Rory Stewart – 2019 Statement on HMP Birmingham

Rory Stewart

Below is the text of the statement made by Rory Stewart, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, in the House of Commons on 2 April 2019.

Today the Secretary of State and I can confirm the future plans for HMP Birmingham following the step in initiated by HMPPS and also the urgent notification received by the Secretary of State from HM chief inspector of prisons on 20th August 2018.

We have concluded with the full agreement of G4S that the best way forward now is for us to end the contract and bring back the prison under public sector management.

The situation at HMP Birmingham was totally unacceptable which is why we “stepped in” in August 2018 and why we continued to do so in February 2019. We were always clear that the prison would not be handed back until we were satisfied that sufficient progress had been made.

The prison has made some good progress—both we and G4S have however recognised that there is still much more to do to deliver further improvements. It has become increasingly clear that G4S alone is not able to make the improvements that were so badly needed, and that additional ongoing support from the public sector Prison Service is required to ensure that the prison gets the stability and continuity that will be necessary for sustained progress.

This means that on 1 July 2019, HMP Birmingham will return to public sector management. We have agreed a settlement with G4S of £9.9 million, which covers the additional cost to the MOJ of its “step in” action—meeting our previous public commitment and which also includes an amount to cover essential maintenance works.

Our responsibility is to make sure that prisons are properly run for prisoners and the public. At Birmingham, we must accelerate the good work that has already commenced to stabilise the prison for the longer term. The foundation for that is making sure that we have a clean, decent and safe prison. That is the foundation ​from which we can do all the other things we want to do—in particular, rehabilitate people, change lives and ultimately protect the public.

What we need to focus on now is building on the positive work achieved to date at HMP Birmingham. We are clear that we have made progress and got some of the necessary basics on the right track to drive improvement; specifically, with the deployment of experienced HMPPS staff, managers and specialists we have significantly increased staff confidence, gained greater order and control and improved day-to-day regime delivery. I am confident that we are beginning to get a grip on the issues driving violence and that we will see the results of this in the coming months.

Progress on decency has also been made; two of the three large Victorian wings which did not meet our expectations have been taken out of use. The third will also soon be fully out of use, as another newly refurbished wing builds to full occupancy. Cleanliness has improved across the site and the visitors centre is being refurbished. This work forms part of the family strategy supporting prisoners and their families to stay in touch, which is key to rehabilitation.

HMPPS staff are also tackling some of the key security risks. A dedicated search team has been introduced and improved, intelligence-led searching has been yielding good results. Specifically, a full lock down search was conducted recently in a major operation involving staff from across the wider service, which was successful in finding and confiscating contraband, and taking disciplinary action taken against the relevant prisoners as a result.

It is also important for staff and prisoners to know what the future of the prison looks like and to remove uncertainty. Paul Newton, the governor who has been running the prison during step in, will remain in post following the transfer back into the public. We will continue to work closely with G4S to support the prison and to make the transition as smooth as possible in the meantime for both staff and prisoners.

This is the right decision for HMP Birmingham but we continue to believe that prisoners and the public benefit from a mixed economy of provision. We are going to remain in a situation where the majority of our prisons will continue to be run by the public sector, but the private sector has a role to play. The private sector has delivered real value for money and some new approaches that have been really impressive.

We have now been running private prisons for 25 years. By and large, that experience has been positive. In fact, G4S’s itself, its performance at Oakwood, Parc and Altcourse has been impressive. They are good prisons. So are Bronzefield, Ashfield, Forest Bank and Thameside, run by other private sector providers.

It makes sense to us that for the next couple of new prisons we give the private sector a chance to bid, but we have set a public sector benchmark. We have explained what the costs would be of the public sector providing the quality of service we want at a prison, and if private sector bidders are not able to provide better value for money, we would look again at the public sector running those establishments.

We will of course be learning lessons from Birmingham which must support our approach to contracting for private prisons in the future.​
I strongly believe that this decision is the right one for HMP Birmingham at this time. I am pleased that G4S have also recognised this and are working with us to deliver better outcomes for prisoners and a better working environment for staff. I look forward to being able to report further good progress at HMP Birmingham in the coming months.

Rory Stewart – 2018 Statement on Prison Operator Services Framework Competition

Below is the text of the statement made by Rory Stewart, the Minister of State at the Ministry for Justice, in the House of Commons on 29 November 2018.

At the Justice Select Committee on 26 June, I reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to building up to 10,000 modern and decent prison places to replace old, expensive and unsuitable accommodation, modernising parts of our prison estate.

Also at the Committee, I confirmed the intention to launch a competition to appoint a framework of prison operators from which we could select the operator for the new prisons including further prisons following expiry of current private sector contracts.

Today I can announce the launch of the Prison Operator Services framework competition through a notice which will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) within the coming days.

Securing a framework of operators should reinvigorate the prison market by encouraging new providers to enter the custodial arena. It will also enable MoJ to more effectively and efficiently manage a pipeline of competition over the next decade. Once part of the framework, operators can choose to compete in shorter ‘call off’ competitions for the operation of individual prisons.

The first of these call-off competitions will be for the operation of the new build resettlement prisons at Wellingborough and then Glen Parva. These are being built using public capital, with construction expected to begin in late 2018 and late 2019 respectively.

HMPPS will not bid in the competition but will provide a ‘public sector benchmark’ against which operators’ bids will be rigorously assessed. If bids do not meet our expectations in terms of quality and cost, HMPPS will act as the provider.

This competition is not about the difference between the public and private sector. It is about driving quality and innovation across the system. I am clear that through this competition we expect bidders to provide high quality, value for money bids that deliver effective regimes to meet the specific needs of prisoners. Our aim being to help them turn their lives around to prevent reoffending.

This Government remains committed to a role for the private sector in operating custodial services. The competition launched today will seek to build on the innovation and different ways of working that the private sector has previously introduced to the system. The sector has an important role to play, and currently runs some high-performing prisons, as part of a decent and secure prison estate.

We will ensure, through the procurement and contract management processes, that we have sufficient measures in place to have confidence in the delivery and maintenance of the contracted prisons over their lifetime.

A balanced approach to custodial services provision, which includes a mix of public, voluntary and private sector involvement has been shown to introduce improvements and deliver value for money for taxpayers.

The launch of the Prison Operator Services Framework underlines this Government’s commitment to reform the prison estate, build much-needed prison places, improve standards of decency across the estate, and reduce reoffending.

Rory Stewart – 2016 Statement on June Environment Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Rory Stewart, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on 7 July 2016.

I attended the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg on 20 June along with my noble friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Lord Bourne). Roseanna Cunningham MSP also attended.

I wish to update the House on the matters discussed.

EU emissions trading system (ETS)

The presidency introduced its progress report on negotiations to reform the EU ETS, framed in the context of the Paris climate agreement. The Commission saw carbon leakage rules as a priority and cautioned against over-burdening national authorities and industry. The Commission called for more ideas from industry on how best to use the innovation and modernisation funds, and supported a focus on addressing the surplus of allowances in the system rather than direct price regulation.

In the ensuing policy debate, all Ministers supported the presidency’s progress report and proposals for next steps. The UK focused on the need to balance the reducing number of free allowances with appropriate carbon leakage support, protection of the market stability reserve, strengthening of the carbon price, and reaching agreement on ETS alongside the effort share decision.
Paris ratification: presentation from the Commission and Council statement

The Commission briefly presented its proposal for a Council decision on EU ratification of the Paris agreement, published on 10 June. The presidency then invited Ministers to endorse a Council statement calling for ratification of the Paris agreement by the EU and its member states as soon as possible.

Following proposals from other member states, the presidency presented a compromise statement which included references to climate finance, and which the Council agreed by consensus.

National emissions ceilings directive: state of play

The presidency set out the state of play of the negotiations. The presidency was disappointed agreement had not yet been reached, but noted good progress was made in the four trilogue meetings which had taken place. On the key issues of 2030 limits, flexibilities and the nature of 2025 ceilings, the institutions were still some way apart. Despite this, the presidency believed a deal was close and had been in contact with the European Parliament with a view to arranging a fifth trilogue meeting. The Commission fully supported the presidency’s efforts.

The UK along with other member states encouraged the presidency to make another attempt at a first reading agreement by the end of June. However there was some difference in focus between member states in terms of ambition and the need for realistic and attainable targets. A significant number of member states expressed a clear preference for an agreement built on the most recent presidency mandate.

AOB: NOx emissions by diesel

The presidency reported on recent discussion at Transport Council. The Commission reiterated its view that the main issue was member state implementation of the Euro 5/6 regulations. It noted the progress made on the adoption of the real driving emissions (RDE) and worldwide harmonised light vehicles test procedure (WLTP) proposals. The Commission called on member states to accelerate negotiations on the type approval regulations. The Commission said it intended to provide further guidance on the implementation of the Euro 5/6 regulations by the end of the year, but added this had to be based on a transparent exchange of information gathered during national studies.

The UK underlined the urgent need to resolve the issue to ensure health benefits and for member states to fulfil their legal obligations.

AOB: endocrine disruptors

The Commission presented its recently adopted package on endocrine disruptors consisting of a communication and draft Commission acts setting out scientific criteria in the context of EU legislation on plant protection products and biocidal products.

Council conclusions on Closing the Loop: Circular Economy

The Council adopted by consensus conclusions which responded to the Commission communication on an EU action plan for the circular economy. The UK welcomed the conclusions and, in particular, the call for EU action on microbeads which was supported by several other member states.

Council conclusions on illegal wildlife trafficking

Council adopted by consensus conclusions which responded to the Commission communication on an EU action plan against wildlife trafficking. The UK intervened in support of the conclusions and called for a robust EU commitment on trophy hunting at the convention on international trade in endangered species conference of the parties in September. The UK also called for action in working towards the closure of the Chinese domestic market for ivory.

AOBs

The Council noted updates from the Commission on: negotiations on aviation emissions in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the outcome of which would have implications for the EU’s aviation emission trading system; the outcomes of the eighth Environment for Europe ministerial conference; and the UN Environment Assembly.

The Council noted presidency updates on: April’s “Make It Work” conference, an initiative which aims to improve EU regulation; April’s informal Council of Environment and Transport Ministers; and the recent “REACH Forward” conference on chemicals legislation.

The Council noted information provided by: the Commission regarding environmental implementation review; the German and Belgian delegations regarding the Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (BSal) virus affecting salamander and newt populations; and the incoming Slovakian presidency, who informed member states of the key environment priorities for its presidency—climate change, biodiversity, waste and water.