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Voting Age

Volume 629: debated on Wednesday 11 October 2017

The Government have stated in their manifesto a clear commitment to maintain the voting age of 18, so the Government have no plans to lower the voting age in elections.

The Labour Welsh Government are currently making provision in Wales for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in local and Welsh Government elections. Will the Minister urge his Government and other Conservative Members to support the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham West and Royton (Jim McMahon) on 3 November, to prove that this Government do not disregard the views of young people?

As the hon. Gentleman has made clear, this Government have given powers to the devolved Assemblies to make decisions in respect of their local government and regional elections, but the position of the Government remains clear: on the parliamentary franchise, the age will remain at 18. Of course, I look forward to the many contributions that will be made in the debate on that.

The voting age is one thing, but has my hon. Friend given any consideration to the issue of education in schools around electoral fraud—for example, double voting?

The Government are of course determined to engage the many young people in schools in the democratic processes. Recently I established a national democracy week, in which I hope all Members will take part. It is vital for democratic participation that we encourage young people to get involved as early as possible, and to be educated in our democratic processes.

Does the Minister agree that sometimes young people make mistakes, and that it cannot be right that a teenager at the age of 16 can make the mistake of joining the Conservative party and voting in the inevitably upcoming leadership election, yet would be denied a vote at the forthcoming general election?

We have had many debates on the franchise, and I have sat as a Back Bencher through several debates in my parliamentary career so far; I think Parliament has voted three times on the issue and has consistently decided not to introduce votes at 16. We will be having future debates, and I look forward to engaging with the hon. Lady in them in due course.