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Volume 895: debated on Thursday 17 July 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the present working of the parole system.

I am satisfied that the parole system has made a useful contribution to the reduction of the prison population without appreciable risk to the public, and I am considering in consultation with the Parole Board the possibility of extending the use of parole.

Does not my hon. Friend agree that far too much secrecy surrounds the operation of the parole system, and that at the very least there should be communicated to the prisoner the reason why parole has been refused? Surely it is a matter of concern than 10 per cent. of prisoners do not even apply for parole, presumably because of the stresses, strains and bitter disappointments which they know the system can produce?

I am aware of the points which my hon. Friend puts. They are amongst matters which I am discussing with the Parole Board. My hon. Friend is not right in assuming that there are not difficulties about the communication of reasons, but I accept that there are arguments on both sides. I do not think that my hon. Friend is right in assuming that the 10 per cent. of prisoners who do not apply for parole would necessarily apply if there were a different system for the communication of reasons and matters of that sort.