HC Deb 18 February 1988 vol 127 c1134
3. Sir Fergus Montgomery

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish his response to the fourth report of the Select Committee on Home Affairs, Session 1986–87, on contract, provision of prison services.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hogg)

We hope to publish the response just before or shortly after the Easter recess.

Sir Fergus Montgomery

In view of the high cost of keeping prisoners in police cells, will my hon. Friend give us some idea of his current thinking on keeping prisoners on remand while awaiting trial?

Mr. Hogg

It is highly undesirable that remand prisoners should be kept in police cells and we are doing our best to prevent that happening. We are tackling the problem in a variety of ways, including bail hostels, the building of new prisons, speeding up the process of trial and reminding courts, where proper and appropriate, of the provisions of the Bail Act.

Mr. Soames

Does my hon. Friend agree that, in view of the increasingly feckless and irresponsible action of prison officers, the only way that they will learn what we expect from them is if we take away their right to hold prisoners in custody? Therefore, will he consider carefully the great opportunities that are open for the privatisation of certain prison services?

Mr. Hogg

It is quite right that we should increase civilianisation where possible, and there are a number of functions ancillary to the prison service that can doubtless involve the private sector. There is already substantial private sector involvement in the construction of prisons. I would wish to postpone the wider issue of the management of the prisons until the response to the Select Committee has been made.

Forward to