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Musical Instruments for Prisoners

Volume 577: debated on Tuesday 18 March 2014

In accordance with the revised policy on incentives and earned privileges, prisoners on the standard or enhanced level of the IEP scheme are allowed, if permitted by their governor, to have in their possession, and at their own expense, some musical instruments. As the hon. Gentleman knows, following changes to the scheme, prisoners must earn those and other privileges.

I do not know about you, Mr Speaker, but I am quite a big fan of the late Johnny Cash, who performed in prisons, and Billy Bragg, who started the Jail Guitar Doors initiative to provide guitars to those in prison using musical instruments as a means of rehabilitation. Why have the Government banned the use of most of those instruments by ordering prisoners to return steel-string and electric guitars?

The hon. Gentleman, perhaps predictably, given his level of expertise, has reached a level of detail on musical instruments of which I am not currently cognisant, but I will look into the matter he raises. He is right that music can be a method of rehabilitation. We want prisoners to play instruments, either on their own or in groups, in appropriate circumstances, but he will understand that there have to be some restrictions. I will have a look and ensure that the restrictions are appropriate.