UK & World News

  • 22 November 2012, 10:24

Votes For Prisoners: Draft Bill To Be Unveiled

A draft bill on whether prisoners should be given the right to vote will be published today.

MPs will be given three options: giving votes to prisoners who have been behind bars for four years or less, six months or less, or no votes for prisoners at all.

They are likely to get the chance to vote on the bill early next year, and are expected to maintain the blanket ban.

In 2005, the European Court Of Human Rights (ECHR) said it was up to individual countries to decide which prisoners should be denied the right to vote from jail, but that a total ban was illegal.

Officials in Strasbourg have given the Government until Friday to comply with the ruling, and could impose a fine if the law is not changed.

Last February, the Commons called for the blanket ban to be maintained, while Prime Minister David Cameron has ruled out the option of allowing criminals to vote in elections.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve has warned against defying the Strasbourg court, saying its ruling imposes an international legal obligation on the UK.

But Mr Cameron made it clear he did not want to change the status quo.

He told the 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.

"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.

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