Leaving the EU: State Aid, Public Ownership and Workers’ Rights — [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:05 pm on 11th December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Howell John Howell Conservative, Henley 3:05 pm, 11th December 2018

That is an interesting question. We give up our rights to decide things for ourselves in a number of situations. We give up the right to our own sovereignty by belonging to the United Nations and to NATO. To a certain extent, we give it up by belonging to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Most importantly, we give up our rights to some aspects of our sovereignty by being members of the Council of Europe. It is not right for the hon. Lady to look at this issue solely in terms of one or two organisations; she needs to look at a third organisation—the Council of Europe—which is there to provide just that sort of reassurance to people about their human rights, which I think she and her colleagues are, and have been, looking for.

I want to touch on Birmingham prison, which the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich opportunely mentioned in passing. This morning I participated in a Justice Select Committee sitting in which we questioned senior members of the Prison Service about what happened at Birmingham Prison. A key point relates to provisions in the contract with G4S not to hold it to account in many ways that we would normally expect. All of us, on both sides of the political fence, questioned those witnesses about the legitimacy of excluding those areas from the contract and how they could manage them.

Birmingham Prison is a good example of the mixture of public and private collaboration, in that we have public collaboration through the Ministry and the Department, which hold those running the prisons to account rather than having to run them themselves. We asked about the extent to which windows had been broken and not fixed, and why no one had been held to account and what had happened. At the end of the sitting we specifically asked the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what would happen at the end of that examination. We got a firm statement that the contract would possibly at some stage go back to G4S when we could all be assured that it would be able to keep prisoners in the state to which we would expect them to be kept and look after them properly. That is a good combination of private and public sector partnerships in action.