Votes at 16

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceBloody Tories! Talked out a Private Members’ Bill in Parliament to lower the voting age to 16. This practise of talking out a Bill and not allowing a vote has got to go. If you’re against something – then make you can and vote against it. But the practice of just talking and talking until time runs out means you can block something – without the names of you and your colleagues appearing in black and white as having voted against.

Just once or twice trying to keep talking to keep a measure at bay can be a heroic attempt to argue your corner – and such cases are usually heavily publicised so there’s nothing sneaky about that – but the sort of talking out of bills we had today just shows how awful Parliament’s rules are – once again.

But to the point – the Tories and the Government were against the Bill. The Bill was Julie Morgan’s Private Members’ Bill (Labour) and although a lot of people support this – it is very, very difficult to get enough MPs to such a debate on a Friday to make it go through. No – not because MPs are slacking off, but because MPs generally have a heavy workload of commitments in their constituencies and so – particularly if their seat is some way from London – on a Friday they head off to them for a weekend of work there.

I made brilliant points (I thought!) and the Tories made specious ones – their key argument (a rubbish one in my view) being that if you lower it to 16 why not 14? Bleeding obvious – 16 begins the journey to adulthood which is full on in law by 18. We are simply debating what comes where on that scale. If you can legally marry and have a child (and sex and lots of other things) then in my view 16 is OK for voting. Tories kept saying but alcohol and cigarettes are 18. Yes – but when did anyone (at least in this country) die from voting? Clearly Tories don’t believe competence to vote begins at 16. Anyway – this one will come back again and again until one day…

As a footnote: to give credit where credit’s due, normally MPs have to bob up and down after each speaker in order to get called themselves in a debate, but when I explained to the Speaker’s office that my back was still playing up and giving pain, I was able to get to speak without having to bob up and down. So thank you!