Prisoners votes debate ongoing

Well the debate on prisoners votes has been ongoing. I have watched every minute of it (sad I know) and have heard MP after MP stand up and say they don’t agree with giving prisoners the vote. In all honesty I am in the camp of law breakers shouldnt be law makers. I wouldn’t like to see the person who stabbed Stephen Timms being given the opportunity to vote him out of a job.

What I like, however, does not necessarily mean that is what the law says is legal. I suspect that this issue is not going to go away, though what that means I’m not quite sure. If the Commons expresses a view that they don’t want to give prisoners the votes, then they have met one of the Courts requirements that an opinion has been expressed, but will that satisfy the Court. If this issue is kicked into the long grass (again) will that mean compensation may well be able to be claimed sooner rather than later.

Currently I am (as often) still a little confused as to what happens next.

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One Response to Prisoners votes debate ongoing

  1. John Hirst says:

    The debate in public is ongoing, however, I can clarify some points for you.

    The motion misled Parliament because it was not held in my case, Hirst v UK (No2), that there had been no debate on the issue. Rather, this formed part of my argument before the Court which the Court accepted to be the case.

    The motion stands in the names of David Davis, Jack Straw, Dominic Raab, Stephen Phillips, Philip Hollobone and John Baron, I take it that given that it is a contempt of Parliament to mislead Parliament, that the guilty members will be apologising to the Speaker?

    Under s.6(1) of the HRA 1998 it is unlawful for a public authority to abuse human rights, therefore it is arguable that the conduct of those members voting for the motion is contrary to s.6(1) of the Act.

    "I am in the camp of law breakers shouldnt be law makers". Actually, I was a law breaker who became a law-maker. Nothing wrong in that. Frequently, criminals and prisoners become law-makers when their cases establish points of law and these are reported in Law Reports, Archbold's and legal text books. Ironically, as Parliament is breaking the law at present on the prisoners votes issue, as a law-maker should it be breaking the law?

    The issue is not going away, on the contrary it has got bigger. I would say that it has not only backfired on David Cameron but it has also backfired on the Backbench Business Committee and the Commons.

    Under English law there are certain requirements which must be met for decision-makers to arrive at a decision which makes it legal. In my view, the decision reached in the Commons falls down on several legal grounds. Then, the UK has to satisfy the Committee of Ministers on 8 March that it is fully complying with Hirst v UK (No2).

    "PACE Legal Affairs Committee head reacts to UK vote on prisoner voting

    Strasbourg, 11.02.2010 – Following yesterday’s vote in the House of Commons on prisoners’ voting rights, Christos Pourgourides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), made the following statement:

    “I am deeply disappointed by last night’s vote, in defiance of the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on prisoner voting. I had hoped that the parliament of one of Europe’s oldest democracies – regarded as playing a leading role in protecting human rights – would have encouraged the United Kingdom to honour its international obligations, as our Assembly urged only last month. Every member state must implement the judgments of the Court.

    The United Kingdom government has said that it intends to implement this judgment, and I encourage it to find a way to do so that is consistent with its international legal obligations. There are different ways this can be done, as shown by the range of positions on this issue in Council of Europe member states”".

    Clearly, the Commons vote does not meet the Court's requirements.

    Recently, Alan Johnson admitted that between Jack Straw and himself they decided to kick the issue into the long grass. Whilst I appreciate his honesty I suspect that the admission will come back to haunt him, because there is no public power to abuse public power and I am on his case. Alan Johnson also added at some stage the long grass gets cut, this has now happened and the political football is laying there exposed for all to see. David Cameron misjudged how big a political issue this would become. Surely, this must call into question his fitness to be Tory leader?

    One thing is for sure, it will not be kicked again into the long grass.

    Following the press release (above) from Christos Pourgourides, David Cameron stated in the media that he would rather pay compensation than give votes to prisoners. In my view, they will get both. Yesterday, on The Big Questions BBC1, I made the point that it would not be David Cameron but the taxpayers who pay the £270m compensation following the May elections and AV referendum. I also called for his resignation because he does not have the public power to break the law. I think a big U Turn will be very imminent from Number 10.

    Stay tuned to this channel…

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