HC Deb 25 February 1991 vol 186 c735
Mr. Randall

I beg to move amendment No. 104, in page 43, line 35, at end insert

('; and (c) a monitor, who shall be a crown servant, appointed by the Secretary of State.'.

Mr. Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments: No. 105, in page 43, line 41. after 'director', insert 'or monitor'.

No. 106, in page 44, line 5, leave out 'controller' and insert 'monitor'.

Mr. Randall

The purpose of this amendment is simple. We are concerned about the position of the controller as defined in the Bill. We understand that the controller is to exercise disciplinary power at the same time as he is to report to the Secretary of State on the running and administration of the prison. Although we are happy that a Crown servant, the controller, rather than the private director, will exercise disciplinary powers, we believe that he should not at the same time report to the Secretary of State on the running and administration of the system. In reality, he would be reporting on himself, since the exercise of disciplinary powers is integral to the running of the prison.

9.45 pm

The amendment separates the two functions by introducing a monitor who is responsible for reporting to the Secretary of State on the day-to-day running of the prison, including the activities of the controller, who is simply there to exercise his disciplinary powers—no more, no less. We believe that such a separation of functions represents the appropriate way in which to proceed. It is wrong in principle for the controller to report, in part on his own activities.

Mrs. Rumbold

I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, West (Mr. Randall). I am a little surprised at his argument for splitting the controller's duties, because I was under the impression that the hon. Gentleman believed that having a controller in the private sector represented an additional responsibility that did not exist in the public sector. I am therefore surprised to learn that he now proposes that we should have not only two people, a director and a controller, but a third person. I am not convinced of the logic of that argument.

I do not want to be unkind to the hon. Gentleman, but his suggestion for splitting responsibilities between the controller and a monitor is rather superfluous. His amendment is unnecessary and I have little sympathy for it.

The amendment does not add anything to the responsibilities of a controller, who I believe is the adequate person to monitor the work of a private sector prison in co-operation with the director, but with direct responsibility to the Home Secretary. I cannot accept the amendment.

Mr. Randall

I listened with interest to what the Minister said about what we consider to be a dilemma in the reporting structure, and I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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