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Wormwood Scrubs Prison (Black-Out Removal)

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 17 July 1947

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42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the work of removing the black-out in the boys' wing at Wormwood Scrubs Prison was begun; and when he expects it to be finished.

Three wings of this prison are occupied by young prisoners or Borstal inmates. In one wing the work is complete; in the second it is 75 per cent. complete, and completion awaits fixing of glass which has only just been delivered; in the third, owing to the hazardous and difficult nature of the work, which involves removal of a special paint on the outside of roofing glass, it has been found impossible to complete it with prison labour. Some 25 per cent. has been done, and the remainder is about to be undertaken by contractors: I cannot say when it will be completed; but the contractors have been asked to expedite it.

While appreciating the difficulties to which my right hon. Friend refers, does not he think it scandalous that two years after the end of the war this work should not have been completed in view of the fact that Wormwood Scrubs is one of the few places in the country where there is no shortage of manpower?

No, Sir. I do not think that it merits that epithet. The work which remains to be done is of a kind that cannot be done by prison labour.

Did I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that part would be used as a Borstal institution?

Is it not most deplorable that this prison, the most gloomy in the country, should be used for this purpose, for which it is most unsuitable?

It seems to me that every prison which is discussed here is described as the most gloomy. I would not myself have given Wormwood Scrubs that distinction.

If my right hon. Friend is unable to assure the House that this work will be completed in the near future, will he give an assurance that he will take every step to expedite the removal of these boys from these very undesirable surroundings?

No. I hope that the contractors will respond to the request that has been made them.