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Page last updated at 09:07 GMT, Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Supreme Court 'cannot decide own budget'


The Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said that the Supreme Court "cannot be in some unique position where the court decides on its own budget and tells the Ministry of Justice and the government what it should be".

Mr Clarke was reacting to a warning from the court's president, Lord Phillips, who last night told an audience that judges should not have to negotiate their funding year-by-year and have their appointments scrutinised by MPs.

Rejecting Lord Philips's remarks as "a bit of a storm in a teacup", Mr Clarke told Today presenter James Naughtie "of course we have judicial independence... Someone like me doesn't comment on his judgments. We obey them".

He also said that it was "nonsense" to suggest that murderers and rapists would be given the right to vote in elections. The government has been warned that it must allow some prison inmates to vote to comply with a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

"We have to fulfil our obligations but we're not going to give the vote to any more prisoners than is necessary to comply with the law," he explained.

"Prisoners are quite rightly being punished and not popular. Some of them are going to get the vote but probably as few as we can give them consistent with our legal obligations."

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