Minimum number of inmates to have vote, says No 10

Downing Street has insisted the "minimum number" of prisoners will be given the vote amid signs of a Government U-turn on the controversial issue.









Speculation has been growing that ministers are preparing to back down over plans to give the vote to all inmates serving less than four years after a backbench revolt in the House of Commons. The cut-off point could be reduced to sentences of 12 months or less.



David Cameron has said the idea of giving prisoners the vote makes him "physically ill", but the European Court of Human Rights found that the 140-year-old blanket ban was unlawful.



Failure to comply could cost tens of millions of pounds in legal costs and compensation, ministers warned. Some 2,500 inmates already have cases in motion.



But the prospect of granting the vote to more than 28,000 prisoners - including 6,000 violent offenders, 1,700 convicted of sex crimes and more than 4,000 burglars - sparked fury on Conservative backbenches when the four-year cut-off was floated last month.



Angry MPs will have a chance to revolt against the proposal in a few weeks' time, after Labour's former justice secretary Jack Straw and senior Tory David Davis secured a Commons vote on the issue.



Cutting the maximum sentence under which prisoners can retain the right to vote to one year may see off a potentially embarrassing rebellion.



But it is almost certain to be tested in the courts, with the Government far from certain of victory.



The Prime Minister's spokesman declined to say whether a one-year maximum sentence was under consideration.



He told reporters: "Our intention is to ensure that the minimum number of prisoners get the vote.



"At the same time, because this is an issue that has been sitting there for a number of years and hasn't been resolved, we have a backlog of compensation claims by prisoners. Clearly we can't ignore that and the possible costs associated with it.



"What the number should be - whether it is four years or some other figure - is essentially a matter of legal advice."



The spokesman declined to reveal whether the Prime Minister had sought fresh legal advice since the proposal for a four-year cut-off point was first announced.



"Clearly, the statements that have been made by the Government have reflected the legal advice that we have had," he said.



A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "Removing the blanket ban on prisoners voting is not a choice but a legal obligation as a result of a court ruling.



"Failure to implement the ruling would not only put the Government in breach of its international obligations but risk paying out taxpayers' money in compensation claims.



"The Government will do the absolute minimum to meet its obligations and will ensure that the most serious offenders are barred from voting."



Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: "I am pleased that this Government has undertaken this U-turn.



"The Government should be standing up for the victims of crime but instead they are slashing police numbers and giving dangerous convicted prisoners the vote.



"I hope for all our sakes this is the first of many U-turns."

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker