The Government, in the form of Chris Grayling, today presented a draft bill on the matter of voting rights for prisoners which will now be sent to a joint committee of peers and MPs for pre-legislative scrutiny before it returns to the Commons.
For those interested, some links: Grayling’s statement and the ensuing questions can be watched here (commences 12:00:20); the Hansard account read here; the draft bill read here; and Parliament’s Standard note SN01764 (a briefing note)read here. I can thoroughly recommend either reading Hansard or viewing the debate if only to consider the questions put by Members of Parliament and the answers from Chris Grayling. One of the links in my sidebar of this blog is to “Head of Legal” and in this post, on the subject of prisoner’s votes, some interesting points are made.
It is worth noting by those that do read/view the debate that much was made about the sovereignty of Parliament and that the ‘consultation’ will be wide-ranging. It is also worth bearing in mind that this question of prisoner’s votes, as with so much of parliamentary business, conflicts with the 6 Demands of the Harrogate Agenda, most notably Demands #1, #4 and #5.
Are the people of this land not sovereign? If there is necessity to refer to any court, is not the highest court in the land the court of public opinion? Should not those that provide the funds for the upkeep of prisons and inmates be the judge? On that last point, from the debate it will be seen that the ‘consultation’ will be very much an ‘in-house’ affair in that those from whom ‘evidence’ will be heard will include unelected people from various bodies with a finger in this pie, including it seems prison governors and that not once did I see mention in the debate of the views of the people being sought.
Over to my readers for their views……..