§ Mr. Beith
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the key changes made in the strategic aims for the Prison Service in the 1997–98 Business Plan of the Prison Service from those set out in the previous corporate plan, indicating the reasons for each change. 
§ Ms Quin
The previous Corporate Plan set out six strategic aims for 1996–99. The present Business Plan continues those aims for this year, 1997–98, with only minor amendments to three aims. The text of these are as follows, with the changes underlinedStrategic Aim 1Previous Corporate Plan: "To achieve unit cost reductions of 10.2 per cent.; and to contain capital spending by encouraging greater private sector involvement; while maintaining the balance between security, control, purposeful regimes and support for staff".670WCurrent Business Plan: "To achieve unit cost reductions of 5.3 per cent. in real terms over 1997–2000: and to contain capital spending by encouraging private sector involvement where appropriate: while maintaining the balance between security, control, purposeful regimes, and support for staff.The reasons for these changes are first to reflect the new targets for unit cost reduction set by the 1996 Public Expenditure Settlement, and secondly to emphasise that private sector involvement should be sought not as an end in itself, but only where it is appropriate.Strategic Aim 2Previous Corporate Plan: "To sustain a balanced step improvement in performance on escapes, building on what we achieved in 1995–96; in particular, to complete the programme of work to enhance security for Category A and high profile Category B prisoners, and to achieve a significant reduction in escapes from escort".Current Business Plan: "To sustain the reduction in the escape rate already achieved: and, in particular, to complete the programme of work to enhance security for Category A and high profile Category B prisoners, and to achieve a significant further reduction in escapes from escort".The reason for the change is that it would be odd to continue to refer back to 1995–96, particularly where there had been further improvement in performance since then.Strategic Aim 5Previous Corporate Plan: "To meet basic health care needs of the population, and to target particularly the transfer of mentally ill prisoners to hospital".Current Business Plan: "To maintain the primary (general practitioner level) health care needs of the population, referring prisoners to National Health Service specialists for treatment as appropriate and to target particularly the transfer of mentally ill prisoners to hospital".As the Business Plan states, the reason for the change was to describe policy more accurately.Strategic aims 3, 4 and 6 remain unchanged as follows:Strategic Aim 3To maintain control and a safe environment for staff and prisoners in the face of cost reductions and operational pressures; specifically, to carry through work on incentives, the drugs strategy and prevention of suicide.Strategic Aim 4To maintain balanced regimes which support control and include affordable, effective activities to reduce the risk of re-offending.Strategic Aim 6To strengthen effectiveness of staff at all levels and specifically to increase the effectiveness of financial controls and systems.
Copies of the Prison Service's Business Plan are in the Library.