PRISONERS serving short sentences or approaching the end of their time behind bars should be given the vote, a cross-party parliamentary committee has recommended.

The committee said it would be "wholly disproportionate" for the UK to defy a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights and said the Government had failed to set out a "plausible" case for maintaining the existing blanket ban.

It called on the Government to table a Bill granting the vote in local, general and European elections to those serving less than 12 months or within six months of release, with exceptions for those convicted of particularly serious crimes.

But the panel of MPs and peers was split over the issue, with chairman Nick Gibb and two other MPs arguing that the Government should give Parliament the choice between offering prisoners this restricted franchise or keeping the ban.

The recommendation goes against a House of Commons vote in 2011, when MPs voted by 234 to 22 to keep the ban.