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Establishment of a Royal Commission on Prisons

Volume 723: debated on Tuesday 22 November 2022

The hon. Gentleman will know of our commitment. Following the pandemic, it is also right that we prioritise recovery in the criminal justice system.

Notwithstanding that answer, which I thank the Minister for, a little earlier the Justice Secretary referred to manifesto commitments, and I remind the House that the Conservatives made a manifesto commitment to establishing a royal commission on criminal justice, but that is looking like a pretty slim commitment. Prisons in particular are at the heart of our criminal justice system, and they are in crisis, plagued by violence, drugs, squalor and a shameful lack of meaningful rehabilitation activity. Does the Minister accept that the priority must be a full public inquiry with statutory powers to find out what has gone wrong?

The hon. Gentleman is of course right about the commitment, and I referred to it in my opening response. It is true that the coronavirus changed many things, including causing significant issues in the criminal justice system and in prisons. We have published the prisons White Paper, which sets out a strategy for further improvement in all aspects of the secure estate, and I am pleased to be able to report significant progress on matters such as employment, which we know is important to reducing reoffending, and accommodation, with a five percentage points reduction in the number of individuals leaving prison who are homeless or rough sleeping.

I am sorry we did not get to the end of questions, but people were a little indulgent in the time taken.