I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
I congratulate my hon. Friend Mr Bone on promoting the Bill. As you will appreciate, Mr Speaker, it is no easy task to get a private Member’s Bill on to the Order Paper. It involved quite a few days and evenings sitting and sleeping in the corridor upstairs to ensure that this Bill was selected for one of the 13 sitting Fridays. However, this is not its first appearance, because it was submitted in my name in its original form in 2013 when my hon. Friends the Members for Wellingborough, for Christchurch (Mr Chope) and for Bury North (Mr Nuttall) and I suggested some 40 private Members’ Bills upstairs in what was dubbed by some commentators as the alternative Queen’s Speech.
I had wanted to call the Bill the “Foreign National Offenders (Send Them All Back) Bill” but that was not allowed by the parliamentary authorities, so it is now called the Foreign National Offenders (Exclusion from the UK) Bill, and it does what it says on the tin. It is designed to address a serious issue that this country has failed to tackle over the past 10 years, namely that we simply have far too many foreign nationals in our prisons who have committed serious criminal offences. The scale of the problem is quite frightening.
You will not be surprised to know, Mr Speaker, that there are some 85,000 prisoners in total in jail in this country. In fact, the latest figures from the Ministry of Justice are that there were 85,886 prisoners in our jails as of September 2015; that number was given to me in answer to a parliamentary question tabled at the end of January this year. Of those 85,886, 75,010 are British nationals, 10,442 are foreign nationals and, bizarrely, there are 434 whose nationalities are somehow not recorded. Frankly, it escapes me how 434 individuals could be imprisoned in our country and yet no one seems to know where they came from. I find it worrying for our national security that there is this large number of people in our prisons about whom we know nothing. How many more are there not in our prisons about whom we know nothing and of whose nationality we have no record at all?
There are 10,442 foreign national prisoners in our prisoners out of a total of 85,886—12% of the prison population. You will perhaps be surprised to learn, Mr Speaker, that those 10,442 come not just from one, two, three, four, half a dozen or a dozen countries, but from some 160 countries from around the world. Indeed, 80% of the world’s nations are represented in our prisons. We are truly an internationally and culturally diverse nation, even in our imprisoned population. Very worryingly indeed, something like a third of them have been convicted of violent and sexual offences; a fifth have been convicted of drugs offences; and others have been convicted of burglary, robbery, fraud and other serious crimes.
It is a good thing that the crimes have been detected, the evidence has been gathered and these people are being punished for their offences. It is, however, completely wrong that the cost of that imprisonment should fall on British taxpayers, because these individuals—every single last one of them—should be repatriated to secure detention in their country of origin, so that taxpayers from their own countries can pay the bill for their incarceration and punishment.
Several hon. Members rose—