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Lord Quirk: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that degree of reassurance. But, of course, only three weeks after finding Brinsford "quite disgraceful" the Chief Inspector had to look for even more dire epithets for Birmingham Prison. So would the Minister join with me in congratulating the Chief Inspector, Sir David Ramsbotham, on so resolutely exposing bad practice wherever he finds it, for example the fact that getting on for two-thirds of the 500 youngsters in Brinsford get no education or training at all? Does he perhaps connect this with the equally startling fact that the per capita spend on education and training at Brinsford is less than one-third of that at YOI Werrington which is only half an hour's drive in the same county?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, of course we take great note of the inspector's reports which are most valuable. They provide a pathway to improving the quality of regimes in the prison estate. Obviously Brinsford must improve. Having met the governor of Brinsford today, I am most heartened by the progress that has been made since the inspector's report of last summer. While last year there were 17 hours of purposeful activity per prisoner per week, there are now 25.6 hours. While there were criticisms of juveniles and young offenders being in mixed living units, there is now no mixing of juveniles and young offenders. While last year at the time of the visit 65 attended education per day, there are now 140 attending education per day. While last year the auditor criticised education provision, the audit in February of this year stated that educational provision was acceptable. There were problems at the time of the inspection. We have a vigorous and active governor in
Lord Elton: My Lords, is it not the case that not so long ago, in order to reassure everyone about the state of the youth estate in the Prison Service, there was appointed a head of the Young Offenders' Group? In the foreword to the report we now discover that that influential person has no executive authority whatever and does not even report to the Director General of the Prison Service. Similarly, today the Minister has asked us to be reassured by the prospect of an action plan. But is the noble Lord aware that the contents of that action plan will reflect in some detail what has been produced in action plans following similar inquiries for Feltham, Glen Parva, Werrington and Portland? There really is need for a central figure in the system with authority and responsibility to discharge our duties under human rights conventions, the United Nations convention on the child and the provisions of the European Treaty to defend our children in what is becoming a generally abusive system.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord has a record in regard to the prison estate and in particular the youth offender estate. Of course we recognise that there are problems. The reports to which the noble Lord referred bear good testament to that. We inherited a pretty poor level of investment--
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, that happens to be the case. When we came into government there had been significant under-investment in the educational and training side of the prison regimes. We have had to put that right. I am delighted to tell your Lordships' House that record numbers of qualifications are now being attained in our prison estate and, of course, within the youth offender estate. Those matters needed to be addressed. Over the past year there has been a 10 per cent increase in the number of teaching hours delivered. I think that we should celebrate and be proud of that. Noble Lords opposite who shake their heads ought to be ashamed of some of their records during their time in office.
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, is the Minister aware that nearly 50 per cent of the children in YOIs are either still in local authority care or have come out of local authority care? Will he ensure that the new provisions under the Children (Leaving Care) Act will apply to those children and that they will receive all the new benefits that are now being made available to other children leaving care?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the Youth Justice Board has done an outstandingly good job and has begun to raise standards for juvenile offenders. Juvenile offenders are beginning to receive record levels of education and training. That is most important. Of course, we must be very mindful of the standards of care in the local authority sector and ensure that they are matched, perhaps exceeded, in the juvenile offender sector.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, is the Minister aware that his self-satisfied response to the recitation by the noble Lord, Lord Elton, of the five successive severely adverse reports by the Chief Inspector is deeply offensive to your Lordships? Will the noble Lord say which of the 23 recommendations made by the Chief Inspector in the thematic review of young offenders' institutions of October 1997 have been implemented and whether or not in particular a chief inspector has been appointed to monitor the treatment of children throughout the youth justice system which is so necessary?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not dispute the necessity of ensuring that standards within our estate are raised. I should like to have had advance notice of the noble Lord's second question, but I am certainly more than happy to give it detailed consideration. As regards the noble Lord's first point, I am not self-satisfied about conditions in the prison estate, whether those concern juvenile offenders or young offenders. We know that there is much more to do. That is why we raised the level of investment as a result of the spending review that was undertaken last year. There is more to do and more to get on with. What we should try to do is build on the strengths that are apparently there.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the report of the working group on football disorder identifies the key agencies in respect of each of the 54 recommendations. The Home Office will monitor progress and will convene meetings with all agencies concerned on a regular basis. We also intend to hold regional seminars involving all the key players--if that is not a pun--including the fans.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, in thanking my noble friend for that reply, may I as a veteran of numerous inquiries, task forces and working groups looking at football disorder over the years pay tribute to my noble friend and his officials in the Home Office for the leadership they gave, the expeditious way in which this inquiry was conducted and the fact that it managed to come to an agreed set of conclusions in under six months? Does my noble friend agree with me that two of the most important recommendations are, first, that the Football Association has agreed to disband the existing England Members Club and intends to relaunch it with the exclusion of people who have records of violence or racist activity? That is a significant step forward in dealing with the problems of the England team travelling overseas. Secondly, will he confirm that it is the Government's intention that the involvement of supporters will be maintained in the implementation of the remaining recommendations?
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his kind words about my stewardship of the working group. As regards the recommendations, the agreement of the Football Association to take apart the England Members Club and reconstitute it with much improved standards of membership is a significant improvement and recommendation which we should all welcome. The England Members Club needs to reflect much more broadly our wider society. It ought to be more multi-racial and to reflect the broad range of interests that now support English soccer. As to consultation with supporters' organisations, that was, and will continue to be, a key feature of the implementation of the report.
Lord McNally: My Lords, will the Minister tell us what has happened to the idea of an American style soccer commissioner to drive through reforms in the game? Will he also take this opportunity to disassociate himself from the absolutely barmy idea of the Minister of Sport to bring back terraces to football grounds, which would be a recipe for further hooliganism?
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