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 right hon. and learned Friend, who served as the shadow prisons Minister, makes a very important point.

As well as creating a framework for the Minister, the Bill will set up a new Executive agency, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, from 1 April, to focus on the operational management of prisons and probation. We will have new standards, and performance measures will appear in performance tables so that the public can see, transparently and accountably, what is going on in prisons. At the moment, we do not know the employment rate for those coming out of a prison, how good a prison is at improving the English and maths of the people inside it, or how effective it is at getting them off drugs. Those measures will all be published, which will lead to much greater scrutiny and accountability for the public.

In addition, I am strengthening the powers of the prisons inspectorate. The inspectorate—the chief inspector, in particular—will be able to trigger an urgent response from the Secretary of State in the most serious cases. That means that if a prison is failing to meet the standards, the Secretary of State will have to respond within a specific timetable with an action plan to improve the prison. At the moment, that is not the case.