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Redditch Prison

Volume 471: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2008

7. What discussions he has had over his merging of Her Majesty’s Prisons Blakenhurst, Hewell Grange and Brockhill as HMP Redditch. (182472)

The Prison Service discussed the merger internally, with staff associations and trade unions, and consulted a number of agencies, including Worcestershire county council, over the change of name to HMP Redditch. Following representations, I have agreed to an extended consultation on the name of the site; the deadline for submissions is 1 March.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. As he will be aware, the three prisons that are to be called HMP Redditch reside in the Bromsgrove local authority area and the Bromsgrove parliamentary constituency. Could he be clearer about whether he consulted his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in his sister Department, on the decision to call the prison HMP Redditch, which has been controversial in the neighbouring seat?

As I said, the consultations took place with people who work in the prison, the local council—Worcestershire county council—and a number of other agencies. Following representations from Redditch borough council, Bromsgrove borough council, the hon. Lady and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Redditch (Jacqui Smith), I have decided to allow for a further period of consultation on the name of the proposed cluster of prisons. I think that that is fair, and I hope that the hon. Lady will welcome it, examine it in detail and give us her response before 1 March.

Reading today’s written statement from the Secretary of State, it seems that it is not just these three prisons that are being merged. Whatever the merits of the Redditch decision, will the Minister specify three steps that he has taken since 1 January that will expeditiously improve public safety, cut reoffending, reduce prison overcrowding and deal with the public perception that the only thing that we hear from within the Ministry of Justice is the scraping of deckchairs around the decks of the Titanic?

The hon. and learned Gentleman does himself a disservice. He knows that we are putting the greatest resources into new prison places in the history of Government, that we will put in place 16,000 extra prison places between now and 2011-12, and that we are securing a greater reduction in reoffending than ever there was under the Conservative Government. On the question of HMP Redditch, or whatever we finally agree to call it following the consultation, I would say to him that the clustering will save £650,000 in the next financial year and £860,000 in the financial year after that. As regards efficiencies, we are acting on them while he is simply talking about them.