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Gordon Henderson warns Government over votes for prisoners

3rd November 2010
Gordon Henderson warns Government over votes for prisoners

Local MP Gordon Henderson has warned the Government he will vote against any legislation that allows those convicted of serious crimes, such as murderers, rapists and paedophiles, to vote in elections.

Mr Henderson’s warning came after the Government announced that it was looking at ways to implement the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that said that Britain is breaking the law by refusing to give prisoners the vote.

Mr Henderson said:

“I am most unhappy that we are being dictated to by a foreign court. Britain is a sovereign nation and the Westminster Parliament should decide how we treat those who break our laws.

“I think that my constituents will be as appalled as I am if serious criminals such as murders, rapists and paedophiles are allowed to vote.

“Prison has two functions, the first is to punish prisoners and the second is to try to rehabilitate them. Part of the punishment regime is to deprive inmates of their liberty and their right to take part in the democratic process.

“If you let prisoners vote then the level of their punishment will be reduced and that simply cannot be right, which is why I warned the Government that when legislation is placed before the House I will vote against it, whether or not we are given a free vote.

“However, I do believe that it is probably right for some prisoners to have a vote in certain circumstances. For instance, people who are on remand should be entitled to vote because they have not been convicted and I think there is an argument for allowing a vote to those prisoners who have almost served their time and who are transferred from a secure prison to an open prison, as part of the process of adsorbing them back into Society.”

Gordon Henderson made the following statement in Parliament:

“The shadow Secretary of State for Justice urged during his question that any legislation that comes forward should be subject to a free vote. I do not really care whether there is a free vote or not, because I shall vote against any such legislation.” 

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