Scottish Parliament Election (Votes for Prisoners)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th February 2011.

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Photo of Brian Adam Brian Adam Scottish National Party

1. To ask the Scottish Government whether it expects prisoners to be allowed to vote in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election and what impact this will have on the Scottish Prison Service. (S3O-12926)

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government does not agree that convicted prisoners should be able to vote while they are in prison, but that is a matter for the United Kingdom Government. Westminster legislation is required to change the franchise for the Scottish Parliament elections. No change will be made before May, so convicted prisoners will not be able to vote in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament election. Overall, the Scottish Government is keen to ensure that the burden that any change places on the Scottish Prison Service, the Scottish Court Service and those who administer elections is kept to the minimum.

Photo of Brian Adam Brian Adam Scottish National Party

Will the minister confirm that any claims that are brought by prisoners will fall to be contested by the UK Government?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

Indeed. Any claims that are brought by prisoners will fall to be contested by the UK Government, which will have to pay any compensation that is ordered by the courts. That is a given fact.

Photo of Jeremy Purvis Jeremy Purvis Liberal Democrat

Does the minister believe that convicted criminals who are serving a community part of their sentence should have the ability to vote?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

That is another debate that must happen at Westminster. We look forward to that and to the live court cases on the matter that are under way at the moment, including Toner v United Kingdom in the European Court of Human Rights.