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Shrewsbury Pickets

Volume 887: debated on Thursday 6 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the date and reasons for the transfer of the two Shrewsbury pickets, Messrs Warren and Tomlinson, from Sudbury, Derbyshire, Open Prison to closed prisons.

Mr. Warren and Mr. Tomlinson were transferred on 4th February to Lincoln and Leicester Prisons respectively because their refusal to work or wear prison clothes meant that their continued presence in an open prison was disruptive of the co-operation between prisoners and staff upon which the régime in open prisons is essentially based.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that information. Had some of my hon. Friends been able to get there a little earlier, they may have had a profitable chat, which might have prevented these men having to be removed from the open prison. I thank my right hon. Friend for the facilities which his office is making available to my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) and Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), who are to visit the Leicester and Lincoln Prisons tomorrow as a mark of solidarity. Has he noticed that the executive of the Transport and General Workers' Union—my union—yesterday unanimously asked the TUC to call a national strike in support of the campaign to obtain the release of these men?

In accordance with precedent I always allow hon. Members of this House to see prisoners who wish to see them. My hon. Friends so concerned are able to go to Lincoln and Leicester. On the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I saw the report to which he referred but I remain of the opinion, which will not surprise him or the House, that I do not believe that I should exercise my difficult judgment in these matters in response to any campaign, whether political or industrial.

Does the Home Secretary agree that, these two men having been convicted, following a proper trial, of criminal offences under the normal criminal law, and their appeal against both conviction and sentence having been dismissed, the vital thing is that they should be treated in prison in exactly the same way as is any other prisoner convicted of a criminal offence?

The hon. and learned Gentleman knows that I have made my position on this matter clear.