European Union Referendum Bill — Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:20 pm on 13th October 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Tyler Lord Tyler Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Constitutional and Political Reform) 1:20 pm, 13th October 2015

My Lords, in the limited time available I want to concentrate on the franchise proposed in the Bill. Last Friday, as part of the Lord Speaker’s outreach programme, I spent an extremely interesting hour with the sixth form at Sir Thomas Rich’s School in Gloucester. The students were articulate, informed, inquisitive, mature, enthusiastic, committed and challenging—above all, they were clearly ready and willing to be full citizens in our democracy. In short, they were typical 16 and 17 year-olds. They were more knowledgeable than many of their 60, 70 or 80 year-old fellow citizens and they were quite ready to compete in debate with Members of Your Lordships’ House. Indeed, I think they would well match the noble Lord, Lord Lawson of Blaby.

I see that the noble Lord is in robust good health but I venture to suggest that the young citizens in Gloucester are likely to have longer experience of the outcome of this vote than he will. That is the big difference. When it comes to the referendum on the future of this country—as part of the European partnership of nations or adrift in the Atlantic—this age group will have a far greater personal, long-term interest than most of us here. It is unthinkable that they should be refused a vote. I do not have much time but I will give way to the noble Lord.