referred to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. I entirely agree with the fundamental point which he made and which was repeated by the right hon. Member for South Shields. Not only should the responsibility rest with me, but it should be seen to rest with me. I am prepared to take that responsibility on my shoulders, and criticism should be directed at me. However, I would ask that if we manage to achieve improvements I should get my share of the credit for them.

Mr. S. Silverman

I agree with all of my right hon. and hon. Friends and, I think and am glad to hear from what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, with him: too. If he gets his Order, in spite of the powerful and eloquent opposition which has been uttered about it, that places upon him a much higher degree of responsibility than any Home Secretary has ever had to use the powers which are seen to belong to him.

Mr. Brooke

I do not think that it places on me any higher degree of responsibility. There has been full responsibility before now, but it has not been seen to be there. It has been possible to make speeches alleging that the Prison Commissioners are responsible for all that has been done well and the Home Office for all that has been done otherwise.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) said that he would vote against the Order because it would hand over responsibility for the prisons to a body of civil servants in the Home Office. In fact, the same people will be administering the prison service in April as in March. Certain inconvenient barriers will be removed which at present tend against full efficiency.

The hon. Member did not, however, deal with, and hardly any Member during the debate has referred to, what I put in the forefront of the reasons for the Order: that is, that if we did not have an 86-year-old Prison Commission, we certainly should not dream of setting one up now. We cannot take the period during which a person is in custody and cut that off as though it had to be looked at quite separately from what happens before he comes there and what happens afterwards. All these things have to be looked at together, and Parliament itself should look at them together.

I have the highest regard for what has been done by the Prison Commission throughout its 86 years of life. It has bred men of outstanding service to the country, to the prisons and to Parliament. What was right 86 years ago,

however, is not necessarily right today. We must bring these together, we must remove artificial divisions. And I agree with what has been said from both sides: that the Home Secretary should not only be fully responsible, but should be seen to be fully responsible.

Question put::—

The House divided:: Ayes 140. Noes 63.

Division No. 73.] AYES [10.23 p.m.
Allason, James Gresham Cooke, R. Pitt, Dams Edith
Batsford, Brian Hall, John (Wycombe) Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch
Benson, Sir George Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Prior, J. M. L.
Bishop, F. P. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Proudfoat, Wilfred
Black, Sir Cyril Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pym, Francis
Bossom, Hon. Clive Hendry, Forbes Rawlinson, Sir Peter
Bourne-Arton, A. Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan) Hirst, Geoffrey Renton, Rt. Hon. David
Box, Donald Hocking, Philip N. Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Holland, Philip Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Hopkins, Alan Russell, Ronald
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Scott-Hopkins, James
Buck, Antony Hughes-Young, Michael Sharples, Richard
Bullard, Denys Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Shepherd, William
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Skeet, T. H. H.
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Kirk, Peter Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswlck)
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Leavey, J. A. Smithers, Peter
Chichester-Clark, R. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Speir, Rupert
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Lilley, F. J. P. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Cleaver, Leonard Linstead, Sir Hugh Stodart, J. A.
Cooke Robert Litchfield, Capt. John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Corfield, F. V. Longbottom, Charles Summers, Sir Spencer
Coulson, Michael Loveys, Walter H. Talbot, John E.
Crawley, Aldan Lubbock, Eric Tapsell, Peter
Dalkeith, Earl of Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)
Dance, James Mac Arthur, Ian Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Deedes, Rt. Hon. W. F. McLaren, Martin Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, W.) Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Doughty, Charles McMaster, Stanley R. Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
du Cann, Edward Macpherson. Rt. Hn. Niall (Dumfries) Turner, Colin
Ede Rt. Hon. C. Maddan, Martin van Straubenzee, W. R.
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maginnis, John E. Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Elliott, R. W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.) Maitland, Sir John Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Emery, Peter Markham, Major Sir Frank Wade, Donald
Errington, Sir Eric Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Walder, David
Farr, John Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Wall, Patrick
Fisher, Nigel Mawby, Ray Ward, Dame Irene
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Webster, David
Foster, John Mills, Stratton Wells, John (Maidstone)
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) More, Jasper (Ludlow) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Freeth, Denzil Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Gammans, Lady Nobls, Rt. Hon. Michael Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Gardner, Edward Osborn, John (Hallam) Woodhouse, C. M.
Gllmour, Ian (Norfolk, Central) Page, Graham (Crosby) Woollam, John
Gllmour, Sir John (East Fife) Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
Goodhart, Philip Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gower, Raymond Peel, John Mr. Finlay and Mr. J. E. B. Hill.
Grant-Ferris, R. Percival, Ian
Ainsley, William Dalyell, Tam Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hynd, John (Attercliffe)
Awbery, Stan (Bristol Central) Driberg, Tom Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)
Bacon, Miss Alice Fernyhough, E. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Barnett, Guy Fletcher, Eric Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Bence, Cyril Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Lawson, George
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Gourlay, Harry MacColl, James
Blackburn, F. Grey, Charles Mclnnes, James
Blyton, William Hamilton, William (West Fife) McKay, John (Wallsend)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Hannan, William Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Brockway, A. Fenner Hayman, F. H. Manuel, Archie
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Herbison, Miss Margaret Mendelson, J. J.
Carmichael, Neil Hill, J. (Midlothian) Oliver, G. H.
Cronin, John Howell, Charles A. (Perry Barr) Parker, John
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hoy, James H. Plummer, Sir Leslis
Popplewell, Ernest Small, William Watkins, Tudor
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Whitlock, William
ROM, William Sprlggs, Leslie Wilkins, W. A.
Short, Edward Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Wilson, Rt. Hon, Harold (Huyton)
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield) Walnwright, Edwin Mr. Greenwood and
Mr. Victor Yates.

Resolved, That the Prison Commissioners Dissolution Order 1963, a draft of which was laid before this House on 5th February, be approved.