Northern Ireland (Prison Management)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 4th March 1992.

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Photo of Rt Hon David Trimble Rt Hon David Trimble , Upper Bann 3:31 pm, 4th March 1992

The Secretary of State will know that we wish to be associated with his tributes to the prison staff and to Lord Colville.

On the basic principle of segregation, the Secretary of State will know that we agree with Lord Colville. Nevertheless, as the Secretary of State will also know, there is a de facto separation in A wing. Will the Secretary of State give us an assurance that prisoners there will not be compelled to mix?

As to the general position of the prisoners, the right hon. Gentleman will know of the general condition in the prison, and that the length of time that people spend on remand is crucial. I have seen plans for the refurbishment that the prison governor wishes to take place and for the restructuring of the cells, and I hope that the Secretary of State will accept the prison governor's ideas and implement them as soon as possible. When will refurbishment take place?

We accept Lord Colville's views on time limits for remand, and his view that the Scottish model is the best one to follow is right. What is the problem with regard to the length of time on remand? Lord Colville says that delays are not caused by lack of prosecuting counsel, that there is no shortage of court accommodation, and that delays are not caused by requests for a particular defence counsel. What, then, is the problem?