HC Deb 18 November 1974 vol 881 cc330-1W
Mr. McNamara

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement on the future prison building programme in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

Over the past five years the prison population in Northern Ireland has increased almost fivefold to a current total of 2,756. This includes 1,680 convicted prisoners, of whom 1,054 at present have a special category status; it also includes 524 remand prisoners, 85 borstal trainees and 528 detainees.

Since the Cunningham Report in December 1971 a search has been going on to find a site for a new permanent high security prison. Sixteen sites have been examined, and I am at present advised that the most suitable one is on a disused airfield at Maghaberry, Co. Antrim.

The initial planned building programme will take four to five years to complete. It will provide cell accommodation for 400–500 male convicted prisoners and there will also be a separate new women's prison and young offenders' centre for girls between 16 and 21. The site will be large enough for future extension if necessary.

The Cunningham Report recommended that the new prison should replace the Crumlin Road Prison, Belfast, but it is essential to have sufficient accommodation for remand prisoners close to the courts and the latter prison will, therefore, continue to serve this purpose.

Council Area Number of dwellings Number built before December 1920 Number built between 1921–45 Number built between 1946 and October 1973
Londonderry 9,610 460 240 8,910
Limavady 2,890 90 260 2,540
Coleraine 4,860 300 570 3,990

I regret that it is not possible to distinguish between houses and other housing units.