Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, commenting on today’s publication by the Government of a draft Bill on prisoner voting, said:
"Labour’s policy is, and always has been, that prisoners shouldn’t be given the vote. Committing a crime so serious that a judge has deprived you of your liberty means you should also lose the ability to vote in elections. We opposed the Tory-led Government’s previous plans to give all prisoners serving less than four years a vote because many serious and violent criminals would have been allowed to take part in elections.
"But we’re also mindful of our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, and the way it has protected human rights across Europe for over six decades. However, the Government wasted the chance to reform the Court during its recent Chairmanship of the Council of Europe. It failed to secure changes that would have led to the Court respecting the unique circumstances of each individual member country, and would have prevented the Court adjudicating on domestic social policy such as this.
"It is important that elected MPs have their say and that there is proper pre-legislative scrutiny of any Government proposals and so we will examine the details of the draft Bill published today. In order for MPs to come to a fully informed decision about prisoner voting, the Government should make public its legal advice so that all MPs are clear what the Court judgement actually wants us to do and what are the consequences of any actions we may take."