HC Deb 24 October 1994 vol 248 cc477-8W
Ms Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what preparations he is making to deal with prison overcrowding; and what plans there are to use(a) temporary buildings or portakabins, (b) Army camps, (c) prisons which are not currently in use and (d) prison ships or barges.

Mr Michael Forsyth

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the director general of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Derek Lewis to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 24 October 1994: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the preparations being made to deal with prison overcrowding. The provision of additional accommodation is already well underway. Work on the 2,000 new accommodation places at existing prisons is at an advanced stage and the new prison at Buckley Hall will be open before the end of this year. Tenders for the first two of the six new prisons announced last year are due in the next month. The Prison Service has also developed contingency plans for an accelerated building programme to meet a potentially higher population but will decide whether or not to proceed with them in the light of population developments in the next few weeks. There are no plans at present to use temporary buildings, portakabins, prisons ships or barges. Legislative changes however are being made in the Criminal Justice Bill which permit the use of ships/barges in the future. Contingency plans to defer closure of prisons and to convert army camps for use as low security prisons have been prepared to cope with any emergency need for additional accommodation.