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Volume 565: debated on Tuesday 2 July 2013

3. What assessment he has made of the contribution that financial inclusion programmes can make towards reducing reoffending rates. (162386)

Alongside our probation reforms, it is important to look at other areas in which we help offenders when they leave prison. It is often the basic things, like having a bank account, that they need help with to avoid slipping back into a life of crime. We recognise the importance of financial inclusion, which is why we grant-fund Unlock, a programme that helps prisoners establish a relationship with a commercial bank. Indeed, the prisons Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright), is doing a lot of work at the moment with the banks to try to ensure we can offer financial services to those who leave prisons, so they can get their lives back together.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that credit unions can play a unique and valuable role not only in providing the nuts and bolts of banking, but in improving financial capability and promoting savings to increase financial resilience?

I am a great fan of the credit unions. I have seen their work both in my previous role as employment Minister and now as potential contributors to the process of rehabilitating offenders. I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend that we should support and encourage the work of credit unions. They can make a huge difference for those who cannot access financial services through other means.

In terms of reducing reoffending, will the Secretary of State look urgently at the case of John Cronin, a convicted sexual predator who was originally given a life sentence? He has now been released on licence and has broken the terms of that licence, and apparently has not been returned to jail and cannot be put on the sex offenders register. He is a very dangerous man. Will the Secretary of State look urgently at that case?

Order. He is indeed, by all accounts, a dangerous man, but it is not immediately apparent what the relevance of his case is to the issue of financial inclusion programmes—

Indeed, but not financial inclusion, which was the purport of the question. However, the Secretary of State is a dextrous fellow, and I am sure he can respond appropriately.