Live Justice Questions House of Commons


Live Justice Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to justice secretary David Gauke and his team of ministers.


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round-up of the Day in both Houses

of Parliament at 11pm tonight.

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First, questions to the Justice

Secretary David Gower and his team

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of ministers.

With permission, I

would like to answer questions one

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and two. Maintaining access to

justice is a key principle when

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changes to the estate are proposed.

Reassessed travel time for court

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users. Decisions to close a court is

never taken likely. Reform programme

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will improve access to justice for

many users, while online proceedings

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and video courts will make access

easier.

In my constituency, Buxton

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Court closed in 2016. Some of my

constituents now have to travel 40

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miles to Chesterfield Court. Police

say it takes them a whole day to

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take someone to court, instead of

less than half a day. It impacts the

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number of offenders they can bring

to court and to justice in my area.

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Please will he take this into

account and the current

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consultation?

Ungrateful for those

comments, but we also have to take

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into account that during the

financial year, 41% of court

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tribunal is used less than half of

their available hearing capacity.

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Across the country, courts are

utilised at 58% of their capacity.

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In those circumstances, we have to

make decisions about the reforms we

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undertake.

Thank you. I have been

raising concerns about the closure

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of Lambeth County Court for two

years. My constituents facing the

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repossession of their homes must now

attempt Clerkenwell County Court

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which lawyers report to be a chaotic

environment, impossible to contact

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by telephone, where cases files

frequently go missing, and where the

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number of those failing to attend is

rocketing.

The reality is we are

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undertaking a series of reforms

here, making much greater use of

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digital technology, increasing

access to online ways of dealing

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with this. And these are... This is

an important modernisation that the

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court system needs.

Very sadly, we

have lost our Magistrates' Court in

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Kettering which I believe is a

mistake. It means witnesses are all

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having to travel further. I think

the closure of courts sends up a

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signal to the magistrate that they

are not valued. Can we get rid of

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this ridiculous age limit where by

magistrates have to retire at 70?

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Ungrateful to him for raising this

point. Is a matter that I have

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received representations upon. That

is consistent with what happens

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elsewhere in the judiciary, but I'm

conscious this will continue to be a

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matter of some debate.

The

government is continuing to cut

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court staff, closing Court and

signing millions of pounds for the

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digitisation programme. Will the

Minister promised not to close any

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more courts or sign contracts until

the court bill is published and the

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matter has been debated fully in

this chamber?

I hope to be able to

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bring forward further news, in terms

of the Courts Bill in the near

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future. But I'm not going to give

that undertaking. I think it is

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important that we continue to look

to get the best out of the resources

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that we have and if that means

reforms here in making greater use

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of digital technology and also

ensuring that our courts stay as

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efficient as possible, we will

continue to do so.

I understand that

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the honourable member for Rochdale

has got a great interest in this

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area and did a lot of work when he

was the PPC of Greater Manchester.

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It is right that cases come to court

as quickly as possible. Timeliness

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in a criminal court system is

improving. From listening to

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completion, the average is down to

27 days. Unfortunately, as he will

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know, there are particular

challenges in relation to six

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offences where it takes longer for

cases to come to court.

The Minister

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is right. There are complexities,

but in cases where there are

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legitimate adjournments this can

lead to months of delay and

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sometimes it takes years before

victims come to court. Victims are

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already traumatised by what has

happened to them. Can we make them a

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priority?

Here's right. We need to

be extremely careful with vulnerable

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witnesses to ensure they have

justice. Were bringing in measures

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and rolling out the taking of their

evidence to ensure that they can do

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that pre-trial and therefore safely,

which will speed up justice. As he

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knows, we are hoping to bring

forward the courts bill which will

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ensure the streamlining of justice,

doing away with unnecessary

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hearings, which will hopefully speed

up access to justice.

Can administer

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further outline what training

lawyers get when handling vulnerable

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witnesses?

In family court, all

judges have training regarding

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vulnerable witnesses. I'm sure the

CPS have training as well.

We are

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committed to improving the

experiences of those who have become

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victims of crime. By the summer, we

will publish our victim strategy.

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The key area of which is how we can

improve interactions with the

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criminal justice system.

Does he

agree that the video hearing system

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will improve the system and increase

capacity?

He is right. Ensuring the

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easiest possible way for people to

give evidence is part of our

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efficiency strategy.

The Serious

Case Review into the appalling

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sexual abuse of girls and vulnerable

adults in Newcastle was published

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last month. Whilst generally

praising the actions of local

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authorities, it raised significant

concerns about the way victims of

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these appalling crimes were

supported and made to relive

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harrowing experiences. Will the

Minister be responding directly to

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the recommendations of the Spicer

review?

I thank the honourable lady

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for her question. The Department is

aware of the Serious Case Review

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concerning sexual exploitation of

children. The details are shocking.

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We are looking at ways to

continually improve our service and

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I will be writing to her with

regards to whether we will respond

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directly to that.

The Scottish

Government is bringing in

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legislation to prevent people from

civil court fees. Discussions is he

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having about lessons to be learned?

I think there are plenty to learn

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from what is happening in Scotland.

Discussions continue on a regular

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basis and I look forward to learning

from Scotland in the future.

The

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government had plans to legislate to

ban alleged domestic abusers from

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cross examining their victims in

family courts. Did the Minister say

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of this is still government policy?

And if so, when such a provision

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will be put before this House? Every

time there is a delay, the more

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vulnerable people get traumatised in

court.

He is spot on. It is wrong

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that this behaviour in the courts is

not acceptable. We will bring

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forward details of this in our bill

later this year.

The court

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experience can be a will bewildering

one. From feeling like a different

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planet. Not helped by the fact that

72% of court judges are men. It is

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International Women's Day on

Thursday. Will the government commit

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to a time still to ensuring that 50%

of judges are female?

I think it

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would be appropriate if the numbers

of women in that position in our

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society was greater. I will be

visiting HMP Bronzefield on Thursday

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evening. I cannot commit to a

timetable. I will take away her

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suggestion.

Thank you. As the House

will be aware, in 1988, a major

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change in the law was brought in to

allow victims to be able to

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challenge unduly lenient sentences.

At the moment, that applies to the

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most serious indictable offences,

but the government has recently

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extended it to a range of terrorist

offences.

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I am grateful for that answer, but

the Government has promised to

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extended to include a further range

of offences. Can I ask when the

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Government is good to extend the

number of cases, as we have been

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promised for quite some time?

Already said in my answer. Already

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the most serious offences such as

murder are covered by the scheme. We

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have extended it twice in the last

few years, but we are talking very

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closely to my right honourable

friend the Attorney General to look

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at other opportunities for extending

the scheme.

Mr Speaker, the

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Secretary of State will know that I

regularly writes to him about an

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unduly lenient and unduly severe

sentences. I never seem to get a

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reply. The fact is, too many women

are locked up for non-violent

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offences for long periods of time,

and that is the sort of case that I

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writes to him about. Why don't we

ever did any comeback?

It is

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reassuring to know that I am not the

only person to whom the honourable

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gentleman regularly writes.

To go to

the nub of the honourable member's

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question, I think there is a very

serious issue here, that as it is

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absolutely true that there are many

more women in prison than we would

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like to see, and my honourable

friend is working very hard to juice

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that population for exactly the

reasons the honourable member has

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raised. -- to produce that

population. -- reduce.

A criminal

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case can be very traumatised in the

victims. Would the Minister look at

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introducing a discretion in relation

to the 20 day limit?

An interesting

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question. Perhaps we could sit down

to discuss this interesting idea in

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more detail.

Question six. With your

permission, I would like to take

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questions six, 14 and 23 together.

Skilled professional prison officers

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are at the centre of running and

good prisons. That is why we are

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committed to recruiting 2500 extra

prison officers, and we are now nine

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months ahead of target on delivering

those officers.

I welcome the

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Government making progress in

recruiting extra prison officers,

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but will the Minister reassure the

House that he is making every effort

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to retain the services of

experienced and long serving

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officers who are absolutely

essential for entering new recruits

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into the service?

Absolutely. As the

honourable member points out, this

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is not just about numbers. Working

in a prison is very challenging, and

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having the experience to do it is

vital, so we are bringing incentive

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schemes in place to try to retain

our most experienced staff and

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understanding the cases where they

do leave why they are leaving.

There

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is a huge opportunity for

rehabilitation in prisons, which is

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often not taken, so what we have a

lot of capacity will this increase

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in prison officers create?

The

central objective of bringing in

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2500 extra prison officers is to

allow us to pair each individual

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prison officer with six prisoners,

which allows them to develop their

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individual personal relationship

over time through weekly meetings,

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exactly to achieve the

rehabilitative and educational

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objectives that we need to reduce

reoffending and protect the public.

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The redevelopment of one prison will

provide many employment

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opportunities across

Northamptonshire including in my

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constituency. What does the

Government doing to attract local

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people into the role, including for

example former members of the Armed

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Forces?

I'm very pleased this has

been raised. Almost 40% of prison

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officers traditionally came from the

Armed Forces. That number is

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reduced. We are now working closely

with the MOD to explain what an

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interesting career this can be

entered in much advertising, but

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although it is a very challenging

career, it can also be deeply

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fulfilling, we would like to

encourage mini more people to come

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forward into the profession.

What

effect does the Minister expect

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regarding the shortage of prison

officers on the number of suicides

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and self harm and prisons?

There is

a number of drivers on suicide and

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self harm, and of course numbers of

staff is one of them. There are

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other questions around it, probably

the largest single driver that we

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have seen, though, since 2011 is

drugs which are creating

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extraordinary psychotic episodes and

leading to directing creases and

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violence. We must address this. --

direct increases.

This in

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recruitment drive is welcome, but

isn't it true that we are now just

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catching up? Staff at a young

offenders institution in my

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constituency fell by a third in 2013

to 461, with huge impact on the

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Government and staff, with that

institution having been deemed

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unsafe for both staff and prisoners.

Is it not time that the Government

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now commits to working closely with

staff and the prison officers

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Association to tackle this crisis

and ensure we get back on track with

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rehabilitation for young offenders?

100%, we will be working very

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closely with prison officers on

exactly this reason, and is the

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honourable member points out,

getting the numbers right will be

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vital. Those 2500 ex-prison officers

are vital to get that one to sex

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ratio we need for rehabilitation. --

one to six.

Ministers talk of

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finally addressing a crisis they

made by axing some in a prison

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officers, yet since the so-called

recruitment drive began, over a

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third of high security prisons have

actually had a fall in the number of

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prison officers, so could the

Secretary of State guaranteed today

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that these high security prisons

will have more staff by the next

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justice questions?

One of the

challenges around the high security

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state, particularly in places like

London, has been around the

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employment opportunities. We have

put new incentives in place to

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recruit people in London, both a

signing on bonus and a retention

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bonus. I am not in a position to

guarantee exactly the employment

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market, but we are making a lot of

recruitment in places such as

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Belmont high security prison in

London.

Nearly one in four prisons

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have seen prison officers fall since

the Government's recruitment drive

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began. We have a problem with

experience officers leaving the

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service, creating a dangerous

cocktail of inexperienced officers

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and expedients prisoners. In the

last year alone, 1000 prison

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officers with more than five years'

experience each have left the

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service. That is the equivalent of

over 5000 years of experience lost

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in the prison service in the last

year alone. So will be Secretary of

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State guaranteed that there will be

more prison officers were five

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years' experience at the end of the

year and now? -- than now?

The

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fundamental point that is right, we

need experienced prison officers. It

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is very difficult working in a

prison. You can bring in huge

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numbers of new junior staff, but

unless they have the experience, it

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is good to be difficult to get those

kind of results. We therefore have a

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plan where we have targeted the

presence was the most experienced

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officers and understanding why that

is happening, and we are putting

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both work with staff in place and

financial incentives in place to

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retain those experienced staff.

The

new recruits are welcome, but senior

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officers are also important. I am

told that on certain grades, prison

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staff acting up to higher roles are

paid more than if they accepted the

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actual promotion, and this acts as a

disincentive to staff looking to

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take on more responsibility. Can my

right honourable friend look into

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this anomaly?

I would like to take

this opportunity to pay tribute to

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the work of the honourable member

for jump-start, particularly on

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prisons and for advocating for the

prison population there. It is true

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that there is a very strange anomaly

in the HR procedure, and we must

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tackle this. It cannot make sense

that people are paid more to Act up

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and occupy the role. We want people

to have career development, and we

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will move for that immediately.

Question seven.

There were an

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average 11,200 prisoners in prison

workshops. Also in 2016, 2048

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individuals will do some temporary

licence for work-related purposes.

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The new futures network will aim to

get even more prisoners working

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during their sentence, and for that

work to lead to employment on

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release.

I know he is new in office,

but Ramby Prison has been waiting

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for two years now to create the

sport facilities they are capable of

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building, but the one thing they

have not been given as the

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permission to proceed by the

Secretary of State to do this

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commercial work. Can I incentivise

him with perhaps a cup of tea

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afterwards in order to concentrate

his mind on why this decision needs

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to be made urgently by him?

Certainly the prospect of a cup of

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tea with the honourable gentleman

does concentrate the mind. And I

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would be delighted to accept his

invitation. But in terms of what we

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are trying to do is we are... Wants

to ensure that we have got a prison

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system that encourages people to

progress, to have opportunities to

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gain experience in the work, and I'm

keen to do that in this post.

And

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the honourable gentleman's officer

might be thought to be a divisional

0:21:550:21:57

proposition.

The Secretary of

State's speech this morning and the

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emphasis of more use an temporary

licence is extremely welcome and

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constructive. Will he also bear in

mind that at the moment, they

0:22:080:22:11

through the gate programme involves

careers and implement advice

0:22:110:22:15

happening on the towards the end of

a prisoner's sentence, while all

0:22:150:22:19

evidence suggests that it should

happen much earlier?

I think the

0:22:190:22:23

chair of the Justice select

committee for his comments, and it

0:22:230:22:26

is the case that we want to see what

we can do in terms of release on

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temporary licence, whether we can

expand that provide. Trinity is more

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widely. And in terms of his second

point, I'm keen to ensure that we

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provide as much support as possible,

and make it clear that there is a

0:22:400:22:45

second chance for people who have

gone to prison. If they abide by the

0:22:450:22:48

rules, they comply by the system, we

want to give them the support they

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need to turn their lives around.

We'll be Secretary of State consider

0:22:510:22:55

what can be done to facilitate

prisoners in applying for Universal

0:22:550:22:59

Credit before the release in order

that they can receive the support of

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job centre and other staff

immediately on police to move into

0:23:040:23:07

to paid work as quickly as possible?

-- will be Secretary of State

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consider?

A good point, I am keen to

do that. A lot of good work goes on

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in prisons, with work cultures in

particular prisons providing that

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support. One of the challenges in

terms of access to e-mails, and we

0:23:200:23:25

need to look very careful at the

large number of questions that

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raises, but I think you are right to

raise this point.

Work experience in

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prison is proven to reduce

reoffending, so does the Secretary

0:23:370:23:41

of State believe that while we

rightly praise those who offer

0:23:410:23:45

former offenders work experience, we

need to call out those employers who

0:23:450:23:48

have a blanket ban on employing

ex-offenders unrelated to any

0:23:480:23:53

reasonable or fair risk assessment

of doing so?

I agree with my

0:23:530:23:59

honourable friend. I have certainly

seen surveys suggesting something

0:23:590:24:02

like 50% of employers and we will

not engage, and what is frustrating

0:24:020:24:07

is that when you do speak to those

employers who do take on extra

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fenders, actually their experiences

are frequently very positive indeed.

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I think if we can increasingly build

a culture whereby those offenders

0:24:180:24:22

are given that opportunity, think

that is good for the offenders and

0:24:220:24:26

good for society as it will reduce

reoffending.

Question eight, please.

0:24:260:24:33

I believe the honourable member and

myself have discussed this issue

0:24:330:24:37

something like five times in the

last six weeks. I would like to be

0:24:370:24:41

attributed to him as being a very

firm advocate for as commodities, we

0:24:410:24:45

have listened very carefully to his

complaints. A decision on this

0:24:450:24:49

prison is not likely, the

construction is not likely to be

0:24:490:24:51

imminent, but I would like to say in

addition to listen to those

0:24:510:24:55

complaints, that a prison built in

the right place in the right way,

0:24:550:24:59

can provide is another good economic

opportunities for an area.

I think

0:24:590:25:04

the Minister for his answer, but the

problem is the proposed site is

0:25:040:25:09

right next to residential areas,

schools, and a care home, surrounded

0:25:090:25:13

by very poor transport links on the

Des admitted enterprise zone on

0:25:130:25:16

marshland, and restricted by a

covenant saying that it can only be

0:25:160:25:22

used as an industrial park. --

designated enterprise zone. The

0:25:220:25:25

Minister must agree with me that the

whole idea is a nonstarter and

0:25:250:25:28

should be scrapped with immediate

effect.

The honourable member has

0:25:280:25:33

made these points on a number of

occasions, we are listening

0:25:330:25:35

carefully. Indeed, two members of

our department travelled to Port

0:25:350:25:41

Talbot to a meeting where these

points were raised repeatedly. We

0:25:410:25:44

are listening very carefully to the

honourable member.

Would there be an

0:25:440:25:48

answer to the honourable gentleman

on the industrial estate if any new

0:25:480:25:51

prison fully incorporated the work

of 131 Solutions, designed over six

0:25:510:25:57

years ago to increase the productive

and commercial output from

0:25:570:26:02

prisoners, and the numbers given by

the Justice Secretary right now

0:26:020:26:05

suggest we have not actually made

very much progress in the numbers of

0:26:050:26:09

prisoners who are working. Any new

prison will include 131 Solutions,

0:26:090:26:13

and how are we getting on with

prisoners working overall?

0:26:130:26:22

Thank you. Forward very much to

meeting with the Right honourable

0:26:220:26:25

member to hear more about 131

solutions.

If a super present is

0:26:250:26:37

built in Port Talbot, there will be

up to 1000 more prison places than

0:26:370:26:42

there are prisoners from Wales. Is

Wales set to become a penal colony

0:26:420:26:52

for Westminster?

I think we want to

be very careful with this kind of

0:26:520:26:56

language. There are currently about

85,000 prisoners within the estate.

0:26:560:27:01

Having a 1000 extra prisoners in

Wales is not the creation of an

0:27:010:27:10

English penal colony.

Will he ensure

its chaplaincy avoids the

0:27:100:27:15

extraordinary carrying one that has

recently been reported at HMP

0:27:150:27:19

Brixton?

I would like to take this

opportunity to pay tribute in

0:27:190:27:29

general to the work of the

chaplaincy. That is both a Christian

0:27:290:27:33

chaplaincy, the Jewish chaplaincy

and the imams with whom I have

0:27:330:27:40

recently met.

We are seeking a new

deep partnership across the whole of

0:27:400:27:56

the UK. In the negotiations over

market access for the criminal

0:27:560:28:03

justice system, I want to deal with

all nations in the UK and it is why

0:28:030:28:09

my department is meeting regularly

with the devolved administrations to

0:28:090:28:17

discuss EU except.

The Scottish

Government's legal continuity bill

0:28:170:28:24

gives the Scottish parliament and

enhanced role in scrutinising laws

0:28:240:28:28

due to Brexit.

In terms of what is

described as the continuity bill,

0:28:280:28:45

I'm not sure in all honesty how

helpful or a useful that will prove

0:28:450:28:49

to be. Of the reality is there is

very close scrutiny in this House of

0:28:490:28:55

the measures the government is

taking and the negotiations we are

0:28:550:28:58

taking.

We are saving up the Member

for the next question. He will have

0:28:580:29:17

a short wait.

Can I ask the Minister

if he is looking forward to April

0:29:170:29:23

next year when the jurisdictions

across the United Kingdom will be

0:29:230:29:34

able to meet the demands of the

people across United Kingdom?

As we

0:29:340:29:41

leave the European Union, new

flexibilities will arise for all

0:29:410:29:44

parts of the United Kingdom.

Unlike

the EU withdrawal bill, the Scottish

0:29:440:29:52

Government's legal continuity bill

contains a power for Scots law to

0:29:520:30:00

keep pace with European law post

Brexit if appropriate. Does he agree

0:30:000:30:10

that a similar measure should be

taken for the English legal system?

0:30:100:30:18

In terms of the extent to which this

parliament decides to replicate EU

0:30:180:30:23

law, that is a matter for this

parliament and whether we put that

0:30:230:30:26

in the EU withdrawal bill or not,

that freedom will continue to exist

0:30:260:30:32

for this Parliament.

Another point

of contrast between the Westminster

0:30:320:30:40

proposal and the Scottish

Government's proposal is that

0:30:400:30:46

fundamental rights are included.

What is he doing to ensure that

0:30:460:30:53

everyone in the United Kingdom keeps

their rights from the charter

0:30:530:30:59

regardless of which jurisdiction

they reside in?

The argument was

0:30:590:31:05

made at that time that it was

essentially replicating rights that

0:31:050:31:08

were set out elsewhere in other

parts of EU treaties, so the extent

0:31:080:31:20

to which that fundamentally changes

matters, I think there is a debate

0:31:200:31:24

to be had on that.

With your

permission, I would like to take

0:31:240:31:32

questions ten, 20 and 21 together.

It is right to give legal certainty

0:31:320:31:42

for families and individuals after

we leave the EU. The Prime Minister

0:31:420:31:46

said on Friday that part of our

arrangement will be dealing with

0:31:460:31:50

cross-border disputes. The best way

to deal with that is a close

0:31:500:31:57

encumbrance of agreement between the

UK and the EU, setting out common

0:31:570:32:05

rules.

Leaving the EU is likely to

lead to additional workload for the

0:32:050:32:11

UK legal system. What additional

resources have been made available

0:32:110:32:14

to his apartment and to the legal

system more generally to ensure they

0:32:140:32:19

are fully prepared for this?

I thank

him for that question. He will be

0:32:190:32:29

aware of the Treasury has made

another £3 billion worth of extra

0:32:290:32:34

funding available to departments for

2018-2020. We are in discussion with

0:32:340:32:40

the Treasury about the allocation

for the justice system and hope to

0:32:400:32:44

agree that soon.

As we leave the

European Union, many aspects of our

0:32:440:33:02

legal system will return to

Brussels. Does he agree with me that

0:33:020:33:09

the SNP's disruptive bill will do

nothing but add uncertainty to our

0:33:090:33:13

country?

We are committed to

providing a bill which works for all

0:33:130:33:19

parts of the UK. The government

believes that leaving the EU will

0:33:190:33:26

significantly increase the

decision-making of all devolved

0:33:260:33:37

administrations in the UK.

Legal

services is a key exporter of this

0:33:370:33:44

country. What is he doing to ensure

there will be new arrangement for

0:33:440:33:51

legal recognitions of standards and

qualifications?

We recognise this is

0:33:510:33:56

an important right to protect for UK

nationals, so they can continue with

0:33:560:34:01

their chosen line of work.

0:34:010:34:12

Talks on many key issues, including

mutual recognition of professional

0:34:130:34:19

qualifications will continue into

the next phase of negotiations. We

0:34:190:34:23

will seek to reach an agreement with

the EU, and the Prime Minister has

0:34:230:34:32

been clear she wants EU nationals in

the UK and UK nationals in the EU to

0:34:320:34:37

be able to continue their lives

broadly as no.

0:34:370:34:50

We are not likely to reach question

number 19.

As the Prime Minister has

0:34:520:34:59

made a number of concessions

regarding the European Court of

0:34:590:35:07

Human Rights after Brexit, when

exercising devolved jurisdiction,

0:35:070:35:14

isn't it time to amend clause six of

the EU withdrawal bill to the same

0:35:140:35:20

effect?

In terms of clause six and

this question more widely, let's be

0:35:200:35:30

clear. We are leaving the EU so that

jurisdiction of the ECJ will end.

0:35:300:35:42

The ECJ determines whether an

agreement is struck illegal under

0:35:420:35:50

the EU on law. Of Parliament passes

an identical law to EU law, it makes

0:35:500:35:55

sense for our courts to look at the

ECJ judgment to be consistent. We

0:35:550:36:05

have to remain our parliament would

ultimately remain sovereign and it

0:36:050:36:08

could decide not to accept these

rules, but with consequences for

0:36:080:36:16

linked market access rights.

There

have been a number of challenges,

0:36:160:36:23

particularly with transition.

Reoffending has come down. In

0:36:230:36:33

Cumbria, we are performing well. We

need to focus particularly on the

0:36:330:36:38

questions of assessment, planning

and eating. This is what we focused

0:36:380:36:43

on regarding the report into London

due on Monday.

Private sector

0:36:430:36:51

provision companies focus on

contract compliance, rather than the

0:36:510:36:53

true quality of supervision. It was

undermining the established values

0:36:530:37:00

of professionals. Does he agree it

is time to put proper probation

0:37:000:37:07

ahead of private profit?

I had an

interesting meeting at Nottingham

0:37:070:37:16

prison where a sea RC is providing

good through the gate services. That

0:37:160:37:21

did not exist before the reforms. I

don't believe this is a question of

0:37:210:37:29

whether it is done by the private or

public or voluntary sector, but it

0:37:290:37:34

is a question of getting basic

standards right. That is what we

0:37:340:37:40

will question the London CRC on on

Thursday.

Putting it bluntly,

0:37:400:37:48

privation privatisation has been a

disaster. Despite this, the

0:37:480:37:53

government is still pursuing their

privatisation agenda. Last month,

0:37:530:38:02

hostels night staff was outsourced.

Will minister fully accept

0:38:020:38:08

responsibility for any impact

regarding this ideological

0:38:080:38:16

outsourcing?

He is referring to a

decision made from a government run

0:38:160:38:25

service to bring in additional

contacted staff in to provide night

0:38:250:38:31

covered by these hostels. This is

traditionally work done by contacted

0:38:310:38:38

staff, but of course I accept full

responsibility for that decision.

0:38:380:38:44

This case is a matter for the Home

Office and police. I understand the

0:38:440:38:49

Home Office is working closely with

the MPC seek to understand the

0:38:490:38:54

impact of this ruling and monitor

current claims.

Failures to disclose

0:38:540:39:01

digital evidence has led to the

collapse of four rape trials in

0:39:010:39:05

recent months. In light of the

recent ruling, the lack of

0:39:050:39:12

criminality now exposes the police

to huge problems. Will he make

0:39:120:39:20

representations to the Home Office

to carry out a full impact

0:39:200:39:26

assessment of this decision?

In

terms of the disclosure cases, as

0:39:260:39:31

the Attorney General has said, it is

a question of public authorities

0:39:310:39:36

performing the roles that they

should do and doing their jobs

0:39:360:39:41

properly. And clearly it is of very

great concern that have been these

0:39:410:39:45

cases with this appears not to have

happened.

I would like to express,

0:39:450:39:55

as I'm sure the whole house would,

our immense gratitude to the role

0:39:550:40:00

that service animals play and have

played for a long time in public

0:40:000:40:03

life. We do things frequently that

humans would not do. Ranging from

0:40:030:40:10

detection of bombs to drug

detention, to addressing violent

0:40:100:40:14

criminals. There are very serious

circumstances which a judge can take

0:40:140:40:19

into account when sentencing and

very serious sentences can put in

0:40:190:40:24

place for anyone attacking a service

animal and that is absolutely right.

0:40:240:40:31

A police dog was brutally stabbed

several times in my constituency. It

0:40:310:40:45

is not acceptable to treat a police

dog in the same way as a computer

0:40:450:40:52

regarding criminal damage. Will he

meet with me to discuss greater

0:40:520:41:01

protection for service animals?

I

would like to pay tribute to the

0:41:010:41:03

active campaign led by the

honourable member and others. I

0:41:030:41:07

would be delighted to meeting to

discuss this law.

0:41:070:41:15

Given that Canada, America,

Australia and many of the European

0:41:150:41:18

member states have a similar law,

why did the Minister order the

0:41:180:41:21

Government to block the Bill last

Friday?

As we have discussed, there

0:41:210:41:28

are already very significant

sentences that could be imposed

0:41:280:41:31

about to ten years for this kind of

action, but I would be delighted to

0:41:310:41:35

meet with the right honourable

member along with my honourable

0:41:350:41:37

friend to discuss this detail in

more detail. -- discuss this issue.

0:41:370:41:45

I am grateful for that kind offer,

and I would like to make the point

0:41:450:41:48

that there is a gap in the law here.

If you prosecute under the animal

0:41:480:41:52

welfare Act, they are legal

difficulties because of the drafting

0:41:520:41:55

of section four, and if you

prosecute the criminal damage, of

0:41:550:42:01

course the value of the animal is

the thing that determines the

0:42:010:42:03

sentence. Often a police dog like

Finn, who was eight years old, he is

0:42:030:42:10

not worth that much money. He is

invaluable to the police enforcement

0:42:100:42:14

efforts of this country, but he is

not worth a lot of money, so I'm

0:42:140:42:18

grateful the Minister will talk to

as about this.

We can have a debate

0:42:180:42:28

about Finn of the honourable

gentleman has not already done so.

I

0:42:280:42:31

have got a ten minute rule Bill as

well.

The right honourable gentleman

0:42:310:42:36

is ahead of events! I was just

enjoying the family history the

0:42:360:42:39

honourable gentleman was educating

is about just now. Minister.

My

0:42:390:42:45

honourable friend is of course a

great authority on the law. There

0:42:450:42:48

are a number of issues here bulletin

from the exact sentences that can be

0:42:480:42:52

put in place today to the work that

the secretary for environment food

0:42:520:43:00

and Google affairs is introducing an

animal cruelty. I look forward to

0:43:000:43:04

discussing these issues over a cup

of tea. -- rural affairs.

0:43:040:43:19

Health services are commissioned by

NHS England who are responsible for

0:43:190:43:24

assessing treatment of mental health

prisoners in England. In Wales, this

0:43:240:43:27

is devolved to the Welsh Government

were separate arrangements are made.

0:43:270:43:31

I think the honourable gentleman

might be a bit confused. I think the

0:43:310:43:37

Minister is asking a question that

would have been put the honourable

0:43:370:43:40

gentleman from Coventry have been

called earlier on different

0:43:400:43:42

question. The question was which we

are now dealing is number 16, on

0:43:420:43:47

levels of violence and self harm. It

is quite understandable.

My

0:43:470:43:55

apologies. There have been worrying

increases in levels of violence and

0:43:550:43:59

self harm. A lot of this is driven

by new drugs, as I said earlier,

0:43:590:44:06

which are increasing psychotic

episodes. We are working hard on

0:44:060:44:09

this, having provided training to an

additional 14,000 prison officers

0:44:090:44:13

focused on issues of violence and

self harm. More staffing will help,

0:44:130:44:18

but there is much to do.

The

Minister will be aware that self

0:44:180:44:21

harm in prisons has risen by 75%

since 2007. Whilst I appreciate the

0:44:210:44:31

Minister giving as the drivers for

pylons and self harming in prison,

0:44:310:44:35

can he tell us in more detail how he

is good to produce self harm and

0:44:350:44:43

suicide? Candidacy agree that part

of the solution is encouraging the

0:44:430:44:46

use of mental health treatment

procedures, which has fallen by 48%?

0:44:460:44:53

Absolutely correct that mental

health is at the heart of a lot of

0:44:530:44:56

these issues. Two things, though,

one of them is the training for

0:44:560:45:01

14,000 additional officers. The

second is the use of the process

0:45:010:45:08

assessing the risk posed to the

prisoner and planning to deal with

0:45:080:45:12

that. We have managed to reduce the

levels of suicide in the last 18

0:45:120:45:17

months, but the level is still far

too high. Any death is a great

0:45:170:45:21

tragedy, we will continue to work

hard to reduce it forward.

62 years

0:45:210:45:29

ago, the then MP for Liverpool stood

in this chamber and raised concerns

0:45:290:45:35

about Liverpool prison. In the last

two years, seven prisoners have

0:45:350:45:44

taken their lives in that prison.

The Minister said on the 22nd of

0:45:440:45:49

February that the conditions at the

prison were disturbing and

0:45:490:45:51

unacceptable. What action will be

Minister take today to ensure that

0:45:510:45:55

all prisoners' mental health needs

are met, and no other prisoner takes

0:45:550:45:59

their life in one of our prisons?

As

the honourable member has mentioned,

0:45:590:46:07

Liverpool was in was very

disturbing. Mental health provision

0:46:070:46:11

is now significantly better than it

was at the time of the inspection,

0:46:110:46:14

and I spend a lot of time with the

mental health staff there. But there

0:46:140:46:19

is a broader issue, although we are

producing suicide, that is still too

0:46:190:46:22

much of it happening, and a lot of

this will be about making sure that

0:46:220:46:25

we deal not only with the drugs, but

also have the right kind of

0:46:250:46:31

purposeful activity in prisons so

that prisoners do not feel the

0:46:310:46:34

temptation to take their own lives.

Question 17.

The honourable member

0:46:340:46:42

is right to highlight the value of

our legal advice, which is why the

0:46:420:46:45

Government has spent a vast amount

of money on civil cases last year.

0:46:450:46:53

The Citizens Advice Bureau has

estimated that for every £1 spent on

0:46:530:47:02

advice, the state would save over

£2. So could the Minister met to

0:47:020:47:10

commissioning some research into the

cost effectiveness of introducing

0:47:100:47:14

early legal advice on the housing

sector so we can save money in the

0:47:140:47:17

long run?

There is already a that

can be taken on a telephone hotline,

0:47:170:47:24

legal aid is available where

homelessness is at risk, and that

0:47:240:47:27

the latest almost lost. There's a

whole variety of early legal advice

0:47:270:47:31

available through legal aid at the

moment, but that's the honourable

0:47:310:47:35

member will know, we are conducting

a review and this issue will be

0:47:350:47:41

considered.

Number 18, Mr Speaker.

Reducing reoffending is above all

0:47:410:47:52

about having a healthy relationship

between the individual and their

0:47:520:47:57

family, the individual and society,

the individual and the state. So

0:47:570:48:00

having devolution should put family

is vital. That is partly about the

0:48:000:48:05

prisoner's entitlement to two visits

a month. Some excellent examples,

0:48:050:48:11

such as Liverpool, a fantastic

family centre for a meeting with

0:48:110:48:14

family, and it is also about having

the telephony in place to keep those

0:48:140:48:18

contacts up.

I thank the Minister

for his response. Does he agree with

0:48:180:48:25

the findings that by maintaining

family contact, you can reduce

0:48:250:48:31

reoffending by over 39%?

Absolutely,

getting that family relationship

0:48:310:48:37

right, and bedding people with their

family is vital in terms of reducing

0:48:370:48:40

reoffending.

Topical questions,

Priti Patel.

For prisons to be

0:48:400:48:49

effective, we must get the basics

right. We must tackle the

0:48:490:48:53

ringleaders of serious organised

crime so that people cannot ruin

0:48:530:49:01

people's' glide from behind bars.

This includes creating a new team to

0:49:010:49:12

work with the National Crime Agency

and enhance our intelligence

0:49:120:49:17

gathering capacity across the

country. I will also look at how we

0:49:170:49:20

categorise prisoners to make sure we

are using our most secure prisons to

0:49:200:49:25

tackle ongoing offending behind

bars, and at the same time we will

0:49:250:49:29

improve our incentive scheme so they

will work more in the favour of

0:49:290:49:34

criminals who play by the rules. --

prisoners who play by the rules.

As

0:49:340:49:46

part of the negotiations on leaving

the European Union, is my right

0:49:460:49:51

honourable friend liaising with

other departments to ensure that we

0:49:510:49:56

can deport thousands of EU nationals

in our prison and remove these

0:49:560:49:59

dangerous people from Britain?

Since

2010, we have removed more than

0:49:590:50:05

40,000 foreign national offenders

from our presence. Immigration

0:50:050:50:09

centres in the community allow

foreign offenders to return to their

0:50:090:50:16

home country, and we are working

closely with the Home Office as we

0:50:160:50:19

consider our fuel future criminal

justice system with the aim of

0:50:190:50:26

carrying on how close working

relationship.

Any formal statement,

0:50:260:50:32

the previous Secretary of State for

Justice said the Grenfell Tower

0:50:320:50:35

enquiry would get to the truth and

see justice done. For that to be the

0:50:350:50:42

case, survivors and their families

must have full confidence in it. To

0:50:420:50:46

tackle the current obvious lack of

trust, does the Minister agree with

0:50:460:50:52

survivors and believed family is

calling for a broad enquiry panel as

0:50:520:50:54

there was the watershed enquiry as

there wasn't the death of Stephen

0:50:540:51:01

Lawrence?

The process has been set

up, and the enquiry is the right

0:51:010:51:09

approach, the focus should be on

ensuring that that enquiry is able

0:51:090:51:12

to make progress rather than trying

to undermine it.

Family law has been

0:51:120:51:20

in need of reform for far too long.

We are now supporting early

0:51:200:51:26

intervention and wishing to carry

out a pilot scheme. We'll be

0:51:260:51:29

Minister meet with me to discuss how

we could make this excellent session

0:51:290:51:34

is reality? -- excellent solution.

I

am aware of the importance of

0:51:340:51:39

looking at family law. Relationship

breakdown cannot read very much to

0:51:390:51:47

unwelcome life circumstances for

children. I'm happy to meet with the

0:51:470:51:50

honourable member. He should know

that I have already met with the

0:51:500:51:55

Chief Executive of the family Court,

I'm happy to discuss his issue.

0:51:550:52:03

There has already been a public

meeting in my constituency about the

0:52:030:52:07

prison. He will be delighted to know

we have organised another public

0:52:070:52:10

meeting on the 12th of April, to

which he has been invited. I would

0:52:100:52:15

really encourage him to come to meet

my constituents, to hear directly

0:52:150:52:20

their concerns, and I can guarantee

he will receive a warm welcome in

0:52:200:52:22

the valley.

I am very grateful. As I

say, there's almost no member of

0:52:220:52:28

Parliament who has been more

assiduous in this subject. I think

0:52:280:52:32

five meetings in the last six weeks

on the subject. It was a very

0:52:320:52:37

vigorous encounter between my

officials and the honourable

0:52:370:52:41

member's community on that last

visit to Port Talbot. I would like

0:52:410:52:43

very much to have the next meeting

here in London if possible, I would

0:52:430:52:47

be delighted to have discuss issues

on that occasion.

The Torbay

0:52:470:52:55

offender management team works to

reduce crime, and to prevent

0:52:550:52:59

reoffending. What movements has the

Lord Chancellor made to reducing

0:52:590:53:05

crime in Torbay?

This is an

interesting example. It's in stars

0:53:050:53:13

that the Torbay approach is working

with police and children services,

0:53:130:53:18

the work they do with Catch-22 on

accommodation.

In December, the

0:53:180:53:26

spate of deaths at Nottingham prison

was described to me as a random

0:53:260:53:33

occurrence. Last month, another

death was reported to be a suicide.

0:53:330:53:39

All ministers now except there is

nothing going on at this jail, this

0:53:390:53:42

is not a safe environment?

I visited

HMP Nottingham last week, and today

0:53:420:53:50

serious was it. I would like to pay

to get to the prison officers and

0:53:500:53:57

the governor, but there are many

challenges that at present. We have

0:53:570:54:00

a new violence reduction strategy,

and the Act process will be central

0:54:000:54:05

in solving these problems.

In 100

years' time, people will look at our

0:54:050:54:10

prisons the same way we look at

Victorian prisons, locking up too

0:54:100:54:17

many people with health problems.

One thing we could do is clear out

0:54:170:54:21

people serving less than a year in

prison, as it does no good and are

0:54:210:54:25

moved around. Will the Minister look

at this?

It is true that many of the

0:54:250:54:30

serious challenges we have been

discussing in the House today,

0:54:300:54:34

particularly around violence, self

harm and drug use, focus on the

0:54:340:54:38

population in prison for less than

12 months. The more we can do to

0:54:380:54:42

rehabilitate people on the committee

while protecting the public, the

0:54:420:54:45

better.

Since 2010, six successive

court ministers have dodged

0:54:450:54:51

indecision over the future of

Sunderland Courts estate, despite

0:54:510:54:55

spending over £2 million on

preparations for a new Centre for

0:54:550:54:57

Justice, a further £284,000 will now

be spent on repairs to the city's

0:54:570:55:04

crumbling Magistrates' Court as a

result of this delay. Will the

0:55:040:55:08

Minister meet with me to see if we

can put an end to this saga give the

0:55:080:55:12

people of Sunderland a decision at

the last?

I thank the honourable

0:55:120:55:16

member for her question today. It

was a pleasure to meet with her

0:55:160:55:20

recently to discuss this issue, and

I'm grateful to her from following

0:55:200:55:24

up on Friday with an e-mail. Very

happy to meet with her again to

0:55:240:55:28

discuss this issue. I have sent her

a letter today setting out a

0:55:280:55:32

timetable, as I said I would, in

relation to the consideration of the

0:55:320:55:36

site going forward. When she has had

a chance to look at that, I am happy

0:55:360:55:39

to meet with her again.

Does the

honourable member and we that we

0:55:390:55:47

could look at the records of

prisoners with good behaviour to

0:55:470:55:53

reduce reoffending in the future?

If

there are prisoners who are abiding

0:55:530:55:59

by the rules, complying with what is

required of them, then governors

0:55:590:56:06

should have greater flexibility to

reward those prisoners with

0:56:060:56:09

additional privileges, and I think

that can help move people in the

0:56:090:56:13

right direction, change behaviour in

a positive way.

The most recent

0:56:130:56:18

figures from the Department show

only 6% of employment Tribunal fees

0:56:180:56:22

have been repaid despite the Supreme

Court declared unlawful the previous

0:56:220:56:27

year. If the parliament cannot

uphold the law, how does it expect

0:56:270:56:32

anyone else to?

0:56:320:56:40

The department has a responsibility

for upholding the law and it does do

0:56:400:56:44

so. The department has done work in

identifying interested bodies. It

0:56:440:56:51

has written to the bar Council, to

the representation unit. New figures

0:56:510:56:56

will come out at the end of March --

on the 8th of March. Of people do

0:56:560:57:04

not get refunds, we will continue to

liaise with that.

Could administer

0:57:040:57:17

discuss solutions for tackling

literacy problems?

54% of inmates

0:57:170:57:26

have a reading level lower than we

would expect from an 11-year-old.

0:57:260:57:34

Our solution is to give governors

more control of the education budget

0:57:340:57:41

and ensure literacy is available in

every prison as part of the core

0:57:410:57:46

curriculum.

Are a hard-working

prison officers face daily violence

0:57:460:57:56

in their jobs. I would like to ask

the Minister a wider question. What

0:57:560:58:04

is the department doing to ensure

prison of us are given full support

0:58:040:58:09

when assaulted and mental health

services are better than what we are

0:58:090:58:13

now?

We have a huge obligation to

prison officers, particularly when

0:58:130:58:20

the are assaulted. We need to make

sure prisoners are punished. Will

0:58:200:58:26

need to reduce drugs. We need to use

more CCTV cameras and body held

0:58:260:58:34

cameras to record salts. Prison

officer is must feel safe in our

0:58:340:58:38

environment.

I very much hope the

Foreign Secretary is beetling his

0:58:380:58:44

way towards the chamber. Either he

himself one of his accomplices is

0:58:440:58:56

required in the chamber. We will not

take points of order no. We will

0:58:560:59:11

hear from the honourable gentleman

in due course. Stay in your seat.

0:59:110:59:21

Fiona Bruce.

Can I commend the

Prisons' Minister for following only

0:59:210:59:31

success of his predecessor?

0:59:310:59:41

Very good of the Foreign Secretary

to drop in on us. I think the Member

0:59:430:59:48

for Congleton should be given the

chance to represent question.

Will

0:59:480:59:54

the Prisons' Minister meet to

discuss the welfare of prisoners'

0:59:540:59:59

children? There are 200,000 such

children per year and the often fall

0:59:591:00:06

completely through the clear system.

One of the most terrifying statistic

1:00:061:00:13

is the very high number of

prisoners' children who then go on

1:00:131:00:17

to offend themselves. I would be

delighted to meet with the Minister

1:00:171:00:21

to discuss prisoners and their

families.

What is the government

1:00:211:00:26

doing to reverse the dramatic fall

in community sentencing, that has

1:00:261:00:31

nearly halved in the past decade,

with a particularly sharp drop in

1:00:311:00:35

recent years?

What I would say is

that we have seen an increase in

1:00:351:00:45

suspended sentences. The member is

right. We want to work closely with

1:00:451:00:51

the CRCs because it is right the

judiciary has confidence in

1:00:511:00:59

non-custodial sentences, as well as

custodial sentences.

The Foreign

1:00:591:01:04

Secretary is scribbling away, but I

have an appetite to share a couple

1:01:041:01:12

more questions to the Justice

Secretary while the Right honourable

1:01:121:01:16

gentleman is recovering his breast.

Winnie is compulsory prisoner

1:01:161:01:21

transfer arrangements to send

foreign prisoners back to their own

1:01:211:01:27

countries.

As I said earlier, in the

last few years, something like

1:01:271:01:39

40,000 foreign national offenders

have been returned to their own

1:01:391:01:43

countries. We continue to seek to

make progress and sign additional

1:01:431:01:47

agreements so we can continue to

progress this.

Under the legal aid

1:01:471:01:55

sentencing and punishment of

offenders act, can the Minister

1:01:551:01:58

confirmed the impact of cuts to

legal aid and separated children

1:01:581:02:05

will be considered as part of the

act?

The purpose of the review is to

1:02:051:02:12

look at the effectiveness of the

legislation that was brought

1:02:121:02:17

forward, so any changes that were

made by the last vote will be under

1:02:171:02:28

review?

So what exactly has happened

at the chaplaincy at HMP Brixton?

1:02:281:02:35

Brilliant question. I'm still trying

to get to the bottom of it and I

1:02:351:02:38

cannot provide an answer to the

House.

If he is in a generous mood,

1:02:381:02:51

he might offer copies to members in

the House and the gallery, regarding

1:02:511:03:07

succinct questions.

Last week, the

Justice Secretary raised some

1:03:071:03:18

important issues regarding virtual

courts. Why is he rushing to close

1:03:181:03:24

courts like the one in Cambridge,

when we are yet to have the wider

1:03:241:03:28

discussion about virtual courts?

It

is important that we make progress

1:03:281:03:36

in terms of using the court estate

as sensibly as possible. Resources

1:03:361:03:45

are scarce. It is right that we make

advantages in using digital

1:03:451:03:51

technology so access to judgment

becomes easier.

Last weekend, prison

1:03:511:03:58

of us Bedford was rushed to hospital

with a serious brain injury

1:03:581:04:02

inflicted by a prisoner. Another

serious incident occurred at the

1:04:021:04:06

weekend with prison officers running

for their lives to hide from

1:04:061:04:10

out-of-control prisoners. The

weekend before, five prison officers

1:04:101:04:14

were taken to A&E with injuries

inflicted from prisoners. Will

1:04:141:04:20

prison officer have to die before

his government will act to keep

1:04:201:04:24

prison staff safe in the line of

duty?

The events in Bedford at the

1:04:241:04:29

weekend were deeply disturbing and

the sympathy of the whole house goes

1:04:291:04:33

to that prison officer and his

family. In terms of violence against

1:04:331:04:37

prison officers, that is an

unacceptable level. Nearly 8000

1:04:371:04:44

incidents last year. And, as I set

out in a speech this morning, we

1:04:441:04:49

have to take this regrettably

seriously and recognise the driver

1:04:491:04:52

of a lot of this violence is drugs

and we need to recognise the driver

1:04:521:04:56

of a lot of drugs in prison is

serious organised and. I want to

1:04:561:05:00

ensure we do all we can to address

that because the prison officers

1:05:001:05:06

drew a great job and it is far too

dangerous for them.

Dignity plc, the

1:05:061:05:16

National Association of funeral

directors, 50 Parisian parents in

1:05:161:05:26

Hull are still seeking an

independent enquiry into what

1:05:261:05:29

happened to their babies' Ashes.

Hull City Council have refused to

1:05:291:05:36

have that independent enquiry.

This

situation was problematic. My heart

1:05:361:05:52

goes out to all the people involved.

Clearly it was very traumatic. The

1:05:521:05:58

review was comprehensive.

Instead of

its in-house review, shouldn't

1:05:581:06:05

ministers follow the excellent

example of the Scottish Government

1:06:051:06:08

with an independent review of legal

aid?

The review of legal aid is

1:06:081:06:15

going to be an important one. It

will be -- we will be inviting a

1:06:151:06:22

number of experts to give evidence

on the review, someone will have

1:06:221:06:26

independent evidence to make

decisions necessary we need to take

1:06:261:06:31

forward.

The Secretary of State will

know that even the best justice

1:06:311:06:35

system has miscarriages of justice.

Will he pay attention to the fact

1:06:351:06:39

that so many people who were later

found to be innocent and had

1:06:391:06:43

sentences quashed never get any

compensation at all?

Well, in terms

1:06:431:06:53

of the pointy rages, it is an

important one and I'm happy to meet

1:06:531:06:56

with him

1:06:561:06:57

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