(Title Image: Birmingham Mail)
It’s worth briefly outlining how I cover plenary debates (for future reference): I only include contributions that don’t repeat what somebody else has already said (whoever says it first “wins”) and are directly relevant to the discussion. If that means I have to leave out some AMs’ contributions, so be it.
The UK Ministry of Justice has shortlisted a site in Port Talbot for a new Category C “super-prison” with a capacity for as many as 1,600 prisoners. The plans have been opposed locally (not exactly a shock) and there’s been pressure on the Welsh Government to oppose the development as the land is owned by them (for economic development purposes).
Calls on the Welsh Government to:
- Oppose the construction of a “super-prison” in Port Talbot.
- Not to sell or release any Welsh Government land for the proposed prison.
- To develop the local economy through supporting businesses in the industrial park.
- To make representations to the UK Government to support alternatives to large prisons.
Bethan Jenkins AM (Plaid, South Wales West)
For (the motion): The land could be put to better use.
- The land is flood-prone, has been earmarked for an enterprise zone and goes against the principles of the Future Well-being of Generations Act.
- Super-prisons create a financial incentive for companies to work against reducing the prison population.
- “It’s easier and cheaper to warehouse everyone in Wales” while prisons are closed in England.
Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West)
Against: Modern prisons are better for rehabilitation.
- Some of the rhetoric around the proposal has been “unpleasant”; she’s a trustee of the Families & Friends of Prisoners group in Swansea. Prisoners are being discussed as though they are a “toxic English commodity”, which is “disgraceful”.
- Victorian prisons dehumanise people and don’t lend themselves to rehabilitation. A modern environment provides better opportunities for education and training.
Adam Price AM (Plaid, Carms. E & Dinefwr)
For: Not in Wales’ economic interest.
- The prison would be an “industrial-sized penal colony”.
- It’s not humane to “dragoon prisoners and move them hundreds of miles from their families”.
- The motivation behind super-prisons is cost-cutting/austerity.
- It could lead to a net loss of jobs if Cardiff & Swansea prisons closed; a Basque aluminium plant has expressed interest in the land.
David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon)
For: Unsuitable location.
Dai Lloyd AM (Plaid, South Wales West)
For: Criminal justice powers should be devolved.
Caroline Jones AM (UKIP, South Wales West)
Lee Waters AM (Lab, Llanelli)
Welsh Government Response
Communities Secretary, Carl Sargeant (Lab, Alyn & Deeside)