From Total Politics
The new justice secretary Chris Grayling, a favourite of the Tory right-wing who made history as the first non-lawyer to be appointed in the position, today took a bruising in the Commonsfrom Labour MPs.
Labour MP Paul Flynn, later suspended from the Commons for calling defence secretary Philip Hammond a ‘liar’ on Afghanistan strategy, first challenged Grayling on the steps he planned to take to reduce the size of the prison population.
Grayling responded by saying that he had “no plans to reduce” the prison population, but instead was ensuring that more foreign nationals are being returned to their country of origin and that there is a better job of rehabilitation.
Flynn hit back saying, “I’m not grateful for that cynical backward looking answer.” He criticised Grayling, who he said hadn’t recognised that despite, “all the fresh and dynamic teams that have come before the house and have been welcomed in the last 42 years, not one minister of justice had reduced recidivism by one iota”.
The maverick Flynn didn’t hold back, proclaiming that the House should regret losing, “a civilised and vintage popular secretary, the member for Rushcliffe, who demonstrated that he had a working brain, who understood the benefits of remedial justice. Haven’t we sadly exchanged old lace for arsenic?”
Grayling, taken aback by the attack, responded that he is, “making sure we tackle the rehabilitation challenge and stop people going back to prison again and again.”
Yet shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan pointed out that there is a “black hole” in the department, and that today’s National Audit Office report revealed there was a £130m loss of savings, since the Tory-led government took over 28 months ago, as a result of sentencing reforms not going ahead. Grayling maintained he was confident with the finances and that it was on track and that he wanted more for less while not engendering the public.