Since 1 January this year, 97 applications for transfer have been received from prisoners wishing to serve their custodial sentence in their country of origin. The Prison Service has in place procedures—principally on induction—to ensure that prisoners are aware of the possibility of transfer and of how to submit an application. In addition, prisoners are advised, during interviews with immigration staff, of the possibility of being repatriated. Relevant prisoners are advised in writing of any new prisoner transfer agreement that comes into effect.
May I urge my hon. Friend to place in the Library the details of the countries to which those 97 prisoners wished to return? I also urge him and his ministerial colleagues to do far more to encourage foreign national prisoners to go back to where they came from, because taxpayers in this country are fed up with paying for their board and lodging.
I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend for continuing to keep a spur to the Ministry of Justice’s side to ensure that we do not slack in our responsibility to get these foreign national prisoners home if at all possible. I am pleased to be able to tell him that when I spoke recently to the annual conference of the Independent Monitoring Boards, I asked them to help us with this, to ensure that we have our procedures in place, and to identify any cases of delay involving prisoners wishing to return under a prisoner transfer agreement. I am determined to ensure that all those who are willing to go home should be encouraged to do so at the earliest opportunity.