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.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
Justice Secretary calls for 'more intelligent use of prisons'
High Street firms are being urged to hire prisoners to help rehabilitate them. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke says prisons should be about reform as well as punishment. He wants more skills workshops introduced across the prison system, run by household names such as Virgin and Marks and Spencer.