WRITTEN ANSWERS. - THE PRISONS' SERVICE.

asked the Minister for Home Affairs whether it is the intention of the Government to alter the existing system in the prisons' service as it applies to the officers generally, whether it is the intention to allow the existing ranks and classes to lapse according as the existing officers pass out of the service, and, if so, whether he will confer with the prisons' officers' representative body before any steps are taken to abolish those ranks and classes; further, whether he is aware that at the present moment the many duties common to the prisons are being carried on under serious disadvantages consequent on the failure to fill vacancies in promoted posts due to officers retiring under Article X of the Treaty, whether he will now take steps in the interests of efficiency as well as economy to have the numerous vacant promoted posts filled and so prevent a further swelling of the pensions list by further large numbers of retirements from the service.

It has not been decided to alter generally the existing organisations of officers in the Prisons Service. The decision as to the filling of any vacancy which arises in any rank is determined solely by the necessities of the service. While every consideration will be given to the reasonable representations of the Prisons' Officers' Representative Body, I cannot see that any good purpose would be served by a conference such as that suggested. I am satisfied that the existing arrangements do not involve any disadvantage in the carrying out of prison duties, and I cannot accept the suggestion that the interests of efficiency or economy would be served by the making of appointments to posts which experience may have shown to be unnecessary.