Arbitration under the scheme agreed for the Civil Service is open only to recognised associations of civil servants within the scope of the National Whitley Council. Prison officers are not within the scope of the National Whitley Council and the alternative system of representative boards was specially designed to afford them full opportunities of making representations on matters affecting their interests.
The hon. Member is mistaken in supposing that the Act of 1909 deals with this subject: the relevant Act is the Superannuation (Prison Officers) Act, 1919. Before that Act was passed, prison officers could retire voluntarily at 60 and were obliged to retire at 65. Under that Act the age of voluntary retirement was fixed at 55 and of compulsory retirement at 60 as respects certain prescribed classes of officers. Others not so prescribed remained unaffected.
asked the Home Secretary whether he will reconsider the question of reducing the working hours of the night patrols in His Majesty's prisons from a 50-hour week to a basis of eight hours a shift, putting the patrols on the same hourly basis as the permanent staff in prisons, having regard to the general recognition of the eight-hour day in the Civil Service and outside employment generally, and the unpleasant and dangerous nature of their duties; and will he-consider creating a scheme to place suitable applicants on the established staff?
The nature of the duties performed by night patrols is so different from the nature of the duties performed by prison officers during the working day that I do not think there is a case for assimilating their hours of duty and conditions of service.
Is it not a fact that the duties of the night men are very much more severe and more difficult than those of the day men and will he consider applications for promotion to permanent staff in suitable cases.
I do not think that view is generally held. It would certainly not be accepted by the established staff. There may be occasions when there are special difficulties, but normally the work at night consists of patrolling and keeping awake.