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Draft bill on prisoner voting due
Plans for MPs to have a say on whether prisoners should be given the vote is to be set out by the Government in the latest round of its long-running battle with the European Court of Human Rights.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will lay out the options in a draft bill ahead of Friday's deadline for Britain to comply with a ruling by the court in Strasbourg that the current outright ban is illegal.
It is expected that the bill will give Parliament three choices - retaining the current ban, or allowing votes for certain prisoners serving sentences of up to six months or up to four years.
There is deep opposition among MPs across the political spectrum to giving prisoners the right to vote in elections.
David Cameron has said the idea makes him feel sick while in a non-binding vote in February, MPs voted overwhelmingly by 234 to 22 to maintain the blanket ban.
In its ruling in 2005, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said denying prisoners the vote was a breach of their human rights. While individual countries could decide which prisoners were not entitled to vote, it said a blanket ban was illegal.
Earlier this week Attorney General Dominic Grieve warned MPs that it would be a "serious matter" if Britain defied the court's ruling.
While Parliament was entitled to retain the current ban, he said that it could leave Britain liable to pay compensation as well as legal costs and expenses.
"Parliamentary sovereignty remains, it is open to Parliament to decide not to change the law," he said.
"However, if Parliament chooses not to implement the judgment this would be a serious matter because it would place the UK in breach of its international obligations to which it is a signatory."