Charities can apply to qualify as tenders in prisons competitions, but it is unlikely that they will have the financial strength to take the legal and commercial risks of running a prison. None is on our current list of framework providers.
We are actively encouraging the participation of subcontractors, small and medium-size enterprises and voluntary and community sector organisations within the supply chain of custodial services. Fifteen such organisations attended the launch of the current round of prisons competitions.
I thank the Minister for his answer. Clearly, there are very good examples of charities working within prisons, and I urge him to work with some of them to see whether it is possible for them to take over a community-run prison that provides a local setting and a local response to offenders’ needs.
I am obviously delighted to recognise the valuable work of charities and of the voluntary sector in supporting the rehabilitation of offenders. It is the area of our society in which, if we can engage the voluntary sector in such work, we will find that there is significant extra capacity for people who want to do the right thing to help some of the most damaged and damaging people in society to go straight. We have to ensure that those links work and that people can do the work. As I have said, there will be concerns about whether a charity has the financial resources to underwrite the running of a prison, given the commercial and other risks concerned, but I welcome the general tenor of my hon. Friend’s remarks.