HC Deb 13 July 1989 vol 156 cc1125-6
13. Mr. Bowis

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of people held on remand in prison on the latest available date; and what it was 12 months ago?

Mr. Hurd

At the end of May this year, 10,540 prisoners were held on remand in prisons or in police cells. I am glad to say that that is 1,040 fewer than 12 months ago.

Mr. Bowis

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Assuming that they have not all escaped, that is rather good news. Does he have equally good news relating to remand prisoners held in police cells because a year ago they were keeping the police from their proper duty of guarding the streets of London and elsewhere?

Mr. Hurd

Yes, indeed, I do. My hon. Friend is right. At its worst, roughly 2,000 remand prisoners were held in police cells each night. The latest figure, for earlier this week, was 194, of whom 160 are in the north, because of the recent disturbances at Risley, and of whom only 34 are in the metropolitan area and the south-east. That is a big improvement.

Mr. Lofthouse

Is the Home Secretary aware that the figures that he has just given include young remand prisoners at Armley prison in Leeds and that there have been a number of suicides among these young men? Is he satisfied that the conditions in that prison are suitable for young remand prisoners?

Mr. Hurd

It will be a long time before I am satisfied that, despite all the efforts, the conditions in Armley prison are suitable for any prisoner, whether convicted or on remand. The hon. Gentleman knows that because we have discussed it. We have a long way to go before prisons such as Armley are in a satisfactory state. All that one can say is that over the past year there has been a great deal of progress.