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Prisoner Voting

Volume 633: debated on Thursday 21 December 2017

1. What plans the Government have to implement the agreement reached by the Council of Europe on prisoner voting in the UK. (903063)

On behalf of the Law Officers may I take this early opportunity to wish all Members and staff of the House a very merry and, of course, lawful Christmas?

I very much welcome the decision by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to support our proposals on prisoner voting. We hope to complete implementation of those proposals by the end of next year, and we have agreed to provide an update on progress to the Council of Europe on 1 September.

I thank the Minister for his response, and I am pleased that an agreement has finally been reached to settle what has been a long-running dispute between ourselves and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm to me and my constituents that it remains Government policy that convicted offenders detained in prison should not be allowed to vote, and that the recent agreement will not start us off on a slippery slope?

Yes, and it is important that the Government comply with the judgment of a Court whose jurisdiction we have accepted. As my hon. Friend says, however, it is equally important that we stick to the clear view of this House and those beyond it that convicted prisoners should not vote from their cells, and they will not do so.

Will the Attorney General outline how many prisoners the extension will apply to and what type of short-term licences will make them eligible to vote?

The extension will apply to prisoners released on temporary licence. We think it will affect something like 100 prisoners—so, very few.