New proposals for a prison in North Wales should be set out to Parliament by Ministers, Wrexham MP Ian Lucas has said.
In recent weeks Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright and others at the Ministry of Justice have begun discussions with North Wales council leaders about the possibility of a prison in North Wales. However, despite these discussions, Ministers have been reluctant to explain their plans to Parliament. Mr Lucas has long been a supporter of a North Wales Prison, and believes it should be centrally located to tackle issues regarding transport.
He opposed proposals to place a prison on the Wrexham Industrial Estate.
During Justice Questions yesterday, Mr Lucas raised the issue. He asked “The prisons Minister recently met council leaders from north Wales to discuss the long-standing issue of a prison in the area. Will he meet north Wales Members of Parliament to keep them in the loop on his thinking, or does he intend not to keep them informed?”
The Minister responded “As I recall, almost all the council leaders who came to see me on that occasion were Labour council leaders, so I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman has a communication problem with his own councillors. This is going to be part of a much wider consideration of the prison estate that we will undertake. As soon as we are in a position to make decisions we will attempt to keep all those who need to be informed, informed.”
You can see the exchange in Hansard by clicking here.
Speaking today, Mr Lucas said “The Ministers’ reply was rather flippant. I raised the issue with him precisely because of discussions I have had with councillors locally after their meeting.
“Ministers have previously halted prisons programmes, citing concerns about cost. Now, they seem to be holding discussions about re-opening them. Ministers are accountable to Parliament – yet are discussing issues outside the House but not with MPs. I am sure that the Minister would not want to give the impression he has anything to hide on this issue, which is why his refusal to discuss proposals is rather strange.
“As a result, I have put down a series of written questions in a bid to find out the current Government position.”