Britain should pay foreign countries to take back criminals, according to a Black Country MP.

John Spellar (Lab Warley) said foreign crooks should be sent home to free up room in jails.

The proposal will be considered by Birmingham MP Liam Byrne, the Home Office Minister in charge of immigration policy.

The Government is planning up to five new jails to cope with thousands of new prisoners, under plans to force courts to hand out tougher sentences.

But Mr Spellar, a former Armed Forces and Transport Minister in Tony Blair's Government, says a crucial reason for overflowing cells is a rise in foreigners. There are 80,000 prisoners - 10,879 foreigners.

Mr Spellar said: "With the rocketing number of foreign nationals we have huge pressure on space. Simply asking countries to take them back to serve their sentences.

"We need room and, while ideally we should be looking at new prisons, this would be a way of getting undesirables out of the country.

"It costs us to keep them. But it is probably cheaper to pay a prison guard in Nigeria than Wormwood Scrubs."

The number of foreign prisoners has risen by more than half since 2001 with a rate of increase four times higher than others.