§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he 110W is aware of any discrimination by prison officers against black and coloured prisoners; and what steps he is taking to ensure that discrimination is not practised in future;
(2) what evidence he has of prison officers belonging to the National Front or other racialist and extremist right wing organisations; and if he will make a statement;
(3) if he will institute an inquiry into the influence of the National Front and other racialist and extremist right wing organisations amongst prison officers.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
I am aware that some prison officers belong to the National Front, but I have no reason to think that the number is substantial. I have no evidence of discrimination against black or coloured prisoners, but, as I have previously said, I will examine any such evidence that any hon. Member places before me. Civil servants are not barred from membership of political organisations and "politically free" grades of civil servant—which include prison officers—are at liberty in their private lives to take part in political activities. Their political views and activities are a matter for official attention only if they interfere with the performance of official duties; discrimination for political, or any other reason, would be a matter for disciplinary action.