24/01/2017 House of Commons


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24/01/2017

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to Justice Secretary Liz Truss and her ministerial team.


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Houses of Parliament at 11 o'clock tonight. First, questions to the

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Justice Secretary, Liz Truss. The House will be aware of Jenny Swift

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in Doncaster prison and mice somebody's with her family as all

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deaths in custody, there would be an investigation by the prison and

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probation 's ombudsman. We want to assure transgender offenders are

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treated fairly, lawfully and decently with their rights and

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safety are respected. I cautiously welcomed the new guidance regarding

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the management of transgender prisoners and I'm sure we will all

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be keen to see all transgender people treated with respect and

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dignity. Can the minister assure the House that the new guidance also

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applies to transgender people held in immigration detention centres as

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well as those held in general prison systems? I thank the honourable lady

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fair question. The new guidelines to staff she has mentioned following a

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review into the management and care of transgender offenders, the review

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involved oversight in closing the Prison Reform Trust. We had 70

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people in this position in the estate which reflects broadly with

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the population. Specifically with regards to the question you asked,

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if you write to me, I will reply. The non-guidance is welcome indeed.

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Can the Minister outlined what this applies to in terms of non-binary

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people who are in prisons because it is not just about those defining

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themselves as men or women, it is about non-binary people as well.

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Again to put it in perspective, we have four people who are in that

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position currently in the estate. The new guidelines state all

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transgender prisoners should be expressed ink -- should be allowed

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to express their gender in of prison location. Quickly confirm that is no

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longer a requirement for gender recognition certificates and could

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he tell us how confident he is that these guidelines are being applied

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across the whole of the estate and will he expect to do an assessment

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of the impact? People are cared for and managed in the agenda with which

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they identify rather than this being based on their legally recognise

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gender. The guidelines were brought about with the interaction of

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various independent organisations. Staff are being trained in this area

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will stop I think some perspective is required. We have a prison system

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that is traditionally male and female and we are seeing relatively

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small numbers. With regards to recent tragic events come I'm

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looking at each case. The prison and Courts Bill will set

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out the reform of offenders as well as the punishment of offenders is a

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keep purpose of prison. We need to make sure the whole system is

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focused on getting prisoners the education they need, getting them

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off drugs and into jobs so we can reduce the ?15 billion cost of

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reoffending. I commend my honourable friend for the work she is doing.

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Could she set out the standards she is laying down so prison

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improvements and offender outcomes can be properly measured? We need

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standards so it can hold prison governors to account on what they

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are achieving. We will be starting to introduce those standards from

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April 20 17th. They will include measures like prison safety,

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progress made in English and maths, progress on getting an offenders

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into employment and measuring the time-out of cell in prisons. The

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Secretary of State will know that good rehabilitation depends on two

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things. A good probation service but secondly good partnerships with the

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business community and employers that will give them appropriate

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employment to steer them on their way. We have had some good

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experience at Reading and other jails and will he back that -- will

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she backed that partnership? We know when someone gets into work, they

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are much less likely to reoffend. We will be launching an employment

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strategy later this year encouraging more employers like Timpson 's, who

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do a good job to participate and we want to get the third sector

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involved in that rehabilitation programme. You're going to be

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announcing reforms to the probation system and one of the key focus is

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would be on how the probation service gets people into employment.

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Has there been progress in getting accurate job data Bacon says in the

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areas to which prisoners are going to be released in order to focus on

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work preparation in prisons as effectively as possible? We are

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working with the DWP to get that data and make sure it is much more

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linked up but by giving governors more power, we will enable them to

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work with their local employers, making sure there are jobs available

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so we are training people up in prison, getting them into

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apprenticeships so they can continue those apprenticeships and that work

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when they leave prison. What steps is the Government taking to ensure

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that mental health problems are picked up as part of the

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rehabilitation process, not just to reduce suicide rates but also to

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ensure that services are streamlined upon release? Mental health is a

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major issue. What we are giving governors is more power over the

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commissioning of mental health services in prison. What I also want

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to see is better diagnosis of mental health issues early in the criminal

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justice system, so when people appear in court and when they are

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run community sentences as well. Will the Minister said a high

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standard for employment projects in prisons along the lines of the

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experience in Padua. There was an outstanding exporting bakery

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business. I thank her for her comments and I think Mac catering

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and bakery is a big area where we do a lot of training already. We are

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working with organisations in getting people into employment and

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we have the bad boys bakery at Brixton which produces some

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excellent cakes. The Secretary of State seems well informed on these

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important matters. Getting them into employment is important and the

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Secretary of State referred to this. What assessments has heard

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department remained of the amount of prisoners that leave prison getting

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into employment and staying in it for more than six months? The

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honourable gentleman is right to talk about the longevity of that

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employment and we are designing those measures that prison governors

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and probation services will be held to account on, on the basis of

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getting people into sustainable employment. That is an important

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measure. Where and offender is at risk of serious harm, they will

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receive a standard recall. Thereafter, they will only be

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rereleased before the end of their sentence at the risk they pose is

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reduced and they can be safely managed in the community. In cases

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that are not high risk, a fixed term recall is often more appropriate. It

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is bad enough that prisoners are automatically released halfway

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through their sentence whether they pose a risk or not but when someone

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released on licence from prison Ben reoffend is, surely the least of the

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public can expect is the criminals concerned are sent back to prison to

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serve the remainder of their prison sentence in full. Instead of the

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huge number that we called prison for a 28 days on a fixed term

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recall. Sometimes on multiple occasions. How does the Minister

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justify this fraud on the British public? Where there is a high risk

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posed, the prisoner will not be rereleased before the end of beer --

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their sentence. Those were charged in a high risk status. If they are

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convicted of a further offence, they get a fresh sentence. Is the

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Minister aware of a recent case in Northern Ireland where someone

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charged with a serious terrorist offence in connection to the murder

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of prison officer David Black Tom abscond when he was on bail and the

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police to report that the courts for over weeks. If the Minister aware of

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that and whether any discussions to take this matter forward? Betty is

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not a question on the order paper. -- that is. I am not aware of that

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case and I am willing to dig it up with the honourable member. Someone

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in the justice system have raised fears that recall is used to

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regularly by rehabilitation companies. This is because the

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companies are descent advised from investing time where they will not

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be able to complete their committee sentence. What assessment has the

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Minister made of the use of recall by community rehabilitation

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companies? The honourable member makes a good point in how the

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process works. Companies have to justify the grounds to recall to

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officials in the National offending management service before going

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ahead. Where officials do not found grounds that recall, they will

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challenge the community rehabilitation companies. It is

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important to recognise that sometimes be calling an offender who

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is in breach of their licence allows the offender manager to put in place

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the appropriate mechanisms to manage them in the community. We are

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recruiting an extra 2500 prison officers and rolling out new body

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worn cameras. We are empowering governors in providing extra funding

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to enhance the physical security of the prison estate.

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If you I appreciate that prison violence has been a problem for

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decades. I remember being a GPS several decades ago, and there was a

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prison riot being dealt with them, but was it wise to cut the number of

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prison officers by 25% given these problems? I would be delighted to

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have a conversation with him about his experience looking at these

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issues because he is absolutely right, they have been a problem for

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a number of years. It will take time to build up the front line the crypt

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recruiting doors 2500 additional officers. But we have faced new

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challenges were psychoactive substances, drawings, mobile phones,

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taking action to deal with those, but it is important we have staff on

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the front line who can inform offenders and keep prisons safe. --

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drones. Six major incidents and eight weeks

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is unprecedented in the 25 years I have been in this House. Following

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on from the honourable gentleman from Gainsborough, which he

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confirmed the figures to September meant a loss, of 14 hundred is an

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officers? And when you have to recruit 2500, don't you mean 4000 to

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meet those 2000 500,000 -- 2500, and do you intend to do that? You're

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right, we need to recruit 4000 over the next year. I announced initially

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we were recruiting officers for ten of the most challenging prisons,

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making job offers to those first 400. We have launched the graduate

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scheme, and within 24 hours of announcing that scheme, we had

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expressions of interest from over 1000 candidates, so there are people

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interested in joining the prison service. It is a challenge to

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recruit those numbers of officers but the other tournament to do it,

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it is what we did to do to turn prisons around and make them places

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of safety and reform. Would you accept that the greatest support we

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can give two prison officers is to make sure they have the correct

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levels of staffing in their prisons? Is she aware that there has been

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significant problems highlighted by reports recently in Chelmsford

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prison which has been attributed to the understaffing of the prison.

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What is being done to get the levels of staff to correct levels? And

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would you agree for your Minister for prisons to have a meeting with

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me to discuss this? You are absolutely right, we do need to

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recruit staff at Chelmsford, in addition to other prisons. I know

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the prisons Minister will be meeting him soon. And I am keen to visit

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Chelmsford myself, to come and meet the gentleman there and see the

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situation on the front line. As well as issues with the

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understaffing and morale we still have issues with some old prisons,

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which are neither suitable for the caves of rehabilitation needed and

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also cause security issues. Can the government update us on what has

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been happening to deal with that problem? You are absolutely right.

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It is harder to reform offenders and create safe environments we want in

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old prisons that are not fit for purpose. That is why we are building

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additional prison places, 1.3 billion allocated, we will open each

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MP Bergman in Wales shortly with additional places. But we are

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committed and I will announce more about the prison build programme in

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due course. In 2011, and confirmed in 2016, there was adjusting the

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Delia competition -- the daily accommodation fabric checks. How has

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that have maintained order and reduced self harm? You raise a very

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important issue. We do need cells that are fit for purpose. And also

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that are usable. One of the things my honourable friend, the Prisons

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Minister, has been focused on a regular meetings has been making

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sure that contractors get cells back to you as unfit for purpose.

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Some prisons, including in Birmingham, use prisoner violence

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reduction representatives to discourage disorder. These are

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prisoners who are paid to monitor other inmates. Stakeholders we have

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spoken to suggest that some are ensuring compliance by themselves

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meeting out violence to troublesome inmates. What assessment has she

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made their use? The honourable lady refers to those valiant reduction

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programmes, and I have seen them in place in a number of prisons, where

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they can be very effective. Because often it is peer two peer support

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that can help turn prisoners around. However, they need to be carefully

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managed and monitored. My expectation is that it is the role

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of the governor of the prison to make sure all those proper systems

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are in place. In December, during her statement to the House on the

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riot at one prison in Birmingham, the Justice Secretary suggested that

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as many as 13 Tornado teams were deployed to the prison. Such events

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deprive other prisons of office numbers. Officer numbers. Does she

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have confidence that she had the resources to deal with the

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disturbances of this kind? And when will the Sara Payne investigation

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into what happened they concluded? Well, be an increasing the number of

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Tornado staff to make sure that we do deal with any incidents that are

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either cross prison estate, particularly while we are building

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up the strength of our front line. Those officers do a fantastic job

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and did a fantastic job in resolving the incident at each MP Birmingham.

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I can tell her that the investigation being led by Sarah

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Paynes on the incident at HMP Birmingham will report back in

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February. Amanda Solway. Question number five. I would like to take

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question five with nine and 12. The prison safety and reform White Paper

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confirms commitment to tackling the supply and demand for drugs and

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prisons. It also gives governors get a pilot over services in prison,

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devolving control for education and increasing health care provision

:17:47.:17:49.

including drug testing and rehabilitation. In my role, I have

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visited many prisons and one of the most consistent and challenging

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problems is not only treating drug addiction but actually preventing

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those from entering the prison system. What other plans to prepare

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it -- prevent MPS abuse and prisons? Prisons up a range of searching

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tools available. We have trained 300 dogs to detect psychoactive

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substances and introduce laws to prosecute those who smuggle and

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supply drugs. Can you explain what impact legal highs are having inside

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prisons and what steps the government is taking to crack down

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on this very serious problem? The use of legal highs is undeniably

:18:39.:18:41.

changing behaviour patterns amongst prisoners. Panorama last night was

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quite illustrative of the impact of new psychoactive substances. We have

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an innovative testing programme under the testing regime and

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continue to work with health partners to reduce the demand.

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In light of the increasing pressures on the prison population, do you see

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any merit on the suggestions by the Harvard league for penal reform is

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suggestions that there is the increased use of community orders,

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which work in Southend, and their approach to helping offenders with

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drug problems? Thank you for your question. We want to see effective

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community orders, so that further crimes are not committed. This

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includes better mental health, drugs and alcohol interventions. I am

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aware that if we can get to grips with mental health challenges and

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substance misuse challenges that crime will go down. Address the

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issue of drug addiction, I think you have to address smuggling drugs into

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prison. One method is introducing new scanning machines, similar to at

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airports. Have you considered doing that in prisons and thereby stopping

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drugs being smuggled by people into prison? Thank you for your question.

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Yes, consideration has been given to that. There is difficulty of a new

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psychoactive substances because the way they are being smuggled in,

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sometimes for example being impregnated into paper, it is

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difficult to find that via a scanner. But we are desperate to

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deal with this because of the adverse impact it is having. The

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honourable member has an identical question at number 19 which wasn't

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gripped. But the position is clear, if he does stand, I will call him,

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but he does, get in there, man! Will you agree that if we are to reduce

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reoffending it is vital we get the prisoners of drugs and give them the

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skills needed to find work as in the local community on release?

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My honourable friend is the same profession I am an fully understands

:20:58.:21:02.

the importance proper treatment of substance misuse. Part of that also

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having successfully got off of the drug is finding purpose in life and

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employment would be key to that. I would like to group questions six

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with 17th, we are investing significant financial resources,

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about 100 million, to recruit 2500 additional dozen officers, investing

:21:28.:21:30.

in 4 million in marketing campaign and effort, and in addition to the

:21:31.:21:35.

national recruitment campaign, there are local recruitment schemes

:21:36.:21:39.

running in 30 of our hardest to recruit prisons. As I am grateful

:21:40.:21:43.

for that reply. Can I urge him as he begins this recruitment process to

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give due process to rural areas, such as North Dorset, we have high

:21:51.:21:54.

post prices are high, and deployment levels are very low, making the

:21:55.:22:00.

Governor's is job even harder at a local prison, making it harder to

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recruit. I am aware the member takes a keen interest in his local prison.

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I can give him the assurance that that prison has been made a priority

:22:11.:22:14.

prison which means that the governor there is getting the extra resource

:22:15.:22:18.

in addition to the national campaigns effort to recruit the

:22:19.:22:23.

staff needed. Many of my constituents work in the prison

:22:24.:22:26.

service and I was recently contacted by one constituent who has worked in

:22:27.:22:30.

the prison service for over 23 errors. He was concerned about the

:22:31.:22:34.

level of morale amongst fellow officers, citing recent riots. What

:22:35.:22:38.

assurance can the Minister give me to ensure those serving on the front

:22:39.:22:41.

line can work safely and with appropriate staffing numbers?

:22:42.:22:47.

You are absolutely right. Prison officers are some of the finest and

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bravest public servants. We want them to be able to work in safe

:22:51.:22:56.

conditions and that is why we are tackling the use of drones, drugs

:22:57.:22:59.

and phones and prisons, also recruiting more staff to work in a

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safe environment. Given the enormous turnover of staff within the prison

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estate and the reality the government will need to employ

:23:09.:23:11.

around 4000 extra staff to meet the net figure of 2500, what can the

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Minister jealousy is doing to incentivise the current prison staff

:23:17.:23:22.

to stay and not what code? The reality is in 75% of prisons

:23:23.:23:27.

recruitment is not a challenge but in some prisons, particularly London

:23:28.:23:31.

and the South East, there is a challenge, and what we're doing

:23:32.:23:35.

there to recruit new is offering market supplements of about ?4000

:23:36.:23:39.

extra to attract new people and for those that are already in the system

:23:40.:23:47.

are looking in discussions about professionalising the prison service

:23:48.:23:49.

more to give them better citizen and more pride. Thank you. The chief

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executive officer of the National offender management service, Michael

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Souter, told MPs, as we have heard again today, of the need to recruit

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8004 prison officers to achieve the increase in 2500, yet existing

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prison officers have rejected the latest pay offer, and when Michael

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met the POA this week, did the Secretary of State join him and did

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she make the necessary commitments to make increased staffing in the

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prison service a reality? The Secretary of State and I met the POA

:24:30.:24:36.

last week, with a very constructive discussion, about talks and more

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widely about reform, specialising the officers' jobs and raising their

:24:42.:24:47.

status. Question number seven. We are determined to use the

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opportunities presented by the exit from the EU to build a truly global

:24:51.:24:54.

Britain. The world leading legal services contributing ?25 billion

:24:55.:25:00.

per item to the UK economy. My department is leaving work with the

:25:01.:25:06.

EU uncivil, commercial and family law and on the Office on justice. He

:25:07.:25:13.

wants to group that question seven with Number 10. With your position,

:25:14.:25:20.

number 11. Even ten, but we are very grateful. Scott Mann. Thank you, I

:25:21.:25:25.

like to welcome confirmation by Prime Minister that we will cease of

:25:26.:25:29.

membership of the single market, thus ending control of the European

:25:30.:25:32.

courts of this country. Do you look forward to the day when the British

:25:33.:25:37.

courts are no longer undermined by European judges sitting in

:25:38.:25:41.

Luxembourg? My honourable friend is absolutely right. We have fantastic

:25:42.:25:46.

judges here in the UK. Independent and incorruptible. We are going to

:25:47.:25:53.

be leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, add the

:25:54.:25:57.

final decision will now be down to British judges. Like all things!, we

:25:58.:26:07.

facing uncertainty and looking at citizens' rights. -- like all things

:26:08.:26:12.

Brexit. What about pending cases before the Court of Justice and the

:26:13.:26:16.

EU? And the time of departure from the EU?

:26:17.:26:22.

Those types of issues will be resolved in due course and there

:26:23.:26:29.

will be a statement later today from my honourable friend, the Brexit

:26:30.:26:33.

secretary. What can my right honourable friend do to ensure the

:26:34.:26:37.

legal profession that contracts where the choice of law is English

:26:38.:26:42.

or Welsh law, will continue to be enforceable across Europe even when

:26:43.:26:50.

we've left the EU? This is a vital issue for our fantastic legal

:26:51.:26:55.

services profession. Four of the top ten international law firms are

:26:56.:26:58.

headed in the UK and what I've said this week at a joint meeting with

:26:59.:27:04.

the Lord Chief Justice and members of the legal profession is that

:27:05.:27:08.

mutual enforcement of judgments will be a key part of them Brexit

:27:09.:27:17.

negotiations. Civil and criminal justice are devolved to the Scottish

:27:18.:27:21.

parliament. Does she agree with the conclusions of the first report of

:27:22.:27:25.

exiting the EU select committee that the great reform bill must be dealt

:27:26.:27:30.

with in a way that is consistent with the existing devolution

:27:31.:27:34.

settlement and she accept that the legislative consent will be required

:27:35.:27:45.

to the great reform bill. --? I am looking forward to meeting be

:27:46.:27:48.

honourable lady to discuss the issues. The Prime Minister has been

:27:49.:27:52.

clear she wants to strike a bespoke Brexit deal that works for the whole

:27:53.:27:59.

of the UK. Because civil and criminal justice devolved, the

:28:00.:28:02.

triggering of article 50 will have major implications for the rights

:28:03.:28:07.

and freedoms of people in Scotland. Does she accept at the Seoul

:28:08.:28:11.

Convention will be engaged and does she agree with the Supreme Court's

:28:12.:28:16.

judgment this morning that the sole convention has a important role in

:28:17.:28:28.

harmonious changes? The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State

:28:29.:28:31.

that exiting the EU are working closely with the Government on the

:28:32.:28:36.

issue of exiting the EU. The Government has been clear it will

:28:37.:28:40.

respect the decision of the court made this morning. We are currently

:28:41.:28:48.

conducting the competence of review of this system to make sure cutting

:28:49.:28:55.

crime and preventing future victims. There are a wide number of factors

:28:56.:29:00.

that impact on the services including the nature of supervision

:29:01.:29:06.

and we have positive -- and rehab support. In October a report by the

:29:07.:29:13.

presence and probation Inspectorate found high work loads meant there

:29:14.:29:17.

was no time to think about cases in prison and that workload for

:29:18.:29:21.

resettlement workers meant that they spent little time working with

:29:22.:29:27.

individuals. Isn't this evidence that the Government's mistaken

:29:28.:29:32.

privatisation of the probation services failing prisoners, failing

:29:33.:29:36.

to prevent reoffending and therefore failing to protect the wider

:29:37.:29:43.

community. The ambition we have set for our probation system review due

:29:44.:29:47.

out at the beginning of April is very clear. That is we want a simple

:29:48.:29:52.

probation system with very clear outcome measures such as getting

:29:53.:29:56.

offenders into employment and into housing. Looking at outcomes is the

:29:57.:30:02.

best way to judge our probation system rather than looking at the

:30:03.:30:03.

imports. The Government's reforms will

:30:04.:30:22.

modernise the courts and tribunal system, improve the experience of

:30:23.:30:26.

everyone who comes in contact with it, particularly victims and

:30:27.:30:31.

witnesses. We need to make sure the provision of legal support is also

:30:32.:30:34.

updated to reflect the new way in which the justice system will work.

:30:35.:30:40.

We will work closely with the legal sector, victims and witnesses and

:30:41.:30:43.

others to review across the board the types of support needed in but

:30:44.:30:48.

nice justice system and produce a Green paper in the spring of 2018.

:30:49.:30:55.

Technology can mean courthouses that have closed can allow constituents

:30:56.:31:03.

to get access to justice. Can the Minister confirm that at Skegness

:31:04.:31:08.

courthouse, it is going to receive the kind of technology solution that

:31:09.:31:12.

will allow my constituents to still get access to justice and that this

:31:13.:31:16.

will not come at a cost to the local police? We're working to establish a

:31:17.:31:23.

video link facility at the Skegness and this will allow victims and

:31:24.:31:27.

witnesses to give evidence without travelling to Boston. Yesterday the

:31:28.:31:36.

British Parliamentary Association showed how well the PSNI and Garda

:31:37.:31:48.

are working together. With the Minister ensure that we are in

:31:49.:31:53.

either the same place or a better place? He meant to refer to the

:31:54.:32:00.

modernisation of the core system. It was purely an error.

:32:01.:32:12.

I would be happy to discuss it with the honourable gentleman and pass

:32:13.:32:18.

his remarks through to the Secretary of State for Air exiting the EU so

:32:19.:32:28.

he is aware of the concerns. Three Magistrates' Courts have been closed

:32:29.:32:30.

in Gloucester and the probation service divided. The Crown Court in

:32:31.:32:35.

Gloucester and the Magistrates' Court in Cheltenham continue to leak

:32:36.:32:42.

well disabled access is poor. Could you confirm today that action will

:32:43.:32:48.

be taken both on the physical condition of the courts and also

:32:49.:32:52.

annus mess and of the rehabilitation company's work. -- on the assessment

:32:53.:33:02.

of the rehabilitation company's work? I am particularly keen to get

:33:03.:33:08.

that skylight fixed for him and I am working hard on that. In the reply,

:33:09.:33:17.

the minister Doctor modernising the tribunal system. Part of that

:33:18.:33:21.

modernisation should be getting rid of employment Tribunal fees, the

:33:22.:33:24.

introduction of those fees has led to a cut in the number of employment

:33:25.:33:30.

tribunal cases by two thirds and a cut of over 80% in sex

:33:31.:33:34.

discrimination cases. Can the Minister announced that they will be

:33:35.:33:38.

abolished as part of access to justice and modernising the system?

:33:39.:33:44.

We have been reviewing employment tribunal fees and I can say to him

:33:45.:33:50.

that the publication of that review is imminent. Having said that, I

:33:51.:33:55.

would say to him that their raise a difference of opinion across the

:33:56.:33:59.

Chamber on this because we do think it right that individuals should

:34:00.:34:03.

contribute to the costs of the tribunal 's and it is worth bearing

:34:04.:34:08.

in mind that ACAS has increased its workload in employment cases from

:34:09.:34:18.

23,000 cases a year to 92,000 now. The result has been a very large

:34:19.:34:22.

increase in the number of cases that do not then proceed to the tribunal.

:34:23.:34:30.

If the UK is to remain at the forefront of legal services

:34:31.:34:34.

worldwide and for the sector to continue, it is vital our court

:34:35.:34:39.

system is modern, flexible and fit the 21st-century. I agree with that

:34:40.:34:46.

and we have the best legal system in the world but we need also to have

:34:47.:34:51.

the most modern. And so to get as many things out of court that don't

:34:52.:34:56.

need to be there, to apply the full force of judge and court room for

:34:57.:35:01.

the difficult and complex issues, strip away unnecessary hearings,

:35:02.:35:05.

duplication, it is important and I can report to the House that whereas

:35:06.:35:11.

two hearings ago, there was a saving of a shard load of paper as a result

:35:12.:35:17.

of these reports, it has now gone up to three shard loads. We have saved

:35:18.:35:22.

people of that height which would be a pile of paper as high as the

:35:23.:35:29.

largest building in the world. What a well-informed fellow he is. The

:35:30.:35:40.

new chairman of the bar Council has warned about relying too heavily on

:35:41.:35:44.

delivering justice online. Yesterday the President of the family courts

:35:45.:35:50.

complained that facilities in his courts are a disgrace to stop prone

:35:51.:35:55.

to the video link failing and desperate and poor video signals.

:35:56.:36:02.

Does the Minister understand that some cases just on suitable for

:36:03.:36:08.

video links and is he prepared to properly resourced those which are?

:36:09.:36:13.

It is very important that the courts should have the facilities they need

:36:14.:36:19.

it -- which is the reason for our modernisation programme. As far as

:36:20.:36:22.

the concerns about open justice, it is very important to realise that it

:36:23.:36:28.

will all work on the basis that there is access to see what's

:36:29.:36:31.

happening in a virtual hearing. People will be able to see that and

:36:32.:36:35.

it isn't going to be secret justice at all. It is important that we

:36:36.:36:43.

reduce the 15 billion cost of reoffending and all the misery that

:36:44.:36:51.

causes our -- that it causes in our society. They should go on to

:36:52.:36:54.

employment when they leave prison and our new standards are there to

:36:55.:36:57.

make sure governors are held to account for that. My private members

:36:58.:37:02.

bill is aimed at reducing homelessness and it returns to the

:37:03.:37:06.

House on Friday. One of the key provisions within that is the duty

:37:07.:37:09.

on the prison service to help and assist people who are leaving prison

:37:10.:37:14.

to find homes which are stable. What measures can my right honourable

:37:15.:37:17.

friend take to ensure prison governors use the four two-hour

:37:18.:37:22.

workshops that are to prepare prisoners for a life outside prison?

:37:23.:37:29.

As well as getting into a job, having suitable houses is also

:37:30.:37:34.

important to reducing reoffending. As well as measuring employment

:37:35.:37:38.

rates, we are also measuring housing rates and prison governors will be

:37:39.:37:44.

held to account on how well they are doing in terms of facilitating those

:37:45.:37:53.

offenders to get into housing. Once a person has been to prison, they

:37:54.:37:57.

pay their debt to society and contributing to society through work

:37:58.:38:01.

is a key part of rehabilitation. Does my right honourable friend

:38:02.:38:05.

agree that the declaration of a criminal record at the beginning of

:38:06.:38:09.

a job application creates an unnecessary barrier to work? I

:38:10.:38:17.

entirely agree that it is important that we help people get into work.

:38:18.:38:23.

I'm supportive of the band the box initiative and we are exploring

:38:24.:38:28.

options for promoting it. We will be publishing our employment strategy

:38:29.:38:31.

and we want to encourage more employers like Halfords, Greggs and

:38:32.:38:36.

DHL who work with ex-offenders to get involved because once they get

:38:37.:38:42.

into jobs, they can prove loyal and effective employees once in work. We

:38:43.:38:49.

are committed to reforming our domestic human rights framework and

:38:50.:38:52.

will return to consider our proposals was we know the

:38:53.:38:54.

arrangements for our exit from the EU. The Secretary of State said in

:38:55.:39:02.

September last year that she was anticipating meeting the Scottish

:39:03.:39:05.

Justice Minister to discover -- discuss their repeal of the Human

:39:06.:39:10.

Rights Act in Scotland. How do she planned to guarantee the proposed

:39:11.:39:13.

British Bill of Rights will not compromise the economy of the

:39:14.:39:19.

Scottish legal system? The Secretary of State has offered some days and I

:39:20.:39:22.

hope you will be possible for that meeting to take place with the

:39:23.:39:29.

Justice Minister. Certainly there will be some time for that now

:39:30.:39:32.

because we are going to return to our proposals was winnow the

:39:33.:39:38.

arrangements for exit from the EU. While it is right that our

:39:39.:39:41.

commitment to replace the Human Rights Act remains on the Government

:39:42.:39:45.

agenda, does my right honourable friend agree with me that leaving

:39:46.:39:52.

the European Union and freeing the United Kingdom from being bound by

:39:53.:39:55.

the Charter of fundamental rights, must be the absolute top priority

:39:56.:40:01.

for this Government? I do agree with that. It is important that we sort

:40:02.:40:07.

out the EU side of matters and the exit from the EU before we return to

:40:08.:40:16.

this subject. Scotland there is strong parties of the ECHR and the

:40:17.:40:20.

Human Rights Act in both Parliament and across civil society. Can he

:40:21.:40:26.

then agree that any attempt to repeal existing rights will be

:40:27.:40:31.

likely to provoke a constitutional crisis? Certainly I don't accept

:40:32.:40:40.

that the sort of changes that we are proposing to consider once the

:40:41.:40:43.

situation is known about our exit from the EU, that they would be a

:40:44.:40:49.

crisis making compilation. This country has always had a problem

:40:50.:40:53.

respect human rights. It predates the Human Rights Act and I think we

:40:54.:40:55.

can agree on that. Question 15.

:40:56.:41:07.

There were 6688 serving custodial sentences, foreign nationals are

:41:08.:41:14.

also being held on remand, or immigration detention centres. We

:41:15.:41:20.

are increasing the number of foreign National offenders removed from

:41:21.:41:23.

prisons, whether under the prisoner transfer agreement or through early

:41:24.:41:32.

removal scheme. In 2015-16, 5810 for a national offenders were removed,

:41:33.:41:37.

this is the highest summer since records began, and since 2010, 30

:41:38.:41:42.

3000 have been removed. Poland has one of the biggest national groups

:41:43.:41:47.

of foreign national offenders and prisons, their delegation from the

:41:48.:41:53.

transfer of directive of the EU was due to expire in 2016. Are we in a

:41:54.:41:57.

position to send these Polish prisoners back to prison in their

:41:58.:42:05.

own country? All eligible Polish nationals have been identified and

:42:06.:42:09.

deportation orders sought. We have referred cases to the Polish courts

:42:10.:42:13.

and transfers will take place once Polish legal procedures have been

:42:14.:42:18.

completed. Can the Minister say whether he thinks the number of

:42:19.:42:21.

prisoner transfers will go up or down after we leave the EU? We have

:42:22.:42:30.

already been in touch with the Department for exiting the EU on

:42:31.:42:33.

prisoner transfer agreements. But as I said in my opening answer that is

:42:34.:42:38.

one way of removing prisoners from this country. The early removal

:42:39.:42:42.

scheme is another way as we have been successful at removing a lot of

:42:43.:42:50.

prisoners to that scheme. Has the Ministry of Justice made an

:42:51.:42:53.

assessment of how many British offenders are held in foreign

:42:54.:42:59.

prisons? That is a number available but I don't have that to hand, I'm

:43:00.:43:05.

willing to provide that. Put the details in the library, it will be

:43:06.:43:10.

helpful to us all. Paul Blomfield. Number 22. Imminently.

:43:11.:43:21.

Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister claims she wants to protect workers'

:43:22.:43:26.

rights. Isn't the fear that publishing this report as it

:43:27.:43:30.

demonstrates the introduction of fees has negated that process? The

:43:31.:43:35.

Minister earlier said that publication is imminent. His

:43:36.:43:37.

predecessor said last July it was soon. Can you define the terms and

:43:38.:43:43.

give a date? He will not have long to wait, it is genuinely imminent.

:43:44.:43:48.

LAUGHTER But can I say that that has taken

:43:49.:43:52.

longer than we'd hoped. Topical questions. Number one.

:43:53.:44:03.

Today the Supreme Court issued its judgment on Article 50. The 11

:44:04.:44:08.

justices of the Supreme Court heard evidence over four days in December

:44:09.:44:11.

before handing down their judgment today. Our independent judiciary is

:44:12.:44:17.

the cornerstone of the rule of law and vital to the constitution and

:44:18.:44:23.

freedoms. The reputation of it is unrivalled world over. Supreme Court

:44:24.:44:28.

justices are people of integrity and impartiality. Whilst we may not

:44:29.:44:32.

agree with judgments it is a fundamental part of any thriving

:44:33.:44:36.

democracy that legal process is followed. The government is clear

:44:37.:44:40.

that it will respect the decision of the court. Thank you. The Secretary

:44:41.:44:46.

of State has been gallivanting but City of London law firm of late,

:44:47.:44:51.

most recently thirsty on Fleet Street, one thing to put English law

:44:52.:44:55.

at the forefront of attempts to create a global Britain. Does she

:44:56.:44:59.

think this law is superior to Scots law? What is she to promote the

:45:00.:45:06.

international interests of law firms from across the UK and law firms not

:45:07.:45:10.

in the City of London? Will they get the same consideration? Thank you

:45:11.:45:19.

for your question. I want to promote both English and Scots Law

:45:20.:45:22.

internationally, I think they are both huge assets to our country. And

:45:23.:45:29.

very important parts of commerce and business and the trust people have

:45:30.:45:34.

in our system. When I meet the Scottish Justice Minister, I will be

:45:35.:45:37.

delighted to meet some law firms up in Scotland. I welcome the

:45:38.:45:42.

government commitment to creating the status of Guardian for property

:45:43.:45:50.

and affairs of a missing person this is much wanted and needed by

:45:51.:45:53.

families. Can you tell us when this legislation will be brought before

:45:54.:46:00.

the House? We do well, my honourable friend for Thirsk Malton's bill on

:46:01.:46:06.

the subject. We are wanting to help families of a person left behind. We

:46:07.:46:11.

want to introduce legislation but we also now look forward to responding

:46:12.:46:14.

to my honourable friend's bill at its second reading.

:46:15.:46:22.

There are two micro things dented as four double Chris Eakin are

:46:23.:46:27.

attempting to ignore the referendum -- two dangerous things, ignoring

:46:28.:46:32.

the referendum and when the judiciary comes under attack. Whilst

:46:33.:46:36.

I welcome the progress the Secretary of State has today, under pressure,

:46:37.:46:43.

made in speaking up for the independence of our judiciary, it

:46:44.:46:46.

hasn't deterred those attacks from continuing. Though she now, once and

:46:47.:46:54.

for all, condemned the attacks on our judiciary? I'm delighted to hear

:46:55.:46:59.

that the Labour Party wants to support the will of the British

:47:00.:47:06.

people. That is a welcome development. As I've said, I'm

:47:07.:47:12.

intensely proud of our independent judiciary, they are equal part of

:47:13.:47:16.

our democracy. But I'm also proud to live in a country that has a press.

:47:17.:47:29.

-- free press. Can a decision when giving fair access to children, give

:47:30.:47:34.

fair access to both parents, because there are occasions where fathers do

:47:35.:47:39.

not get fair access which they deserve question is my friend and I

:47:40.:47:43.

have discussed this informally. The welfare of the child is always

:47:44.:47:49.

paramount in court decisions. But you will remember that parental

:47:50.:47:52.

involvement provisions were inserted into the children act in 2014,

:47:53.:47:58.

requiring the court now presumes that a parent's involvement in the

:47:59.:48:03.

child's life will further that child's welfare, unless the contrary

:48:04.:48:09.

can be shown. All members will have been appalled by the recent inquest

:48:10.:48:12.

findings into the tragic death of Dean Saunders at Chelmsford prison.

:48:13.:48:18.

This is a man in a mental health crisis who should never have been

:48:19.:48:21.

sent to prison, failed by everyone who should have been there to

:48:22.:48:24.

protect him. According to the charity inquest he is one of a

:48:25.:48:28.

prisoners to take their life last year. When will the Secretary of

:48:29.:48:35.

State provided Phil Anne Frank responds to why he died? -- to

:48:36.:48:44.

provide a full and frank response. This is a dreadful case, I am

:48:45.:48:50.

seeking the details of all these cases to see if there is a pattern

:48:51.:48:53.

and hope to come forward later in the year with any suggestions with

:48:54.:49:01.

the regards to policy change in regards to prisons. Figures released

:49:02.:49:06.

last month show that women are twice as likely to be prosecuted and seven

:49:07.:49:11.

times more likely to face the maximum ?1000 fine than men for

:49:12.:49:15.

nonpayment of the TV licence. Additionally, figures show that in

:49:16.:49:20.

2015 and number of women jailed for offences relating to this matter

:49:21.:49:24.

doubled. Can you explain to the House by women seem so

:49:25.:49:28.

disproportionately falling foul of the TV tax? Thank you for your

:49:29.:49:36.

question, and of course sentencing in individual cases is a matter for

:49:37.:49:40.

the courts. By the government are concerned that women and indeed men

:49:41.:49:43.

are not sent to custody if they do not need to be there. Sentencing for

:49:44.:49:50.

nonpayment of TV licence has new guidelines announced today, with

:49:51.:49:53.

possible factors to do the seriousness of TV licence evasion,

:49:54.:49:56.

including whether the culprit was experiencing significant financial

:49:57.:50:01.

hardship. The proposed closure of Camberwell Magistrates' Court would

:50:02.:50:05.

require my constituents, whether victims, witnesses defendants, to

:50:06.:50:08.

make long bus journeys to Croydon and Wimbledon to attend court. What

:50:09.:50:13.

assessment had you made on the implications of this proposed

:50:14.:50:17.

closure for access to justice for my constituents? Thank you for your

:50:18.:50:23.

response to the consultation, which has now closed, and we will announce

:50:24.:50:28.

the decision into course. But as made clear in the consultation there

:50:29.:50:34.

is excess capacity at London Magistrates' Court, Camberwell Green

:50:35.:50:38.

has significant outstanding maintenance of over ?1 million, so

:50:39.:50:41.

the consultation is about ensuring modern and efficient courts and

:50:42.:50:46.

improved arrangements for everyone. Assisting victims of crime is

:50:47.:50:49.

clearly at the centre of the government attempts to modernise the

:50:50.:50:54.

court system. What steps can you take to ensure that victims of

:50:55.:50:59.

sexual crime is assisted in their rights and preserved in the court

:51:00.:51:03.

system question that is an important point. We are seeing a record number

:51:04.:51:09.

of people prosecuted now for sexual crime, but I want to make it clear

:51:10.:51:15.

that victims and witnesses should be able to come forward, we are having

:51:16.:51:18.

more pre-trial cross-examination, so that people don't have the

:51:19.:51:27.

difficulty of appearing in court. I have spoken to victims organisations

:51:28.:51:29.

to see what more we can do to protect vulnerable victims. Does the

:51:30.:51:36.

Secretary of State recognised in relation to the Human Rights Act

:51:37.:51:40.

that the Good Friday Agreement requires that the European

:51:41.:51:43.

Convention on Human Rights to be directly enforceable in Northern

:51:44.:51:47.

Ireland? As you know, it is important that all matters to do

:51:48.:51:51.

with the devolved arrangements are fully considered in this context.

:51:52.:51:54.

But in the light of the announcement I've made today, there will be more

:51:55.:52:02.

time for that. Could the Minister outline what support has been

:52:03.:52:05.

provided to Lewes prison since it went into special measures at the

:52:06.:52:09.

end of last year and update on the progress made tackling some of those

:52:10.:52:13.

key issues that put it on special measures in the first place? The

:52:14.:52:17.

champion Lewis went into special measures on the 12th of December,

:52:18.:52:23.

and a package of support has been developed, for the newly appointed

:52:24.:52:25.

governor who took his post on the 9th of January. I would be happy to

:52:26.:52:29.

meet the member to discuss this support in detail. The consultation

:52:30.:52:34.

on driving offences and penalties relating to causing death or serious

:52:35.:52:39.

injury closes on February the 1st. When does the Minister expect the

:52:40.:52:43.

report on the outcome of consultation to be available? Is I

:52:44.:52:47.

understand we have received thousands of responses to that

:52:48.:52:54.

consultation and we will analyse results and once we are in a

:52:55.:52:57.

position we can bring forward for the proposals. What is the

:52:58.:53:02.

department doing to recruit high-quality graduates to the prison

:53:03.:53:06.

service? Thank you for your question, we have launched the

:53:07.:53:12.

programme which is like teacher first for prisons, encouraging the

:53:13.:53:15.

brightest and best graduates, we have had a huge response, more than

:53:16.:53:19.

1000 expressions of interest within 24 hours, and I look forward to them

:53:20.:53:23.

joining our fantastic prison service. It is two years this month

:53:24.:53:29.

since the government signed the prisoner transfer agreement with

:53:30.:53:32.

Nigeria, could the Minister tell me how many prisoners have been removed

:53:33.:53:39.

to a Nigeria since that agreement? Again I am happy to provide that

:53:40.:53:42.

information and put it in the library of the House. Following the

:53:43.:53:48.

announcement last week by the Prime Minister that Britain intends to

:53:49.:53:55.

leave the European Court of Justice, which you outline what preparations

:53:56.:54:01.

for department is making to have the UK court system to take out balls

:54:02.:54:07.

and accountabilities previously taken out by the European Court?

:54:08.:54:11.

Once believed the European Union, British judges will once again be

:54:12.:54:14.

the final decision makers in our courts. I am sure that are

:54:15.:54:19.

world-renowned traditionally will rise to the challenge and I am

:54:20.:54:22.

working closely with them on arrangements. The government has

:54:23.:54:29.

signalled its intention to remain a member of Europol after we leave the

:54:30.:54:34.

European Union. Is there also a similar resolve to continue the

:54:35.:54:42.

Bishop of Eurojust? Thank you for your question, I am working with

:54:43.:54:46.

arrangements for criminal justice after leaving the European Union, as

:54:47.:54:50.

well as the Secretary of State for exiting the EU. The Justice

:54:51.:54:59.

Secretary has already said that four out of the ten biggest legal firms

:55:00.:55:06.

are based in the United Kingdom. What steps are you taking, given the

:55:07.:55:10.

similarity between English law and law in New York State and Australia

:55:11.:55:15.

and New Zealand, to promote petition firms opportunities after we leave

:55:16.:55:22.

the European Union? Last week, I hosted a meeting with the Lord Chief

:55:23.:55:27.

Justice in leading legal firms, talking about mutual recognition and

:55:28.:55:30.

enforcement of contracts, and later on in the spring we will hold a

:55:31.:55:36.

global Britain legal services Summit to promote the fantastic

:55:37.:55:43.

capabilities we have in the law. When leaving prison, we need to

:55:44.:55:47.

ensure that those addicted to drugs or alcohol have the best start away

:55:48.:55:51.

from the dependency, so that their loved ones can be protected from

:55:52.:55:58.

that harm. Does the Minister agree with me that former prisoners who

:55:59.:56:02.

are addicted to substances who may then come back to course of the

:56:03.:56:06.

control their families to get to that substance can be managed

:56:07.:56:08.

better? I think it is important they receive

:56:09.:56:21.

treatment in the community and it is something I am looking at very

:56:22.:56:29.

closely. A crab Laura Berry? Ministers will be aware of an

:56:30.:56:34.

incident that took place where a defendant while in the dock was able

:56:35.:56:39.

to use a sharp object to take part in a serious act of violence against

:56:40.:56:45.

themselves. Will the Secretary of State look into what went wrong with

:56:46.:56:49.

the security arrangements at the court? No one should be in a

:56:50.:56:53.

position to do harm to themselves or others in a court in England or

:56:54.:56:57.

Wales. He makes an important point about an extremely concerning

:56:58.:57:00.

incident. I have been briefed already but I have asked for a

:57:01.:57:03.

further report from Her Majesty's Courts service on what happened and

:57:04.:57:06.

what measures are necessary to ensure it doesn't happen again.

:57:07.:57:14.

Meeting Lancashire Police Federation last Friday, they said to me they

:57:15.:57:17.

believed the sentencing guidelines dealing with an assault on a police

:57:18.:57:23.

officer are adequate. In some cases, they are not properly fought by the

:57:24.:57:28.

court. What will the Secretary of State do to make sure an attack on a

:57:29.:57:33.

police officer is always an aggravating factor because an attack

:57:34.:57:38.

the law enforcers is an attack on society itself? I thank my

:57:39.:57:43.

honourable friend for his comment and he is right about attacks on

:57:44.:57:48.

police officers. Also on prison officers. What we are doing is

:57:49.:57:51.

strengthening the law in those areas and I have regular discussions with

:57:52.:57:59.

the sentencing council. The use of psychoactive substances such as

:58:00.:58:06.

spies, commerce secretary of state tells me what links they can

:58:07.:58:08.

highlight in the rise of psychoactive substances and the

:58:09.:58:13.

levels of violence in prisons? He is right that psychoactive substances

:58:14.:58:22.

have an effect on our prisons. We have now rolled out testing to deal

:58:23.:58:27.

with those substances and we have extra sniffer dogs to deal with them

:58:28.:58:33.

and we are making progress. Recognising the consequences of

:58:34.:58:37.

crimes on victims must be at the forefront of offender's minds as

:58:38.:58:41.

they leave prison. What steps are ministers taking and the probation

:58:42.:58:45.

service taking to ensure this is the case? The honourable gentleman is

:58:46.:58:52.

right. Victims have to be at the centre of the justice system. That

:58:53.:58:58.

is what our court reforms will help deliver and also restorative Justice

:58:59.:59:01.

programmes led by our Police and Crime Commissioner 's can help

:59:02.:59:07.

restore justice to victims. Statement, the Secretary of State

:59:08.:59:15.

that the European Union. David Davis. I will make a statement on

:59:16.:59:21.

the Government's responds to today's judgment by the Supreme Court. This

:59:22.:59:24.

Government is determined to deliver on a decision taken by the people of

:59:25.:59:31.

the UK in the referendum to lead the European Union. We will move swiftly

:59:32.:59:36.

to do just that. I can announce today that we will surely need to do

:59:37.:59:39.

is legislation allowing the Government to move ahead with

:59:40.:59:41.

invoking article 50 which starts the formal process of withdrawing from

:59:42.:59:47.

the European Union. We received the lengthy 96 page judgment a few hours

:59:48.:59:52.

ago and Government lawyers are assessing it carefully. This would

:59:53.:59:59.

be a straightforward bill. It is not about whether or not the

:00:00.:00:00.