Local Government Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 10th July 2003.

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Photo of Lord Harris of Haringey Lord Harris of Haringey Labour 6:45 pm, 10th July 2003

My Lords, there are some serious anomalies concerning the age of candidature. One could make the case that people should hold public office only if they have a certain amount of life experience. I believe that in the United States there are different qualifying ages for being a member of the House of Representatives or the Senate or even for being President. However, it is difficult to see what additional learning experience comes from saying that one has to wait three years after being entitled to vote before one can stand for public office. I believe that it is a matter that should be considered.

I would add a caution—not that any noble Lords have suggested that this would be the case—that somehow this will magically open the floodgates and that large numbers of young people will stand for office. I speak as someone who was at one time the youngest member of my local authority. I do not believe that very different kinds of people will come forward to stand for election. I believe that the signal that it will provide will be extremely important. I hope that the Government will give some indication that this matter is under active consideration.