In the House of Commons I challenged Rory Stewart MP to scrap plans for a new prison in Port Talbot with immediate effect and invited him to attend a public to update concerned residents, so he can hear directly from residents about the opposition to the proposals.
Stephen Kinnock: What assessment he has made of the potential merits of building a new prison in Port Talbot.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart): I believe that the hon. Gentleman and I have discussed this issue about five times in the past six weeks. I pay tribute to him for being a very firm advocate for his community. We have listened very carefully to his complaints. A decision on this prison is not likely to be imminent, as construction is not likely to be imminent. I would like to say, however, in addition to having listened to his complaints, that a prison built in the right place in the right way can provide significant economic opportunities for an area.
Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon) (Lab): I thank the Minister for his answer, but the problem is that the proposed site is right next to residential areas, schools and a care home; is served by very poor transport links; is on a designated enterprise zone; is on marshland; and is restricted by a covenant saying that it can only be used as an industrial park. The Minister must surely agree therefore that the whole idea is a non-starter and should be scrapped with immediate effect.
Rory Stewart: The hon. Gentleman has made those points on a number of occasions. We are listening very carefully. Indeed, two members of our Department travelled to Port Talbot, to a very lively public meeting where those points were made repeatedly. We are listening very carefully to him.
Stephen Kinnock: As the Minister knows, there has already been a public meeting in my constituency about the prison there. He will be delighted to know that we have organised another on 12 April, to which he has been invited. May I encourage him to come and meet my constituents to hear directly their concerns, and I can guarantee that he will receive a warm welcome in the valleys?
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Rory Stewart): I am very grateful. There is almost no Member of Parliament who has been more assiduous on this subject, with, I think, five meetings in the past six weeks. There was a vigorous encounter between my officials and the hon. Gentleman’s community on their last visit. I would like very much to have the next meeting here in London, if that is possible, and I would be delighted to discuss the issues on that occasion.