Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, for what reason the (a) hearings and (b) deliberations of the Parole Board for England and Wales are not held in public; and if he will take steps to alter this policy in the interests of (i) transparency and (ii) accountability. 
[Due for Answer on 17 June]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Alex Chalk): It is a statutory requirement under the terms of the current Parole Board Rules for all hearings to be heard in private. That gives the Parole Board no flexibility to consider holding a public hearing even where that may be justified in all the particular circumstances of the case. In February, following a public consultation last year, the Government announced its intention to amend the current rules so that hearings can be held in public when the Parole Board determines it would be in the interests of justice to do so. These changes will be made to the Parole Board Rules later this year.
This is being taken forward as part of the root and branch review of the parole system which was launched in October 2020. The Terms of Reference for the review, and one of the government’s priorities, includes looking at ways to increase the transparency and openness of the parole system so as to improve public confidence and accountability. We plan to build on previous reforms to improve transparency, such as the introduction of Parole Board decision summaries in 2018 which provide reasons for its decisions, mainly to victims. The review is due to report later this year and will set out how the new transparency measures and other reforms to the parole system will be implemented.