Prisoners (Northern Ireland)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11 March 1993.

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Photo of Eddie McGrady Eddie McGrady , South Down 12:00, 11 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in relation to the new arrangements governing the transfer of prisoners to Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir Peter Lloyd Sir Peter Lloyd , Fareham

Those prisoners who previously expressed an interest in transferring to Northern Ireland have been advised of the new arrangements and invited to apply. To date, 28 transfer requests have been referred to the Northern Ireland prison service for its consideration. In addition, six prisoners are currently on extended temporary transfer in Northern Ireland.

Photo of Eddie McGrady Eddie McGrady , South Down

I thank the Minister for his reply. Does he agree that one of the essential elements of the rehabilitation of prisoners is close and frequent contact with their families? Does he accept that, in the case of Northern Ireland residents who are in prisons in Britain, transfer is desirable for the purpose of rehabilitation? Can he confirm that since the publication of the Ferrers report the only prisoners to be transferred have been the six he has just mentioned? What is the current stage of the work of the new committee that is addressing the complex nature of permanent transfers, temporary transfers and extended temporary transfers?

Photo of Sir Peter Lloyd Sir Peter Lloyd , Fareham

The committee is still considering permanent transfers. I agree that, for the purposes of rehabilitation, transfer is a good move, so long as the prisoner is prepared to co-operate fully with the regime to which he is transferred and so long as prisoners who have rightly been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment here do not have their periods of detention reduced as a result of transfer.