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Wormwood Scrubs Prison

Volume 987: debated on Thursday 3 July 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the educational facilities available in Wormwood Scrubs prison.

No, Sir. Severe staff shortages have meant that sufficient uniformed staff have not been available to escort prisoners to and from classes and as a result cell-based study has had to be substituted.

I am glad that the Minister accepts there is a problem. Would he accept that inadequate provision of education, along with problems about visiting and privileges, creates tensions in our prisons? If he cannot take action within existing resources, why does he not accept the recommendations of the recent all-party report and introduce a conditional release scheme that would get the number of prisoners down and enable existing resources to be spread more widely and fairly?

I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman's suggestion would have the effect that he desires. I accept that there is a problem about education in Wormwood Scrubs.

Bearing in mind that the answer and the supplementary question were widened to include other facets of the prison service, will the Minister say when time will be provided by the Government to debate the May report on the prison service in total?

Is the hon. and learned Member aware that I visited the Scrubs this morning? Is it not plain that the report of the regional director into the incidents of 31 August last year could be published without reference to the events that immediately followed the introduction of the mufti squad and thereby remove it from any police proceedings that are going on? Is it not possible to present that section of the report to the House in order to make a judgment about what happened?

That ranges well beyond the problem of education in Wormwood Scrubs and different considerations arise.