MPs look certain to vote overwhelmingly against giving prisoners the vote at general elections when the issue returns to the Commons shortly.
David Cameron hopes Parliament's decision will strengthen his hand in his battle with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which has set a deadline of Friday for Britain to comply with its ruling that the ban on prisoners voting must be ended.
A draft Bill expected to be published this week is likely to outline three options – votes for prisoners who have been jailed for four years or less, for those who have been imprisoned for six months or less and no votes for prisoners at all. Last February, the Commons called by an overwhelming margin of 234 to 22 for the existing ban to be retained.
The publication of a Bill would allow the Government to argue that it was trying to implement the ECHR ruling but would be widely seen as a stalling tactic.