Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has urged the Scottish Government to change the law, as a Holyrood inquiry concluded all prisoners should be given the vote.

A report to be published on Monday by the Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee rejects arguments for halfway measures, such as restricting voting rights to those on short sentences or facing imminent release.

Instead, the committee concludes: “On the basis of the evidence we received ... the majority of the committee believes all prisoners serving custodial sentences should be entitled to vote.”

READ MORE: Should inmates have the right to vote in elections?

Mr MacAskill described the move as long overdue and accused those who “foam at the mouth” about prisoner’s rights of making cheap political capital out of the issue.

“Prisoners forfeit their liberty and shouldn’t forfeit other rights unnecessarily” he said. “There is a false argument about how appalling this is, put forward by some people to score political points and get headlines.”

In reality few prisoners would take up the opportunity to vote, he said: “But it is about showing respect and trying to bring people back into society. In the main, prisoners will be coming back into our communities and we want to rehabilitate them.”

The UK and Scottish Parliaments have come under increasing pressure to change the law since 2005 when the European Court of Human Rights ruled a blanket ban on prisoners voting was unlawful.

Last year the UK Government amended the law to allow a very limited number of prisoners to vote, but Committee will urge the Scottish Government to go further and allow all prisoners a say in all Scottish parliament elections and referenda.

Mr MacAskill conceded he had not made the change when he was justice secretary. “I never did it, because with the referendum coming up and other issues it was an unnecessary distraction. But there are legal challenges being faced now and I think the Scottish Government has to act.”

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In response to complaints that the measure could allow murders and sex offenders to vote, Mr MacAskill said the majority of prisoners were in for minor offences. “It is hypocritical of people to foam at the mouth. A blanket ban is nonsensical. But if you give it to some prisoners only, it is a question of where you set the bar, but a blanket ban is nonsensical. I think we should give it to everybody.”

He said he understood why some of those affected by crime would oppose the idea. “I always have sympathy for victims”, he said. “But that is why these people are in prison, that is their punishment.”

Prisoners have not always been excluded from voting. Almost all prisoners in Scotland were able to vote by postal ballot between 1949 and 1969. The European Court ruled a blanket ban was unlawful, but left the door open for countries to justify a ban as a punishment in certain circumstances.

Conservative members of the Equalities and Human Rights committee are recording their opposition to its findings.

READ MORE: Should inmates have the right to vote in elections?

Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative equalities spokesman, and a member of the committee said the proposal would leave give even those convicted of the most serious violent and sexual crimes the chance to vote in all Scottish elections.

Ms Wells said:“There is absolutely no public support for these proposals, and at no time did the Committee hear directly from victims of crime.

“Victims of crime will be horrified that that, yet again, the rights of criminals are being prioritised above the experiences of victims.”