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Prisons (Food Supplies)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1964.

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Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West 12:00 am, 23rd January 1964

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the average weekly cost of food for male prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons at the last convenient date for computation; and how much of this was expended on fresh meat and fresh fruit and vegetables, respectively.

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

With the benefit of the savings achieved by bulk purchasing and long-term contracts, food supplied to all prison service establishments in 1962–63 cost about 14s. 6d. per week per head, of which 13s. 3d. was spent on purchases and 1s. 3d. represents the cost at "grower's price" of food from prison farms. The value of fresh vegetables, computed on the same basis, was 2s. 4d., made up of 1s. 1d. worth purchased and 1s. 3d. worth from farms. Fresh meat cost 1s. 10d. and fresh fruit 4d., per week per head, at contract prices.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

Is not this figure a lamentable admission of a wholly inadequate food service? There was a good deal of talking going on when the hon. Lady was replying and, unhappily, I did not hear all the figures, but I understood her to say that 14s. 6d. a week is the average cost of feeding a prisoner who is engaged in work in a factory in a prison. Does it not occur to the hon. Lady that this matter should be looked into and that the whole question of diet should be considered in relation to health by an expert advisory committee?

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

I would stress again to the hon. Member that these are contracts and these are bulk purchase prices. The retail prices would be considerably greater, even double. Therefore, when judging the figure one must compare it, as the hon. Member himself has said, with the cost to other institutions. I do not accept that this is an inadequate diet, but I agree that as standards in society outside improve we ought to see that improvement reflected in prison diets.