Prisons and Probation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:58 pm on 14th May 2019.

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Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice 12:58 pm, 14th May 2019

My hon. Friend hits the nail on the head.

I am now coming to my conclusion, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Conservatives now need to drop this dangerous obsession with running probation for private profit and bring it back in-house, where it can focus on keeping the public safe. We are committed to ending the Conservatives’ failed privatisation of probation and returning the service to the public sector. The former chief inspector of prisons, Lord Ramsbotham, is overseeing our important review of how we best return probation to the public sector. I will be publishing Lord Ramsbotham’s interim report this week. I hope the Secretary of State will meet me to discuss this important report.

Throughout our justice system, outsourcing has been used to lower costs by cutting the pay and conditions of the lowest paid workers. The people who clean the Secretary of State’s office, for example, and the security guards who keep the Ministry of Justice safe have been demanding a real living wage of £10 an hour, so will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to commit to ensuring that all staff in his Department, including those working under outsourced contracts, actually get the real living wage?

In conclusion, the Conservatives promised that privatisation of our justice system would lead to better services and lower costs. The evidence is now in: it has achieved neither. Instead of savings, we have had bail-outs; instead of improving safety, there is disproportionate violence; and instead of accountability, we have had secrecy. Even in the United States of America this debate on a privatised justice system is moving on—it must move on here, too. The Government must now face the facts: privatisation has failed. When in a hole, stop digging. The Government should scrap plans for yet more private prisons and private probation contracts. For those reasons, I commend this motion to the House.