HL Deb 17 September 2003 vol 652 cc176-7WA
Lord Ouseley

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, prior to the Commission for Racial Equality embarking into formal investigation of the Prison Service in 2000, the Home Office had received reports from the Prison Service on racism in prisons; and, if so, why they did not fulfil their statutory responsibilities to take action to ensure its elimination, rather than referring the matter to the Commission for Racial Equality for investigation. [HL4105]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

Prior to the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) investigation, the issue of racism in prisons was considered and reviewed regularly through a number of long standing arrangements and forums. The Minister for Prisons (Paul Boateng) at that time held meetings regularly with successive director-generals. They were satisfied that the Prison Service was tackling the problem of racism and that the director-general had been leading on this issue as a main priority.

The Home Office wished to show its good intentions, and its desire for transparency, by inviting an independent investigation by a body such as the Commission for Racial Equality, in addition to any internal policies that it was putting in place, and any actions that it was taking, on its own initiative.