Draft bill on prisoner voting

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said a joint Commons and Lords committee will consider proposals on prisoner voting, including the option of retaining the ban.

Draft bill on prisoners right to vote to be unveiled

A draft bill on whether prisoners should be given the vote will be set out today by the Government in the latest round of its long-running battle with the European Court of Human Rights.

prisoners vote
An outright ban on prisoners voting has been ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights. Credit: Paul Faith/PA Wire

MPs are expected to be given three choices in the bill - retaining the current ban, or allowing votes for certain prisoners serving sentences of up to six months or up to four years.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will lay out the options ahead of tomorrow's deadline for Britain to comply with a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the current outright ban is illegal.

MPs 'to consider prisoner votes'

Parliament reportedly will be given another say on whether to give prisoners the right to vote as the deadline for the UK to comply with a European ruling looms.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said the Government is "considering how best to proceed" following the European Court of Human Rights' judgment on giving prisoners the right to vote.

"An announcement will be made to Parliament shortly", the spokesperson added.

ITV News Political Correspondent, Romilly Weeks, reports.

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Labour: MPs' vote will strengthen UK position on ban

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said a Parliamentary vote on whether prisoners should be given the vote would strengthen the UK's argument that it should retain its ban - which is backed by Labour.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper pictured addressing the House of Commons
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper pictured addressing the House of Commons Credit: PA/PA Wire

"You have to keep going back to the European Court on this because I think the job of the European Court is to look at what is proportionate, what is responsible", Ms Cooper told the BBC's Sunday Politics.

"We haven't passed laws on this before, even though we have passed motions, and I think when we do so, the European Court should look at it again".

British courts operate on the basis of assessing whether Parliament was acting in a "responsible and proportionate" way, she said, adding, "I think the European Court should take the same thing into account."

Prisoners should 'lose their liberty not their identity'

Director of the Prison Reform Trust Juliet Lyon asked whether it was wise for the Government to "flout international law" and ignore the European court's ruling on votes for prisoners.

Ms Lyon said:

People are sent to prison to lose their liberty not their identity.

A 19th-Century penalty of civic death makes no sense in a 21st-Century prison system whose focus is on rehabilitation, resettlement and the prevention of re-offending.

Cameron wants prisoner voting ban to stay

Prime Minister David Cameron previously made it clear prisoners will not be given the vote, despite a European Court of Human Rights ruling to the contrary.

Mr Cameron told the House of Commons last month, "I do not want prisoners to have the vote, and they should not get the vote - I am very clear about that".

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron has made it clear he does not want prisoners to get the vote Credit: Facundo Arrizabalaga/PA Wire

"If it helps to have another vote in Parliament on another resolution to make it absolutely clear and help put the legal position beyond doubt, I am happy to do that", he continued.

"But no one should be in any doubt: prisoners are not getting the vote under this Government".

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MPs to reconsider giving prisoners the vote

MPs are set to decide later this week whether prisoners should be given the right to vote as the deadline for Britain to comply with a European ruling on the issue looms, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judged the UK's current blanket ban on prisoners voting to be unlawful, and officials in Strasbourg gave the Government until Friday to comply with the ruling.

The European Court of Human Rights' deadline to change the UK law is Friday
The European Court of Human Rights' deadline to change the UK law is Friday Credit: Andrew Parsons/PA Archive

Last February, the House of Commons called for the blanket ban to be maintained by an overwhelming margin of 234 to 22, and Prime Minister David Cameron has flatly ruled-out the option of handing criminals back their democratic rights.

The bill - to be published on Thursday - will give MPs three options, according to the newspaper.

The options will be: votes for prisoners who have been imprisoned for four years or less, votes for prisoners who have been imprisoned for six months or less, or no votes for prisoners at all.

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