Parliament has 'made history' in supporting reduction in voting age
BRISTOL MP Stephen Williams claims history has been made after Parliament backed his bid to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote.
Following a House of Commons debate, MPs supported the Voting Age (Reduction to 16) Bill by 119 votes to 46 – a majority of 73.
The Bristol West Liberal Democrat's bill attracted cross-party support yesterday.
Mr Williams said: "Parliament has made history in supporting my motion to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote. The debate was followed by young people up and down the country; I believe my Twitter account nearly crashed with messages of support from all sections of society."
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Mr Williams said he now expected to see action from the Government – which opposes the move.
"The House of Commons has expressed its view and it must be heard," he said. "I have introduced a bill to put this motion into law and I call on the Government to give it a fair hearing."
Mr Williams first tried to lower the voting age back in 2005, but failed by eight votes. Although the Commons backed a reduction this time, the Government is not bound by the vote.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said there were "no plans" to change the voting age, while Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith said evidence for a reduction was "not clear cut".
Mr Williams, left, told MPs cutting the voting age would be a "vital step in the renewal of Britain's democracy".
He said: "I believe that 16 and 17-year-olds have sufficient maturity and sufficient knowledge in order to cast a vote if they want to.
"We don't have compulsory voting in this country, so we would simply be affording the opportunity for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote if they wished."
The Bill is due to come back to the Commons on March 1 for a second reading, although it is not guaranteed to secure Parliamentary time.