Does Nick Clegg want prisoners to vote?

20 September 2010 by

Updated, Tue 21 Sep | It is being reported that Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, is looking to end the ban on prisoners voting in elections. If the law were to change, it would represent the end of a very long road for campaigners. However, they have been waiting since 2005 and may well be waiting for longer yet.

The Times apparently reported this morning (I haven’t confirmed this as it is behind a pay wall) that the deputy prime minister is backing plans for prisoner enfranchisement.

In the 2005 decision of Hirst No 2, the European Court held that Section 3 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which prevents prisoners from voting, is in breach of the electoral right under Article 1 of Protocol 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The judgment has not yet been implemented in the UK (see our post).

Nick Clegg’s opinion may be key in this instance, as the Guardian reports that the “Cabinet Office confirmed today that responsibility for prisoners’ voting rights was moved in July from Ken Clarke’s justice ministry to the office of the deputy prime minister, which is in charge of electoral reform.”

Last week the Council of Europe, which monitors compliance of European Court of Human Rights judgments, said it “deeply regretted” that despite the Committee’s calls to the United Kingdom over the years to implement the judgment, “the risk of repetitive applications to the European Court has materialised“. It also regretted that “no tangible and concrete information” had been presented by the UK as to how it was planning on implementing the judgment. The Committee also adopted a first interim resolution in December 2009, which basically said the same thing.

Interestingly, the court has now received 1,340 applications with a view to adopting the pilot judgment procedure. The PJP is a new method of dealing with large groups of identical cases that derive from the same underlying problem. The court can decide to select one or more of a group of similar applications for priority treatment.

In dealing with the selected case, it will seek to achieve a solution that extends beyond the particular case or cases so as to cover all similar cases raising the same issue; a paragraph can be added under Article 46 of the Convention which may address in broad terms what should be done to implement the judgment. In this sense, the judgment goes beyond simply finding a violation. This could ultimately cost the UK a lot of money in compensation payments, although it is of note that the court has did not award compensation in Hirst or the more recent case of Frodl v Austria,

The coalition government will be wary of the European Court of Human Rights’ recently acquired new powers to punish intransigent states. But in reality, little has changed. The new government has made no strong commitment yet to implementing the European Court of Rights judgment. The Council of Europe will look at the issue again by December 2010, at which point it may decide to sanction the UK. But as things stand, campaigners may have to wait a little longer.

Update: The prime minister’s press secretary poured cold water over the issue yesterday, sayingthere were a number of court cases, including one currently being considered by the European Court of Human Rights. In considering this issue we would have to take into account what the court said”. This is a slightly odd response, given that the European Court of Human Rights ruled clearly in Hirst No 2 (see above) 5 years ago. Any further hearings on the issue are only likely to come to the same conclusion. The press secretary went on to say “a lot of people in the country would find it difficult to understand the argument that prisoners deserved the right to vote.”

Return to home page or read more:

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

1 comment;


  1. John Hirst says:

    ”Cabinet Office confirmed today that responsibility for prisoners’ voting rights was moved in July from Ken Clarke’s justice ministry to the office of the deputy prime minister, which is in charge of electoral reform.”

    As far as the law is concerned, Ken Clarke is legally responsible for ensuring that all citizens (including prisoners) have their human rights under the Convention guaranteed.

    Make no mistake, the Association of Prisoners is in no mood for the game to shift from political football to political ping pong…

Welcome to the UKHRB


This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.

Subscribe

Categories


Disclaimer


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

Tags


Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption ALBA Al Qaeda animal rights anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 Artificial Intelligence Asbestos assisted suicide asylum Australia autism benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery Catholicism Chagos Islanders Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners climate change clinical negligence Coercion common law confidentiality consent conservation constitution contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus costs Court of Protection crime Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation deportation deprivation of liberty Detention disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Family Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage Gaza genetics Germany Google Grenfell Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests international law internet Inuit Iran Iraq Ireland Islam Israel Italy IVF Japan Judaism judicial review jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid Leveson Inquiry LGBTQ Rights liability Libel Liberty Libya Lithuania local authorities marriage mental capacity Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery music Muslim nationality national security NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury Piracy Plagiarism planning Poland Police Politics pollution press Prisoners Prisons privacy Professional Discipline Property proportionality Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania Round Up Royals Russia Saudi Arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice sexual offence Sikhism Smoking social media South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing statelessness stop and search Strasbourg Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance Syria Tax technology Terrorism tort Torture travel treaty TTIP Turkey UK Ukraine USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wind farms WomenInLaw YearInReview Zimbabwe
%d bloggers like this: