Prisoners (Statistics)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st January 1988.

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Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth 12:00 am, 21st January 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons are currently serving sentences in Her Majesty's prisons in England and Wales.

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

On 30 November there were about 37,450 sentenced prisoners in prison department establishments in England and Wales.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

In view of the ever-increasing rate of serious crime during the Government's period of office, and noting that under the White Paper on public expenditure the provision for law and order seems unlikely to improve much after 1989, may I ask whether the Minister can be sure that all the extra prisons that his Department is to provide will be filled?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has put such a question. For one thing, I should have thought that his party's position was a trifle embarrassing, in that when Labour was in government in the 1970s it failed to do anything about a prison building programme. I am also surprised that he has not welcomed the Government's present building programme, which will produce over 21,000 more places by 1995 than the number when we first came to office.

Photo of Mr David Madel Mr David Madel , South West Bedfordshire

Some people sent to prison are there as a result of having caused death by driving, having drunk too much. Can my hon. Friend comment on a further point? The public are not clear whether random breath-testing is allowed because of different policies pursued by different chief constables. Can my hon. Friend say whether random breath-testing is, or is not, lawful?

Photo of Douglas Hogg Douglas Hogg The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Random stopping is allowed under section 159 of the Highways Act 1980. Random testing is not lawful.