HC Deb 07 March 1991 vol 187 cc450-1
12. Ms. Quin

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he intends to bring forward any new proposals for the treatment of remand prisoners.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mrs. Angela Rumbold)

We intend to provide cardphones at all establishments holding unconvicted prisoners and we are abolishing routine censorship of the correspondence of unconvicted prisoners, except those in category A. In addition, planning is in hand for the provision of fuller regimes for unconvicted prisoners as new accommodation comes on stream and overcrowding is reduced over the next two years.

Ms. Quin

The Minister will be aware that the number of remand prisoners has risen dramatically during the Government's period of office. Is he aware that the Woolf report stated that conditions for remand prisoners. were often worse than those for convicted prisoners? That is disgraceful. Will the Government undertake to implement in full the recommendations of the Woolf inquiry in relation to remand prisoners?

Mrs. Rumbold

I am aware of the hon. Lady's interest in remand prisoners and I note her interest in the outcome of our deliberations on the Woolf inquiry. I am sure that she will join me in congratulating the Government on tackling the problem of provision for the unconvicted prisoner by providing 13 new prisons and 8,000 more places, and ensuring that bail hostels and bail information schemes are available to unconvicted prisoners.

Mr. David Shaw

Does my right hon. Friend agree that accommodation provision for remand prisoners could be allocated to the private sector and that the introduction of privatisation would be welcomed?

Mrs. Rumbold

My hon. Friend will know that the Criminal Justice Bill, which has just completed its passage through the House, contains provision for remand prisons to be contracted out to the private sector. I share my hon. Friend's optimism that they will provide adequate and good accommodation for unconvicted prisoners.

Mr. Lofthouse

Is the Minister aware that police stations in South and West Yorkshire will have great difficulty in housing some of the young remand prisoners, which they have not done hitherto, because of the budgets set for South and West Yorkshire police? The budgets were set in accordance with the standard spending assessment, which means that hundreds of police officers will have to come off the beat to man police stations. Will the Home Secretary assure us that, at this late stage and bearing it in mind that the police budgets in South and West Yorkshire have been set outside the criteria given this afternoon, he will give further consideration to the prospect of meeting the authorities and will assist them in maintaining the force that he requires them to have?

Mrs. Rumbold

The hon. Gentleman will be relieved to know that the problems of young offenders who are unconvicted prisoners in police cells will be alleviated in the West Yorkshire district by the opening of Moorland prison, which will provide accommodation for young remand prisoners. It will take out of police cells a number of the young offenders who are currently in them, and thus save money.