Lib Dems win key concessions on votes at 16

Lib Dem Peer Lord (Paul) Tyler has welcomed government concessions to the Wales Bill, which will enable 16 and 17 year olds to be enfranchised in a referendum on tax-raising powers for Wales.

The concessions were announced today by Lib Dem Wales Minister Jenny Randerson as she took the Bill through Report Stage in the House of Lords. The National Assembly for Wales will be empowered to decide whether 16/17 year olds should vote in the referendum, a proposal which presently enjoys strong support among Assembly Members.

The Lib Dems’ recent “pre-manifesto” reaffirmed the party’s longstanding support for UK-wide votes at 16 for elections and referenda. Only the Tories remain opposed, despite the clear success of Votes at 16 in the Scottish independence referendum.

Commenting, Paul Tyler said:

“It is plainly unfair and wrong that someone can fight for their country but can’t have direct influence over the government sending them to war. Likewise they may pay income tax, but not choose the politicians which set the rate.

“We have seen during the Scottish referendum that 16 year olds are more than capable of taking a considered and active part in democracy. Surely no one can claim that 16 year olds in Wales are any less bright, responsible and engaged than 16 year olds in Scotland.

“My colleague Jenny Randerson has put in a huge amount of work on this as Liberal Democrat Minister at the Wales Office, giving young people a voice despite the opposition of many vested interests. Today marks a significant step on the road to UK wide Votes at 16, and it would not have occurred without Liberal Democrats in government.”

Notes to Editors:

- Welsh Liberal Democrats in the Assembly led a debate on participation of young people in politics on 24th September 2014. Support for Votes at 16 was expressed across the Assembly. Transcript:
http://www.assembly.wales/en/bus-home/pages/rop.aspx?meetingid=2749&language=en&assembly=4&c=Record%20of%20Proceedings&startDt=24/09/2014&endDt=25/09/2014#165678

- The Welsh Assembly also voted in favour of Votes at 16 in July 2012

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