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UK government warned on votes for prisoners

Europe's Human Rights watchdog hit back today in the continuing war of words with London over voting rights for prisoners.

Prime Minister David Cameron is defying a Strasbourg court ruling that the UK's blanket ban on all prisoners voting while in jail is a breach of human rights.

But a draft Bill before Parliament - announced as a deadline expired for action to change the law - includes the option of keeping domestic rules unchanged.

The judgment is expected to be made in September 2013.


Grayling launches inquiry on prisoner voting

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has set out the terms for the pre-legislative inquiry into whether prisoners should be granted to right to vote.

He said: "Parliament is sovereign in this area.

"Nobody can impose a solution on parliament but the accepted practice is that the United Kingdom observes its international obligations."

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said allowing prisoners serving less than four years to vote would lead to 30,000 inmates going to the polling stations.

Grayling: Govt must accept cost over prison voting

Justice Minister Chris Grayling has urged the government to "accept the political cost" as it considers the next steps on prisoner voting.

He told the House of Commons:

"The government is under an international law obligation to implement the court judgement... it remains the case that Parliament is sovereign and the human rights act explicitly recognises that fact."

He added: "The constraints upon its exercise by Parliament are ultimately political not legal. But the principle of legality means parliament must squarely confront what it is doing and accept the political cost."

Grayling: Committee will consider 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.

Grayling is setting out the next steps on prisoner voting Credit: ITV News

He said: "The leaders of both Houses are writing to the liaison committees proposing that a joint committee of both Houses be appointed to to conduct [the] pre-legislative scrutiny.

"We feel that pre-legislative scrutiny of that nature is appropriate given the significance of this issue and the strong views on both sides of the House."

The draft bill offers MPs three options: allowing prisoners sentenced to less than four years to vote; allowing prisoners sentenced to less than six months to vote; maintaining the current blanket ban.


Herbert: Voting in prisons is not a human right

Nick Herbert, the former minister for policing and criminal justice, has opposed prisoners getting the vote on the basis that it is a "civic right, not a fundamental human right".

In a blog for ConservativeHome, he added:

Today’s move is unlikely to solve the prisoner vote stand-off: it will merely kick the can down the street.

Theincreasing tension between the UK and Strasbourg cannot be left to fester, andthe prisoner voting issue is just one of a number that will require us to makesome hard choices.

Herbert 'doubtful' govt will comply over prisoner voting

Nick Herbert, the former minister of state for police and criminal justice, said he was "doubtful" that the three government proposals over prisoner rights will satisfy the requirements of the European Court of Human Rights.

Also speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, leading human rights lawyer Lord Lester said the UK had an obligation under its international commitments to end the blanket ban on prisoner voting.

Grayling warns of 'political price' over prisoner voting

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has admitted that there may be a "political price to pay" if the government overrules the European Court of Human Rights over prisoner voting.

Speaking on Monday, he said: “The legal views, the legal precedents around our relationship with the European Court of Human Rights are very clear.

“The Parliament has the right to overrule the Court but the law lords who first passed that ruling were very clear that there may be a political price to pay if it chooses to overrule the court.”

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