HC Deb 04 March 1996 vol 273 cc62-3W
Mr. Luff

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the provision of 24-hour access to sanitation for prisoners. [19204]

Miss Widdecombe

The deadline for providing all prisoners with 24-hour access to sanitation was 29 February. On 29 February over 99 per cent. of prisoners had 24-hour access to sanitation. If every cell without sanitation had been withdrawn from use on that date there would have been a loss of 267 places in the area between Leeds and Liverpool and this would have increased the likelihood of using police cells in that region. For this reason I approved the retention of some cells without sanitation until early April, when other accommodation opens.

Since the sanitation programme was announced in 1991, over 19,000 places have been provided with sanitation. During this period the prison population has increased by approximately 30 per cent. I anticipate that all prisoners will have 24-hour access to sanitation by 12 April 1996. The delay has been caused primarily by the need to include necessary security improvements in the refurbishment programme.