Members of the House of Commons put questions to justice secretary Liz Truss and her team of ministers, from Tuesday 6 September.
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Questions to the Secretary of State for Justice.
Mr Dominic Raab.
First of all, I would like to pay tribute to the work done
by my honourable friend on human rights reform as a minister
in this department.
He is a great champion of liberty.
This Government is committed to scrapping the Human Rights Act
and introducing a British Bill of Rights.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
At the outset, it is an honour to be the first honourable member
to welcome the new Justice Secretary and the new front bench team
to their posts.
I wish them every success.
Can I, personally, from experience, assure her that being a lawyer
is of very limited value in her departments, no offence
to the Minister of State!
Britain's decision to leave the EU will remove the jurisdiction
of the Luxembourg court, probably the biggest obstacle
to delivering a Bill of Rights.
Can I welcome her in continuing with this reform and ask
the government to provide consultation as soon as possible?
I thank my honourable friend for his question.
This is an important reform, we need to get it right.
We will be introducing proposals in due course,
we will deliver on this manifesto commitment.
Which convention rights does the Justice Secretary propose
to leave out of the Bill of Rights?
I thank the honourable gentleman for his question.
I remember with fondness our time together on the Justice select
committee, where he had many good thoughts to put
forward at that time.
We will be putting out our proposals in due course that will discuss this
issue in detail.
One of the important points is that we want to see the ultimate
arbiter of those rights be the Supreme Court of
the United Kingdom.
Does the Secretary of State agree with me that one of the problems
with the current setup is the code includes many reservations
and qualifications which the European Court does not embrace,
and a British Bill of Rights could ensure that there is proper
balance and the interest of justice can be served?
My honourable friend makes a very good point, that is absolutely
the reason that we want to pursue a British Bill of Rights
that'll put that in place.
If we are to have the Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter, does this
mean that if the Lord Chancellor wants to withdraw from
the European Convention?
The Prime Minister has been very clear that leaving the easy HR
is not something that we will pursue.
Could I too welcome my right honourable friend to her post,
and her determination to proceed with a British Bill of Rights?
Could I urge her to remember that the cornerstone of the rule
of law in this country has always been the sovereignty of Parliament,
could I urge her not to listen to those who argue that somehow
or other getting rid of an act which came 40 years after we had
signed up to the European Convention on human rights somehow or other
undermines our position within the treaty?
He is absolutely right, human rights were not invented
in 1998 with the Human Rights Act.
We have a strong record of the country of human rights
dating back to Magna Carta.
The British Bill of Rights is going to be the next step
in enshrining those rights in our laws.
May I welcome the Secretary of State to her new role and say that well,
of course it is not a prerequisite for her role to be a lawyer,
she will no doubt wish to listen carefully to any legal advice
she receives in order...
Relation to any proposals to reform the law.
There was almost universal opposition to the repeal
of the Human Rights Act in Scotland, reflected in the Scottish parliament
and across Scottish Civic Society.
On the 11th of August I wrote to the Government of Britain seeking
clarification on the plans of the so-called reform
to the Human Rights Act.
I have yet to receive a substantive response.
At what stage in her plans with the Secretary of State seek
to consult with the Scottish Government, and can she confirmed
that she will listen to and respect the answer?
I thank her for her question.
I have already had a number of legal meetings on this issue and I am sure
I will enjoy working with the legal profession in this role.
The Prime Minister has already had a very good meeting
with the First Minister of Scotland, I will be meeting the Scottish
justice minister shortly to discuss a number of issues.
Order, I apologise, I had not realised that the honourable
and Leonard lady wanted a second bite of herself.
LAUGHTER I was rather hoping to have the second bite
of Her Majesty's Government.
I thank the Secretary of State for her early response.
If she has been having legal meetings about the Human Rights Act
she would have been advised that human rights are not a reserved
matter, therefore the Scottish Parliament must be consulted
regarding any legislation with regard to human rights.
During the independence rep around, Scotland was told it was an equal
partner in this union.
Did she appreciate that to repeal the Human Rights Act across the UK
would fly in the face of that promise and exacerbate
the democratic deficit that already exists in Scotland,
where a Tory Government we did not vote for is planning to take us out
of the European Union against our will?
I thank her for her question.
I would point out that this was in the Conservative Party
manifesto, we secured a majority at the general election.
As I said, I will be in touch with the Scottish justice minister
and look forward to talking to him on the subject.
Thank you again, Mr Speaker.
I would like to welcome the Secretary of State
to her new role.
It is good to see a Leeds person at both dispatch boxes.
Like me, I understand that she comes from good left-wing Leeds stock,
I look forward to our exchanges.
In her swearing-in ceremony, the Justice Secretary quoted
with approval the late Lord Bingham.
On the Human Rights Act, Lord Bingham asked in 2009,
which of these rights, I asked, would you wish to discard?
And went on to say there may be those who would like to live
in a country where these rights are not protected,
but I am not of their number.
To get the Secretary of State another chance, because she failed
to answer the question from my honourable friend the member
for Kingston-upon-Hull earlier, which of these rights did
she wish to discard?
I also welcome the honourable gentleman to the dispatch box,
it is great to have somebody who is also from Leeds facing me.
And to highlight the error of my ways after growing up
in a left-wing household in that great city.
LAUGHTER All I can say is I believe that everyone is capable of reform,
even those, Mr Speaker, on the benches opposite.
I have not given up hope yet on the Shadow Secretary of State
for Health adjusters.
The whole purpose of the Bill of Rights is to enhance human
rights in this country.
We have leading human rights since Magna Carta,
the Bill of Rights published in Wales in 1689, and we will
continue to lead the world in human rights.
Thank you very much to the Secretary of State for that response.
But we were very clear that we will replace
the Human Rights Act, which is not working for British
people, with a British Bill of Rights.
It gives the ultimate power to citizens in this country.
These were the words of the Secretary of State
on the today programme in May 20 15.
Given that and the answer she has just given, can she explain
to the house why she wants to rob the people of Britain
of their rights, and will she admits that talk of a so-called bill
of rights is simply posturing and making concessions to the hard
right of the Conservative Party?
Human rights were not invented in 1998 with the Human Rights Act.
There are major issues with the Human Rights Act.
We need to move forward, had a British Bill of Rights that
enshrines our ancient liberties.
We do now need to make progress, as there are lots of questions,
and progress has been slow so far.
Can we be speeded up by Mr John Mann?
Hate crime is abhorrent and has no place in society,
the Government published its plan to tackle hate crime,
Action Against Hate, in July 20 16.
The Government believes that the enforcement of criminal
legislation has an important role in tackling online hate,
Willie deterrence and prevention which needs a broader response
and effective management from the Internet industry.
Last time I asked the Secretary of State question she invited me to
join her on a delegation to China.
May I reciprocate and invite the front bench to come to Bassetlaw
May I reciprocate and invite the front bench to come to Bassetlaw
today in the Jubilee room, hosted by myself and the member for Newark?
True Vision, the Internet reporting organisation based in her officers,
is the pride and joy of her department and the envy
of every other Government in the world.
Is she going to allow it to disappear into some other
government departments, or will she keep it
in her department?
I thank him for his characteristically delivered
The Secretary of State, I gather, recently wrote to him
on this matter.
The cross government hate crime programme is highly regarded by this
government, and internationally.
I am committed to ensuring that this important work continues.
I would like to welcome my honourable friend.
The government was right to make posting revenge porn online crime.
Figures released today show that have been 200 prosecutions,
yet more than 1000 reported cases of revenge pornography
reported to the police.
Does the Minister agree with me that as with other sex-related crimes,
perhaps anonymity for victims needs to be carefully considered
in these cases?
I thank my honourable friend for this question and the work
she and the select committee do in this area, it is a terrible abuse
of trust which can leave victims feeling the bated and degraded.
By making it a specific offence can offence we've sent clear message
this will not be tolerated, with regard to anonymity I'm
interested in what she's saying she would write me on that issue
I will consider it.
Can I welcome the Minister to his post and ask if he has seen
the comments the Director of Public Prosecutions
this morning that social media is one of the driving forces behind
the record high in recorded crimes, violent crimes against women
and girls, and welcomed what he said about needing a broader response
to these issues.
Can he tell me what he plans to do to safeguard the many specialist
services that exist to support women who are suffering online
harassment and abuse, many of which are suffering
from funding cuts?
As I already stated, this crime is deplorable.
I suspect it has always happened and social media has facilitated it
and we are now detecting a greater level of crime of this kind.
I am determined to maintain services that support women and men
who are subjected to this crime and will continue to keep a close
eye on that.
What action is the Government taking to combat online anti-Semitic hate
crime emanating from extremist groups on campus?
Like revenge porn, these are all pulling crimes,
more easily committed by the internet and use of anonymity
with specifically regards to anti-Semitism, thanks
to the fantastic work for the member for Bassetlaw and his all-party
group, the Government has made significant advances
and I will consider her comments, particularly on campus.
In the last year, assaults have risen by 31% and those on staff
in our prisons have risen by 40%.
This is totally an acceptable and I'm determined to tackle it.
Reforming prisons will only be possible if they are made safer
places for staff and offenders alike.
The section of state makes clear prisons safety continues
to deteriorate and is a major problem putting prisoners
and staff at risk, but the major issue that must be tackled
is the retention of staff.
Can she set out what she will do to make this a priority and how
she will succeed her predecessors have failed?
I agree with the honourable lady that retention of staff
is a very important issue.
I've been to a number of prisons and seen how brave, fearless
and hardworking our prison officers are, they are a vital in turning
around offenders and getting them the education and skills they need
to succeed outside and I'm determined to support
them and work with them.
Over the coming months, I will lay out more detailed plans.
May I warmly welcome the secretary of state and her team
to their posts, lawyers do sometimes have their uses.
Her predecessor made prison reform a centrepiece of the agenda,
he rightly described the deterioration in safety
and prisons as terrible.
The figures have now got worse, he committed to an action plan
to tackle violence in our prisons.
Will she reaffirm that?
Can she tell us what specific steps will be taken to deal
with what is a ticking time bomb that we have
in our criminal justice system?
Because nothing else works if that isn't right.
Can I first say how pleased I've been to be able to meet the chairman
of the select committee, I take the advice of all my lawyers,
but particularly the chairman of the select committee,
This is a critical issue that faces our prisons.
We cannot have reform in our prisons if we don't have safe prisons
for people to work in.
These things go hand-in-hand and I'm committed to an agenda
of making our prisons safe and places of reform,
I will lay out my plan is very shortly on this issue and I look
forward to discussing it more with the select committee tomorrow.
Will the Secretary of State look again at statements that were made
by her department recently around numbers of prison officers,
her department claims the number has increased, it hasn't
and when will she look again because I believe they have not
taken into account staff being regretted
or the number of hours actually work when she examines the number
of officers in the system.
I thank the honourable lady for her question, I will of course
look at those numbers in detail and I'm looking at them just now.
What I would say as well as the number of staff,
it is important how staff are deployed and how staff
are trained and the Paras the governors have to be able to get
the best out of the staff working in the prisons.
I agree, staff are crucial to make our prisons work well.
One of the causes of lack of safety and prisons has been
psychoactive substances, with the secretary agree with me
that the ban on possession of the substances in prison should
improve the safety of other prisoners and prison officers
if that ban is properly enforced?
My honourable friend is right, they have, MPS have been a major
issue in our prisons.
I was pleased when I visited HMP Norwich last week to see
they are using the new legislation to tackle that issue.
They search and catch people out and they are succeeding in reducing
the amount of usage of that drug already.
I would like more of this type of programme happening more
across our prison estate.
Forgive me, I think the summer recess has taken its toll, I am
determined to ensure our prisons are places of safety and reform,
we need to help get offenders of drugs, improve their education
and get the work skills they need so they are less likely
to reoffend when they come out.
Could she answer this question, does she see a connection
between the long-term decline in prison officer numbers down 30%
between 2010 and 2013 and they are going down again
and this massive increase on assaults on staff,
90% up on the last month?
I thank the honourable gentleman for his question, there are many
factors driving prison violence and self harm, I am looking
I am looking at the evidence about what will work
and what steps we can take, but I'm
determined to tackle this and I'm very clear the current levels of
violence we have are unacceptable.
Can I warmly congratulate the secretary of state
and the new ministerial team on their appointment,
of course we need more prison officers but can of these extra
of state and their ministers to look at greater use
of prisoners as mentors.
Wandsworth is leading the way with 50 mentors teaching
education, but we can also do this in terms of both employment
for therapeutic use and to cut down the use of drugs.
I referred to that my honourable friend and as group to prison
minister who's done tremendous work and we're learning from the work
he carried out in the Department.
He makes an important point and I think we need to look
at overall prison culture in some of our best prisons,
we do have exemplary work going on such as mentoring
and we have to make sure that is happening
across our prison estate.
The Secretary of State might be aware the head of the prison service
in Northern Ireland recently stepped down, attacks on prison staff
are on the rise, can she ensure her department
is engaging actively with the Department of Justice
in Northern Ireland to see what lessons can be learned
and to try and improve safety and prisons in Northern Ireland?
I thank the honourable gentleman for his question,
I have been in touch with the Justice minister
in Northern Ireland and I look forward to speaking
to her in due course.
May I congratulate the secretary of state on her appointment,
is part of the problem that we have so many Victorian prisons?
The honourable gentleman is right.
We have a big issue with prisons that are out of date and not
fit for purpose.
It makes it more difficult for our excellent governors
and officers to manage well.
I'm pleased to say this summer we were able to close
We have our ?1.3 billion building programme and what I want to see his
new modern prison built, so that we can see prisoners get
the education and work then as required
in outside life.
As McGeeney to succeed.
And close down some of our most dilapidated and outdated prisons.
It is crucial that victims of crime are supported as effectively
as possible, the victims called was revised in 2015, victims of all,
no fences after entitled to support from a wide range of organisation
as well as criminal justice agencies.
The reforms the court will improve services for victims
and their families got ensemble to give evidence
remotely and digitally.
Over 23,000 individual crimes reported in Enfield over the past 12
months, for far too long the victims of these crimes have been forgotten
and ignored by the criminal justice system.
Given that the victims commissioner support the introduction of a long
for victims of crime, when will the Government
fulfil its election manifesto commitment to bring forward
legislation on the issue?
I thank the honourable lady for her question.
We want to make sure all vulnerable and intimidated witnesses can give
the best evidence in court and feel less anxious,
we are committed to making sure victims of crime get the support
We have protected the overall level of funding
for victims across the spending review period and have announced
funding of over 95 million pounds in 2016 to find
critical support services.
Victims of crime want to see the perpetrators of that
crime properly punished.
Is the minister happy that prisoners are automatically released halfway
through their prison sentence, no matter how disruptive
they are or much how much of a threat they still pose,
or does he agree that prisoners should serve the sentence
as was handed down by the courts in full?
I thank my honourable friend for his question.
The purpose of justice and the justice system must be
the primary goal to reduce reoffending.
If somebody in prison has been assessed and is deemed not a risk
to society and is being properly rehabilitated, it is in the best
interests of that individual and for that person to be released.
Too often the victims of criminal driving,
they are and their families are not treated as victims of crime,
told they were involved in an accident.
When will that be changed and can the Minister tell us
when we will finally get the review into the sentencing of these
types of offences?
Thank you for the question.
I don't see that as part of my purview but if he would write
to me I will reply to him on this issue.
I would agree victims in these situations need more protection
and the culture needs to change.
The best ways to ensure justice is served is to ensure victims
have the chance to make a victim impact statement to the court
but this does not always happen.
What can the Minister do to ensure this happens in every case?
I thank the honourable gentleman for his question.
As I understand it, they are getting more opportunity to do this now
because of the opportunity to do this online.
I would agree that this is something that
should be put in place.
As has been mentioned earlier, today's report on violence
against women and girls shows an increase in prosecutions,
however victims charities remain concerned about their futures
as was stated by the chair of the police and crime commissioners
supporting the group when asking the ministry to clarify
funding available to be cc earlier this year.
The minister told my honourable friend for Wigan that he would be
keeping an eye on this matter, which is not good enough
Will the secretary of state confirm victim services will receive
the full funding required?
The victim services budget has increased significantly from ?48
million to around ?95 pounds in the current financial year.
In 2016 and 17 we have allocated about ?7 billion to 99 rape support
centres providing up to male and female victims of rape
and child sexual abuse.
I do not recognise the description the shadow minister has given,
this Government is committed to protecting victims,
particularly women who have been victims of crime.
Question number six.
The illicit use of mobile phones in prison undermines security,
order and control and has been linked to many forms of criminality.
This Government is determined to take action to stop it?
The connection between technology and radicalisation by
the dissemination of extremism in prisons is one of the most
critical challenges we face.
Will my honourable friend continue to do all that is possible
to ensure that prisoners, who already face difficulties
re-engaging in with society, do not have a difficult task made
impossible by those who would use mobile phones and technology
to spread extremist poisoning?
My honourable friend will have no doubt seen the Government response
to the review on extremism.
We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure extremist ideologies
are not spread by any means, including mobile phones.
There have been reports in Swansea prison of people simply throwing
mobile phones over the wall, which provides anonymity
for prisoners to indulge in all sorts of criminal activity.
What is he doing about this sort of thing?
He makes a very important point, every governor I have spoken
to in the last six weeks has mentioned the growing problem
of illegal mobile phones in prison.
I believe technology is vital to detect and block these
phones, so in addition to the range of technologies already deployed
across the prison estate, we have held a high-level meeting
with mobile network operators asking them to use their expertise
to develop new technological solutions to deny mobile
phone signals in prisons.
As responsible businesses, I expect these operators
to fully cooperate.
There is and there will be an appropriate level of corporate
vision for the people of Bury.
Thank you, and I warmly welcome my honourable and learned
friend to his new role, and thank you for that brief reply.
While school provision might be regarded as adequate now,
what is important is that it continues to be
adequate in the future.
And with the new Lord Chancellor and a new ministerial team,
could I ask that they look again at the proposals
for North Manchester, particularly the consequential
effects on, for example, the police budget as the police
are faced with longer journey times when they attend court?
I am immensely indebted to the honourable gentleman.
Can I start by paying tribute to the work that my honourable
friend has done, and for the proposals that he has put
forward about his local court situation.
He will know, as a lawyer as well, that we are investing huge amounts
of money, ?1 billion, to transform Court Tribunerals.
This modern technology improves efficiency and means fewer people
need to attend court in person.
There are excellent facilities are available to the people
of Bury and Manchester, which has some of the best
courts in the country.
The Minister will know that the proposals across the whole
of Greater Manchester are quite far reaching and controversial in parts
of that city region.
Can he explain to the house is precisely what has been agreed
with the Greater Manchester combined authority in the memorandum
of understanding that his department has signed with them,
and whether or not it means the combined authority can look
again at some of those procedures?
Of course, he will realise that none of these decisions is taken lightly
and it is important to work closely with local government.
That is exactly what has been happening.
Just to give him an impression of the tremendous improvement
that this court modernisation programme is making,
it has been going for four months and 6 million pieces of paper have
been avoided as a result, that is a pile of paper,
using digital case files.
6 million pieces of paper avoided, meaning a pile as high
as the largest building in London, the Shard.
Huntington is a splendid part of the world which deserves to be
very well represented by the honourable gentleman,
but it is a long way from Bury, to which this
question exclusively relates.
The question is about Bury.
He can come in later and I look forward to hearing from him.
This information is published by the legal professions.
For example, 13% of QCs are women and 6% of QCs declare themselves
as coming from a BAME background.
That shows a very limited progress.
What can the Government do to improve this?
I thank him for his question. do to improve this?
We want a justice system that works for everyone, a legal services
industry using all the talent in our country.
I have already had very positive conversations with the Lord Chief
Justice, who is keen to improve diversity figures in the judiciary,
and I am due to meet the bar Council shortly to talk
specifically about the bar.
What assessment has my right honourable friend made
of opportunities to increase apprenticeship-based routes
into the legal professions and the prison services,
to increase social mobility?
I thank him for his question, I am a huge fan of apprenticeships.
With the new apprenticeship levy, that brings a big opportunity
for some of our large legal services firms,
but right across the board to increase the number
It is something I will talk to them about over the coming months.
As one London provider of legal education, fees for the academic
year ahead are as follows, nearly ?11,000 for the graduate
diploma in law, over ?15,000 for the legal practice course
and almost ?19,000 for the bar professional training course.
On top of the cost of university education, these fees
are beyond the reach of many from ordinary backgrounds.
Given this reality, how will the Minister ensure
a diverse legal profession?
I thank him for his question.
I have been discussing this right across the legal profession.
One of the issues that we have is that the younger end,
we are seeing a lot more diversity, the question is how people progress
through the pipeline.
I would like to see more transparency so we can look
at people moving through the system.
I have no doubt that with the Lord Chief Justice
and leading judges, they want to see more diversity and they are
keen to work with me.
With your permission, I will group this with question 15.
Prisons must become places of rehabilitation where offenders
can change their lives and turn away from crime, addressing health needs
including mental health is key in this.
We are committed to meeting the mental health needs
All prisons must have procedures in place to identify,
manage and support those with mental illnesses.
Can the Minister confirm that governors will have new powers
and abilities to run their own mental health and health budgets,
and will that also include co-commissioning of mental health
services with local CCGs?
It is under consideration at present, I think commissioners
have an important part to play in helping to structure health care
services within prison.
Does the Department have a figure for the numbers in prison
at the moment who have mental health issues, would my honourable friend
reassure me that prison staff are adequately trained to deal
with those people exhibiting mental health issues?
I thank him for his question.
Based on a Ministry of Justice survey, 49% of prisoners
were assessed as being at risk from anxiety and/ or depression,
16% reported symptoms indicative of psychosis.
Department of Health figures are somewhat different,
north of 90% of prisoners have a mental health problem
if you include substance misuse.
This is an area where I am seeking more data.
We are committed to meeting the mental health needs
of prisoners, which is why all new intake prison officers
receive mental health awareness training as part of
100 people have taken their lives in prison in the past year,
the highest level for over 25 years.
Over 9000 people have self harmed in prisons, an increase of over 25%
in the last year alone.
I think the Government should be ashamed, I think it is a dereliction
of their duty of care.
I want to know what they will actually do to look at the thousands
of prisoners who had serious mental health conditions and are not
being looked after.
I thank the honourable lady for her question.
Mental health is pretty complex, the genesis of problems do not just
occur in the terms of the parliament.
The system in place in terms of mental health care
and the continuity of care for people before,
during and after their stay in prison is clearly not
worried should be.
I would argue that has been the case for many decades.
I have been asked to look at this and will be doing so,
but this is a huge and very complex area and I am not about to make
dispatch box commitments on it as a consequence.
But there is a particular risk for women in prison,
30% of women prisoners have had a previous admission
for a psychiatric problems before they went into prison.
In the last year, 11 women have killed themselves.
My impression is that this is because the last Secretary
of State did not focus on the recommendations of a report
which would have ensured a better level of mental health
for women in prison.
What is this minister going to do on this report,
and on women in prison?
I thank her for her question.
I have read that report, it is good.
It was published in 2007 and is still relevant today,
with some international coherence within another report
about youth offenders.
I will be looking at it and I am personally persuaded of some
of the arguments within.
But the idea that the former Secretary of State was in anyway not
keeping a close eye on this, I have seen no about.
Mr Speaker, Speaker...
Those convicted of sexual offences are just one cohort of the range
we manage daily.
In doing so, we shall make sure estate capacity is realigned
to meet the demand for places, including those convicted
of sexual offences.
I thank him for his reply.
HMP in my constituency has seen a huge surge in prisoners
for sexual offences, either on remand or
serving a sentence.
This puts massive pressure on staffing, space and resources.
What specific advice can he give HMP Lewes?
Those served with sexual offences at HMP Lewes and general are held
in separate units providing suitable accommodation for their
Perhaps I can reassure her that the prison received over ?100,000
of a ?12 million Government fund for safety, planning
to spend this on staff.
There is a recruitment drive is going on at the moment.
Staff are being vetted, a number of staff will
be starting imminently.
Surely the Minister would understand that whether it is prisoners
who have been tried and convicted for crimes of a sexual nature
or prisoners with mental health problems or other problems,
it is the quality of management prisons which must give us
all great concern.
When my select committee looked at education in prisons,
we kept coming back that the culture of the prison comes from the top
and is supported by well-trained and well-educated prison officers.
Mr Speaker, I agree entirely with the honourable gentleman
that the quality of the leadership in the prison makes a huge
difference to the regime, has staff are inspired, but also how
deep can rehabilitate offenders.
That is why those on this side of the house argue for prison
reform, where we empower these governors, give them control
of budgets and enable you to get local resources to meet
the needs of offenders.
Mr Speaker, with permission I would like to group questions
11 and 16.
Most offenders arrive in prison with very low levels of educational
attainment, very high levels of substance misuse and often very
poor histories of employment.
I believe modern prisons have a purpose, to keep the public
safe and tackle each of these issues, so prisoners
have the foundations to secure and hold down
a job on release.
I would like to thank my honourable friend, but I have recently visited
prisoners from my constituency who told me that offenders do not
have access straightaway on release to
national insurance numbers, bank accounts or unemployment benefits.
What steps are the Government taking to improve this?
I agree with the honourable member that if this through the gate
service, as we call them, are to work and stop reoffending,
things like national insurance numbers and bank accounts need
to be in place.
There are a series of programmes in place, including an offender
banking programme which opened about 5000 new bank accounts every
The Minister is right, in fact that research shows that
employment after custody greatly affects the amount of reoffending.
What are they doing with the Department for Work
and Pensions to ensure offenders find work after they leave prison
and also stay in work?
To tackle the challenge of getting prisoners work when they leave,
the member has rightly identified it acquires a concerted effort
across Government and across the community.
Every prisoner has the opportunity to meet with a DWP work coach
before their release and the role of the work coach is to guide
them to employment.
Work coaches can ensure a prisoner knows their national insurance
number and the other services they need in order to make
the appropriate transition.
When many prisoners are already on short-term sentences for under
nine months and are often in prison for short periods, could he give
some advice as to how governors will be judged on placing those
prisoners into employment when the challenges are difficult?
I've met with a number of governors since I've been appointed to this
job, and most governors will tell you what they want is to be
empowered to match resources to the needs of prisoners
in their prison, working with local employers and the entire community.
That is what governors want.
The other point is that this is not just the responsibility
of governors, if we want prisoners to go out and be able to find work,
then businesses have a role, companies play a role
and we all have a role, because prisoners can leave them
and have jobs and restart their lives for the better
and we all benefit.
More than 60% of young people in the justice system
have a communications disability and more than one third of young
offenders have speaking and listening skills at the level
expected for an 11-year-old.
With the skills being fundamental with the ability to hold down a job,
will the Minister update the house of what assessment the Government
makes of speech and language support need and how well that
need is being met?
The member is obviously right, lots of prisoners arrived with huge
learning difficulties and a disadvantage and that is well
documented, what we need is individual programmes tailored
to the needs of the prisoner and the way to do that
as the honourable member said, is to empower governors to work
with probation companies, rehabilitation organisations,
to deliver these programmes.
He said to the minister, I raise a report on this matter
myself in two dozen and it's got a copy
of voice and sure you'll find on the internet.
Or in the house library.
I'm sure the honourable gentleman does.
We are immensely grateful.
Fewer than half of the people entering our prisons have basic
standards of English and maths, this is an enormous problem
because we know low levels of education can prevent people
from securing jobs on release and leading law-abiding lives.
The secretary of state is right in saying in order to get a job
the need to have both literacy and numeracy are essential.
Should we be putting more resources into educating prisoners on release
to be able to get jobs?
My honourable friend is right.
The fact is too many people enter our prisons without those
skills, but we need to use that time in prison to help those prisoners
gain those basic skills so they succeed outside.
What we started doing is measuring, testing prisoners as they enter
prisons, what I'm looking to see is, we measure the progress made
during their stay in prison so we can hold governors
accountable for that.
Could the Minister confirmed there will be no return
to the policy on banning books for prisoners?
I confirm that books are freely available in prison.
I warmly welcome the Right Honourable friend to her position.
I was delighted to see the new Secretary of State
talk about the importance of art in prisons and I hope
that my honourable friend will recognise how they can teach
prisoners a range of skills and hope she will meet the Arts
Alliance that the earnest opportunity to discuss what the arts
can do in particularly in relation to literacy.
Firstly can I say what a fantastic job my honourable friend has
done in championing the arts in every part of our country
and his legacy lives on.
It will live on in our prisons.
I'm sure he is overcome with emotion, what a happy day.
What discussions will she have with the Justice Department
into devolved legislators to insure that best practice is replicated
in improving literacy across prisons in all of the UK?
I'm looking forward to meeting my counterparts across the UK
and discussing these critical issues because it is a challenge
we all face.
Extreme brevity is now required.
The Government's reform programme is intended to deliver a simple
modern justice system that is available for everyone.
East Lancashire, including my constituency of Blackburn and up
to five other constituencies has only one Legal Aid,
so that makes listers frontier with housing,
what the Minister do about this desert of legal advice?
It is important they should be legal aid available
and it is in housing cases.
As it is, in the most important cases where people's life or liberty
or home is at stake, it is also available in domestic
violence cases and cases where children may be
taken into care.
I'm grateful to the honourable lady for highlighting this issue.
Let's be clear that legal aid in housing cases is something
that is available and there is a national helpline
as well as the services of lawyers across the country.
Topical questions, Mr Douglas Carswell.
I'm proud to take on the role of Lord Chancellor
and Justice Secretary, upholding the rule of law
and our justice system.
I'm determined to insure our prisons are of safety and reform,
where offenders can get off drugs, improve education and get the work
likely to reoffend.
skills they need to their less likely to reoffend.
I would like to pay tribute to our brave prison officers
and probation staff.
Over the next couple of months I will lay out my plans for prison
reform and setting out plans to modernise the courts to ensure
we continue to have a world leading justice system.
Sir James Mumby was asked to undertake a review of the family
Court in August 2014, can the Minister shed light
on ending the secrecy that can lead it to injustice.
I thank the honourable gentleman for his
question, I am due to meet James Mumby
next week to discuss this issue.
There's been some progress in bringing the family Court
but there is a balance to be struck behind highly sensitive issues
and opening it up fully, I will get more detail.
Will my honourable friend commit to using all the powers
at her disposal to protect British military personnel and veterans
who have served our country bravely and with great honour
from the spurious and outrageous legal claims like those
pursued by people such as public interest lawyers?
I am delighted to tell my honourable friend that this summer the legal
aid agency pulls the plug on its contract with public interest
lawyers, it will no longer be adamant chasing our
brave service personnel.
Legal aid should support vulnerable people in our society,
not used to pursue spurious cases against our Armed Forces who do
so much to serve our country.
Can I join colleagues in welcoming the new Justice Secretary
and her team to their new roles.
The Government has created the toxic conditions for the record levels
of violence, drug crimes and death across the prisons
by reducing the number of prison officers by one third yet the former
prison minister spent much of his time at the dispatch box this
year telling me privately about his department was not
successful recruitment drive.
He did Justice Secretary did not have the figures earlier answering
a question from my friend, so I will help out.
Can she explained why we have 421 fewer full-time equivalent front
line prison officers working in our public prisons
than we did one year ago?
I fully acknowledge that we do have issues with violence and safety
in our prison, the levels are unacceptable and I am determined
to deal with issues like this and I will lay out my plans shortly.
Since the Government has no provision privatisation,
concerns have repeatedly been raised about the quality of presentence
reports for the court as a result of arbitrary targets set.
The probation inspectors have described this month as a persistent
problem leading to inappropriate sentences being handed down.
Vital safeguarding checks such as domestic violence checks
with pulleys and child protection checked with children's services
are not taking place prior to sentencing.
Will the Justice Secretary commit to an urgent review
so the public, probation professionals and sentences can
have confidence when convicted criminals are sensed those deciding
of all the necessary evidence available?
Probation services do vital work at the minister responsible
for prisons and probation is looking very close at this issue.
I would point out that those on shorter sentences get much more
support thanks to our new probation contracts.
Questions must be brief.
There is a lot to get to and not much time.
I would never excuse criminal behaviour, but some former prisoners
have been denied opportunities in life many of us take for granted,
what is the department and other Government departments doing
to ensure the life chances agenda extends the prisons?
I thank my honourable friend for that question, prisons
are places where some of the problems in society
As the Prime Minister said, if we're going have a society
and country that works for everyone, prison reform is part
including literacy, training, work in prisons
and unemployment opportunities when people are released.
The Secretary of State will know that Charlie Taylor was asked
to carry out a review of the youth justice system last year and enter
it does make an interim report was published in February
and we were promised the final one in July, we don't have it,
can the Secretary of State tell us when and
where we will have an explanation?
I thank the honourable lady for this question,
it's an incredibly important issue, but the youth justice Minster
and I have ever met Charlie Taylor and we will be publishing our
response this autumn.
Does the Department intends to promote English law,
the rule of law and our legal sector around the world, particularly to
take advantages of the opportunities that may arise from Brexit?
English law had a huge impact spreading the rule of Law around
the world, it is the law of choice in over one quarter of jurisdictions
and Brexit gives us even more opportunities to promote this.
I will champion our ?25 billion legal services industry as a key
part of post-Brexit global Britain.
The selected media has expressed concern that judges are reporting
they hear no money claims at all, claims brought by workers
in low-paid sectors and which often succeeded, when will the Government
publish the review of the impact of implement tribunal fees
which is now six months overdue and had to restore justice
for low-paid workers?
Can I start by welcoming the report on court and tribunal fees,
we intend to respond and we will also publish the review
of changes to employment tribunal fees in due course.
This is an important area and we will do that.
I would like to ask the Secretary of State about the treatment
of women giving birth in prisons and those with young children.
And whether she will do more to ensure that children have
access to their mothers and where appropriate
their fathers, and can be as near to them as possible?
I thank the honourable lady for the question.
100 babies resided in mother and baby units in prison in 2015,
prisons do an excellent job making sure these environments are built
as is possible and babies can spend time away from the prisoners
nominated carers but knowing the importance of early years
is essential we consider alternative ways of dealing with female
offenders including those with young children and babies
and care responsibilities.
The Secretary of State alleged earlier to the closure and imminent
sale of Holloway prison and made me aware
of the wish to cite a women's sector on the site, discussions are taking
place with the Mayor of London but I wonder if the Secretary
of State could confirm that she and the Government
will play its part in ensuring an outcome that secures services
for women on that site.
I thank the honourable lady for a question and I will be
interested in looking more at the details on that proposal.
Following the closure of the courthouse in my
constituency, the previous minister decided that it should go
to Stockport and Chesterfield as was originally intended.
A sign has appeared on the district quarries that McCourt has seen
the work when the Chesterfield, will my honourable friend
investigators and injure the decision by the ministers
admitted, not the one by the officials in the original
I am grateful to my honourable friend for having raised this issue,
he will be pleased to note that I have had the notice taken down.
But the response to the consultation stated
that the work would go to Stockport and Chesterfield,
that is what is happening.
Further to a previous question, I have many constituents who cannot
get access to employment tribunals because the fees have proved
prohibitive that were introduced in the last parliament.
Can the minister promised the house today that he will make a statement
to the House on the impact of those fees?
As he will have heard, we recognise that we need
to produce our review, which we will publish,
and also to respond to the Justice committee's report.
And, of course, their documents, which will be available
in the vote office.
That will happen in due course, we are committed to that.
And effective court administration is very different from retaining
costly court buildings.
But whether the closures are going hand-in-hand
with investment and better use of technology and efficiencies,
that includes in surrounding courts, not least in Bury, Mr Speaker.
I was not psychic, but I realised what the honourable gentleman
earlier was driving at and I am glad he was persistent.
My honourable friend is right, we need a programme
of transformation that maintains the very high quality
of our legal system.
I don't think many in this house would disagree that it is one
of the best in the world.
But we want it to be the most modern as well.
We are investing ?1 billion, we have saved a shard load of paper,
as I mentioned earlier, and we will do a lot more of this.
Our courts are benefiting from the digital revolution that
every other part of society is benefiting from already.
My constituent's 17-year-old son was murdered last year.
Will the Minister meet with me and the mother to discuss
the repeated failings in the justice system that mean that his killer
is still walking the streets?
I would be very happy to meet the honourable lady
and her constituents, I am sorry to hear about the case.
Colin Pitchfork was convicted of raping and murdering two young
girls in the 1980s.
Will the Minister please assure me and the public of their safety,
given that Mr Pitchfork is being moved to an open prison?
The honourable member will be aware that transferring prisoners
from from one prison to another is done on a careful
assessment of the risks.
I am sure that would have taken place, but I am happy to discuss
in detail if he wants to do so.
Does the Secretary of State accept that the Human Rights Act
is an indispensable part of the Good Friday Agreement,
and whatever the plans for elsewhere, the Government
is obligated to the retention of the Human Rights Act
in Northern Ireland as a co-guarantor of
the Good Agreement?
The UK has led the world in human rights, from Magna Carta
to habeas corpus.
We are committed to bringing forward a British Bill of Rights to further
build on these ancient protections.
The Prime Minister has already met Nicola Sturgeon to make sure
that the UK works together...
And intensity meets...
We intend to meet...
We intend to meet, as the Secretary of State said, all those
across the United Kingdom with concerns about it.
You're under arrest.
You're going to prison.
In what sense are you free?