HL Deb 16 December 1991 vol 533 cc44-5WA
Lord Gainford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have yet received the report of Sir Raymond Lygo's review of the management of the Prison Service.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

We received Sir Raymond Lygo's report on 12th December and are today placing copies of it, together with Sir Raymond's covering letter, in the Library. It provides a wide-ranging set of recommendations and we are extremely grateful to Sir Raymond for the speed and thoroughness with which he has completed his task. We are also grateful to Lord Rayner for the assistance which he has given.

The report acknowledges the particularly intractable problems with which the Prison Service has to deal, many of which are outside its control. Sir Raymond concludes, however, that it would be too easy to attribute all the problems of the service to external factors and that there are a number of fundamental managerial issues which need to be tackled. The most important of these is the relationship between the Prison Service and ministers. Sir Raymond advocates a greater independence for the Prison Service from day-to-day ministerial oversight. This would he achieved by turning the Prison Service into an agency, appointing a part-time non-executive chairman of the Prison Board, giving the boa rd formal collective responsibility for the management of the service and establishing a supervisory board to advise my right honourable friend on major policy and resource issues. The post of director general would be filled by open competition.

Sir Raymond also makes a number of other important recommendations on management and personnel issues. He proposes that the Prison Service should recruit people from outside into some of its senior management posts; that there should be more contracting out of support services such as catering, the provision of clothing, building maintenance and possibly workshop management; that prison governors should wear uniforms; that if industrial relations in the service do not improve legislation should be introduced to restrict industrial action; and that far more work should be devolved from headquarters to local level.

A number of Sir Raymond's recommendations are in line with developments already taking place within the Prison Service but, taken together, they amount to a radical programme of change both within the service and for its relationship to ministers. We are therefore inviting comments on Sir Raymond's report before reaching decisions in the spring. Copies of the report are being made available to interested organisations, including the trade unions, with an invitation to submit comments by Friday 28th February to Her Majesty's Prison Service, Room 601, Abell House, John Islip Street, London SW1P 4LH.