HC Deb 13 March 1997 vol 292 cc275-6W
Mr. Madden

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assistance is given to remand prisoners, detained in prisons in England and Wales, to register to vote and to apply for a postal vote; and if he will ensure that all such prisoners are advised of their right to vote and assisted in securing their vote. [19740]

Miss Widdecombe

[holding answer 11 March 1997]Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from A. J. Pearson to Mr. Max Madden, dated 13 March 1997: The Home Secretary has asked me, in the absence of the Director General from the office, to reply to your recent Question about the voting rights of remand prisoners. Those in Prison Service custody eligible to vote in Parliamentary, local Government and European elections are: unconvicted prisoners; convicted but unsentenced prisoners; prisoners imprisoned for contempt of court; and those serving a term of imprisonment in default of payment of a sum of money adjudged to be paid on conviction. Eligible prisoners must have been registered as electors at their home address even though they may have been in prison on the qualifying date. Decisions on the eligibility of prisoners to be included in the electoral register are for the Electoral Registration Officer who decides if the person was normally resident at a particular address prior to their imprisonment. Establishments are required to notify eligible prisoners of their eligibility to vote and to inform them of the deadlines that are set for applications for a postal or proxy vote. They are also required to ensure that ballot papers sent to prisoners reach them unopened, that staff witness prisoners' declarations of identity, and that completed votes are posted back uncensored.