I will be voting on Friday 3 November 2017 for the franchise to be expanded to people aged 16 and over. This will be introduced by another Labour MP as a Private Members Bill, which means that it is not being brought forward by the Government.
It is impossible to justify the automatic and blanket exclusion of 16 and 17 years olds from the right to vote because, at 16, the law allows a person to:
• Give full consent to medical treatment;
• Leave school and enter work or training;
• Pay income tax and National Insurance;
• Obtain tax credits and welfare benefits in their own right;
• Consent to sexual relationships;
• Get married or enter a civil partnership;
• Change their name by deed poll;
• Become a director of a company;
• Join the armed forces; and
• Become a member of a trade union or a co-operative society.
There are over 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds in the UK. These young people are knowledgeable and passionate about the world in which they live, and are as capable of engaging in the democratic system as any other citizen.
As I will have to remain in London on the Friday for the vote it means that I will regrettably not be able to attend my weekly surgery in Trelogan. However, there will be a member of his team present and able to take down details of cases raised for Mr Hanson.
16 and 17 year olds deserve to have the vote in Delyn. Every time that I have visited a school or a college I am greeted with people who have strong, informed opinions on politics and it is ridiculous that they are unable to exercise their passion through the ballot box. By voting in favour of this Private Members’ Bill I hope it sends a strong message out to the Government that they should support this law so it can make it into law.
I believe that by expanding the franchise will enthuse and engage more people in politics. If we can start people in the habit of voting early they will be more inclined to participate in democracy throughout their lives. Other countries have already introduced voting at 16 and I don’t want to see the UK lagging behind.
A recent survey of more than 10,000 people in Wales aged 11 to 25 showed that 53% wanted voted votes at 16. There is a demand to be involved in our democratic system shows there is a demand and we should be meeting it. First we must expand the right to vote and then politicians should do much more to ensure that we fill the information vacuum that many young people say exists.