For the reasons which I explained in reply to a Question by the hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Touche) on nth November last, these cases differ in character, and to specify any particular period as normal would be misleading. Every effort is made to avoid delay, but the time taken to reach a decision necessarily varies according to the circumstances.
The general principle in this matter is to provide work by means of which interned or detained persons who are without means can earn some money. If work is not available or the person is unfit for work, a small grant of pocket money would be made from the Camp Welfare Fund, which is derived mainly from canteen profits. In the case of the women detained under Regulation 18B in the women's camp or the married camp, a grant of pocket money from public funds has been made in a very small number of cases as the welfare fund of these camps, where there are no canteens, are insufficient for this purpose.
asked the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that a detenue under Regulation 18B at Holloway Prison wrote a letter on 3rd May to the hon. Member for Croydon, South; that this letter was not passed by the censor at the prison until 13th May and was not posted until 22nd May; and whether he will take steps to ensure that letters written by detenues are posted more promptly in future?
The letter to which my hon. Friend refers was one of a collection of over 200 identical communications sent out by some of the women in Holloway Prison for the purpose of making representations against their continued detention under Defence Regulation 18B, and purporting to give their collective views on that Regulation and its administration: and the Prison Authorities felt that they ought to submit for my decision the general question whether the facilities given for letters to M.P.s were intended to cover circular communications of this kind. As the despatch of the letters did not appear to be a matter of immediate urgency, posting was held up pending my decision. In the ordinary course letters are posted without any delay.
In the ordinary way, no, Sir, but this started a new process in which circulars on a large scale and on general issues were involved. The Prison Commissioners took the view that a point of principle arose on which a decision was necessary. That was the reason for the delay. I did sanction the posting of the letters.
Twenty of the 62 persons referred to are British subjects not of hostile origin, and at the present time I am not satisfied that their release can properly be authorised having regard to the interests of national security.