Labour fury as Tory MPs block bid for votes at 16
Labour MPs were left furious today after a bid to lower the voting age to 16 was blocked by rambling Conservative MPs.
A bill to extend the franchise in elections was ineligible for a vote because it had not been debated for long enough, Commons deputy speaker Eleanor Laing ruled.
Debate on the bill ran out of time after Conservative MPs spent hours talking out a previous bill on the use of force in mental health units.
Labour MP Jim McMahon - who presented the Private Members Bill on cutting the voting age – said the filibustering was an “affront to democracy”.
“Whether you are for or against lowering the voting age, it is only right that an issue which millions are invested in and have called for gets a proper hearing in Parliament,” he fumed.
The Oldham West MP said the Government would “find itself on the wrong side of history” and insisted his campaign would “not be silenced”.
“16 and 17 year olds may not get the vote today, but they will be 18 or over at the next election,” he warned.
“They may well recall the day a handful of Tory MPs tried to stop their voice being heard.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn took to Twitter to accuse the Conservatives of having “sabotaged” the vote.
Labour MP Wes Streeting, who had tried to force a vote before the debate time ran out, branded the display a "farce".
The bill proposed greater political education in schools to give youngsters the know-how about public life and help them make an informed vote.
But Tory MPs put forward a range of arguments against extending the franchise – such as that it would allow 16-year-olds to send soldiers to war despite being unable to fight themselves.
MP Robert Jenrick argued it would be wrong to allow votes to people who are unable to watch 18 certification movies like The Terminator – despite the film being reclassified as a 15.
Tory Bernard Jenkin – who chairs the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee said it would be a “great mistake” to allow 16-year-olds to vote.
“Most 16 and 17-year-olds do not have the level of political knowledge and maturity required to vote,” he said to uproar from the opposition benches.
The debate on lowering the voting age is set to return to the House on 1 December, Ms Laing ruled.