asked the Home Secretary whether he has considered the report made by five women recently imprisoned at Holloway for non-criminal offences alleging defects in hygienic provision, such as insufficiency of soap, articles of clothing nominally supplied unavailable or supplied dirty, new prisoners put into dirty cells, prisoners with minor complaints unable to see the medical officer except by sacrificing a day's work and exercise; and whether he is taking steps to remedy such defects where they exist whether in Holloway or in any other prisons?
Yes, Sir. As a result of this report the Chairman of the Prison Commissioners and the Women and Medical Commissioners have conducted a special investigation into the complaints of conditions at Holloway Prison. While the report does not give a balanced picture of these conditions, it is true that in prison establishments—as elsewhere—war conditions have affected the standards of efficiency. Certain of the complaints have already been remedied, but our difficulties are due, in the main, to the shortage of staff, the rationing of commodities and the nature of the prison buildings. As I told the House last week, steps are being taken with the assistance of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service to find women who will be suitable recruits for the staff. I think it only fair to say that, considering the difficulties with which they have had to contend, there are no grounds for criticising the work of the prison officers. If my hon. Friend would care to see the conditions at Holloway, I shall be pleased to arrange for a visit at any time.