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Dartmoor Prison

Volume 931: debated on Wednesday 4 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what improvements he proposes to make to the staff quarters at Dartmoor Prison; and if he will make a statement.

The need for a comprehensive programme of improvements was recognised at a meeting between the Department and representatives of the Prison Officers' Association in November last year. The scope of the work was discussed with the association at a further meeting in January, and the Department is now ready to proceed with a detailed programme which includes: (a) installation of solid-fuel fired central heating for ground floors with replacement of flue linings as necessary; (b) improved insulation of roofs; (c) replacement of metal window frames and of doors and door frames as necessary; (d) vapour-proof lining to the inside of external walls; (e) provision or repair of storm porches as necessary; (f) provision of storage sheds where adequate storage is not already provided; (g) maintenance—for example, redecoration and attention to ceilings and gutters where necessary.This programme will provide a significant improvement in living conditions and standards of comfort. The staff at Dartmoor have asked for it to be extended to include full central heating and double glazing, and they have taken industrial action to support their demand. These additional items are not considered necessary to meet the agreed standards for prison service housing and they cannot be provided at present; but an extension to full central heating will be considered if the agreed standards are not met by the improvements now proposed.I am glad the staff have now suspended their industrial action, and I hope they will resume discussion of the programme so that the work can proceed without delay and in full consultation with all the interests concerned.