Tories 'abused power' to block change to voting age, says Sheffield MP

Paul Blomfield
Paul Blomfield
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A Sheffield MP has accused the Conservative Party of blocking a proposed change in the law to give 16 and 17-year-olds the vote.

Paul Blomfield, who represents Sheffield Central, said there had been an 'abuse of procedures' after MPs were not given the chance to vote on the private members bill brought by Jim McMahon.

Conservative members made long speeches during an earlier debate, leading to accusations of 'filibustering' from other parties.

After the debate Mr Blomfield said: "What we saw today was an abuse of procedures.

"Proper debate on an important issue was prevented by Tory filibustering. It's happened time and again with private members' bills.

"If the Government don't like legislation they should try to vote it down, not talk it out. Parliament's rules need to change to stop this abuse."

Mr Blomfield said giving votes to 16-year-olds - as happened in Scotland in 2014 - was 'common sense'.

"If you’re old enough to join the army, get married, pay taxes and receive benefits, then you’re old enough to vote," he said.

"I meet regularly with 16 and 17-year-olds in every secondary school I represent. I have some of the best informed and liveliest discussions with them.

“The biggest issues we’re facing will affect young people much more than my generation. Take climate change and the UK’s relationship with the European Union – it’s the next generation who are going to have to deal with the consequences.

“Today's game playing in Parliament risks further alienating a generation who already feel let down by politics, and it shames our democracy."

During the debate Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin said: "It would be a great mistake to lower the voting age to 16.

"Most 16 and 17-year-olds do not have the level of political knowledge or maturity required."