Committee (11th Day) (Continued)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 11:30 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 11:30 pm, 19th January 2011

My Lords, I shall be brief. I thank my noble friends for raising the issue. Of course, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, gave the Committee a proper warning about the issue. The announcement was made through the Cabinet Office. We regret that it was not made in Parliament, because it is important. The point that my noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon made about the intention of the Government to legislate in time for the 2015 general election under redrawn boundaries, and perhaps on an alternative vote electoral system, is relevant today. We would like to know the Government's thinking on these matters. When do they intend to legislate and how will they deal with some of the issues raised by the decision that they have made?

One issue that particularly fascinates me is that of prisoners who have their voting rights denied by sentencing judges. Will they have the right to appeal against the judge's decision? Under the proposals, the judge will have discretion in certain cases. That does not strike me as sensible, or something that judges would want. The amendment asks some questions that the House-