Prisons in Parliament – 10 August 2015

Tory MP’s questions show he is no supporter of prisoners 

Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley


It’s been a quiet week for prisons in Parliament, so we’re taking the opportunity to tell you about significant events or occurrences from the past. Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, frequently asks questions about prisons in Parliament, most of them with a heavy conservative perspective.

Mr Davies, a member of the conservative 1922 Committee, a Conservative backbench MP group. He describes himself as “a straight-talking Yorkshireman”, but The Independent called him “Britain’s most belligerent MP” and a master at obstructing legislation he doesn’t like. 

Since he became an MP in 2005, the former Asda marketing manager has mentioned prisons in Parliament on hundreds of occasions

The questions he asks reflect his right-wing world view with an authoritarian streak. He believes prison is primarily for punishment.

He thinks prisoners should serve their full sentences with no early release, not have access to books or televisions, not receive any compensation and be deported if they are foreigners.

In this interview on the BBC he discusses his support for the book ban introduced by Chris Grayling.

The anti-gay marriage MP is even concerned about how much is spent on condoms and lubricant for prisoners.



Conservative MP’s prison policies 

Mr Davies was criticised as “disgracefully reactionary” by Liberal Democrat councillor John Cole in 2011 for saying that he wanted to see “an increase in the prison population”

Here are other policies he supports:

  • Book ban: he came out strongly in favour of the ban on sending books to prisoners. He claimed that prison libraries were “better stocked than the public libraries”. Watch this BBC video
  • Against prisoners voting: Mr Davies said “It is totally unacceptable to allow prisoners the vote. The whole point of going to prison is that you lose your liberty”. 
  • Women prisoners should be treated tougher: Mr Davies recently asked about the clothes women prisoners wear. He asked if the Ministry of Justice would “get on with ensuring that both male and female prisoners have to wear prison uniforms?” He also wrote this article questioning if women are discriminated against by the justice system. 
  • Human rights: He has called for government to “scrap the Human Rights Act for foreign nationals and chuck them out of the country”. 
  • Televisions: Mr Davies believes that prisoners should not have access to televisions or games consoles. He asked the first of 20 questions on TVs in 2006 with his most recent one on the subject in July this year. 
  • Drugs: He has commented on almost 60 occasions about drugs in prisons. He would like more dogs to be used to find them. He said: “Mobile phones and drugs getting into prisons allows prisoners to continue with their crimes behind bars. We must clamp down on this with lengthy additional sentences for prisoners and for those who try to send in these packages.” 

PD - women


Conservative conclusion 

The subject of Mr Davies’s questions and the harsh tone of his comments over the past decade reflect his belief in tough punishment for prisoners.

And any policies he does not like, he filibusters – makes long speeches intended to obstruct the passage of legislation.

As Peter Herbert, the chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, said of his questions to the Equality and Human Rights Commission about “blacking up”: “This correspondence seems a complete and utter waste of time.”

In May Michael Gove replaced Chris Grayling as the justice secretary. Early indications suggest he takes a slightly less hard line towards prisoners than his predecessor. Davies’s questions, and Gove’s responses, will make for interesting reading over the coming months.

Stay tuned into Prisons in Parliament for full coverage.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s