People convicted of a crime will not be given the right to choose an electronic tag over prison, according to the Scottish Government.

Earlier today, First Minister Alex Salmond said ministers were keen to learn from other jurisdictions such as Sweden, which gives offenders who have been handed a sentence of less than six-months the choice between a tag and jail.

He told MSPs that a forthcoming consultation on electronic monitoring would give ministers "an opportunity to formally capture any options for improvements".

However, a government spokesman said later that there are "no plans to give offenders the right to choose a community sentence over a prison sentence".

The spokesman said: "The independence of the judiciary is a fundamental cornerstone to the Scottish criminal justice system and we attach great importance to judicial discretion in individual sentencing decisions.

"When community sentences are compared to short prison sentences, the reoffending rates for those given community sentences are much lower."

The Scottish Government will shortly consult on proposals to track tagged offenders via satellite, Mr Salmond told MSPs at First Minister's Questions.

He also reaffirmed his belief that tagged convicts and others serving community sentences should have a vote in the independence referendum but that those in prison should not.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame, convener of Holyrood's Justice Committee, said: "In Sweden, anyone given six months or less can apply to be tagged in their home under house arrest while being monitored. Any breach would mean a return to jail.

"Reoffending fell to 12%. The cost to the taxpayer is £40 a day and not the £165 a day for a prison place.

"Given the success of tagging over 20 years, will the First Minister consider following the Swedish model?"

Mr Salmond said: "We are always happy to learn about practices in other jurisdictions. Last week the Government's support team chaired an event at Strathclyde University which heard from the head of the Swedish probation service, and he outlined how their system operates.

"Many of the characteristics of the Swedish system are already in place in Scotland, but a consultation on electronic monitoring this summer will be an opportunity to formally capture any options for improvements.

"There is very strong evidence that community sentences are an effective alternative to short prison sentences: 58% of offenders imprisoned for three months or less are reconvicted within a year, compared with only 24% of those who receive a community sentence.

"Electronic monitoring has been used in Scotland since 2002. It continues to play a significant part in offender management, and we are consulting this summer on the possible development of the electronic monitoring service to include satellite tracking of offenders."

The Independence Referendum (Franchise) Bill states that people in prison will not be entitled to vote in next year's poll but the legislation does not extend to those on a community sentence.

Independent MSP Margo MacDonald said: "People that Alex Salmond himself has classed as offenders have been split into two camps: those who have electronic tags and can vote in an election, and those who have custodial sentences for the same crime, more or less, and could not vote. Is there a matter of equity here that we should look at?"

Mr Salmond said: "When people engage in crime and receive a prison sentence they sacrifice some of their entitlements: the entitlement to freedom and also, I believe, the entitlement to vote."