Youth Parliament calls for the voting age to be lowered to 16 in all public elections 15th November 2013


16 and 17 year olds should be given the vote in all public elections, according to the UK Youth Parliament, which has chosen ‘votes at 16’ as its national campaign for 2014. ‘A curriculum to prepare us for life’ was also chosen as the UKYP’s priority campaign for England.

These motions were two of five debated by the UK Youth Parliament in the House of Commons chamber on Friday 15th November, chaired by the Speaker Rt Hon John Bercow MP.

‘Votes at 16’ became the priority campaign after securing 217 votes against ‘combating youth unemployment’s 76; and ‘a curriculum to prepare us for life’ secured 136 votes against 42 for ‘zero tolerance to bullying in schools’ and 115 for ‘better work experience and careers advice’.

A total of 296 Members of Youth Parliament aged 11-18 took part in the debates, the subjects for which were voted for by 478,632 young people across the UK.

Addressing the House, Cabinet Minister Nick Hurd MP who attended the debate said: “There is a lot of rubbish talked about your generation. I have a completely different view… I think you represent the most passionate and socially responsible generation of young people this country has seen for a very, very long time – and today you have proved it.  I will be reporting the issues debated by you to the Cabinet.”

On the topic of votes at 16, the young person who introduced the winning debate, Shakeel Hajat, 17, from Derbyshire, said: “The tired walls of this prestigious room have, I believe, time for one more voting reform. Let’s re-engage the disengaged, enfranchise the disenfranchised and regard the disregarded, let’s give the vote to young people who deserve that responsibility.”

Speaking on the topic of ‘a curriculum for life’, Chante Joseph MYP, 17, from Brent, said: “Curriculum for life is all about life skills. We are not only equipping young people with transferable skills, we are giving them their ticket of confidence. We are telling that young person from Hackney, Hertfordshire or Hull that their education is not in vain. Young people will no longer be disillusioned with conventional education, but enticed by the practicality of it.”