Derby North MP Chris Williamson backs move to give the vote to 16-year-olds
DERBY North MP Chris Williamson has backed a motion in the House of Commons calling for the voting age to be lowered.
Mr Williamson, a Labour MP, says the "time is right" for the minimum age to shift from 18 to 16 – although local Tories disagree.
He said: "It's important that we give young people the opportunity to vote.
"Some of the recent changes made by government, including the removal of the education maintenance allowance and the rising tuition fees, are issues which affect young people. There are a lot of issues that young people are interested in but, because of their age, cannot speak out about it."
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Mr Williamson voted in favour of the proposal put forward by Bristol West Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams.
The Derby MP said at 16 young people can 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 and join the armed forces.
He said: "I see no reason not to add the vote to that list."
But Heather Wheeler, MP for South Derbyshire, said she was not in favour.
She said: "I have had many meetings with different age groups from our local schools and I have been struck by how varied their views are on it.
"There does not seem to be a local consensus to reduce the age. It's my belief that all sorts of responsibilities come with the age of 18."
Pauline Latham, MP for Mid-Derbyshire, said although she did not think the voting age should be reduced she felt there should be "one qualifying age" when everything should happen.
She said: "There are some anomalies; voting at 18, getting married at 16 and learning to drive at the age of 17.
"There should be a consensual coming age of age when all of these doors open."
The backbench motion was passed by 119 votes to 46 and Mr Williams now wants his move put into law.
The Government, however, insists it has no plans to make the change.