Friday, 23 November 2012

If it walks like a duck...


We can no longer duck making a decision over giving prisoners the vote, Mr Grayling  warned.

22 Nov 2012 : Column 745

Voting Eligibility (Prisoners)

12 noon
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): I wish to make a statement about the Government’s approach to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights on prisoner voting. This is a subject that provokes intense debate, not least in this House. The House will know that, from as early as the case of Hirst in 2004, the Court found the United Kingdom’s bar on prisoners voting to be “general, automatic and indiscriminate”, and concluded that it was, in the Court’s view, in violation of article 3, protocol 1 of the European convention on human rights, which covers the right to free and fair elections.

The previous Government committed to implement the judgment, and issued two consultations which did not resolve the issue.

6 October 2005 - 22 November 2012 and the Hirst v UK (No2) still not implemented dos not indicate any level of committment. The truth is Labour was committed to not implementing the judgment. Arguably the consultations were legally flawed, therefore unlawful. The 4 years and under option was contained within the consultations. Kenneth Clarke attempted to float giving prisoners serving 4 years and under the vote. The idea was withdrawn following strong criticisms. Chris Grayling has revived the idea, hiding the meat between two slices of bread. Namley the "options" of keeping the blanket ban and  6 months or over. The former would be unlawful and the latter would not satisfy the ECtHR that it met the Hirst test. This only leaves the meat.

In the Scoppola case, "the Attorney-General argued in person before the Court that national Parliaments’ discretion to determine policy on this issue should allow for a complete bar on prisoners voting".

More front than Harrods, after 7 years of non compliance returning to rehash the arguments lost in Hirst No2! The ECtHR gave Dominic Gieve a flea in the ear and sent him packing back to the UK. All that is left is to enact legislation to amend s.3 of ROPA 1983.

In prison gangsters made a big play out of saving face. The ECtHR's facesaver is to allow Member States a 'margin of appreciation'.The government is making a big play of this whilst having to toe the line. Sovereignty of Parliament on a piece of elastic does not fool me. This whole saga is going to be political costly for the UK.


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