Our strategy for the prison estate is to replace accommodation that is old, inefficient or has limited long-term strategic value with cheaper modern capacity. We also have a rolling programme of maintenance that prioritises our investment across the prison estate.
Stafford prison was built in 1794 and is one of the most cost-effective in the estate. Last week the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), and I visited Stafford and heard from prisoners of the work done by Joanne Tomlinson on anxiety management and how it had transformed their lives. Does my hon. Friend agree that modernisation is more about what goes on inside prisons than about the bricks and mortar?
I certainly agree that what people do is just as important as where they do it, and I congratulate those involved in the work that he described at Stafford prison. However, very often what people do is despite the environment in which they are working, rather than because of it, and my hon. Friend will accept readily, I am sure, that where we can provide newer accommodation, it will make it easier for people to do the good work on rehabilitation that he and I both support.
Does the Minister agree that with 800 or 900 prisoners a year from north Wales going outside north Wales, there is a need for prison accommodation in north Wales, but that the debate that he is having now would be better served by more discussion, more plans and a meeting with Members of Parliament to see whether we can reach some consensus?
I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s support for a prison in north Wales. He might want to discuss the matter with his hon. Friend the Member for Wrexham (Ian Lucas), who may not necessarily agree with him. It would be wise for everyone to consider very carefully the proposals that will come forward for suitable sites. We will do that. We have identified north Wales as one of the places where there is a strategic need, so we will consider carefully any proposals that are made.