Answer on Terrorist Prisoners Demanded

Ministers must urgently reveal how many prisoners convicted of terror offences have been released from jail on licence so Britain can assess the risk it faces in the wake of the Paris attacks, the Commons has heard.

Tory MP Philip Davies (Shipley) said it was “absolutely essential” for the Government to divulge the information in the aftermath of the three days of terror that shook France last week.

Two of the Paris attackers – Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly – reportedly met in jail, where the latter is said to have been radicalised, while the former was serving a sentence for a terror offence.

Mr Davies said he had first asked the Ministry of Justice the question in November but in keeping with its “woeful record” in answering parliamentary questions, he has not received a response.

He called on the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to make an urgent statement on the matter “so we can see what risk this country faces from these kinds of people”.

Commons Leader William Hague said he would remind Mr Grayling of the question and spoke of the importance of answering parliamentary questions on time.

During business questions in the Commons, Mr Davies said: “The Ministry of Justice has got a woeful record on answering parliamentary questions on time to such an extent that the Procedure Committee chastised them for it.

“I asked a question on November 18 to ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prisoners convicted of terrorist-related offences have been released on temporary licence in each of the last five years.

“Now it’s bad enough that that question still hasn’t been answered yet.

“But given the nature of the question and the appalling events in Paris recently isn’t it absolutely essential that the Government is on top of how many prisoners convicted of terrorist offences have been released on temporary licence.

“So can you not only urge the Secretary of State to answer the question but actually to come to the House and make a statement so we can see what risk this country faces from these kind of people?”

Mr Hague replied: “You know that the Home Secretary made a statement yesterday about our preparedness to counter terrorist attacks.

“But it is very important that departments give timely answers to questions.

“I certainly attach a great deal of importance to that as does the Procedure Committee.

“The Justice Secretary has explained to the Procedure Committee I believe the measures he is taking to improve the performance of the Ministry of Justice on this but while that is taking place I will remind him of the specific question you have asked.”

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