Approved Premises (Substance Testing) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:52 pm on 29th October 2021.

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Photo of Rob Butler Rob Butler Conservative, Aylesbury 1:52 pm, 29th October 2021

I agree with my hon. Friend. Throughout the pandemic, Ministers have frequently come to the Justice Committee to talk to us and account for what is going on in prisons.

At the beginning of the pandemic, given the presence of so many people in such close and confined circumstances, it was feared that prisons could easily become super-spreader locations, and it is a huge tribute to the staff in our prisons, at all levels, that that did not happen. In fact, the number of people who succumbed to covid-19 on the custodial estate was very small indeed. Achieving that required restrictions of their normal activities, on the rehabilitation programmes and so on, and of course we want to overcome that as quickly as possible, but I think that the key aim has been to save lives, and I pay tribute to HMPPS for achieving that.

I have had the opportunity to talk to staff involved in running approved premises, and they believe that their colleagues—and, importantly, residents—would welcome these proposals. My final word—