The ruling below by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of Peers, could ironically be viewed as setting a favourable legal precedent for old soldier Harry Shindler, who currently has his voting rights case before this Strasbourg court, having lost his right to vote after 15 years overseas and, therefore, the right to have his voice heard through his elected representative in the Commons.
Matthew Purvis, House of Lords Research Clerk, has provided (via his Twitter account @mtthwprvs) a link to Library Note LLN 2012/022 – Members of the House of Lords: Voting at Parliamentary Elections – which provides the background information on why Peers cannot vote..
From the voting rights standpoint and according to Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, with regard to this incapacity to vote at general elections, and particularly how it relates to the European Convention on Human Rights:
“Parliament consists of the three estates of the Sovereign, the Lords and the Commons. The Lords sit in their own right. The Commons are elected by the remainder of the estate of commoners to represent them in Parliament. There was therefore no case for the Lords to vote to elect representatives, since they were able to sit in Parliament anyway.”
In terms of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), he added that:
“Article 3 Protocol 1 of the ECHR provides for a requirement to hold regular, free and fair elections, and the Strasbourg courts have taken this to include the individual right to vote. However that right to vote is not absolute and limitations may be imposed on it. The fact that Members of the House of Lords have a voice in Parliament makes it legitimate to deprive them of a right to have their voice also heard through their elected representative in the Commons.”
Harry Shindler has no such voice in Parliament. Is it then legitimate to deprive him of his right to vote in Parliamentary Elections after 15 years overseas?