§ Mr. Wheeler
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the average number of persons held in the detention unit at Harmondsworth during 1981; and whether it is still the intention to rebuild the unit to provide accommodation for 200 persons, as stated in the Government's reply to the fifteenth report of the Expenditure Committee, which was presented to Parliament in June 1980.
§ Mr. Whitelaw
The average daily population of the immigration detention unit at Harmondsworth was about 30 in 1981, compared with about 45 in 1979. In prison department establishments the average daily population of Persons held under the Immigration Act 1971 was about 115 in 1981, compared with about 165 in 1979.
The decline in the number of persons detained under the, Immigration Act 1971 is the result of increased use of temporary admission. In view of this decline we have concluded that a new centre for 200 persons, which would have cost an estimated £3.1 million and which would not have been fully used, could not be justified in present circumstances. We have therefore decided not to proceed with the project for the time being. A number of improvements have been made to the accommodation at Harmondsworth and it is now of a higher standard than when the Expenditure Committee reported in 1978. The Government have also recently introduced amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill which it is hoped will help to reduce further the number of persons detained in prison under the 1971 Act.