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UK Parliament calls for evidence on prisoner voting

17 May 2013

A joint committee of MPs and peers has issued a call for evidence on the UK Government's legislative options on the right of prisoners to vote.

The draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill was published by the UK Government in response to a deadline set by the European Court of Human Rights, which has ruled that a blanket ban such as exists in the UK is disproportionate – though the Prime MInister and many MPs are opposed to changing the rules.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on the bill has been established to provide pre-legislative scrutiny and make recommendations in a report to both Houses. The Committee’s report will then inform both Houses as they scrutinise any bill that is brought forward.

Six MPs and six peers, including Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the former President of the UK Supreme Court who retired last year, have been appointed to the committee.

Written evidence is invited, to be received no later than 5pm on Thursday 13 June.

In particular the committee seeks views on the three options for changes to the law set out in the draft bill:

  • disqualifying prisoners sentenced to four years or more in prison from voting;
  • disqualifying prisoners sentenced more than six months in prison from voting;
  • disqualifying all prisoners serving custodial sentences from voting – a restatement of the existing ban.

Other areas on which the committee is interested in receiving evidence include:

  • What is the historical and philosophical justification for denying prisoners the vote?
  • Why is the right to vote considered a human right?
  • Is disqualifying prisoners from voting a suitable part of their punishment?
  • Would allowing prisoners to vote have significant administrative implications for prisons or the Electoral Commission?
  • What might be the financial implications of maintaining the current ban in terms of claims by prisoners for compensation?

Click here for further infirmation on submission.

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