Government dismisses fresh bid for votes at 16

By Adam Offord

| 07 November 2016

The parliamentary voting age will not be lowered so 16- and 17-year-olds can have their say in general elections, the government's constitution minister has said.

Chris Skidmore said government has no plans to lower the voting age. Picture: Parliament TV

Speaking in parliament last week, Chris Skidmore said that the topic has been debated several times by MPs and knocked back every time. 

He was responding to Labour MP Chris Elmore, who asked if the minister would give "proper consideration" to a report about the need to ensure 16-year-olds can vote for MPs in order to achieve "full democracy".

"16-year-olds in Scotland are able to vote for members of the Scottish parliament and for councillors, and the plans for devolution under the Wales Bill might mean that 16-year-olds are allowed to vote for Welsh assembly members and councillors," Elmore said.

In response, Skidmore said: "We will not be lowering the parliamentary voting age, because since the general election parliament has debated the proposal a number of times and repeatedly voted against it.

"It is important to recognise that most democracies consider that 18 is the right age to enfranchise young people.

"A person must be at least 18 to serve on a jury for similar reasons."

Last year the Conservative party was the only major party not to back the introduction of votes for 16- and 17-year-olds in its election manifesto.

In light of this, the British Youth Council (BYC) pledged to continue campaigning for a lowering of the voting age.

The UK Youth Parliament, which is run by the BYC, will now debate votes for 16- and 17-year-olds during its annual House of Commons sitting this Friday after it was voted as one of the top five priorities by more than 978,000 young people.

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