16 year olds blocked from voting in EU referendum bill

Written by Tom Freeman on 8 December 2015 in News

Votes at 16 plan blocked by House of Commons

Those 16 and 17-year-olds who vote in next year’s Scottish Parliament elections will not be able to vote in the forthcoming in/out referendum on EU membership, after MPs voted down the plan today.

The House of Lords had amended the legislation paving the way for the referendum to lower the voting age but the move was overturned by the House of Commons by 303 votes to 253.

The changes were rejected using the Commons’ ‘financial privilege’ because they would have costed £6m to implement.


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Cabinet Office minister John Penrose said the fact Scots youngsters will be able to vote next year but be excluded from the referendum is “an inevitable result of devolution”.

All parties at Holyrood, including the Scottish Conservatives, support votes at 16.

Jordan Linden, chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, which has campaigned on the subject, said 16 and 17-year-olds had been “robbed” of the opportunity to vote on an important issue.

“We will continue to call for a change in the voting age for all UK elections, but we also are calling for a change of mentality.  We want to live in a world that recognises that our voices matter, not just here in Scotland, but across the United Kingdom – our voices must be heard,” he said.

The Electoral Reform Society said the case for widening the franchise was “stronger than ever”.

Chief executive Katie Ghose said votes at 16 in the Scottish referendum had been a success.

“With 16 and 17-year-olds getting the vote in Scotland and potentially Wales too, it would be insulting to the 1.5 million 16 and 17-year-olds across the UK for the government to deny them the vote in this crucial referendum,” she said.

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