Prison Reform — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:06 pm on 21st January 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Fowler Lord Fowler Conservative 2:06 pm, 21st January 2016

My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for his reply, which was very constructive and will be well received. There were two significant features of this debate. First, there was vast agreement on the changes that are required. Prison is not remotely the right place to tackle mental health problems or, for that matter, drug abuse, points made by the noble Lord, Lord Bradley, and my noble friend Lord Suri. The central issue remains the overuse of prison and the overcrowding that goes with it. That point was made by my noble friend Lord Cope and the noble Lords, Lord Dholakia, Lord Beith and Lord Ramsbotham, to whom we owe so much. More needs to be done to consider the position of women prisoners, as mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Healy and the noble Lord, Lord Judd. There is a range of other issues, not least the roots of crime going way back to life before prison, raised by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and my noble friend Lord Cormack.

The second significant feature of the debate was that it just showed how much good will there is for the new Justice Secretary. I hope that is recognised. It was shown in the powerful speech of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. It was shared by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, who agreed—reluctantly, I think, but he agreed nevertheless—with old Tories like me and my noble friend Lord Forsyth. The noble Lord, Lord Beith, also mentioned the rather strange Texan coalition. The message of this debate is that we wish the new Justice Secretary well and now look forward to the action that is so necessary to reform a Prison Service which cries out for change. Above all, we wish him well in this vastly important job.

Motion agreed.