Fewer than half of the people entering prison have basic standards of English and maths. This is a huge problem because we know that low levels of education can prevent people from securing jobs on release and leading law-abiding lives.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The fact is that too many people enter our prisons without those skills. We need to use their time in prison to help them to gain the basic skills so that they can succeed outside. We have started measuring prisoners’ skills by testing them as they enter prison. I am keen to see that we measure real progress made during prisoners’ stay in prison and hold governors accountable for that.
I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend to her position. I was delighted to hear the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport talking about the importance of the arts in prisons. I hope that my right hon. Friend will recognise how the arts can bring prisoners to literacy and teach them a huge range of skills. I hope she will meet the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance at the earliest opportunity to discuss what the arts can do, particularly in respect of literacy.
What discussions will the Secretary of State have with Justice Departments in devolved legislatures throughout the United Kingdom to ensure that best practice is replicated in the improvement of literacy in all UK prisons?