Strengthening Families — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:25 pm on 8th February 2018.

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Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole 2:25 pm, 8th February 2018

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone, and to follow my hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh. I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend Fiona Bruce on her manifesto, on securing this debate and on her powerful speech.

My hon. Friend mentioned a new Cabinet Minister. I warmly welcome the Minister to his place, whose ears may have pricked up at the thought of a new Cabinet post—a cross-departmental role—suitable for somebody young, eloquent and forward-thinking. I am sure my hon. Friend the Minister will have listened intently, especially to that point.

It is hard to overstate the importance of the family or of consistent and unconditional loving support. Facts and figures can be bandied around. My hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough was right to highlight certain facts and figures, and my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton was also right to say that we must have evidence-based policy.

Each of us instinctively knows the importance of family, whether we have benefited from it ourselves or not. I grew up in a family that was not materially wealthy, but rich in love and support. As children growing up, we knew that we could make mistakes through trial and error and still have the support of a loving family. Now I have a family of my own, I know the difficulties, stresses and strains—and the sheer hard work—that it takes to hold it all together. Given that, I am delighted to support the manifesto and the debate.

In my brief contribution, I will tackle a specific aspect, which was touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton. An overlooked part of ensuring that families are strong is the support given to families involved in the criminal justice system. The excellent Lord Farmer review looked in detail at the impact that good family work in our prisons can have on prisoners, their families and society at large through a reduction in reoffending rates.

This is one of two statistics that I will give during my speech: for a prisoner who receives a visit from a partner or family member, the chances of reoffending are 39% lower than for a prisoner who does not have a similar visit. Support needs to be given for the benefit of the prisoner and their family. If prison is truly to be a place of reform, we cannot ignore the reality that there must be a supportive relationship to help to achieve rehabilitation. The estimated cost of reoffending is in the region of £15 billion a year, so it is essential to find new ways of rehabilitation and of supporting and cutting down those high rates of reoffending.

This is the second statistic that I will give. My hon. Friend mentioned a figure of 50%, but one study shows that 63% of prisoners’ sons go on to offend and commit crimes.