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Prison Rules

Volume 887: debated on Thursday 6 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now consider amending Rule 34(8) of the Prison Rules 1964.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will seek to change Rule 34(8) of the Prison Rules 1964 which defines a prisoner's right of access to legal and other advice.

I shall give effect to the court's ruling in the Golder case, and I am actively studying the means by which this should be done.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Does he accept that Rule 34(8) severely restricts the rights of prisoners to communicate with persons, including solicitors, outside prison? Does he acknowledge that as a result of the decision that he mentioned we are in breach of two articles of the Convention on Human Rights?

I note the decision of the court on three matters, which does not conflict with what my hon. Friend said. I should like to consider a little further exactly what this involves in relation to Rule 34(8). I assure my hon. Friend and the House, as I said in my first answer, that effect will be given to the court's decision.

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the reasoning behind the court's decision that the right of access to a solicitor is an essential element in a fair trial applies equally to arrested persons as to prisoners? Will he consider the position of arrested persons in the light of the court's decision, bearing in mind that many of them find, because the Judges' Rules lack statutory force and are widely ignored in practice, that their right of access to a solicitor is illusory?

I shall consider carefully what my hon. Friend says, although I do not think that it arises directly out of the court's decision.

When my right hon. Friend is considering this rule will he also consider Rule 43, under which it is possible for prisoners to be in their cells for 23 hours of the day because there is said to be insufficient staff to supervise them in any form of work or recreation?

Rule 43 does not arise out of the Golder case or the judgment, as I am sure my hon. Friend knows. No shortage of staff makes it necessary for people to come under Rule 43. Despite those considerations, I shall consider carefully what my hon. Friend has said.