asked the Home Secretary what he considers responsible for the fact that disciplinary awards for idleness in His Majesty's prisons were 75 per cent. higher in 1942 than they were in 1938, whereas the corresponding increase in the prison population was approximately 19 per cent.; and whether he will make inquiries to ensure that no prisoners are punished for failing to perform unreasonable cell tasks such as that of 1,920 stitches on mailbags in an hour.
The standard of industry required of prisoners is liable to be affected by the amount of work available; and in the past when at times there has been difficulty in providing enough suitable work, it has not been practicable to enforce a high standard of industry. At present when prisoners are employed on many kinds of work which contribute to the war effort a better standard can be maintained. The tasks that are required are settled on a uniform basis and are within the competence of the average prisoner after instruction. There is no task prescribed requiring 1,920 stitches an hour on mail bags, and if my hon. Friend will let me have particulars of any case in which such a task has been imposed I will have inquiries made.