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Prisons and Courts Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:20 pm on 20th March 2017.

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Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice 4:20 pm, 20th March 2017

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct on that point. Those children often feel as though they have done something wrong, and it is absolutely wrong for them to feel as though they are being punished for a crime that their parent has committed. I am determined that we will do what we can to protect innovative schemes such as Storybook Dads, which help to keep the link between children and their fathers and mothers while those individuals are in prison.

Finally, we need to maintain a safe and secure prison environment. Prisons need to feel safe for staff and prisoners. That means that as well as tackling violent incidents and creating the right kind of culture and atmosphere, we need to provide support to vulnerable prisoners. We also need to make sure that we have sufficient levels of staffing to provide that safety and security.

The Bill makes it clear how I, as the Secretary of State, will account to Parliament for progress in reforming offenders. This is the first time that legislation will make it clear that the Secretary of State is responsible for reforming offenders, and the Secretary of State—that is, me—will have to report to Parliament about what they do. That is a very important change in the culture of our prisons: for the first time, there will be accountability at Cabinet level not just for prisons being safe, which is of course important, and for providing enough prison places, but for turning around and reforming the lives of individuals under the care of the state, and ensuring that they leave prison with better prospects and more likely to lead a law-abiding life.