Tory manoeuvrings


It looks as if some of the Tory troops don't trust their leadership on prisoner voting.

Following the European Court of Human Rights' ruling that the current blanket ban on prisoners voting in UK elections is illegal, a draft bill to remedy the situation is due to be considered by a joint committee of MPs and peers.

All pretty routine, and a routine motion setting up the Commons end of the committee, and naming the MPs who should serve on the committee, has gone down on the Order Paper.

In the normal course of events, the motion would be nodded through in the dead of night - but not this time. A group of Tory backbenchers has put down an amendment calling for each party to elect its members of the committee through their normal democratic processes, rather than just accepting the names put forward by the party whips.

This is a pretty rare event. Membership of most Public Bill Committees and ad hoc committees of this kind is normally decided by an outfit called the Committee of Selection, which is essentially a clearing house for lists drawn up by the various whips offices. The names chose were ex-ministers Crispin Blunt and Nick Gibb; and Steve Brine for the Conservatives, Sir Alan Meale and Derek Twigg for Labour, and Lorely Burt for the Lib Dems. (And they would serve alongside a selection of peers chosen by the inscrutable processes of the House of Lords.)

The amendment calling for elections is signed by Tory awkward squaddies Christopher Chope, David Nuttall, Edward Leigh, Peter Bone and Jacob Rees-Mogg, plus heavyweight ex-ministers David Davis and John Redwood and 1922 Committee grandees Graham Brady and Charles Walker.

The issue will now have to be debated…and pretty soon if the scrutiny process is to be kept on schedule; but the clear implication is that the backers of the amendment want to be sure their views are represented on the committee, which in turn implies that they fear a fudge or sell-out on an issue which infuriates the party grass roots.

Watch this space.

Mark D'Arcy Article written by Mark D'Arcy Mark D'Arcy Parliamentary correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I can understand some MPs being wary, because having some prisoner voting does set a new precedent.
    The new rule may start out with only certain categories of prisoners being able to vote, but gradually as time passes, it could get extended to include the more dangerous prisoners.
    I expect once it`s in place other prisoners will start pushing for their "equal rights".

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.


    "...slipped your mind..."


    I'd doubt this issue was anyone's priority, until the tabloids started hysteria over the matter.

    There's need for an amendment on a legal technicality, not general principle.

    The law cannot stand with inconsistencies, so change it must.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.


    A little bit of band wagon politics me thinks why does the left latch on to any erosion of our values in favour of those most undeserving.
    I don't remember the left pushing for this before it was brought to the table by ECHR.......slipped your mind eh!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    We are under the jurisdiction of ECHR.

    The position must change.

    Those who say any change of position at all would be a sell-out etc. are plain wrong, therefore.

    A system for reviewing, under exceptional circumstances the voting rights of small classes of inmate would do. The foamers are just that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    @17. JP
    The European Court of Human Rights and the Convention that create it was instigated by the UK in 1950.
    Only 0.3% of UK cases are referred to the court, 97% of cases are decided in the UK's favour.
    You join a club and abide by it's rules or would you prefer the UK to join the only country not to ratify the Treaty, Belarus.
    What a bastion of democracy and the Rule of Law that country is.


Comments 5 of 22



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