Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Home Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31st January 2005.

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Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister of State (Home Office) 2:30 pm, 31st January 2005

I am surprised that the Minister should come to the Dispatch Box so ill informed. Last week, the chief inspector of prisons said that our prisons were still 24 per cent. overcrowded and operating perilously close to capacity. Money has been taken from the Prison Service's budget to resolve the financial crisis in other parts of the Home Office, which has led to a four-month recruitment freeze and the mothballing of more than 1,000 prison places. Will the Minister confirm that the service is now considering reducing the number of offending behaviour programmes for prisoners and, in the words of the director general of the Prison Service, merely sustaining

"the basic operation of the Service"?

Is this the way to run the Prison Service?