Holyrood Committee is seeking answers after it was not given advance notice of the Scottish Government’s intention to allow prisoners in Shetland the right to vote in an upcoming by-election.
A rarely used ‘Remedial Order’ was introduced by the Scottish Government to allow prisoners in Shetland to vote in the August 29th by-election to replace Tavish Scott. The Scottish Government said this was to ensure compliance with the European Convention of Human Rights.
However, the timing of the Order meant the DPLR Committee had no opportunity to express a view on whether the use of this Order was appropriate.
The Committee has written to Michael Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations, calling on him to appear before it to address its concerns.
Graham Simpson MSP, Convener of the DPLR Committee, said:
“We only received notification of this Remedial Order the day before it came into effect and this meant we did not have adequate time to assess the proposed change.
“Although we are currently in recess, it is essential for the integrity of the Parliament that suitable scrutiny of any legislation takes place.
“That’s why it is essential that our concerns are addressed.”
The letter also seeks clarification on:
• why the Scottish Government has taken a different approach to the UK Government in relation to prisoner voting in recent by-elections.
• Whether there was an option to retain the status quo until the Scottish Elections (Franchise and Representation) Bill is considered by the Scottish Parliament after recess.
• Media reports that the Scottish Government intends to revoke the Remedial Order following the by-election.
The Committee is seeking a response to its letter by Friday 23 August.
The letter can be read in full here.
Learn more about the work of the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee.