Created: 09 February 2011
In a recent and contentious debate regarding the European Court of Human Rights ruling regarding votes for prisoners, Bob welcomed the opportunity to have a full and insightful debate without being whipped on how to vote at the end.
With a background in science and mathematics, it is with logic that Mr Blackman approaches this subject. Bob made clear that principle that it is Parliament that formulates laws, that has the mandate to legislate and thus decide which acts are classified as being criminal; it is then for a judge to determine the severity of the sentencing.
We must be aware that there are dangers in giving individual judges the provision to decide whether the vote is to be lost and for how long; that this power may influence independent sentencing is a concern we must not underestimate. Bob then articulated his concerns about proposals placing limitations on the time served before someone has their vote taken away calling it a 'slippery slope'.
Bob spoke of the importance of this debate and the subsequent vote; it provides a clear message and would allow the Government to propose very simple legislation saying that anyone convicted of a criminal offence that results in their going to prison loses their right to vote. That will respond to the challenge that the Court of Human Rights has set us. The House of Commons will consider that legislation, as will the House of Lords, and it will command respect and endorsement from all parties in the House. That will end this ongoing argument with the Court of Human Rights once and for all, and reassert the sovereignty of this Parliament and its position over the Court of Human Rights. Bob Blackman asked the Attorney-General and the Government to take note of all the suggestions put forward and use those to formulate simple legislation that the whole House can support.
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