MPs to debate whether to retain or remove votes at 16 for EU Referendum Bill, after Peers voted for it in November

MPs will vote on whether to retain or remove the right of 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum tomorrow (8th December) – with the Electoral Reform Society urging them to ‘keep it in the Bill’ after Lords voted to back the move in November.

The EU Referendum Bill will go to ‘ping pong’ – the ‘Consideration of Lords Amendments’ stage – on Tuesday, which will include voting on whether to keep votes at 16 in the Bill.

The Electoral Reform Society are calling on MPs to follow the success of the Scottish referendum by giving the 1.5m 16 and 17 year olds in the UK ‘a voice in their democratic future’.

Houses of Parliament (PD)

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

Our membership of the EU is a crucial issue for the future. After the great success of votes at 16 during the Scottish referendum, it would be a missed opportunity to deny young citizens the vote in the EU referendum.

"In the independence referendum, 75% of 16 and 17 year olds voted and 97% said they would do so in the future. They accessed more information than any other age group, and registered in their thousands. It’s a lesson that’s been taken on board in Holyrood, with the Scottish Parliament unanimously backing votes at 16 for all Scottish elections in June. And the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP supports it too [1].

“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. The first generation to receive citizenship education should have a voice in their democratic future, and the government should seize the chance to make it happen.

“David Cameron said during the election he wanted a debate on the issue. Now we are having that debate, it’s time to give young people an equal voice in our democracy. We urge MPs to keep votes at 16 in the Bill.”

[1] www.electoral-reform.org.uk/blog/ruth-davidsons-lessons-scottish-referendum

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