asked the Home Secretary (I) if, considering the unsuitability of Portland Prison, by reason of its association, position, and environment, for the remedial treatment of juvenile prisoners under the Borstal system, its use for this purpose will be abandoned; (2) if a printed Report has been issued of the result of the recent inquiry into the conditions and treatment of juvenile prisoners at Portland Prison?
I did not direct any special inquiry to be made, as I visited Portland myself with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, and made a personal investigation of the treatment and conditions. As the result, I directed certain changes to be made, and these either have been or are being carried out. Generally speaking, however, my hon. Friend and I were satisfied that the best was being done that could be done to train these very difficult young men. The position and environment of Portland are admirably suited for the institution. The buildings are, it is true, prison buildings, but there are no others that can be used; and the building of a new establishment is out of the question.
The detention of Borstal prisoners at Portland was the result of a large growth in the number of young people committed for Borstal treatment. The other male institutions are largely overcrowded, and we had to put some of these persons in other prisons.
While I am not casting any doubt on the accuracy of the judgment of the right hon Gentleman, may I ask if he will do something to allay the public feeling of uneasiness on this matter by appointing a Committee to inquire into the Portland system?
I do not think that is necessary. I had a very competent gentleman to go down with me, and any Member who desires can go down and see for himself. That is far better than having a Committee.
Is not the real trouble this, that at Portland you have warders now dealing with Borstal prisoners who have all their lives been accustomed to deal with criminals—a very different system from the Borstal system? Is it not quite impossible for warders who have always dealt with criminals to apply the Borstal system?