§ Lord Avebury
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the circular letter from Mr. J. D. F. Turnham of P.3 Division of the Home Office to Governors and Wardens of all Prison Department establishments dated 3rd September 1975, reference PDG/68 114/5/19, is still in force; and whether this means that in order to comply with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a convicted foreign national or citizen of the Irish Republic or of a Commonwealth country must be permitted to correspond with his accredited representative on any matter, including complaints about prison treatment which have not been ventilated internally, while British prisoners may not write to Members of Parliament about such complaints unless a petition to the Secretary of State has been refused, or the complaint has already been ventilated before the Board of Visitors, or the possibility of any effective action either within the prison or at Head Office to grant the prisoner's wishes no longer exists; and whether they will amend the standing orders so as to give British prisoners the same right to make complaints as citizens of other countries.
§ Lord Belstead
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations imposes on us the obligation not to stop any correspondence between a citizen of a foreign country held in custody and the accredited representative of his country. The provisions on correspondence between prisoners in England and Wales and Members of Parliament are being reviewed in the light of cases considered by the European Commission of Human Rights, but it would be premature to announce details of the proposed changes at this stage. All prisoners have the right to complain about their treatment to the Governor, the Board of Visitors or, by petition, to my right honourable friend.