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Prison Plans: Port Talbot

Volume 639: debated on Tuesday 24 April 2018

I should like to pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for his amazingly assiduous campaign. He asked exactly the same question, with exactly the same words, at the last Justice questions, since when I have met him another half dozen times. We have had a good meeting with his constituents, and I am now aware of their individual and general concerns. However, we need prison places in Wales.

The hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock) is further evidence of the KBO principle. The Minister said what he said non-pejoratively, but I simply make the innocent and prosaic, but valid, point that repetition is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons.

Repetition can be a form of flattery, Mr Speaker. I should like to thank the Minister for meeting me and the representatives of the NPT Prison Group for a constructive discussion, and for agreeing to put plans for the Baglan prison on hold. I am sure he will also have noted the decision of the Welsh Government to put all plans on hold pending a strategic review. Can he assure me that all plans for the Baglan prison are well and truly on hold, and that the UK Government will engage in a constructive and positive manner with the Welsh Government in the strategic review?

I hope the hon. Gentleman feels that we are engaged in a constructive and positive manner and that we have very much taken on board the concerns around that site, but it is important to bear in mind that more than 1,500 prisoners with Welsh addresses are currently being held in English prisons. We need to think about how to provide accommodation for them in Wales, because that is important for reducing reoffending, resettling them in their communities and keeping the links with their families.

Given the overwhelming evidence that smaller local prisons, where family links and the Welsh language can be maintained, are far more effective at reducing reoffending, why is the Secretary of State still proposing super prisons in south Wales when they are known not to work?

There are of course reasons why larger modern prisons are favoured, and that is partly about how we can manage things at scale. However, if there are communities in Wales that would like to come forward with proposals for smaller local prisons, I would absolutely agree that there is a strong argument for keeping prisoners closer to their homes.