Electoral Reform

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:46 pm on 8th June 2020.

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Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Assistant Whip, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 10:46 pm, 8th June 2020

I do understand that point. I personally would use a similar argument to apply to one’s vote getting rather lost in a national system that did not give accountability directly to a representative.

Allow me to pause in responding to the arguments about the voting system and turn to a couple of the other points that the hon. Member for North East Fife made. I will cover three manifesto commitments. First, in the Conservative manifesto, which was chosen and has been given the privilege of being turned into action, we committed to retain the first-past-the-post system. That concludes that section of my remarks.

Turning to votes at 16, and if I may, combining this with the points made by Christine Jardine about how very many young people want to be involved in politics, I am passionately in favour of young people being involved in politics. However, I do think there are many ways to do that—there is not only the question of the voting age; there are lots of ways to engage people in politics. As I have mentioned, the manifesto commitment from this Government was to retain the franchise at 18 years old. That is because of an argument of consistency within the other services and aspects of public citizenship. A person below the age of 18 is treated as a minor, for example, in both the foster care system and the criminal justice system. They cannot attend jury service, buy alcohol or be sent into action in the armed forces, and they cannot own property, gamble and so on. There is a wide range of life decisions for which Parliament has judged that 18 is the right age across the nation.