A fresh push to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 has been blocked amid accusations of a “corrupt and unfair” filibuster by the Government.
Labour MP Peter Kyle’s Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement) Bill, which aims to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in elections and referendums, was talked out after Tory MPs decided to devote more than four hours to another, uncontroversial, Bill.
The move was branded “corrupt and unfair” by SNP chief whip Patrick Grady, who called for a reform of how private members’ bills are considered in the Commons.
Mr Kyle, who had just under 30 minutes to put the case for his Bill, told MPs that young people had become “disempowered and as a community are losing out”.
He said: “For me it always comes down to one thing, our politics is missing out on the wisdom and insight of young people.
“Some people ask why 16 and not 15, there are two reasons. Firstly, I believe education to GCSE equips young people with all the knowledge and critical thinking that is needed, and secondly we have the practical experience in other parts of the United Kingdom that shows that this simply works.”
He added: “Now that 16 and 17-year-olds are able to participate in Welsh elections and in the Channel Islands it leaves England as the democratic laggards of the United Kingdom, Britain has become a democratic postcode lottery and it needs fixing.”
Iâm grateful for any time government give for my bill today, but itâs true that the reason they donât want to give too much time is the long long line of Tories who would speak in favour of it.... https://t.co/8TUWDCbwEQ— Peter Kyle MP (@peterkyle) May 11, 2018
Tory MPs Alex Chalk and Michelle Donelan both raised the issue of the drinking age and asked Mr Kyle whether that should also be reduced to 16.
He responded: “I do not believe that we should link public health with voting, if we do then we need to do so in other areas as well.”
And in an apparent shot at his Conservative colleagues, Luke Graham MP, who was speaking in favour of the Bill, said that there should not be a need for “consistency right across the board” when it came to age-related laws.
He said: “I think we shouldn’t allow these different age-related laws, quite separate and not contingent on each other, to muddy the water and clog up this debate.”
Mr Graham (Ochil and South Perthshire) added: “It is essential that we can as MPs sit down with 16 and 17-year-olds who are the primary users of our state funded educational system and also users of other public services and look them straight in the eye and say I think your voice matters.”
Fellow Tory James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) also spoke in favour of the Bill, he said: “One of the key issues is taxation and representation and that if people are expected to pay tax and national insurance they should have a say in how that tax and national insurance is spent.”
The Bill was blocked from progressing any further, as debate on private members’ bills ends at 2.30pm on Fridays, and was subsequently listed for further consideration on October 26.
SNP MP David Linden (Glasgow East), raising a point of order after the debate, accused the Government of “filibustering”, he said: “A number of members have come to the House unusually on a Friday because they wish to vote in favour of this Bill which the Government have blocked today by means of filibustering.
“What methods are available to members to change the procedures of this House that would allow us to have a vote and allow votes at 16 to become law, which is the will of the people.”
Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing rejected claims of a filibuster, but told MPs the suggestion of changing procedures was a “very good one that has merit”.