|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
(1) the payment out of money provided by Parliament of
(a) any expenditure incurred by a Minister of the Crown in connection with the Act, and
(b) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums which under any other Act are payable out of money so provided, and
(2) the payment of sums into the Consolidated Fund. [Mr. Caplin.]
In section 4 of the 1993 Act (premises in the case of which right does not apply) insert at the end
"(5) This Chapter does not apply to premises falling within section 3(1) if the freehold of the premises includes track of an operational railway; and for the purposes of this subsection
(a) "track" includes any land or other property comprising the permanent way of a railway (whether or not it is also used for other purposes) and includes any bridge, tunnel, culvert, retaining wall or other structure used for the support of, or otherwise in connection with, track,
(b) "operational" means not disused, and
(c) "railway" has the same meaning as in any provision of Part 1 of the Railways Act 1993 (c. 43) for the purposes of which that term is stated to have its wider meaning.""
I shall be brief. Lords amendment No. 50B is a simple amendment. Amendment No. 50, which was printed for the consideration of the House of Lords, would have inserted the new clause after clause 141. That is a mistake; the new clause should in fact be after clause 113. Lords amendment No. 50B would correct that purely typographical error.
Mr. David Stewart (Inverness, East, Nairn and Lochaber): I appreciate the opportunity to raise in the House the case of my constituent Mr. Jeffrey Logan from Lochaber who is currently detained in Douai prison in France.
My primary reasons for wishing to raise the case centre on the appalling conditions in which Mr. Logan is held, and the great worries of his wife, family and friends about his health. I want to touch on wider issues, including the extent of the problem and alleged breaches of the European convention on human rights. I shall also discuss an analysis of French prisons by Amnesty International and the International Federation for Human Rights. I shall consider the extent of the problem, the number of United Kingdom nationals held in French prisons and the number of such people who are lorry drivers or self-employed hauliersmy constituent's occupation.
In reply to written questions 208 and 213 that I tabled this year, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw), said that 65 UK citizens are held on remand at present. In addition, he said that
Other hon. Members have also raised concerns about the conditions in which UK nationals are held in French prisons. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Mr. Hamilton) raised the case of Andrew Beaumont, who is also a lorry driver and is also held in Douai prison, who was handcuffed to a wall with nothing to eat or drink for more than two days.
I shall deal with the details of the case. Mr. Logan was arrested in Calais on 30 May 2000. It was alleged that he had more than 100 kg of cocaine in his trailer. After a long drawn-out incarceration and trial, he was sentenced to seven years and fined almost £6 million by the court in Boulogne. He and his family have steadfastly protested his innocence. The family tell me that the conditions in Douai prison come straight from a Dickens novelrats, filth, inadequate meals, poor heating, dirty clothes and pools of urine in the exercise yard.
Mrs. Logan is extremely concerned about her husband's mental and physical well-being. Mr. Logan has lost six stone. He has developed severe skin and chest infections and he is very worried about the health risks posed by the hundredsyes, hundredsof rats in the prison compound. Last month Mr. Logan collapsed and was unconscious for some time. He was taken to hospital where he underwent investigative tests. The hospital doctor tells me that he was undernourished. He collapsed
Of course, some may saysome in the Chamber tonight may saythat Mr. Logan's plight is just a one-off example, that it is self-inflicted, or that it is unrepresentative, exaggerated or fabricated. What do French politicians say about prison conditions? I shall quote extensively, with apologies, from Jon Henley's article in The Guardian on 26 August last year. He wrote:
'The situation is the same all over France,' said Philippe Doré of the prison officers' union. 'We try to do a good job but it's impossible. There are too few of us, we're demotivated . . . There's a terrible malaise in French prisons.'
The suicides have fuelled the row over prison conditions triggered by the chief doctor at Paris's La Santé jail . . . who denounced the inhuman squalor of the capital's most famous prison in a best-selling book this spring.
She said that cockroaches, rats and other vermin were commonplace, hygiene was non-existent and rapes, fist-fights and self-mutilation were almost daily occurrences.
'Some improvements have been made', Ms Vasseur wrote. 'But the majority of problems remain: drugs, the omnipresence of sex, the absence of supervision at night, the filth, the lack of hygiene, the decay. The place remains an inhuman nightmare, an eternal shame to France.'
Partly in response to the furore surrounding Ms Vasseur's book and to surveys showing that nearly 50 per cent. of the French believe their country's prison system is rotten, MPs and senators produced two reports on the nation's jails in July
The cross-party reports, based on prison visits and interviews with former inmates, warders, relatives, magistrates and prison directors, concluded that drastic reforms were needed, particularly as France's prison population has doubled over the past 40 years.
'We need to rethink the entire basis of our prison system,' Jacques Floch, a Socialist MP and co-author of one report, said. 'We have no single body of legislation directly governing prison conditions and no consistent penal policy, just reactive, day-by-day chaos.'
The deputies were critical of plans by the justice minister . . . to build half a dozen big new jails, arguing that alternative punishment or treatment would be far more appropriate than prison for many inmates.
They demanded instead a multi-million pound refurbishment programme and the construction of small new detention centres where conditions could be more effectively maintained and inmates prepared for their return to society."
In July 1999, the French Minister of Justice set up a working group to examine the external control of the prison system. A report by seven non-governmental organisations called for an independent body to control prisons. It said that there was concern about longer sentences in France, overcrowding and lack of guard control and protection of inmates. Ill-treatment by prison guards was particularly highlighted. It said:
In conclusion, I have extreme concerns about the well-being of my constituent, but, more generally, I have extreme concerns about British citizens in French prisons. I acknowledge the tremendous work done by Mrs. Logan, her family, friends and lawyers, and the dedication, composure and compassion that they have shown.
I understand that France is an important country in the EU and I am not criticising France as such. It is a key ally of the UK and of course it is for the French Government to resolve their internal prison issues. But the Foreign Office and consulate staff clearly have a duty to protect British citizens abroad. If anyone does not believe me they should read the inside pages of any UK passport.
I respectfully suggest the following action. There should be direct ministerial contact with the French Minister of Justice to investigate the conditions that Mr. Logan and other UK nationals have to endure at Douai prison and a request for a full public inquiry.