HC Deb 26 March 1998 vol 309 cc230-1W
Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to ensure that commercial activities undertaken by prisons do not compete unfairly with local enterprises; and if he will make a statement. [35890]

Ms Quin

It is Prison Service policy that commercial activities should not be undertaken by prisons at the expense of private sector businesses or employment in this country. Prisons should seek work which substitutes imports, or which uses their facilities for work which would be uneconomic for outside contractors, for example because it involves short production runs or is labour intensive.

Prison Service goods and services should be offered at a fair market price, which recovers direct manufacturing costs plus a contribution to the recovery of overheads. Prison overheads are much higher than outside because of high fixed costs (such as the cost of supervision, a short working week and low productivity rates).

Rather than competition, the Prison Service is keen to see private sector businesses make use of prison labour and facilities through partnerships.

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