§ Mr. Heffer
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to end overcrowding in Her Majesty's prisons; and what steps are being taken to build some new prisons of a more up-to-date nature.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
New statutory restrictions to reduce the use of imprisonment have been introduced by the Bail Act 1976 and the Criminal Law Act 1977, and the range of non-custodial measures, including community service, has been considerably expanded. Nevertheless, the volume of serious crime shows no sign of diminishing and on present trends there can be no early prospect of ending overcrowding in local prisons. I hope, however, that some much needed relief will be afforded soon by present building schemes and plans. The Government are42W spending £23 million on new construction and £8 million on maintenance and repair of existing premises. The present plans over the next four years will produce 4,500 new places: five new establishments are under construction; work is in progress to expand seven existing establishments and to redevelop two others; and forward plans include a start on another new prison in 1981–82.