Yesterday, I asked the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Prisons, Probation, Rehabilitation and Sentencing, Andrew Selous MP, what action the UK Government is taking to address the concerns of the First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM.
The First Minister has expressed concerns that the Welsh Government will be responsible for the healthcare costs for prisons, even though many of them will be from England. This will put pressure on Betsi Cadwaladr health board.
The building of the Wrexham is welcomed. It will help the UK deliver modern prisons to help rehabilitate prisoners and cut reoffending rates. Not only will it help with our crumbling prison system, but it will bring employment to North Wales through services that are needed to supply the prison population.
The Under Secretary of State said that he is aware of the issues raised and that the UK Government is in negotiations with the Welsh Government on the issue of healthcare costs. But he was unable to inform the House of Commons any further due to ongoing negotiations.
The total population at the new prison will be 2,106 with an estimated 1,300 coming from England.
I welcome the construction of the new prison in Wrexham. But the UK Government must ensure that the burden of providing healthcare for prisoners, many of whom will come from England, is not unfairly placed on the Welsh Government.
The prison system is under enormous pressure and needs investment to provide jails fit for the 21st century. Wrexham will deliver this and provide jobs to the region through increased demand on local services.
I urge the UK Government to come to a fair deal for the provision of healthcare in Wrexham prison. We cannot have the Welsh Government footing the bill for inmates that will come from England as well as Wales.