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Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Thursday, 22 November 2012

Should the UK let prisoners vote?


The government is to set out its plans to give MPs a say on allowing prisoners the right to vote.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the UK's current ban is unlawful.

Ministers are hoping that by allowing parliament to decide; they will put off a confrontation with the court in Strasbourg.

Talking to today presenter Sarah Montage, the Conservative former policing minister, Nick Herbert, said it was an absurd situation: "Historically we have always decided that it is wrong that prisoners should be given the vote and now we have a super national court seeking to override the views of our elected House of Commons."

"I disagree that it's a human right, I think it is a civic right and I think it is entirely up to the House of Commons to take that right away."

Lord Lester, leading human rights lawyer who sits on the Joint Committee on Human Rights, explained that "parliament has had no opportunity to vote on an actual bill for the last seven years… so no one knows what parliament actually wants".

"The obligation upon the UK is to introduce legislation which does not continue a blanket ban," he explained.

Failure abide by judgements of the Strasburg courts "diminishes our reputation across the world and… makes me feel sick," he added.

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