Previous SectionIndexHome Page

6.48 pm

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Paul Boateng): An Opposition with a great deal of brass neck! The hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) comes to the Dispatch Box to deliver a speech that does no justice to the serious debate that we were having. The reality is that the Government have begun to address,

12 Feb 2001 : Column 74

in a determined manner, the underlying problems that have bedevilled the Prison Service for many, many years. Let us cool it for a moment and take a more reflective look at the seriousness of the task in hand.

The overriding Prison Service priority for any Government must be, first and foremost, the protection of the public. The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) asked about the overriding priority of this Government--it is the protection of the public, which is best secured by holding prisoners in safe and decent conditions and addressing the underlying causes of their offending. About that, we are all agreed. That should underpin the vision that any Government have for their Prison Service. We will be judged on the extent to which we have met the objectives that we have set ourselves in that regard.

We should consider what has been achieved. The present Opposition have rightly and understandably fallen into the trap, because they are doing what the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) castigated the House for doing in March 1997, when she referred to the

She is now doing exactly the same.

Let us stand back and examine what has been achieved. There have been improvements in security. There were 232 escapes from prison in 1992-93, on the Conservatives' watch, compared with 11 escapes in this financial year--232 to 11. We are entitled to be proud of our record. The right hon. Lady and the hon. Member for Buckingham talked about the importance of constructive activity in prisons. We are addressing the causes of offending through offending behaviour programmes--we cannot be any more constructive than that. Total completions of such courses are up 240 per cent. from 1,373 in 1996-97 to 4,664 last year. [Interruption.] The Tories do not like hearing the good news, but they are going to hear it whether they like it or not. [Interruption.]

Mr. Ian Bruce: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Boateng: No. [Interruption.]

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The Minister has a right to reply.

Mr. Boateng: As for education in prisons, more than 32,000 full qualifications have been achieved in prisons since April 2000. The number of teaching hours increased by 10 per cent. The Government need no lessons from the Opposition on the importance of ensuring that prisoners work. The turnover from prison industries and farms in 1999-2000 was the highest ever at £53 million--up from £51.4 million in 1996-97. Judge us by the turnover from industry and farms, because it is up.

On sales of products, the right hon. Lady went on about socks, but they are given away, so let us consider what is sold. Sales of products from prison industries and farms to external customers rose from £6.7 million in 1996-97 to £10.45 million in 1999-2000. That is the difference between Conservative rhetoric and the Labour

12 Feb 2001 : Column 75

party in government delivering work and industries in prisons. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Buckingham will have his chance in due course.

I want to examine the serious points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Edwards) and the right hon. Member for Fareham (Sir P. Lloyd). They addressed two crucial issues. Rehabilitation is vital, and must be at the heart of what we are trying to do in prisons. My hon. Friend referred to the work in Usk. Rehabilitation of prisoners must lead to an understanding of the impact of their crime on their victims. We are addressing that in the work taking place in prisons. We are getting prisoners to see the harm that they have done to their victims and to confront what in their conduct has caused so much trouble and misery to others. [Interruption.] It is no use the hon. Member for Buckingham saying from a sedentary position that this has been going on for years. We should compare the Government's record with what our Conservative predecessors achieved. We are achieving change and giving prisoners the opportunity to change their lives, whereas the Conservatives consistently failed to do that.

Mr. Bruce: Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Boateng: No.

We are making the important link between what goes on in prisons and what goes on in the community. The right hon. Member for Fareham, in a serious and considered speech, referred to the importance of ensuring that we address not only the issue of work in prisons, but the link with work outside prisons. The charity that he chairs does sterling work in that regard. We are now trying to build on the work of the voluntary sector to enable voluntary institutions to work more closely with prisons and to establish real links between prisons and the community.

Mr. Garnier: On the subject of those links, I was informed by the director of the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders at a JSB conference on Saturday that 50 per cent. of those leaving young offender institutions do not know where they are going to sleep on their first night of freedom. What is the Minister doing about that?

Mr. Boateng: I was in Pentonville prison just a few weeks ago to launch a new project. NACRO and the housing associations are involved in that work. We want to ensure that before prisoners leave an institution they have been given advice on benefits and their housing needs have been examined, so that they do not go out into the wider world without certainty of a roof over their heads and the means to pay for it.

Serious resettlement issues need to be addressed. The Prime Minister has launched his initiative from the social exclusion unit to ensure that we get the policy right. There are no easy solutions: glib answers are not enough. The problem requires hard work and effort. The director general is bringing pressure to bear on the Prison Service to improve management. As our amendment points out, there are discrepancies in what can be achieved with the same resources between one institution to another. We were given examples of such discrepancies in the debate.

12 Feb 2001 : Column 76

The hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey described his visit to Durham, deals with some difficult, damaged and distressed prisoners. All the evidence shows that when the national health service works alongside prison health care and prison officers are able to train and obtain officially recognised NHS accredited qualifications--which we have enabled them to do--we better focus resources on the needs of individual prisons. That helps better to protect the public, because it ensures that the mental health and other health needs of prisoners have been assessed before they leave prison, and they are more likely to maintain their links with the NHS and so are less likely to offend.

This is about management and building partnerships between the NHS and the Prison Service, utilising the voluntary sector. Importantly, as we have shown in the four years in which we have had the stewardship of the Prison Service, as a result of those partnerships we have improved the conditions of many people in prison, and we have begun to address the issues that were neglected for so long by the Conservatives.

Mr. Bruce: I know that the right hon. Gentleman has visited a number of the prison establishments on Portland. Has he examined the change in regime at Portland young offender institution, which seems to have caused more problems than it has solved?

Mr. Boateng: Indeed, I have examined the change in regime, and with the help of the youth justice board we are improving conditions in Portland. Any objective examination of that institution will show that to be the case.

This issue is about investment, management, partnership and, above all, avoiding the glib strictures that characterised the Opposition throughout their stewardship of the Prison Service. We are working hard to improve management, we are better focusing resources and we are improving conditions in all our prisons. That is what the Government have achieved, and what the Conservatives failed to achieve.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:--

The House divided: Ayes 159, Noes 248.

Division No. 114
[7 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Duncan, Alan
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Faber, David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Kirkwood, Archy
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moss, Malcolm
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Pickles, Eric
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shepherd, Richard
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Townend, John
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and
Mr. Stephen Day.


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atkins, Charlotte
Banks, Tony
Barron, Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blair, Rt Hon Tony
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Butler, Mrs Christine
Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davis, Rt Hon Terry
(B'ham Hodge H)
Denham, Rt Hon John
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fisher, Mark
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Golding, Mrs Llin
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hood, Jimmy
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jenny
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Kemp, Fraser
Kilfoyle, Peter
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Pearson, Ian
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tipping, Paddy
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Wicks, Malcolm
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wray, James

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Tony McNulty and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.

Question accordingly negatived.

12 Feb 2001 : Column 79

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Madam Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.


Next Section

IndexHome Page