Examination of Witnesses(Questions 1-19)|
GIEVE CB, MR
THURSDAY 18 JULY 2002
1. Good afternoon, gentlemen, and welcome. This
is a fairly general session. As you know, we have it once a year
with the Permanent Secretary and his colleagues. Mr Gieve, in
the Chancellor's spending announcement the other day we were told
that the budget would go up from £10.7 billion to £13.5
billion by 2005-06. What is that in real terms?
(Mr Gieve) The increase in the total Home Office programme
over the current year is around 6.5 per cent a year real growth.
2. Next year it will be 6.5 per cent higher
than this year?
(Mr Gieve) Year on year, it averages
6.5 per cent but over the last yearthat is, what we spent
last yearit is about 3.5 per cent real growth. The difference
arises because our current budget for the current year has a much
lower figure for spending on asylum and immigration than we spent
last year. We are still negotiating over this year's budget. The
figure I would use is about 3.5 per cent real growth per year
over the period from outturn last year.
3. Would the Chancellor give the same answer
if we were to ask him or would he say 6.5 per cent?
(Mr Gieve) These are agreed with the Treasury.
4. Where are you going to spend it all?
(Mr Gieve) I am going to have to be a bit general
on that because we have not entirely decided where to spend it.
5. Presumably you had some idea when you requested
(Mr Gieve) Yes, and there are certain specific allocations.
For example, we have announced that the budget for police will
be £1.5 billion higher in the final year than it is this
year. That is where some of it is going to go. We also have a
commitment to £600 million on IT in the criminal justice
system which runs from the police end right through to the prisons.
That is specific. We have said we are going to expand the drugs
programme substantially. That is specific, but I cannot take it
much further than that other than to say that around £700
million a year has been allocated specifically for the asylum
and immigration budget which is going to be converted into a new
ring fenced budget, including the money that the Lord Chancellor's
Department spends on legal aid and appeals. That has not happened
yet but the contribution to that is £700 million a year.
6. Any idea what that is in real terms increase
over the period we are talking about?
(Mr Gieve) Excluding asylum, we are talking about
a 4.5 per cent real increase a year over the four years 2001-02
7. It is asylum I was talking about.
(Mr Gieve) The provision is broadly flat in real terms
from last year to the end of the period.
8. When you were going to the Chancellor to
negotiate these big increases, what were you saying to him your
main pressure points were? Asylum? Police? What else?
(Mr Gieve) As you know, we have plans to improve on
practically every front but the key areas in the Home Office budget
are the police, corrections and asylum. Those are the three big
9. Corrections? You mean prisons?
(Mr Gieve) I mean prisons, probation and the YJB.
As you will have seen yesterday from the White Paper, there are
lots of things we want to do in that area as well as on crime
reduction and police.
10. Hopefully, some of the things in the White
Paper will result in reduced spending as greater efficiency kicks
in, or am I being naive?
(Mr Gieve) I would not accuse you of being naive.
But yes, ultimately, if we can reduce crime, we will get savings
down the system and obviously as a process matter we are looking
for efficiency savings in the way the criminal justice system
11. I was not just thinking of reducing crime;
I was thinking of reducing the delays in the court system and
the number of failed trials.
(Mr Gieve) The investment in CJSIT, for example, is
intended to bring greater efficiency, speed, timeliness and savings
in paper handling.
12. Mr Narey, how have you done out of all this?
(Mr Narey) I do not know yet. I hope to have a picture
in the next few days.
13. What did you tell the Chancellor you needed,
because yours is the part of the system where there is the most
pressure, given the huge rises in prison numbers.
(Mr Narey) My priorities were to pay for the expansion
of prison places which we started this year following the budget.
We are providing for 2,400 new places over the next couple of
years. On top of things like inflation, things to carry on running
the service, things to expand what we have been trying to do in
the last few years about resettling prisoners, education, drug
treatment, behaviour programmes and getting prisoners into jobs.
14. Are you satisfied you are going to be able
to do that?
(Mr Narey) I genuinely do not know yet. Although it
is a significant settlement, I am aware there are a lot of other
pressures around the Home Office in addition to mine.
15. Supposing you benefited by this 3.5 per
cent in real terms a year. Would that be sufficient?
(Mr Narey) I could do dramatically more if I got that
sort of settlement.
16. What do you anticipate the prison population
will be in four years' time?
(Mr Narey) I think it is almost impossible to say.
The statistical projections for the prison population, which are
no more than projections very much on a straight line, suggest
that the population could hurtle to 80,000 and beyond. I am not
quite sure whether that is the case. I hope I am not being too
optimistic, but I think the growth in the population is showing
some signs of slowing down right now. It will certainly slow down
in August anyway, but there has been some tailing off following
a very significant rise in the last 12 months or so.
17. If it did cross the 80,000 mark, you would
have to go back and ask for more money, would you not?
(Mr Narey) I would need many more places to accommodate
that sort of population.
18. At the moment, the prisons are absolutely
full, are they not?
(Mr Narey) Yes.
19. What is the situation? Do you have to find
other places than ordinary prisons for those who have been sentenced?
(Mr Narey) At the moment, we are about a couple of
hundred away from our usable, operational capacity and we have
some prisoners in police cells, although not many, about 111 this
morning. What I hope will help us to manage our way through that
is the fact that it would be very unusual if the population did
not start to fall in the next couple of weeks as we went into
August and should not grow in September. By October, I will have
about 1,000 new places coming on stream which we started building
for some time ago and that should begin to give us some headroom
and I hope get us out of police cells.