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Prison Governors

Volume 632: debated on Tuesday 5 December 2017

In April this year, governors were given authority to devise the daily routine in prisons—the way in which they organise staff—and to have a greater say in the health services received by prisoners. In October, governors gained control of the new family services budget, and next year we will devolve the prison education, careers advice and libraries budget to governors in England.

That is enormously helpful. Does my right hon. Friend agree that governors know their prisons and their prisoners best, and that many of the day-to-day operational decisions about such matters as the core regime, education and training are best devolved down from Governments into their local hands?

Yes, I do agree. I think it important for Ministers and officials in the Prison Service to trust the professionalism of governors who are in charge of individual establishments, which is why, as national contracts for particular services expire—for example, maintenance, repairs and food procurement contracts—we will seek opportunities to devolve them to establishment level.

The Secretary of State will have noted that comments made by chief inspector of prisons about one of his reform prisons are quoted in today’s edition of The Times under the headline “‘Trailblazing’ jail is swamped with drugs”. The prison is said to have deteriorated over the last 12 months. I am genuinely interested to know whether the Lord Chancellor can tell us who is responsible for that—the governor, the head of the prison and probation service, Michael Spurr, or the Lord Chancellor himself.

Ultimately, I am responsible for the Department and the services that it provides. As is the case with every inspection report, the Prison Service will take action to remedy the problems identified by the chief inspector, and a new scanner to detect drugs has already been installed at Holme House.