UK Parliamentarian blasts Jamaica for rejecting Britain’s prison offer
KINGSTON – The Jamaican Government is yet to respond to a scathing rebuke by a British parliamentarian who criticized the island’s rejection of a £25 million (US$30.5 million) offer from the United Kingdom government to construct a new prison.
Philip Hollobone, a member of the British Conservative Party, labeled Jamaica’s decision a “complete disgrace”, according to a report in The Sun.
So peeved was Hollobone that he proposed that Jamaican nationals in UK jails be immediately deported or the Andrew Holness Government foot the bill to maintain their upkeep in British jails.
“Their Ambassador should be called in and urgent arrangements should be made or some other solution to deport convicted Jamaican nationals who are taking prison places in our own jails.
“If they won’t accept them we should send the Jamaican government a bill for their annual incarceration,” he said.
The UK’s offer to construct the jail was made by former British Prime Minister David Cameron when he visited Kingston two years ago.
After a long wait, Jamaica Foreign Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith announced in January that the Government had turned down the offer because it was not in the island’s best interest.
Smith explained that Britain had more to gain because the move would save that country £10 million (US$12.2 million) a year.
A known condition of the deal was the transfer of 300 Jamaican prisoners to their homeland to complete their sentences.
The money which the UK was offering would only have been 40 per cent of the cost of the prison, and the Jamaica government would have had to source the rest of the funds.
A British Government spokesperson, however, told The Sun that there were no hard feelings and the UK Government would continue to work with Jamaica on the issue.
“We will continue to work with them to deliver the return of Jamaican nationals from UK prisons to Jamaica and we remain committed to an excellent bilateral relationship across a range of issues, including security and prisoner transfers,” the official said.
The Sun reported that some 600 Jamaican prisoners are serving sentences in British jails.