Government under pressure from Europe to introduce prisoner voting rights
24 October 2012
The government is in the midst of negotiations over a European Court ruling which may lead to the introduction of voting rights for prisoners in the United Kingdom.
In 2005 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a blanket ban on voting for prisoners, as is in place in the UK, was illegal.
It is thought that the government is planning a draft bill which will open the doors for a limited number of prisoners to vote, in order to comply with the European ruling.
The government is likely to delay its decision on the matter until close to the November deadline, after the police commissioner elections, which are due to take place on 17 November.
The coalition can either comply with the ruling, look to delay the decision further or do nothing and risk incurring a hefty fine.
At the time of the ECHR ruling in 2005, David Cameron said it would make him “sick” to give voting rights to prisoners and that the issue should be “a matter for Parliament... and not a foreign court”.
Sources for Downing Street said that the Prime Minister still held the view that "when people go to prison, they lose their right to vote".
Tory backbencher Dominic Raab has argued that the chance of being fined are minimal and that there is no chance at all of the UK being ejected from the Council of Europe if voting for prisoners is not introduced.
On the other hand Attorney General Dominic Grieve has warned that the UK must accept the ruling or risk making itself a pariah state.
A government source told the BBC, however: "It is completely untrue. It's not happening. It's complete nonsense."
Currently the only prisoners who have the privilege of being able to vote in the UK are those on remand.