Joint Committee on the draft Eligibility Voting (Prisoners) Bill announce first evidence session

18 June 2013

The Joint Committee on the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill will hold its first evidence session this week by taking evidence from representatives of the Prison Reform Trust, Women in Prison and User Voice. The organisations are all charities who work with prisoners and ex-offenders.

The Committee will quiz the witnesses on whether they consider voting to be a human right, what effect allowing prisoners to vote might have on their rehabilitation and whether obtaining the right to vote is a priority for prisoners. Giving evidence to the Committee from 9:45am on Wednesday 19 June will be:

  • Juliet Lyon, Director, The Prison Reform Trust.
  • Sorcha Daly, Specialist Contracts Manager, Women in Prison.
  • Mark Johnson, Founder, User Voice.

The evidence session will be held in Committee Room 8 of the House of Commons.

Commenting ahead of the session Nick Gibb MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“The Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill is an important but controversial piece of draft legislation. All the main parties in the UK, and the vast majority of Members of Parliament and the public, are opposed to allowing prisoners to vote.  The European Court of Human Rights has expressed its view that a blanket ban on prisoner voting breaches their interpretation of the Convention. Our job, as a joint committee of both Houses of Parliament, is to examine these issues in great depth, to form a view about the draft Bill and to consider how the public’s position on this issue can be squared with that of the European Court of Human Rights.

“Over the course of the next few months we will seek to come to a view about the three options put forward by the Government: the maintenance of the existing complete ban; disqualifying prisoners sentenced to more than four years in prison; or disqualifying prisoners serving sentences of more than six months. The Joint Committee may also consider other suggestions. We will take evidence from a wide range of witnesses through the course of our inquiry."

“Our first evidence session this week will give us the chance to hear from those working directly with prisoners.”

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