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Prisons: Northern Ireland

Volume 705: debated on Tuesday 4 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals they have to reduce the number of people in prison in Northern Ireland for non-payment of debts. [HL5842]

Measures to assist those dealing with personal debt, as well as matters relating to corporate insolvency in Northern Ireland, are the responsibility of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

Details on proposals relating to the enforcement of fines, including those fine defaults which lead to prison sentences, are available in Fine Default in Northern Ireland—A Consultation, which was published in July this year by the Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins) along with the Minister of State for the Ministry of Justice (David Hanson).

The document is available from the following link at _a_consultation.pdf.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 21 October (WA 99) concerning the nationalities of prisoners in Northern Ireland, why the Answer did not include Irish nationals; and whether they will provide this information. [HL5844]

In categorising those prisoners that are not British citizens, prisoners who have declared themselves of Irish nationality are not included, as the Belfast agreement explicitly recognises the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose and therefore it is not possible to state definitively how many prisoners have Irish nationality.

Although not required to do so, as of 23 October, 154 prisoners had self-declared themselves to be of Irish nationality. This figure includes five females and 28 male young offenders—a total of 10 per cent of the population.