HC Deb 04 July 1991 vol 194 cc431-2
11. Mr. Knox

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were in prison at the most recent count.

Mrs. Rumbold

On 3 July there were 45,037 inmates in prison service establishments.

Mr. Knox

I welcome the decline in the prison population over the past two years, but does my right hon. Friend agree that there are still too many people who are kept unnecessarily in prison? Has she any plans further to reduce the numbers?

Mrs. Rumbold

My hon. Friend will be glad to know that when the Criminal Justice Bill, which is currently going through the House of Commons and the other place, becomes an Act, it will effectively take measures to reduce the numbers of people coming into our prisons. I agree with him that that will be most welcome.

Mr. Madden

Is the Minister aware that one of the people in prison today is Mr. Karamjit Singh Chahal who has been in Bedford prison since last August? Is she further aware that 59 Members of this House have supported early-day motion 828 which calls for his immediate release? Will she urge the Home Secretary to allow that man, who has lived in this country since 1974, the right to an independent appeal against the refusal to grant him political asylum, as he has extremely well-founded fears of persecution if he is forced to return to India?

Mrs. Rumbold

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is extremely difficult at the Dispatch Box to answer a question on a personal matter. However, I will take the matter back to the Home Office and I will write to the hon. Gentleman shortly.