Votes for (some) prisoners to get a vote in Parliament

The BBC’s Nick Robinson reports:

David Davis and Jack Straw have got their way. The Commons will get the chance to vote – probably in the middle of February – for a motion to defy the European Court of Human Rights on prisoner voting

The prime minister welcomes the plan for the Commons to hold a debate on whether prisoners should be given the vote as demanded by the European Court of Human Rights and believes that it “could be helpful”, I’m told. David Cameron is said to want as few prisoners as possible to be given the vote and is still seeking legal advice as to whether it will be possible to successfully defend a policy of giving the vote to prisoners who are serving one year or less (rather than as currently planned four years or less).

Ministers are also examining whether there could be a legal presumption against prisoners getting the vote with judges able to grant voting rights at their discretion.

One possibility is that ministers could try to use a vote in the Commons to strenghten their negotiating position with the Strasbourg court.

You can read the full story here.

One point to note about this: whatever you think of the merits of this issue, the fact a vote is taking place is a welcome example of a new procedure being put to use which gives non-frontbenchers more of a say over what Parliamentary time is spent on.

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