In the first Ministry of Justice question since I, along with two representatives from Stop NPT Prison group, met Rory Stewart in London, and off the back of the latest public meeting held in the Aberavon Beach Hotel, I pressed the Minister again on the government’s plans to build a prison in Port Talbot. I also questioned him on the governments engagement with the Welsh Government’s strategic review. I look forward to joining those meetings.
Stephen Kinnock: 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?
Rory Stewart: 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.
Stephen Kinnock: It is me again, as I am sure the Minister is delighted to see. The Welsh Government’s strategic review has been mentioned. Can he advise on the timeframe for when he will be meeting his counterpart in the Welsh Government for these vital talks? Can he also advise on how hon. Members on both sides of the House can get involved in that dialogue?
Rory Stewart: I will be meeting the Welsh Secretary specifically on this issue next week. We are setting up a meeting with the Head of the Welsh Government, who of course will be changing, and I would very much like the hon. Gentleman to join that meeting. I reiterate that, so long as offending rates in Wales remain as they are, although it is laudable that the Welsh Government wish to divert people away from prison, we currently need places for Welsh prisoners.