In relation to the franchise for EU citizens, currently 2.3 million citizens of other European member states live and work in the United Kingdom. In the regional and local elections that will be held across Britain and

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Northern Ireland next year, all EU citizens living in the UK will be entitled to vote, yet, as clause 2 stands, EU citizens living abroad in the UK will not be entitled to vote in the referendum. To respond to the point made by the Opposition spokesman, the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden), I do not think the fact that other countries have not allowed EU citizens to take part in similar referendums means that that is the path that the UK Government should follow.

I said earlier that EU citizens will not be entitled to vote, but of course, as several hon. Members have said today, a number of EU citizens will be able to vote in the referendum, because there is no consistency. Citizens of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta living in the UK will be able to vote in the referendum, but citizens from all other EU member states will not. As the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) said, it is clear that non-British EU citizens living in the UK have a very big stake in this election. If Britain leaves the EU, those men and women will still be EU citizens—unlike their UK counterparts, who will lose their EU citizenship rights—but they will no longer have the automatic right to live and work in the UK.

We should also remember that non-British citizens have the right to vote and stand in regional and local elections. There are many examples of European citizens playing a leading representative role in our democracy. As SNP Members will know, one of the best-known cases is that of the French-born Christian Allard, the SNP MSP for North East Scotland. It would be a disgrace if he was not allowed to vote in the EU referendum.

Do we really want to say to EU citizens who make such an outstanding contribution that they are good enough to represent us in the Scottish Parliament, in the Greater London Authority, or as our local councillor or mayor, but that they are not good enough to have a say in the EU referendum? Do we want to say to EU citizens that they are good enough to invest in Britain, set up a business here, pay their taxes and contribute to our communities, but that we do not want their voices to be heard in the referendum? Do we have the chutzpah to go to EU citizens next year, when all the political parties in this place will be competing for their votes in next year’s local and regional elections, and say, “Sorry, we didn’t give you the vote in the EU referendum, but please give us your vote now so that we can represent you”?

Simon Hoare: The corollary of the right hon. Gentleman’s argument is that he is advocating the abolition of the distinctions between the registers for local government elections and for Westminster and European elections. Is that at the heart of what he is saying? While I am on my feet, may I stress that this is not a qualitative position? We are not saying that people are either good enough or not good enough. It is about whether it is right or not.

The Temporary Chair (Mr George Howarth): Order. Saying “While I am on my feet” is almost the same as saying “and secondly”. Members should make a single point.

Tom Brake: I certainly agree with the hon. Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare) on the latter point, if I may respond to just one of the points that he made.

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This is about what is right and what is wrong, but there are some Opposition Members who believe that it is right to give EU citizens the right to vote in the referendum. Clearly, most Members on the Government Benches, if not all of them, do not think that it is.

Most importantly, EU citizens are mobilising and demanding the vote. A former Member of this House, whom I knew quite well as he represented a constituency close to mine, Roger Casale, an Italian by origin, has set up an organisation, New Europeans, which has been mentioned by the hon. Member for Ilford South, to ensure that EU citizens living in the UK have their voices heard. The organisation is celebrating its second birthday today, so I wish it a happy birthday.

On Tuesday, Roger and fellow members of New Europeans visited the House of Commons during the first Committee day of the EU referendum debate to speak to MPs about the franchise in the EU election. We have already heard the names of many of those who attended and I will not attempt to pronounce them, as that was well done earlier by the hon. Member for Ilford South.

EU citizens in Scotland had the right to vote in the referendum and may have helped to keep Scotland part of the United Kingdom by voting no to its break-up. Many EU citizens living in the UK now demand the right to vote in the EU referendum to keep Britain in Europe. Would we have argued that the independence referendum in Scotland was illegitimate if it had been won by such a narrow margin as to make the votes of EU citizens there decisive in the outcome? If not, why should we deny EU citizens the vote in the EU referendum, fearing that the outcome of the vote might depend on them?

James Cartlidge (South Suffolk) (Con): As we all know, rightly or wrongly, many of the people who would vote to leave the European Union would do so because of the perceived issue of the number of people coming into the country. If we were to vote to stay in specifically as a result of the votes of European citizens, would that not be inflammatory to many millions of people who voted no?

1.45 pm

Tom Brake: I will let the hon. Gentleman speculate on that, but what is clearly inflammatory is that 2.3 million EU citizens who live here will not be able to take part, if the Government have their way, in a referendum that will have a significant impact on them and their children. The Government disregard that at their peril.

This is exactly the argument that many Government Members have made to deny EU citizens the vote. It is a tactical and political argument that says that they want the referendum to be won—that is, for us to come out of the EU—on the votes of British citizens alone. There is no consistency in who can vote in the election, because it is not just British citizens who will be included. Citizens of 73 nationalities will be able to vote in the referendum, as they come from Commonwealth countries, and members of three EU states will be able to vote alongside British and Commonwealth citizens, yet citizens from the other 24 member states of the EU will not have the vote under the current parliamentary franchise.

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Mike Wood: I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s mention of consistency. Perhaps he could remind the House of what he did as Deputy Leader of the House until a few weeks ago to try to extend the parliamentary franchise to include all European Union electors?

Tom Brake: I thank the hon. Gentleman for that intervention, but I suspect that given the ferocity with which the Conservative party opposes any proposed extension there would not have been much point in my trying to pursue that as Deputy Leader of the House.

EU citizens in the UK are the group whose future will be most affected by the outcome of the vote, as well as 16 and 17-year-olds, as the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) said earlier. EU citizens in the UK are demanding the vote and for too long, we in this place have not listened to their voice in our communities. That has to change. It is the Liberal Democrats’ policy to allow EU citizens to vote and we call on other parties to follow suit. When we go to the polls next year in the regional and local elections, we will be held to account by more than 2.3 million EU citizens in the UK for the actions we take today. It is time to do the right thing and empower EU citizens by giving them the vote in the referendum. What better way to mark the second anniversary of New Europeans and to acknowledge the rights of the 2.3 million EU citizens they represent than to extend the franchise in the EU referendum to all EU citizens rather than just some? Basing the provision on the local election franchise and not the parliamentary franchise would achieve that, so I commend these amendments to the House.

Chloe Smith: I believe passionately—I have spoken on this point before, both in this place and outside it—that young people should have a place in our democracy. Doing nothing about their current position within our democracy is no option at all, and I would follow on from the arguments in that regard made by my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston). However, I shall not support the amendments today. Let me explain why.

Disraeli tells us with some wisdom, as he often does, that we can see two nations in one. I do not mean two nations under one roof in the United Kingdom, but rather that there are two nations of older and younger voters. His original point was that his two nations might as well have been dwellers on different zones or planets, as they had so little sympathy with each other’s positions. One might be drawn to think that from the relative turnout figures for older and younger voters. In the 2010 election, the last one for which we have the complete figures, I believe, the average voting rate was around 65%. The rate among pensioners was about 75%, and the rate among 18 to 24-year-olds was about 44%. The data we have for the election just past are incomplete, but I understand that one set of data suggests that the turnout rate among 18 to 24-year-olds declined by one percentage point.

The point is this: we in the UK have a serious problem of low youth turnout—we are the sick man of Europe, or indeed the world on some counts. Some studies suggest that, at that statistical level, we are hopelessly behind other countries in Europe. There is a US-UK-Germany study on this point, which shows that, although young people turn out less than their elders in other countries—the US is a good example—in the UK the divergence is accelerating. That is a serious problem.

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Dr Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire) (SNP): The percentage of young people who turned out in our election just past is expected to have been in the high 60s, compared with just above 40% here. I would lay that at the feet of the referendum. A referendum means that every single vote in the country counts. You will never inspire young people as much as with a referendum, because if they are in a safe seat, whether they agree or not, their vote may not count. A referendum is exactly the time to look at extending the franchise; otherwise, you are facing the prospect of your turnout in a decade’s time being pitiful.

Chloe Smith: The hon. Lady makes a good point about the nature of a referendum, although if I understood her correctly, I probably ought to balk at her references to there and here and you and we, and some points of division that I think she is seeking to make. However, I believe she is broadly with me on my point that the UK as a whole, in national UK elections, has a problem about which we all despair.

Chris Skidmore: On the point about referendum turnout, is my hon. Friend aware of the Electoral Commission study of the ICM poll showing that, in the recent Scottish referendum, turnout among 18 to 24-year-olds was 54%? It was 75% among 17-year-olds, but the study concluded that many of them were accompanied to the ballot box by their parents. Among those who had turned 18 and were independent, turnout slumped to 54%.

Chloe Smith: I will attempt to draw the statistically based interventions together into a broader point: young people turn out to vote less than older people, and we should all be concerned about that. We are all in the business of looking for ways to improve that situation.

Stephen Gethins: The hon. Lady makes some good points, and I hope she will join us in the Lobby tonight, unlike the Labour Members who say they are for something but then do not actually vote for it. On the point that the hon. Member for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore) raised, what the study showed is that people who start voting at 16 and 17 are more likely to continue voting. As the Electoral Reform Society has said: vote early and vote often.

Chloe Smith: The hon. Gentleman makes a sound point. Voting is a habit that is formed early, and we ought to treat it as such. The franchise is but one element of all that we should do to encourage young people to take an early interest in politics and to sustain that throughout their lifetime. I will discuss that more broadly later in my speech.

The nature of young people’s interest in politics compared with that of their elders is evolving. Some would argue that young people simply become like their elders as they get older—it is, in effect, a life cycle argument, which I think we should cease to make. There is a lazy complacency open to us to say, “It’s all going to be okay. They’ll just start voting when they get married and get a mortgage and settle down.” To start with, we all know perfectly well that getting a mortgage is increasingly hard for a young person. That is part of another evolutionary change we are seeing in our economy and society, but what we are confronted with is a generation—our generation; I include myself in that

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generation and others in this House may choose to define themselves that way, too—who are willing to be involved in politics, but perhaps less wiling to be involved in traditional, formal politics. We see young people who choose to make their voices heard using new technology and techniques, getting out there and rolling up their sleeves to achieve community change, and that is a very fine thing. I think that traditional politics has adapt to that, so my first point is that we have to do a range of things to make traditional, formal politics adapt to a new generation.

Suella Fernandes (Fareham) (Con): My hon. Friend’s point about low turnout among younger voters is a good one. What is her opinion on the possibility of extending the franchise to younger people having the effect of lowering average turnout, because it will take in a group whose propensity to vote is also low?

Chloe Smith: Unfortunately, mathematically my hon. Friend may well be right. I am endeavouring to avoid the dry maths, but her prediction may be correct. She returns me to my key point: we need to do more than just concern ourselves with percentages, turnout rates and franchises if we are to address the problem.

Damian Green: My hon. Friend is a great expert on these matters. The point has been made that efforts to encourage 17 to 18-year-olds and 18 to 24-year olds to vote are not mutually contradictory. Does she agree that, on the evidence we have so far, such efforts are mutually reinforcing—that we are more likely to increase lifelong voting by allowing people to vote before the age of 18 than by waiting until they are over 18? Such fairly limited academic evidence as we have suggests that that is the case.

Chloe Smith: Yes, I do agree. I think my right hon. Friend is echoing a point made by the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins). The question of the quality of the evidence available to us is a difficult one. Any “evidence” will be something like a poll of 16 and 17-year-olds asking, “Would you like this franchise?” My understanding of the evidence is that it is extremely mixed. I have seen polls of 16 and 17-year-olds asking them that question, and they say, “Yes please.” I have also seen polls of a wider age group asking, “Would you like this franchise, or would you have liked this franchise?” to which they reply, “No, we’re not so sure, because we think we might not be ready,” if they are younger than 16, or, “We might not have been ready,” if they are older.

Hywel Williams: One does not have to speculate about the effect of lowering the voting age to 16. Musings from the other side are not necessary when one merely has to look at what happened in Scotland.

Chloe Smith: I take that point, but I still think the evidence is mixed. We have one—very strong—example. Ruth Davidson is one Conservative, and I am another, who reflects positively on that experience and thinks that we should learn from it, but other evidence in this arena is scant and not concrete.

Tom Tugendhat: I thank my hon. Friend for giving way and allowing me to make a point in response to the hon. Member for Arfon (Hywel Williams). In fact, the

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evidence is not quite as clear as he suggests. The Scottish referendum was on a simple yes/no question and we know that such questions attract higher turnouts of every age, so the question whether 16 and 17-year-olds’ participation attracted a higher turnout is moot.

Chloe Smith: My hon. Friend places me in a difficult position. As he was responding to the hon. Member for Arfon, he will have to allow me to skip his intervention and return to my speech.

Tom Tugendhat: Sorry, I apologise.

Chloe Smith: If I may, Mr Howarth, I will suggest that the two hon. Members sort themselves out. [Laughter.]

The Temporary Chair (Mr George Howarth): The hon. Lady has resumed her seat. Has she finished?

Chloe Smith indicated dissent.

The Temporary Chair : In that case, may I commend her on her amazing good sense?

Chloe Smith: I have found, Mr Howarth, that it is always good sense to try to stay on the right side of the Chair, and I will do that.

Let me return to the main point of my remarks. We need to do a number of things to address the question of youth engagement in politics. I have already noted that there is high youth engagement in political activity, but not in traditional politics. That is one of the characteristics of the problem facing us. If Mr Speaker were in the Chair, he would no doubt refer us to some of the work that he has led on digital democracy, which is another aspect that we should consider. There is more to the question than the franchise and the age at which we enfranchise young people. The franchise age is no silver bullet on its own.

2 pm

Dr Whitford: Clearly, the hon. Lady is keen to see young people engaged. She talks about their broad interest in dynamic politics, but not necessarily in party politics. As the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat) pointed out, referendums get a higher turnout. The question is simple and, as I said earlier, every single vote counts. The Conservative party is in danger of passing by the best opportunity to engage young people that we may have in a decade.

Chloe Smith: I thank the hon. Lady for her point, which I think is the point she was making earlier. I do not dispute the special quality of referendums which gets people excited. That is a good thing, and I am delighted that we are having a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. It is one of the things I was proud of in the Conservative party manifesto. It allows us to engage people of any age in an important question for our country. However, the referendum is not the vehicle for us to attempt to change the full franchise. I shall come on to that as my main argument.

When I was in the position now held by the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose), who is one of the Ministers present today, I stood at the Dispatch Box

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and demurred on the question whether we should change the age of the franchise. I referred to mixed evidence and said at that time that, on the basis of the evidence available to us, I was not convinced that we ought to alter the age of enfranchisement in this country. I have since changed my view and come to believe that we should have votes at 16. I have come to that view for a number of reasons: additional evidence has come in from the Scottish referendum and it is such an important signal to send to young people to welcome them into our democracy. As I have argued, it is no silver bullet, but it is a very important signal to give.

I endorse the work of the Tory Reform Group. My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes and my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green) have contributed to that and I have collaborated with them. There is an important argument to be made from the Conservative Benches in favour of enfranchising young people and engaging them in our politics. Let me make that Conservative argument briefly. The youngest generation in our adult world today is least interested in big redistributive schemes. Of the generations in our democracy today, it is most interested in welfare reform and in enterprise. We have an opportunity in our party to make the Conservatives the home for young voters, and we should grab that opportunity with both hands.

We have made a good start. We are the party that has just won a national election on the basis of an improving economy, jobs for young people and record youth employment figures, and on our record of fixing this country’s debts so that they do not fall on the heads of future generations, helping young families with childcare and putting education in this country on a stable footing that serves those young people for their future. We are the party of young people and we can be the party of young voters. However, the Bill is not the vehicle for extending the franchise. Let me explain why.

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): The hon. Lady seems to be making the case that 16 is not too young to vote, but the referendum would be too soon to make that change. Rather than the evidence being mixed, is she not giving us a very mixed argument?

Chloe Smith: The hon. Gentleman kindly brings me to my next point, which is the nature of making a change as important and as necessary as this through an ad hoc means. I am arguing for a lasting change for young people, not for an ad hoc change, as represented by making it on a one-time referendum. As good as referendums are, they are by their nature one-timers.

Tom Tugendhat: I fully agree that there is a strong argument for lowering the voting age in this country and I would welcome a full debate on the issue in this place in due course, but I am not sure whether the British public, who have waited more than 40 years for a referendum on Europe, would forgive us for squabbling over the franchise at this point. Does my hon. Friend agree that a full and frank discussion about the enfranchisement of 16 and 17-year-olds is needed in this place in the fullness of time and that such a discussion should not be rushed?

Chloe Smith: My hon. Friend is exactly right: we should do this properly. The Bill is not the place for that.

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Mark Durkan: In that case, why has the franchise been extended in relation to peers? Now the only additional young voters we are going to get are four Lords called Young and one called Younger. The franchise is being altered specifically for them as a one-off. If it is okay to extend the franchise for them, why not for 16 and 17-year-olds?

Chloe Smith: My answer to that, as opposed to the Minister’s, which he will give to explain the full point, is that if we agree here, as many of us do on a cross-party basis, that we ought to look at ways to bring young people into our politics, we need to do that more permanently. I for one would not be happy to settle for doing so only on the ad hoc basis of a referendum. For that reason, and because I want to make sure that this is good-quality legislation, as I mentioned earlier, I will not vote for the amendments today because they would not do that properly.

I refer to the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Antoinette Sandbach), who has just left her place. She emphasised the need to make sure the electoral register is robust, so that we can have a robust jury service system. I refer also to the argument put by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore), who says that we should do this properly as a view of the age of majority. Several important points are not adequately dealt with by swiftly enfranchising 16 and 17-year-olds in an ad hoc manner.

Simon Hoare: My hon. Friend is being a little too kind by using the phrase “ad hoc”. The phrase I think she is looking for is “gerrymandered”, because those who advocate an amendment to the clause are trying to gerrymander a register to get the result they want.

Chloe Smith: My hon. Friend may think that—I couldn’t possibly comment. What I will comment on is the need to ensure that everyone of a suitable majority in this country has a chance to play their role in democracy. Defining a suitable majority is a much bigger thing than we could do through the amendment, as the quality of the debate today has shown.

Tom Brake: Given that the hon. Lady wants to deal with the issue holistically, has she spoken to Ministers and asked them if they would urgently introduce a Bill that would deal with it in a holistic manner? The referendum could then take place with 16 and 17-year-olds voting.

Chloe Smith: I have great respect for the right hon. Gentleman, having served alongside him on some of these matters in the previous Government. I want to say to Ministers through my remarks in the House today, in addition to whatever I may say to them privately, that we ought to return to this matter in the House. Some very important issues have been raised in the debate and I hope my remarks serve to show that there is cross-party consensus on the need to involve young people in our democracy. I am sure the Front-Bench team are listening very carefully to that.

Andrew Gwynne: I am listening carefully to the hon. Lady and have a large degree of sympathy with her argument. Given how important the EU referendum is—the issue has defined the Conservative party’s political

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agenda for at least the past 15 to 20 years—does she not realise that giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds would allow them to take charge of their own destiny, because the EU treaty rights will be theirs as well as hers?

Chloe Smith: The hon. Gentleman is right that this is an important matter for the Conservative party, and I think that he would be forced to concede that its absence from his party’s agenda has also been a defining matter for it. I repeat that I am delighted that we are in a position to have this historic referendum, which is wanted by many of my constituents and others. Indeed, during the election campaign, I could barely find one constituent who could comprehend the idea of not having the referendum.

Let me go to the heart of the technical point that the Committee is considering. Clause 2(1) gains its legitimacy from the parliamentary franchise. Any change that we might want to make should be made at the source. If the legitimacy of holding a referendum derives from a franchise, we ought to change that franchise if we think that is the right thing to do, rather than do so on an ad hoc basis.

Suella Fernandes: My hon. Friend makes another excellent point. Does she agree that throughout history this House has granted suffrage and extended the franchise after full and robust debate, not in a last-ditch, shoehorn way in Committee?

Chloe Smith: I think that my hon. Friend is with me in my argument. We should do this properly. Some very important issues have been raised, and some extremely important consequential matters, such as the quality of our jury service, should also be dealt with.

Today, I am calling on the Minister to review this issue. I hope that he will be able to take away from today’s debate the nature of the cross-party support for enfranchising young people and empowering them to take their rightful place in our democracy. Taking my cue from my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Suella Fernandes), I note that neither she nor I would have been here under the franchise of previous decades. It is important that we take—dare I say it?—a progressive stance on these matters. It is important that every party in this House considers how it can best encourage young people to take their rightful place in our democracy. We must not do that in a slap-dash way; we must do it in a way that allows every aspect of the age of majority to be properly discussed.

Hannah Bardell (Livingston) (SNP): Does the hon. Lady not agree that to refer to this as ad hoc is really quite disingenuous? In Scotland, we saw a generation of people engaged, and I think that any 16 or 17-year-old watching this debate would hear lots of technical points, but would she not consider it to be a regressive step to have given the young people of Scotland the opportunity to engage in their nation’s future—we on the SNP Benches heard from many young people south of the border who were just as engaged—and then make them feel that they are losing out on a major opportunity?

The Temporary Chair (Mr George Howarth): Order. The conjunction “and” is rather like “secondly” and “thirdly”, and two “ands” is at least one too many.

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Chloe Smith: Thank you for your guidance, Mr Howarth, and thank you for your patience; I am conscious that I have made some lengthy remarks and taken plenty of interventions.

I accept the point made by the hon. Member for Livingston (Hannah Bardell) and share her desire to say to any young person watching today, “We believe in your place in this place. We believe in your place in politics. We believe in your place in changing the world in which you live.” I want to do that in a fundamental and lasting way, rather than a temporary, one-time way, which is inevitable with a referendum. I am pleased to have heard all the arguments built up for a case for change. I am delighted that there have been way markers in building up that case for young people to be properly involved in politics, both community politics and traditional, formal politics.

2.15 pm

Several hon. Members rose

Chloe Smith: I will not take any more interventions, because I want to bring my remarks to a close and allow other Members to contribute fully.

My plea to the Minister is to take these issues away and review them fully. Will he speak to his colleagues, including those in charge of bringing forward the legislation needed to extend the enfranchisement of overseas voters? Perhaps that will provide an opportunity to return to these matters shortly. Let us do this in a way that achieves fundamental, lasting, good-quality change and that can make us all proud to go back to young people in our constituencies and across the country and say, “You have your place in politics.”

Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) (SNP): If we are going to have this referendum, we really should aspire to have the widest possible engagement in it. I rise to support the various amendments that seek to extend the franchise to all people over the age of 16 who are legally resident in this country.

Let me deal first with votes at 16. Growing up is clearly a process; changing from a child to an adult is something that happens over time. However, we must, as a matter of administration, put legal definitions on things. In this country we confer rights and responsibilities on people at different ages as they go through that process: at 16 they have the right to marry and to join the Army; at 17 they can drive a car; and at 18 they can buy a drink in a pub. The question, then, is this: why 16, rather than 17 or 15? To my mind, the answer is that 16 is the age at which we are given a number: our national insurance number. We turn from being simply a member of society to someone who has a liability to contribute to society. We reach the age of economic majority. That is why I believe that 16 should be the age at which people are allowed to vote.

Suella Fernandes: I note the hon. Gentleman’s point, but the argument about consistency just does not stack up, because 16 and 17-year-olds can marry only with the permission of their parents, and they cannot buy cigarettes or alcohol. If he is going down the consistency line, is he advocating extending the age for those activities?

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Tommy Sheppard: I point out to the hon. Lady that 16-year-olds can marry without their parents’ consent in Scotland. I think that trying to draw a comparison to cigarettes and alcohol is mischievous, to be honest. I think that having the right to vote is an awful lot less dangerous than the consumption of cigarettes or alcohol. We should look for the widest possible and most generous interpretation.

We live in a changing world, and I think that this House needs to be aware of the world the way it is. There have been particular changes that relate to this debate over the past decade. There has been an information explosion in this country. People are more connected, aware and engaged than ever. Sixteen-year-olds are far more aware of what is going on in this world and in this country than many of their parents are. To say that they do not have the right to make up their minds on things, frankly, is to treat them with disrespect.

As I said earlier this week, we should be making our policy on the basis of evidence, and we are indeed fortunate in this case, as in some others, to have direct evidence of what happens when we lower the voting age to 16, and this is because of the experience of the Scottish referendum. We saw a remarkable thing. Despite concerns that young people would not be interested in voting, we saw a 97% registration rate among 16 and 17-year-olds and a 75% turnout. The turnout was slightly lower than average, but it was higher than some other age cohorts. That dismisses completely the idea that if they are given the opportunity, young people will not want to get engaged.

Tom Tugendhat: Will the hon. Gentleman elaborate on his economic argument, which I find extremely interesting? If he is saying that as soon as someone is economically viable, they have the right to vote, does he recognise that the duke’s boy who inherits millions of acres of land and starts paying tax at the age of three should be enfranchised, whereas the post office worker’s boy who does not pay tax until he is earning should not have the right to vote until that point?

Tommy Sheppard: I would not enfranchise him, but I would certainly be happy to take the money. I am grateful to the hon. Member for St Albans (Mrs Main) for addressing what I believe to be the elephant in the room. She let the cat out of the bag by expressing her concern about what 16 and 17-year-olds might do if they had the right to vote. I think there are probably too many people in this Chamber whose attitude towards whether to allow young people the right to vote is determined by their perception of how young people might exercise that vote.

Again, I refer to the experience of the Scottish referendum and ask hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber to put caution to one side. Two years out from the Scottish referendum date of 18 September, the attitude profile of 16 and 17-year-olds in Scotland was significantly different from how it ended up on the day of the vote. Quite simply, an awful lot of people changed their minds during the referendum campaign, because they applied their intellect and their thought. They listened to the arguments and made up their minds. To my mind, that vindicates not only the democratic process but the decision to allow young people to have the vote in the first place.

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Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con): On that note, I have a 16-year-old son, and before the general election I discussed with him and his friends whether they should be able to vote in the election. They came to the conclusion that young people of 16 are wont to change their minds very frequently, and that perhaps it was not good to be voting on something so important, and that they would prefer to be more mature. If we are all to live until we are 100, there is no hurry.

The Temporary Chair (Mr George Howarth): Order. The hon. Lady will not go on any further.

Tommy Sheppard: Young people have different opinions about many things, and they will change their minds. I do not think that we can judge whether to accord somebody the right to vote based on their propensity to change their mind. That would be a contradiction of democracy.

The hon. Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) brings me to my next point. The younger someone is when they vote in the referendum, the longer they will have to live with the result. It seems to me iniquitous that we should not allow our younger citizens to participate in a decision over the future of their country, when they will have to put up with the consequences of that decision for the longest.

Angela Crawley (Lanark and Hamilton East) (SNP): Does my hon. Friend accept that we are having this debate because so many people have not been given the right to have their say in the EU debate? Does he accept that in extending the franchise for this election, it is of vital importance that young people have the right to have their say and have their voices heard in such an important debate?

Tommy Sheppard: My hon. Friend echoes the points that I am making. There are many international comparisons in this discussion. Young people—16-year-olds—have the right to vote in Austria, Brazil and many other countries. Nearer to home, they have the right to vote in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. I think we should play catch-up and accord them the right to vote here. This is an idea whose time has come.

Several hon. Members have suggested that they are relaxed about the longer-term principle of lowering the voting age in this country but they feel that we are rushing into it with the referendum, so they object to it today because of their commitment to trying to get the process right. I suggest that they should look at it the other way around. They should treat the referendum as an experiment, a trial and an opportunity to see whether lowering the voting age would work. The results of that experiment could inform our longer-term discussions about the franchise more generally.

Will Quince: Is it appropriate to have experiments with our constitutional matters?

Tommy Sheppard: The hon. Gentleman’s Government have been quite keen to inflict experiments on Scotland. I refer him to the poll tax, if nothing else, which the Government decided to implement first in Scotland on an experimental basis before applying it to the rest of

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the United Kingdom. There is an argument for saying that with constitutional change of such magnitude as changing the voting age, we might want to try it first and see how it works in a referendum, after which we could certainly apply the results to the longer-term franchise.

Dr Philippa Whitford: I want to take up the point that we have heard from Government Members that making the change through this amendment would be inappropriate. I do not understand why we cannot allow young people to vote in this referendum and later go through the issue with a fine-toothed comb before making a permanent change.

Tommy Sheppard: My hon. Friend makes the point well. I commend those on the Government Benches who are curious about and interested in the idea of lowering the voting age to try it and see.

I turn to the question of EU nationals. I have the great fortune to represent a mainly thriving metropolitan area in central Edinburgh full of creative and dynamic people who have moved to the city and made it their home because of its attractions. Several of my constituents have contacted me because they are concerned about the fact that they may not be able to vote in the forthcoming referendum. Dr Carmen Huesa came here 18 years ago from her native Spain and got her PhD at Aberdeen University. Ever since, she has worked as a senior research scientist, and she is currently working on trying to develop a cure for osteoporosis as part of an important research team at the University of the West of Scotland. She has been here for 18 years, and her partner, children and family are here; she has no intention of going anywhere else. Another constituent, Esther Kuck, came here from Germany and settled in the thriving neighbourhood of Portobello. She has contributed to that community by building up her own small business and providing a vital service. She, too, has made her home here, and she has no intention of going anywhere else. Elia Ballesteros has also come from Spain and lives in the city centre. She is a BAFTA award-winning film maker, and a vital member of our creative community in the city of Edinburgh. They all have in common the fact that they are not on a gap year, they are not backpacking through this country and they have not come to visit. They have come to apply their intellect and their industry to make this country better.

Huw Merriman: If those individuals reside and work in the country, they are adding great value, but they are citizens of countries in the EU that govern their membership of the EU. If a vote came up in those countries, they would of course be entitled to vote. Otherwise, they would end up with two votes.

Tommy Sheppard: I will come to that point in a moment. It takes me on to the discussion about why people should be able to vote in the process in the first place. I reflect back a couple of weeks to when I made my maiden speech, and a Conservative Member—I think he was trying to be kind and helpful—said, in an attempt to endear himself to Scottish National party Members, that he had Scottish blood in his veins. I did not get the chance to say so at the time, but although he may well have some Scottish blood in his veins, I have none whatsoever in mine. I am a member of the Scottish

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National Party and I represent my constituents because I have chosen to make my life in Scotland. I am going to die in the city of Edinburgh. It is a fine city, and I would not envisage going anywhere else. It is not a question of identity or genetics; it is a question of residence.

The thing I am most proud of in the Scottish referendum is that that was the principle we applied. We said that if people choose to come and live in this country, make their future here, contribute to the country and be part of it, they have an equal say with anyone else in the future of their country. I find an awkward national identity being proposed, which is not the current franchise for Westminster; amendments are being made to it anyway. Attempts are being made to couch it in these terms: if people have some sort of historical or genealogical connection with the country, they have a right to a say in its future, but if they have worked here for decades, contributed their taxes and raised their families here, they may not. I think that that is iniquitous. It will drive wedges between families and communities, and it will make many of our citizens feel second class. I urge the Committee to try to avoid that situation by supporting amendment 18.

Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab): I will speak in support of Labour amendments 1 and 2 to clause 2 to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum. I will also argue generally in favour of lowering the voting age for all elections everywhere in the UK. I am arguing for 16 and 17-year-olds as young people, not as adults. I consider that all the arguments about this being a way of bringing down the age of adulthood are missing the point.

2.30 pm

The right to vote is enshrined in law in the Representation of the People Act 1983 and article 3 of the European convention on human rights. For a human right such as this to be limited, restrictions should be justifiable and proportionate, and restricting the right to vote in this way is no longer justifiable or proportionate. The evidence says so as well. People have referred to a lack of evidence, but I urge them to read the British Youth Council’s report on the commission on this subject, published in 2014—a comprehensive and useful document, which provides many forms of evidence, as well as consultation.

Others have made the point about representation, but I reiterate my support for it. Taxation without representation is not democratic. Young people of 16 and 17 may be taxed in certain circumstances, and they should be allowed to be properly represented.

The arguments about the sale of cigarettes and alcohol and serving in the armed forces are not watertight. Because the United Kingdom is a signatory to the UN convention on the rights of the child, those who join the armed forces at 16 cannot see active service until they are 18. To marry, to work and to do various other things, 16-year-olds need parental consent. For those who do not have parental support or care, the state has duties of care up until 18. An argument for lowering the voting age is not an argument for lowering the age limits for all those other various forms of protection. They are different situations, and all present potential risks. As far as I am aware, walking into a polling booth does not, in and of itself, present a risk of harm to a young person, so that argument simply does not hold.

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My experience of politically engaged young people is that they are as motivated and well informed as their adult contemporaries, if not more so. In fact, young Labour activists in the recent general election, particularly those from my local secondary schools of Cotham and St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol West, were among the most organised, passionate, articulate and determined campaigners I have ever had the pleasure of working with. They wanted to vote, and I believe they have earned the right to vote.

What of their contemporaries who are perhaps not so well informed? Many have said that because they are not well informed enough, they are not mature enough, and that because they do not know enough about politics, party politics, democracy, or the ways of this House or the other, they are not to be trusted. However, I am yet to become aware of any plan to restrict the franchise for adults to those who are fully tested before they enter the polling booth. Is there such a plan? I hope to be convinced that there is not. Why, therefore, should this argument be posed in relation to 16 and 17-year-olds?

My experience of hustings at the recent general election is that not only politically engaged young people are capable of participating fully in political debate. The hustings held at my local secondary schools of Cotham and St Mary Redcliffe were among the most well-informed and courteous, and the participants the most interested and interesting. The young people at both events included many who were not in any way involved in party politics but were interested in their world and their future. They were also knowledgeable. Because they were immersed in education, they were, in many ways, better informed than many adult voters. They had thoughtful insights, they wanted to know what was going on, and they wanted to participate. I agree with the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), who is no longer in her place, who said that she had consulted young people and they did want to vote. I would say that the young people in Bristol West have made their case very clearly to me.

Young people need protection from harm, and rights to that protection should be tapered as they gain maturity. Yet abilities to work, vote and make decisions about education and joining the Army are not all of the same quality. I have great respect for those, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman), who argue that we need to protect young people from harm, but voting is not, in and of itself, harmful to the voter. I am not against certain forms of protection. I am certainly not arguing for lowering the age limits for drinking or for smoking—I would not ask for those to be tampered with in any way.

I am also not arguing for 16 or 17-year-olds to be termed “adults”. I have referred to them as young people, and I believe they are young people.

Tom Tugendhat: Does the hon. Lady accept that the hazards of drinking and smoking are to do with the ability to foresee the consequences, whether it be tomorrow’s hangover or next year’s lung cancer? Does she agree that some elections—indeed, some rather well-reported elections—can also bring hangovers?

Thangam Debbonaire: The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point, and I thank him for my first experience of an intervention. Yes, of course, those are potential

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forms of harm where young people may not be able to see the consequences of their actions. However, as I have said, going into a polling booth, in and of itself, does not present any harm, whereas smoking immediately presents harm to a young person.

Peter Grant: Is the hon. Lady aware that the argument against allowing younger people to drink alcohol is not merely social or one of predicting consequences? There is significant medical evidence that the human liver takes longer to develop than once thought, and allowing and encouraging young people to drink alcohol—some would even say up to 21—can have medical effects that are much more severe than they would be for drinking the same amount of alcohol at an older age.

Thangam Debbonaire: The hon. Gentleman makes an excellent point, and of course I agree. Again, I draw a contrast between the risks of harm from certain behaviours and the lack of risk of harm from going into a polling booth. The risks of harm from drinking early are well known and well presented. There is a large amount of evidence, as there is on smoking.

The Electoral Reform Society wrote:

“If we get more young people registered early and into the habit of voting, we will not only see lasting improvements in turnout but a lasting improvement in our democracy.”

I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House would like to see those consequences, for young people and for ourselves. I am not arguing that 16 and 17-year-old young people be termed “adults”. I am simply arguing that they are capable of voting and interested in voting, and the evidence suggests that it would be a good thing generally for democracy that they be allowed to vote. That does not make them adults; they should simply be given the right to vote.

Tom Tugendhat: Thank you, Sir Roger, for calling me to speak in this important debate. I have to declare an interest because—[Hon. Members: “You’re 16.”] It is a somewhat different interest to the one that hon. Members are suggesting. My wife is not 16, or 17, but she is French. The hon. Member for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard) talked about divided households. I can say that none is as united as mine on this issue. My wife has identified what hon. Members would be well advised to note. As a constitutional expert in French law, she realises that what we are talking about is not a tactical political change, but a major constitutional change to the state of the United Kingdom.

I understand that nations within our great kingdom have taken different decisions, and I recognise and respect the right of those decisions to affect the laws and conduct—

Alberto Costa (South Leicestershire) (Con): The laws of Scotland, as well as the laws of England, recognise that majority is not attained until someone passes a certain age. In England that age is 18, but in Scotland it is 21. Legal rights are given to 16 to 18-year-olds in Scotland in relation to the economic activity that we have heard about.

Tom Tugendhat: I bow to my hon. Friend’s superior knowledge of Scottish law.

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My point is not about 16 and 17-year-olds because my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith) covered that so completely and so ably.

Joanna Cherry: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Tom Tugendhat: May I make a little progress, please?

I will instead make a few comments about citizenship, because that is what we are really talking about. This is a constitutional vote. It is not a tactical vote or a minor amendment; it is about the constitution and governance of our country. When someone chooses to be a member of our society and a participant in it, there are various things they can choose to do. They can choose to reside here for educational purposes and stay for year or two, or perhaps do a PhD and stay for longer. They can also choose to reside here for an occupation and stay for a few months or a few years; or they can choose—as I am extremely glad my wife has done—to reside here for significantly longer to raise a family, marry and settle. If they do so, they are choosing a specific state of existence in our nation. What they are not choosing is full citizenship, because that is governed by other laws.

Joanna Cherry: Following on from what the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa) said in his intervention, the age of legal capacity in Scotland is 16.

Tom Tugendhat: The hon. and learned Lady has greater knowledge of that subject than I do, but I do not know whether her knowledge is greater or less than that of my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire. I will leave it to them to debate that.

Peter Grant: The hon. Gentleman has listed a lot of things that we can choose to do to set our position in society. Does he agree that a significant number of people—citizens of these nations—have chosen to surrender the right to vote in order to take a seat, often at the request of Her Majesty’s Government, in the other place? How can he justify giving them the chance to undo what should have been a permanent decision by giving them the right to vote, but not giving the right to vote to people who have lived here for 25 or 30 years?

Tom Tugendhat: The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. I will leave it to greater minds than mine to decide whether noble Lords have made such a decision or whether they have simply chosen to access a different seat and therefore surrendered on one, but not every, electoral term. They do not rescind their right to vote universally; they merely rescind their right to vote in general elections, because they already hold a seat in Parliament.

Citizenship is not something to be added or taken away arbitrarily, and that is what we are talking about when it comes to the enfranchisement for the referendum. It is not simply a tactical choice; it is the act of citizenship. In constituency cases, I have been sad to hear time and again people think that they have rights that they do not. Concepts of “common law this” or “common law that” do not exist, and in this case there is no such thing as common law citizenship. If people wish to have citizenship, the laws of citizenship, immigration and naturalisation cover it. If people wish to have citizenship

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in Her Majesty’s great United Kingdom, they have a choice to ask for it. There are laws that allow them to do so and rules that set out at what stage they can or cannot apply.

As people move through the process of residency in our great kingdom, there are various moments at which they may or may not choose to take that citizenship, and there are consequences that go with that.

Ms Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (Ochil and South Perthshire) (SNP): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that a cost of £1,005 to seek naturalisation in this country deters many people who cannot afford it from claiming citizenship, and that they should be allowed to vote in the referendum by virtue of residency? There should be no price on democracy.

Tom Tugendhat: The hon. Lady makes an interesting point, but I would argue to the contrary: the right of citizenship in this kingdom is so great that the price of £1,005 is but a small price to pay for the benefit of being British.

Citizenship is not a common law right: there is no common law marriage, common law contract or common law citizenship. It is, therefore, no more the right of this House to bounce people into citizenship than to bounce them into any other form of contract. The proposal seeks to push people into a deal that would change their relationship to this country without their having chosen to do so.

I know that for a fact, because my wife, who could, should she wish, begin the process of citizenship, chooses not to do so. She is—and there is some debate about this—proud to be French. She is—again, there is some debate about this—unwilling to become British. My argument is that becoming British is such a great honour that, even as a French woman, she should appreciate the joys it offers.

Alex Salmond (Gordon) (SNP): Most of the English aristocracy were French at one time in history. The hon. Gentleman’s wife is not going to be bounced into anything. If European nationals get the right to vote because of residency, there is no compulsion on his wife voting.

Tom Tugendhat: The right hon. Gentleman may say that he is not bouncing anyone into anything, but he is seeking to change the social contract between citizens who have specifically not chosen to be British and citizens who are British. In changing that contract, he would bounce people who have not made that choice into a relationship with the state that they do not wish to have. If he wishes to do so at a regional level—

Alex Salmond: Great nations!

Tom Tugendhat: I accept the correction and I apologise.

2.45 pm

If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to make that change at a national level, I accept that, but the United Kingdom is a different state. It is a sovereign state that exercises rights on a different basis from the nations of England, Scotland or, indeed, Ireland. Those who have come from across the European continent—my grandfather came from Austria almost 100 years ago—understand

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that choosing British nationality is just that: it is an active choice and one of which we should be duly proud. It is not something that we should find ourselves with by accident of residency.

Peter Grant: Does that mean that those of us on the SNP Benches who never have and never will choose to be British will not be allowed to vote in the referendum?

Tom Tugendhat: The hon. Gentleman makes an entertaining point. The fact hat he was born here and has residency here is what gives him citizenship.

As well as the question of citizenship in the constitutional sense, there is also the issue of the referendum’s legitimacy. It would be wrong if we were suddenly to change the deal to benefit those who have a specific interest in doing so. I refer specifically to the hundreds and thousands of migrant workers who affect various states of the debate. We all know that there were some people who tried to get into this House whose principal argument was based on immigration. If we force ourselves to enfranchise those whom many people would not regard as British, the terms of the debate would be changed halfway through. I argue very strongly that that would be unwise and that it would call into question the legitimacy of the referendum itself. We could find ourselves with hundreds of thousands of European Union citizens who have not made the choice to become British citizens.

Mike Gapes: Is there not a danger that the argument being developed by the hon. Gentleman could also be used to argue against Commonwealth or Republic of Ireland citizens who are resident in this country having a vote?

Tom Tugendhat: The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point, but we are not making the argument on that basis; we are making it on the basis of the difference between what is normal in a national election and what is normal in a local or regional election. In doing so, we are sticking to the existing rules. In sticking to the existing franchise, we are allowing those who are normally entitled to vote in national elections in our kingdom to exercise that right. It is essential that we maintain that continuity, because if we do not, we leave the door open.

Dr Philippa Whitford: I, too, declare an interest, in that my husband is German. He has been here for 29 years, working as a general practitioner and paying tax, but he does not get to vote in elections to this House, which sets his rate of taxation, and he certainly did not get to vote for me.

Given the argument that the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat) is making, is there not a danger that this will become a very nationalistic debate? That accusation was thrown at the SNP when our nationalism was completely civic and open to everyone. Pursuing a genetic-source, where-were-you-born franchise is a dangerous argument to follow.

The Temporary Chair (Sir Roger Gale): I remind the Committee that interventions are intended to be brief. [Interruption.] He’s finished? I’m terribly sorry; I thought that the hon. Lady was intervening.

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Dr Whitford: I was trying to intervene.

The Temporary Chair: Mr Tugendhat has the Floor.

Tom Tugendhat: I did not give way; I sat down.

The Temporary Chair: I call Hywel Williams.

Hywel Williams: I am glad to speak in support of amendments 18 and 19 and new clause 2, which stand in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond), other SNP Members, Members from Plaid Cymru and the Green Member.

Usually I do not quote individual cases because there are many dangers in speaking about the individual circumstances of constituents, but in speaking about this matter I will describe briefly two cases that prove the rule, in the proper sense of the phrase. I am aware that hard cases make bad law, but we are talking about 2.3 million cases in total. These are just the cases of a couple of friends of mine.

The first is Swedish and has been resident here for more than 20 years. She is an NHS worker in the tough field of mental health and she pays her taxes. She is Welsh-speaking, English-speaking and Swedish-speaking, and she has two children and a husband who also speak Welsh, English and a bit of Swedish. In my book, she is a Welsh citizen—there is no doubt about that—but if she tried to vote in the referendum, she would be turned away.

The second is a Danish friend who has been resident here for 35 years. She is a university worker who pays her taxes. She is Welsh-speaking, Danish-speaking and English-speaking. She has two children and a husband. Again, in my book, she is a Welsh citizen, but should she try to vote, she would be turned away. That is plainly outrageous.

Those people are not public figures, they are not famous, but they are hard-working members of their communities. They have an equal stake in the collective future of those communities and, in my book, they have an equal right to have their voices heard. In that sense, I fully support the amendment. It would be outrageous if those people were denied the right to vote on a matter of such importance.

Briefly, I will turn to votes at 16. Right hon. and hon. Members will know that the Government’s St David’s day Command Paper on the future of devolution in Wales proposed that the Assembly should decide on the issue of votes for 16 and 17-year-olds. There is strong opinion in favour of that move in Wales. In 2008, the Welsh Assembly collectively decided that it was in favour of it. Interestingly, in 2014, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales said that more work had to be done on the issue. He was pressing for the franchise to be extended before the 2015 election, but that did not happen. Opinion in Wales is strongly in favour of votes at 16.

There have been early-day motions and private Members’ Bills in this place on extending the franchise. One of those was introduced by a Welsh Member, others were introduced by Liberal Democrat Members and one was introduced by the hon. Member for North East Derbyshire (Natascha Engel), although, given her current status,

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I do not want to suggest that she is in any way biased on this issue now. There is, however, a great deal of support for votes at 16.

As I said earlier, any speculations that we make about the effect of introducing votes at 16 are trumped by the experience in Scotland. That experience trumps all the counter-arguments. We do not need any fanciful musing from Government Members, because we have the proof in respect of engagement in the debate and in respect of turnout. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon said on Second Reading, one reason why there was engagement in the referendum is that people were talking about a real question, whereas there are doubts about whether the referendum provided for in the Bill will be on a real question. Perhaps that might be explored later.

As I said earlier, if people doubt the value of 16 and 17-year-olds having a vote on this crucial question, that might be thought to throw some doubt on the value of the results of a referendum decided partly by the votes of those aged 16 and 17. I am sure that the opponents of the amendments today are not saying that, but one should make that point.

Ben Howlett (Bath) (Con): Given what the hon. Gentleman has just said and the time it has taken the Welsh Assembly to provide an argument in favour of votes at 16, surely he should oppose the amendments to provide more time for a coherent review of the matter.

Hywel Williams: The hon. Gentleman’s argument, which was also made by the hon. Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith), who is no longer in her place, reminds me of the ancient joke, “Make me holy, but not just yet”. I believe that we need to move quickly on the matter.

Over the years, from my experience in my constituency of visiting sixth-formers during what I suppose we would call civics lessons to talk about my work, they are hugely interested in and committed to voting as soon as possible. They want to know what we do here, and they want to get involved. I have often felt humbled by the sincerity of the opinions that they hold, which can sometimes be compared with the insincerity of some of the opinions that their older peers have.

I also draw the Committee’s attention to my experience during the election campaign, when hustings were held at my local secondary schools. It was a tough experience, and we were questioned hard by young people who were totally engaged in the campaign, some of whom were able to vote. Another experience that humbled me was seeing a large group of young people coming down from school to the polling booth at lunchtime to vote together. They were proud to do so, and I was even more proud to see that they were all voting for me. I cannot say how young people would vote in an EU referendum—I suspect I know, but I cannot guarantee it. However, I trust them, and I believe they have a right to be heard.

James Cartlidge: I want to make two key points about the amendments on voting age, which are what most Members have been talking about. I agree in principle with reducing the voting age to 16 in general elections, but I do not think that that should happen in the referendum. The most important point for me—there is no nice way of saying this—is that the electorate in

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the UK are top-heavy. In the election campaign, it was striking how issues affecting older voters had greater resonance simply because of the power of older voters. I have tried to put that as apolitically as possible, even though there are obviously political implications to voters’ ages.

I am trying to be as objective as possible in saying that it is in the interests of public policy to extend the vote to 16-year-olds. We would make better policy as a country, because, as my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith) said in her fantastic speech, there is a growing intergenerational divide. She talked about the one nation idea, and I worry about the situation. We can look at how difficult it is for us to address older people’s benefits—that is a psephological fact. Once those benefits have been handed out, they are hard to claw back, because people will vote accordingly. It might be easier to do something about benefits, public spending and so on for young people, because they do not have a say to the same degree. That is not a cynical point, just an observation on the polity as it is today, and it is my key reason for wishing to lower the voting age to 16.

I know that points are made about bringing adulthood to a younger age, as was mentioned earlier, and I do worry about that. I have four children—my eldest is eight—and I would worry about anything that made young people less innocent, but I do not think that comes into effect when we are talking about public policy.

Karin Smyth (Bristol South) (Lab): I am interested in the hon. Gentleman’s arguments. For me, 16 and 17-year-olds have a stronger right to vote in the referendum, because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Notwithstanding the fact that people sometimes do not like the results of referendums, there might not be another one for 40 years, given that the last one was 40 years ago, whereas a general election is every five years.

3 pm

James Cartlidge: I will come shortly to my reasoning for not extending the franchise for the referendum, but I want to share one particular experience related to the speech by the hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire), who is no longer in her place. She talked of her experience on the campaign trail. In my constituency we had a unique interaction with young people. We had a mock election at the biggest secondary school, Thomas Gainsborough school in Great Cornard, including a question time at lunch time that the whole school attended. It was filmed by ITV Anglia, with the result announced live on the 6.30 regional news, giving it extra credence. Interestingly, UKIP won—

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): Was the SNP represented?

James Cartlidge: No, but nationalism was represented and was victorious on the day. The 16 and 17-year-olds took it incredibly seriously. They did not make fluffy, young person’s points: they talked about Europe, the nuclear deterrent and so on, just like anyone else would. We are in danger of being patronising by saying to young people, “You couldn’t possibly understand these big issues.” They want to talk about the big issues and they are especially interested in the issue of Europe.

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I would not lower the age limit at this time because there is no mandate for it, and that is an important point. We have just had a general election, in which the Conservative manifesto won the day.

Stephen Gethins: In Scotland, where we were of course in favour of votes at 16, the SNP won an overwhelming mandate, as a look at the Benches behind me will confirm. In the UK as a whole, the Tories got the support of about one in four voters—hardly an overwhelming mandate. Is not this a great opportunity to reach out to the whole of the UK for the benefit of democracy?

James Cartlidge: The mandate is based on the manifesto of the governing party. We are not in coalition, so it does not have to be watered down. Our position was that we would hold an in/out referendum on membership of the EU before the end of 2017. The manifesto did not say that the voting age would be lowered, so the clear tacit understanding is that the referendum will be held on the current franchise. More importantly, the general election was held on that franchise—

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh: But does the hon. Gentleman agree that the franchise will be changed for the referendum, because the Government are seeking to allow unelected Members of the Lords to participate?

James Cartlidge: I am always vulnerable to peer pressure and I must admit that I look forward to the answers from the Minister on the point about extending the franchise to Members of the Lords, but—bar a very small number—the franchise will be the same as in the general election.

Mike Wood: Does my hon. Friend agree that the strong constitutional reason for excluding serving peers from parliamentary elections is that they serve in the other House? That is not the case for the referendum, so the normal basis for their disqualification should not apply.

James Cartlidge: I am indebted to my hon. Friend for answering the question superbly.

I made a point earlier about European citizens, and I tried to do so as objectively as possible, but the reason Europe is so high on the political agenda is because of immigration. There is no doubt about that. People across the country are concerned, rightly or wrongly, about the sheer number of people coming into the UK. On the campaign trail, I always made the point that this country is dependent on large numbers of foreign workers—

Mark Durkan: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

James Cartlidge: I am not going to give way again, as other very fine hon. Members wish to speak.

We have to recognise that many people in Britain are concerned about the sheer number of people coming into this country. If we extended the franchise to people from the rest of the European Union and if their vote were decisive in keeping us in, that would be inflammatory for those who want to leave because they want to control their borders and would leave a lasting feeling of injustice.

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To conclude, I believe in votes at 16, but we should refrain from having that now. We should have a full consultation and, if we decide we want to do it, it should be in our manifesto, so that we can achieve a mandate from the British people to have votes at 16 in elections and referendums thereafter.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh: I rise to support the amendments 18 and 19 and new clause 2, which are in my name and those of my colleagues on the SNP Benches. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) and commend his excellent opening speech on 16 and 17-year-olds, who demonstrated a supreme ability to participate in the independence referendum.

The hon. Member for Norwich North (Chloe Smith), who is no longer in her place, made some excellent points about why young people should participate in the EU referendum, but went on to say, “Yes, but not now.” What I would say to her is, “But if not now, when?” The hon. Member for St Albans (Mrs Main) made the point that Scotland had “made a lot of comments in this debate”. I would like to remind the Committee that we are elected Members of this Parliament, and the House will be hearing a lot from us in this Parliament in the days and weeks to come, because that is why we have been elected. It is also worth reminding the Committee that Scotland did not vote Conservative in the last general election.

Politicians should not pick and choose their electorate. I do not believe that that should happen in the EU referendum either, and the franchise should absolutely be fair. The issues at stake in the referendum are serious and fundamental to the future of the UK and its constituent parts, so it is essential that all those living in the UK who will be affected by these decisions are given an opportunity to vote. With that in mind, we tabled amendment 18, under which EU nationals who live in the UK would be included in this franchise. Foreign nationals from Commonwealth countries who live in the UK will be able to vote, so why not EU nationals?

We have heard that there is already division, unsurprisingly, on the Tory and Labour Benches on this vote. Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland, is in favour of votes for 16 and 17-year-olds, and a Labour leadership candidate, Kezia Dugdale, is in favour of EU nationals having a vote. I am pleased to see that there has been a slight increase in the number of Labour Members participating in this debate. They were rather thin on the ground—much like the Labour party membership in Scotland, but that is perhaps a debate for another day.

Over and above that, the Bill proposes to extend the franchise to Commonwealth citizens who would be entitled to vote in European elections in Gibraltar. I do not oppose that measure by any means, but surely if the Government agree with the principle of widening the Westminster franchise for the referendum, they should consider including this additional group—EU nationals—who make such an important contribution to our society and economy. By excluding them from the vote, we would be excluding constituents of mine in Ochil and South Perthshire, such as my friend Mireille Pouget, who lives in the village of Glendevon. In a message to me this week, Mireille said:

“I have lived, worked and paid taxes here for nearly 40 years. Staying in the EU is important to me as an EU and French citizen. I should have a voice in this referendum. It’s outrageous that EU citizens cannot vote.”

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Hear, hear to that.

It is equally wrong that the Government propose to extend the right to vote to Members of the House of Lords—a place not known for its democratic foundations —without taking measures to ensure that all Members of the Scottish Parliament have the same right. Mention has been made by a number of hon. Members of my colleague Christian Allard, who came to Scotland to open an office in Glasgow for a European seafood logistic group in the 1980s. He subsequently met his wife and moved from Glasgow to the north-east of Scotland, to Aberdeenshire, with his three young daughters 20 years ago. Mr Allard has been chosen—elected—by the people of North East Scotland to represent them in the Scottish Parliament. He has undoubtedly made an enormous contribution to our country and the community that he and his family live in. I believe that he has earned the right to vote in this referendum.

In the Scottish independence referendum last year, the UK Government agreed in principle with the Scottish Government that the franchise for the vote should be as wide as possible. It is clear from the turnout and scale of political engagement across Scotland last year that seeking a wide inclusive franchise was one factor in encouraging a vibrant debate on Scotland’s future. By accepting our amendments, the Government have an opportunity—one that Government Members should not pass up—to use this new referendum to ensure that this wide-ranging inclusive debate is open to all people. It is so important for the UK’s future in Europe.

It would indeed be unfortunate if this Government sought to pick and choose the franchise for this vote, whether for 16 and 17-year-olds or EU nationals, in a way that could be considered as excluding a significant proportion of those who live and work here on the basis of how the Government think they will vote, rather than of taking measures to add depth to the national debate as a whole. I urge the Committee to accept the amendments and to be progressive, if that is what they plan to be.

Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. It is interesting to follow some of the speeches of hon. Members, and I will start by dealing with why the parliamentary franchise is as it is. Let us be clear. When we first joined in 1972, we did so on the basis of the parliamentary franchise and this House’s sovereignty. We then continued, and only a few weeks back, some were arguing that our membership should continue on the basis of the policies agreed in Parliament, based on those who voted in favour then. It is therefore interesting to see how those who were arguing a few weeks back that the referendum would be disaster or a “reckless gamble”, as one hon. Member said last week, now seem so enthusiastic for everyone to have a go with it.

Put simply, we cannot have a pick and mix on the franchise. The reason for peers having it is that it is decided en masse by Parliament that Members either have a vote in the other place or elect a representative from this House to exercise it on their behalf. That is why it makes sense to allow those who would not be able to exercise their vote in the other place on this decision to vote in the referendum. It also makes sense to extend the franchise to Gibraltar, which is a member

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of the European Union via the UK’s membership of it, so its citizens should have the ability to vote as if they were resident in the UK itself.

Today’s debates have flagged up a whole range of issues about the franchise, but we do not need to have these debates on individual elections. Given that Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands are so dependent on decisions taken in this Parliament, it is right to reflect on how they can have a voice in future. Again, however, that is not a debate for today. Given that our membership is based on the UK state being part of the European Union, which is not a sovereign state in its own right, it is right to grant the vote to UK citizens on the basis of the parliamentary franchise, plus those who have benefited historically from the extension of the parliamentary franchise in the Commonwealth and the Republic of Ireland.

On the issue of 16 and 17-year-olds, I am a supporter of votes at 16. Experience where it has happened, as in the Scottish referendum, has been positive. It is not very helpful, however, to bandy around the different ages at which people can do various things. I am not sure how many hon. Members have read the pages on the Government website about learning to drive a tractor. It lists all the different ages that people need to be to drive different things. Anyone wanting to drive a road roller can do so at the ages of 17 to 20, unless it is a steam-powered road roller, for which one needs to be 21, while a mowing machine can be driven at 16. There are all sorts of anomalies in our law, so citing individual ages does not necessarily justify what the franchise should be. I support providing 16-year-olds with the opportunity to vote, but it needs to be done through a substantive debate on the franchise as a whole, not as an amendment tacked on to a Bill.

Mark Durkan: We have heard several Conservative Members argue that they are in favour of votes at 16, but that allowing it in this referendum would somehow be a form of premature emancipation against which they would have to vote. That is not a very convincing argument.

Kevin Foster: It is all about inconsistency. Another referendum is being considered in my constituency about the future of the elected mayoralty of Torbay Council. It would be somewhat bizarre, assuming these amendments are passed, if a 17-year-old could decide on the future of Britain in Europe, but could not decide who is going to run the local council because the franchise remains at 18. That is why I do not support a pick and mix.

Mark Durkan: The Prime Minister has said that he will not opt for a third term. If he resigns before the end of the current term, the Conservative party will, in effect, choose the Prime Minister. What is the age of eligibility for members of the Conservative party to choose the Prime Minister? It is certainly below 18, and it is not confined to United Kingdom nationals either.

3.15 pm

Kevin Foster: The hon. Gentleman has been here long enough to know that it is not any particular party that chooses the Prime Minister. It is a question whether the Prime Minister enjoys the confidence of the House of Commons. That is the constitutional position.

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I think that we should stick to the present age limit because we should not set a precedent that might be abused by future Governments. We do not want a pick-and-mix franchise. When referendums are held on issues that would normally be decided by Parliament, it makes sense for us to use the parliamentary franchise rules, while also including Members of the other place who currently cannot vote directly because they have the opportunity to elect a representative here. I shall therefore vote against the amendment, although I have some sympathy for—indeed, I strongly support—the idea of 16-year-olds being able to vote. [Interruption.] The heckling from those who want to deny everyone a vote on this matter is laughable. Last week, they walked through the Lobby to vote against the Bill, apart from one Member who seemed to get a bit lost. This week, they are demanding a vote for everyone who could possibly live here.

We keep hearing about residency. What about citizens of the United States of America, one of our oldest allies, who are resident in this country? We know the answer: the system is based on citizenship and on the parliamentary franchise, and it is right for it to continue on that basis. I shall vote against the amendment, but I hope that Front Benchers have been listening to the debate, because the amendment has raised a legitimate point. In the not too distant future, we should have a proper debate about our franchise, so that we can deal with some of the numerous anomalies that we have discussed today. We could then set a franchise for the 21st century, and give Members who are in favour of reducing the age to 16 the chance to vote for such a move.

Mims Davies: It is a pleasure to take part in the debate, and to hear so many points made so well by Members in all parts of the House. We have a Bill before us, but I have not heard much about it today. The issue is whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union. Efforts by other parties to pile other issues on to the referendum will only make the question and therefore the result less clear. I believe that we owe the British public something better.

On the doorsteps in my constituency, people were crying out for a say on Europe. It has been too long since we last consulted the people on the very sovereignty of their own Parliament. I am proud that the Government have introduced the Bill and are answering the call from our nation. I do not support votes for under-18s, or, indeed, electronic voting. This referendum is simply too important for that. The question must stand alone, and I reject any attempts to hijack it. Young people should be encouraged to take an interest in politics from an early age, but let us have that debate on another occasion. It should be separate from the huge constitutional question that is before us.

I was very disappointed that the single one of my hustings that was cancelled was the one in which 16 and 17-year-olds were to have taken part. Perhaps they were too busy voting for candidates in “The X Factor” or “The Voice”. However, we already have a youth parliament and mock elections, and they can become involved in those.

Peter Kyle (Hove) (Lab): The hon. Lady has made an interesting point about her experience in her constituency. In my constituency, I had completely the opposite

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experience. At Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College—known as BHASVIC—people aged 16 and 17 experienced a whole week of democracy. They recalled me there seven times. There were multiple hustings with different Members of Parliament and their candidates. The passion and erudition with which they spoke was inspiring: indeed, it was one of the most inspiring aspects of the general election campaign. Why does the hon. Lady think that Hove is so different from her constituency in that respect?

Mims Davies: I thank the hon. Gentleman for making that point. I know that college, being from Sussex.

I had visitors from my constituency recently, and we were in Westminster Hall. They were 15, and I asked them, “How does it feel to be here? Do you want to be involved in voting?” Lots of people’s eyes glazed over; they were not ready. So let us get people involved in youth parliaments and let us look at the issue more broadly.

I am delighted that Commonwealth citizens will be able to vote in the referendum. The Government are right to use those electoral qualifications. I, as someone with a critical eye towards the EU, am delighted to see the symbolic recognition and involvement of this other greater community of nations—the Commonwealth—but I recognise and respect what happened in the Scottish referendum. We did not agree to or accept the decisions that were made, but they were devolved powers.

On the referendum date and flexibility, the Government’s amendment, whereby the Secretary of State looked at May 5 and ruled it out, showed the care that they are taking over the matter.

I refer to my previous point and the question whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union. That is what we are going to let the people decide, and we need to let the Prime Minister get on with negotiating a better deal for the UK. This is the Prime Minister who delivered a reduction in the EU budget, so I absolutely believe we have the right person to do it.

Ms Ahmed-Sheikh: On the hon. Lady’s points about 16 and 17-year-olds, if young people in this country are not interested in what is happening in politics, that is a failing not of them, but of everyone else who is involved in politics in this country. It is also rather disingenuous to suggest that they might be watching television programmes, when there are probably more people much older than them doing so. We should give the young people of this country the respect that they deserve—and we can expect them to return that respect to us when they vote positively in this referendum.

Mims Davies: The hon. Lady makes an excellent point—those programmes are wide ranging and many people vote in them—but I return to my earlier point that we should look at the issue in the round. Members will see that we on the Government Benches are happy to consider the matter, but it dilutes the question before us. Ultimately, it is about the sovereignty of this Parliament and about the people being able to decide for themselves about the future of Europe. I believe that 18 is right at

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the moment, but I am happy to look at the issue more roundly in a separate arena. I believe also that Ministers are listening to us on that.

Celebrating our magnificent Magna Carta highlights just how much our democracy has done for our islands and our nation. By giving the people—all the people—the chance to have their say on their own future and our constitution, we are delivering on our promises and paying tribute to this country’s long record of democracy. I believe that we in this House will go further and look at all the arguments in the round, but I do not believe that diluting this question and franchise—picking and choosing—is the right way to do so.

Huw Merriman: I am very grateful to you, Sir Roger, for squeezing me in towards the end, my having sat here for the past few hours listening to this excellent debate. I am open minded, which is why I have been so delighted to hear the excellent arguments from Members in all parts of the House. I am open minded about the voting age, and I seek to be persuaded by the arguments, but I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster) that listing ages as hooks to hang voting on does not work, because there are so many different ages when one might be seen to be turning into an adult.

I do, however, find myself influenced by international comparisons. The voting age for national elections in EU countries is 18, except for in Austria, where it was reduced to 16 in 2007. Internationally, there are only seven countries where 16 and 17-years-olds are able to vote, and there are considerably more where voting starts later than 18. We should take international comparisons into account—and it is to “international” that I make that reference.

Peter Grant: Will the hon. Gentleman confirm whether his figures are completely up to date? Does he appreciate that as of midnight tonight another nation will be added to the list of proud nations that allow 16-year-olds to vote?

Huw Merriman: My information has come from the House of Commons Library, so I am sure it is up to date—it goes up to 2013. It does not make reference to Scotland, but it does say that it is international.

I will not rehearse the arguments—

Several hon. Members rose

Huw Merriman: If I may, I will make a little more progress. Recent laws have moved more towards having 18 as the start point; I refer not only to smoking, but to the requirement to be in further education. I wish to pick up on the point about the University of Edinburgh study on the participation in the Scottish referendum of 16 and 17-year-olds. That study is persuasive in a way, but it also makes me concerned. If the voting proportions were high for 16 and 17-year-olds and for those above 24, there are younger voters in between who have not been engaged. I am concerned that 16 and 17-year-olds may have been more persuaded by their parents to vote.

I do not say that in a patronising manner, because I could use myself as an example. At 16, coming from a family of trade unionists and socialists, I dare say I would have been following their lead and voting in that

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way. Thankfully by 18 I had seen the error of my ways, and I now find myself on the Conservative Benches. That point should be considered, because at 16 people are persuaded by family pressure. It is important that when people vote they do so on the basis of their own views and conscience, which they have developed over the years as they mature.

Ben Howlett: I must declare that I am an advocate of 16-year-olds having the vote. I am slightly surprised that Opposition Members have not decided to use the example of Austria, in that it spent a long time going through a proper process and having a proper debate to decide whether votes at 16 or 17 should be considered. I wish they would look at that example and take it on board before coming before this Committee with more amendments.

Huw Merriman: I take that point, which was very well made. I keep my mind open, but I tend towards using 18—

Mark Durkan rose

Huw Merriman: If I may, I will make progress because I am conscious of the time.

I tend certainly towards using 18 for the EU referendum, because there is a danger that if we start to change the rules for it, there will be a feeling in this country that there is a taint, with people trying to get a certain outcome. I am so pleased that there is an EU referendum because we can at last lance the boil that is Europe and bring this matter to an end. If we start to change the rules beforehand, certain parties who feel sore from the result will try to make out it has been fixed in a certain way. That is why the status quo should remain.

Let me briefly deal with the matter of voter citizenship, which has somewhat been lost in the debate, albeit it is part of the amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins). On that matter, I am not open minded at all: I support the decision to use the general election register as the referendum basis. I recognise that the Scottish referendum was based on a different arrangement, but it was for the Scottish Parliament to form those rules and it did so. This is a matter for this Parliament to form the rules, and I believe the rules set are the right ones. I also take the point about many residents who work and study in this country and contribute greatly, but they are citizens of another country in Europe and their country governs their relationship with Europe.

Stephen Gethins rose

Huw Merriman: I will not give way because I believe I must end my speech. Changing the rules on which citizens can vote in the referendum would lead certain electors to accuse the House of taint and of trying to fix the outcome one way or the other. The way to get a successful referendum is to leave it as uncontroversial and to leave the rules on voting in place.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (John Penrose): I thank all Members for yet another constructive, interesting and well-informed debate. Members from all parts of the House have spoken in some depth about the important matter of who can take part in this referendum.

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Before I discuss the amendments, let me say a few words about why the general principle, which underpins the Bill, sets out the entitlement to vote. I will try to be brisk, because I want to leave a few moments for the SNP Front-Bench team to have a few words at the end.

3.30 pm

As a vote of national importance, the Bill starts with the parliamentary franchise. It extends it to Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar—I will say a bit more on that in the next group of amendments—and to Members of the House of Lords, who do not vote in general elections. There have been suggestions that one franchise or another would favour one result or another. Even though the Whip in me finds that strangely appealing, it would be neither principled nor right to change the franchise to try to get a certain result. Instead, we should follow the precedent set in 1975 and again in 2011 when UK-wide votes on membership of the European Economic Community and on the alternative vote were put to the parliamentary franchise. This is the franchise that we use for big questions that will determine the future of our nation—I am talking about not just for referendums but for who should form the Government and lead the country. It is right that we apply it again here.

The right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) and the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) tabled a number of amendments seeking to use the local election franchise rather than the parliamentary one. Their aim is to add, “EU citizens resident in the UK”. The Labour Front-Bench team made some helpful comments, opposing the point in principle.

A few EU citizens have long been able to vote in UK parliamentary elections. Citizens of Malta, Cyprus and Ireland are already able to vote if they are resident in the UK, because of our historical connections to those countries and their citizens. But for the rest of the EU, British citizens living abroad do not have voting rights in their national elections. The only exceptions of which I am aware are in Ireland, where voting rights here are reciprocated, and in the upper chamber of Slovenia’s Parliament—I suspect that not many people here knew that they had that right. I doubt anyone will be dashing over there to set up residence in Slovenia, but if they do, they are of course welcome to vote when they get there. I am not aware of any national referendum in the EU that allowed citizens from other member states to take part.

Mr McFadden: Is not this the crucial point rather than arguments about ancestry or length of residence? Is it not the case that in any recent referendum on a European question held by a member state—whether that was the Austrian referendum on accession in 1994, the referendums held more recently in France and the Netherlands, or the frequent referendums held in Ireland on various EU treaty changes—residents from elsewhere in the EU have not been given the vote?

John Penrose: The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. It would be lopsided indeed if we were to take a different approach for our nationals than has been done elsewhere in the EU. As I was saying, British citizens were not entitled to vote in the Dutch or French referendums.

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Finally, switching from the parliamentary to the local elections franchise would block British citizens living abroad from voting at all, because they are not entitled to vote at local elections. The net effect of the amendments would be to deny British citizens living abroad the right to vote on their own country’s future while giving that right to other Europeans who are living here but have chosen not to become citizens. That strikes me as fundamentally unfair and inequitable. I hope that the hon. Members will withdraw their amendments when the time comes.

We have also heard about the need to give the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds for the first time in a UK-wide poll. There are a number of amendments to that effect, in the names of the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), the right hon. Member for Gordon and the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins). This is a referendum about an issue of huge national significance, and the starting point for determining who is entitled to vote must therefore be the franchise for parliamentary elections. Members will be aware that the voting age for parliamentary elections is set at 18. The voting age was 18 in the 1975 referendum on EC membership and the 2011 alternative vote referendum.

Let us not forget, as a number of Members have pointed out, that the voting age in most democracies, including most member states in the EU, is also 18. Only Austria in the EU currently allows voting at 16, although we have heard that Scotland is now heading in that direction, and that it is just hours away from extending its franchise for Holyrood elections as well, as is their devolved and democratic right. I salute its ability to do that.

Hon. Members have pointed out the precedent of the Scottish independence referendum, which was of course based on the devolved right, as we have heard. It is also right that the decisions about the franchise for elections and referendums that take place throughout the United Kingdom should be taken by this Parliament, in the same way as decisions taken for the franchise for elections to Holyrood are taken by the Holyrood Parliament.

Peter Grant: I recognise that this Parliament will take the decision, but will the Minister explain why he is so keen to follow the example set by other EU countries, which so many of his colleagues want to cut us off from, and why he will not follow the example of a country that his colleagues suggest should stay attached to the United Kingdom?

John Penrose: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the comments made by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden). There is a degree of symmetry here and it would be bizarre indeed, as my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster) pointed out, to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote on an issue of such national importance when they cannot vote on their local council and on who collects the bins. This needs to be done on a broader basis, and I shall come on to that point in a minute.

Hon. Members have also said that young people are engaged and politically active. That is absolutely true, but it is also true of many 15-year-olds and not of some 50-year-olds. Political engagement is not a strong enough

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justification in and of itself for giving or denying the vote. Another argument that we have heard is that people can marry or join the Army at 16, and we have heard of a series of other activities that can or cannot be done at 16, 17, 18 or 21. I think the examples given included driving steam tractors. The important point is that in this country we have always viewed attaining adulthood and majority as a process rather than an event. It is not neat—I do not think it can be—and it varies from person to person and by activity to activity. If we want to compare different activities, the list on the parliamentary website that has been mentioned of things that are allowed at 16, 17, 18 or otherwise includes body piercing and having a tattoo at 18. I do not think that those are necessarily fruitful or relevant comparisons. We need to accept adulthood as a process, not an event, and that it is therefore tricky to deal with.

A number of my colleagues have said that they agree with, or are at least sympathetic to, the principle of votes at 16, but are concerned that it should not be done just for this election. I agree with that point. Many Members, such as my hon. Friends the Members for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White), for Norwich North (Chloe Smith), for Colchester (Will Quince), for South Suffolk (James Cartlidge), for Eastleigh (Mims Davies), for Torbay (Kevin Foster) and for Bath (Ben Howlett), felt the same way and said that this is an important decision that needs to be taken for the franchise as a whole rather than for an individual election. I believe that that is right and I do not believe that this Bill is the right place to make significant changes to the franchise.

Alex Salmond: Is it not reasonable to make the case that if the Scottish Parliament, Government and the then First Minister had not legislated to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the Scottish referendum, the current Scottish Administration would not be in a position to legislate for 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in next year’s Scottish election? Is it not time to start the process?

John Penrose: I am coming to the timing in a minute, if the right hon. Gentleman will allow me.

Although I do not think that this Bill is the right place to make significant changes to the franchise, the debate on the voting age is important. The Prime Minister himself has said that he thinks that it is right that it should take place, but making a change on this scale for a single specific vote will simply invite criticism that we are choosing a franchise that has been deliberately skewed for a low and partisan party political advantage. It is far better to hold the debate when the long-term question of votes for 16 and 17-year-olds at all future elections can be properly and soberly debated, and a moment’s glance at the Conservative party’s election manifesto, something that I am sure is bedtime reading for everybody on the Opposition Benches, will show that there should be opportunities to do just that during the course of this Parliament.

I now come to the amendments proposed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Stephen Phillips)—I am never sure whether that is pronounced “Hickham” or “Hikeham”, and I apologise to his constituents if I have mispronounced it. He asks why the Bill does not enfranchise Irish citizens

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resident in Gibraltar. It is extremely hard to identify Irish citizens in Gibraltar on the voting register, and it is not something that is done currently. At present, we do not have agreement from the Government of Gibraltar to do that, because it would clearly impose duties and work on them. It is also true that no one is quite sure how many Irish citizens there are in Gibraltar, although most estimates are pretty low. Although I cannot predict the outcome, I promise my hon. and learned Friend that we are already discussing the matter in some depth with the Government of Gibraltar and will continue to do so.

My hon. and learned Friend also asked about the definition of Commonwealth citizens. For the purposes of elections, schedule 3 to the British Nationality Act 1981 sets out the list of relevant countries. Two are not currently members of the Commonwealth, and citizens of those countries would be affected by the amendment. The first is The Gambia, which withdrew from the Commonwealth in October 2013. The Government have not yet removed The Gambia from the list of countries in schedule 3, but will do so at the next suitable opportunity. Once we have made that change, citizens of The Gambia will no longer have Commonwealth voting rights. Crucially, the second is Zimbabwe, which left the Commonwealth in 2003. At the time, the Government decided to maintain Commonwealth rights for Zimbabwean nationals, based on the view that Zimbabwean people should not be punished for the actions of a Government that the UK did not consider democratically elected. Given our serious concerns about the 2013 elections in that country, this view remains.

Amendment 52 deals with votes for life. I think the hon. Member for Ilford South is trying to be helpful by tabling an amendment that is closely in line with my own party’s manifesto, and I thank him for that. I am not sure how his party’s Front Benchers feel about it, but he has not let that stop him and I salute his courage and determination. I am now hoist on my own petard, though, because having made the argument that this is the wrong Bill through which to deal with 16 and 17-year-olds voting, I must abide by my own logic on this point. However, I can give the hon. Gentleman the same assurance as I gave my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), who was worried that we were kicking the question of 16 and 17-year-olds voting into the long grass. There will be opportunities in this Session of Parliament to vote on the matter, because we will be introducing our own Bill on votes for life, which will apply to all franchises, to make sure that British citizens who live abroad who are not currently able to vote and exercise their democratic rights, even though they are citizens of this country, are able to do so. I look forward to having the hon. Gentleman’s support, even if not that of those on his Front Bench, on that very important matter.

Stephen Gethins: I thank you, Sir Roger, the Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Glenrothes (Peter Grant) for making time for me to sum up this good debate on a significant issue. I hope you will not mind my saying that it is good that we are discussing our relationship with Europe on this, the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. We remember those on all sides who fell on that day.

To deal with votes for 16 and 17-year-olds first, a number of Conservative Members, including the hon. Members for South Suffolk (James Cartlidge) and for

18 Jun 2015 : Column 558

Norwich North (Chloe Smith), seemed to be all for 16 and 17-year-olds having the vote—but not just yet. There is overwhelming evidence from the Scottish independence referendum—I presented it, my hon. Friend the Member for Ochil and South Perthshire (Ms Ahmed-Sheikh) presented it, my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard) presented it—that extending the franchise to 16-year-olds is a good thing for democratic participation from an early age. As the Electoral Reform Society said: vote early and then vote often throughout life. The University of Edinburgh agrees. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Totnes (Dr Wollaston), who in an excellent speech made some outstanding points on the contributions made by 16 and 17-year-olds, drawing from her own experience.

We all have a responsibility to try to increase young people’s participation. This is a good place to start. My right hon. Friend the Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond) made a pertinent point when he said that everyone talks about when we start, but there is no time like the present, folks. We have all been elected here to make decisions, so let us make a decision, tonight, to give young people the opportunity to vote in next year’s referendum, to get involved in the debate and to make their voice heard in that democratic process.

3.45 pm

On EU nationals, I was astonished to hear Conservative Members run off European examples of EU nationals not being allowed to vote. This must be the first time we have heard the Tories telling us that they will not do something because other European countries do not do it. I am glad that they are opening up to learning from our neighbours and other members of the European Union.

As somebody who represents the University of St Andrews, I know that European nationals make a significant impact on the life of all the nations of the United Kingdom. My hon. Friend the Member for Ochil and South Perthshire reeled off some excellent examples. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh East made the very strong point that EU nationals living in our countries are here not as backpackers or tourists, but as an integral part of our society. What emerged powerfully from the Scottish independence referendum was the significant impact that our debate had on different communities—Polish communities, our Asian communities, people from almost every country in the world, who make up part of the fabric of Scottish society.

Scotland is a “mongrel” nation, which counts many peoples as Scots. We want to see them as an integral part of our country. What better way to say that they are an integral part of our country than by giving them the vote and putting them in a position to decide? The right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) and others made the excellent point about Christian Allard, a Member of the Scottish Parliament, who has set up his business in Scotland and makes very good decisions in the Scottish Parliament, most of which I agree with, but he will not be allowed to vote in the European referendum. Yet Cypriots and Maltese will be allowed to vote. As was pointed out, Greek Cypriots may vote, but Greeks may not. It is a ludicrous situation.

There is so much that the House can learn from the Scottish Parliament, and it will do so over the next five years. The Scottish Parliament has sent out a strong

18 Jun 2015 : Column 559

message that we are an open, inclusive and democratic country by lowering the voting age to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote. I urge this House to follow the lead of the Scottish Parliament, as it should do on so many issues.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The

Committee

divided:

Ayes 71, Noes 514.

Division No. 19]

[

3.47 pm

AYES

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Arkless, Richard

Bardell, Hannah

Black, Ms Mhairi

Blackman, Kirsty

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Brake, rh Tom

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Chapman, Douglas

Cherry, Joanna

Cowan, Ronnie

Crawley, Angela

Day, Martyn

Docherty, Martin John

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Ferrier, Margaret

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flynn, Paul

Gapes, Mike

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Greenwood, Margaret

Hendry, Drew

Hosie, Stewart

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Law, Chris

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mc Nally, John

McCaig, Callum

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, John

McGarry, Natalie

McLaughlin, Anne

Mearns, Ian

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Mullin, Roger

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Oswald, Kirsten

Paterson, Steven

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Sheppard, Tommy

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Stephens, Chris

Thewliss, Alison

Thomson, Michelle

Vaz, rh Keith

Weir, Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Ayes:

Owen Thompson

and

Marion Fellows

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Mr Graham

Allen, Heidi

Anderson, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Ashworth, Jonathan

Atkins, Victoria

Austin, Ian

Bacon, Mr Richard

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Baron, Mr John

Barron, rh Kevin

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Beckett, rh Margaret

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benn, rh Hilary

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Betts, Mr Clive

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blackwood, Nicola

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brennan, Kevin

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bruce, Fiona

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Buckland, Robert

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Butler, Dawn

Byrne, rh Liam

Cadbury, Ruth

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Crouch, Tracey

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Geraint

Davies, Glyn

Davies, James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Davis, rh Mr David

De Piero, Gloria

Debbonaire, Thangam

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Dromey, Jack

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Dugher, Michael

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Tom

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Esterson, Bill

Eustice, George

Evans, Chris

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Farrelly, Paul

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Frank

Field, rh Mark

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Foster, Kevin

Fovargue, Yvonne

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Foxcroft, Vicky

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Gardiner, Barry

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glass, Pat

Glen, John

Glindon, Mary

Goldsmith, Zac

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Green, rh Damian

Green, Kate

Greening, rh Justine

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffith, Nia

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gwynne, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Haigh, Louise

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hamilton, Fabian

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harpham, Harry

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Carolyn

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, Helen

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Herbert, rh Nick

Hillier, Meg

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hoey, Kate

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Hurd, Mr Nick

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Jarvis, Dan

Javid, rh Sajid

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Mr Marcus

Jones, Susan Elan

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Kawczynski, Daniel

Keeley, Barbara

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Kyle, Peter

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Lavery, Ian

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Leslie, Chris

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lucas, Ian C.

Lumley, Karen

Lynch, Holly

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Alan

Malhotra, Seema

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, John

Mann, Scott

Marris, Rob

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCabe, Steve

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Karl

McDonald, Andy

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Mordaunt, Penny

Morden, Jessica

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, Grahame M.

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Murray, Ian

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Opperman, Guy

Osamor, Kate

Osborne, rh Mr George

Owen, Albert

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perkins, Toby

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Jess

Phillips, Stephen

Phillipson, Bridget

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Qureshi, Yasmin

Raab, Mr Dominic

Rayner, Angela

Redwood, rh John

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rotheram, Steve

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Ryan, rh Joan

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shah, Naz

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Shelbrooke, Alec

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Julian

Smith, Nick

Smith, Royston

Smyth, Karin

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spellar, rh Mr John

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Starmer, Keir

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevens, Jo

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Streeting, Wes

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Tami, Mark

Thomas, Derek

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thornberry, Emily

Throup, Maggie

Timms, rh Stephen

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Trickett, Jon

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turley, Anna

Turner, Mr Andrew

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vaz, Valerie

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Watson, Mr Tom

West, Catherine

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wood, Mike

Woodcock, John

Wragg, William

Wright, Mr Iain

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Noes:

Stephen Barclay

and

Mr David Evennett

Question accordingly negatived

.

18 Jun 2015 : Column 560

18 Jun 2015 : Column 561

18 Jun 2015 : Column 562

18 Jun 2015 : Column 563

4.7 pm

More than four hours having elapsed since the commencement of proceedings, the proceedings were interrupted (Programme Order, 9 June).

The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business necessary to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83D).

Amendment proposed: 1, in clause 2, page 1, line 17, at end insert

“and persons who would be so entitled except for the fact that they will be aged 16 or 17 on the date on which the referendum is to be held”.—(Mr McFadden.)

The amendment would entitle British citizens, qualifying Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland aged 16 and 17 to vote in the

referendum

.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 265, Noes 310.

Division No. 20]

[

4.7 pm

AYES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Abrahams, Debbie

Ahmed-Sheikh, Ms Tasmina

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Arkless, Richard

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bardell, Hannah

Barron, rh Kevin

Beckett, rh Margaret

Benn, rh Hilary

Betts, Mr Clive

Black, Ms Mhairi

Blackman, Kirsty

Blackman-Woods, Dr Roberta

Blomfield, Paul

Boswell, Philip

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Brake, rh Tom

Brennan, Kevin

Brock, Deidre

Brown, Alan

Brown, Lyn

Brown, rh Mr Nicholas

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Burden, Richard

Burgon, Richard

Butler, Dawn

Cadbury, Ruth

Cameron, Dr Lisa

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Douglas

Chapman, Jenny

Cherry, Joanna

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Julie

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Cowan, Ronnie

Cox, Jo

Coyle, Neil

Crausby, Mr David

Crawley, Angela

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cummins, Judith

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davies, Geraint

Day, Martyn

De Piero, Gloria

Debbonaire, Thangam

Docherty, Martin John

Donaldson, Stuart Blair

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Dowd, Peter

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Maria

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Tom

Esterson, Bill

Evans, Chris

Farrelly, Paul

Fellows, Marion

Ferrier, Margaret

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Fletcher, Colleen

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Fovargue, Yvonne

Foxcroft, Vicky

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Gethins, Stephen

Gibson, Patricia

Glass, Pat

Glindon, Mary

Godsiff, Mr Roger

Grady, Patrick

Grant, Peter

Gray, Neil

Green, Kate

Greenwood, Lilian

Greenwood, Margaret

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Haigh, Louise

Hamilton, Fabian

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harpham, Harry

Harris, Carolyn

Hayes, Helen

Hendrick, Mr Mark

Hendry, Drew

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Hillier, Meg

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Hunt, Tristram

Huq, Dr Rupa

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Jones, Gerald

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Keeley, Barbara

Kerevan, George

Kerr, Calum

Khan, rh Sadiq

Kyle, Peter

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lavery, Ian

Law, Chris

Leslie, Chris

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Clive

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Long Bailey, Rebecca

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian C.

Lynch, Holly

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

Mactaggart, rh Fiona

Madders, Justin

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

Maskell, Rachael

Matheson, Christian

Mc Nally, John

McCabe, Steve

McCaig, Callum

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Jason

McDonald, Andy

McDonald, Stewart

McDonald, Stuart C.

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGarry, Natalie

McGinn, Conor

McGovern, Alison

McInnes, Liz

McLaughlin, Anne

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Meale, Sir Alan

Mearns, Ian

Miliband, rh Edward

Monaghan, Carol

Monaghan, Dr Paul

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Morden, Jessica

Morris, Grahame M.

Mullin, Roger

Murray, Ian

Newlands, Gavin

Nicolson, John

O'Hara, Brendan

Onn, Melanie

Onwurah, Chi

Osamor, Kate

Oswald, Kirsten

Owen, Albert

Paterson, Steven

Pearce, Teresa

Pennycook, Matthew

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Jess

Phillipson, Bridget

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Qureshi, Yasmin

Rayner, Angela

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees, Christina

Reynolds, Emma

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rimmer, Marie

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rotheram, Steve

Ryan, rh Joan

Salmond, rh Alex

Saville Roberts, Liz

Shah, Naz

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheppard, Tommy

Sherriff, Paula

Shuker, Mr Gavin

Siddiq, Tulip

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Andy

Smeeth, Ruth

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Cat

Smith, Jeff

Smith, Nick

Smyth, Karin

Spellar, rh Mr John

Starmer, Keir

Stephens, Chris

Stevens, Jo

Streeting, Wes

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Tami, Mark

Thewliss, Alison

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thomas-Symonds, Nick

Thompson, Owen

Thomson, Michelle

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Trickett, Jon

Turley, Anna

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vaz, rh Keith

Vaz, Valerie

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mike

West, Catherine

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whitford, Dr Philippa

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Wilson, Corri

Wilson, Phil

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wishart, Pete

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Zeichner, Daniel

Tellers for the Ayes:

Susan Elan Jones

and

Tom Blenkinsop

NOES

Adams, Nigel

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Allan, Lucy

Allen, Heidi

Andrew, Stuart

Ansell, Caroline

Argar, Edward

Atkins, Victoria

Bacon, Mr Richard

Baker, Mr Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Baron, Mr John

Barwell, Gavin

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berry, Jake

Berry, James

Bingham, Andrew

Blackman, Bob

Blackwood, Nicola

Blunt, Crispin

Boles, Nick

Bone, Mr Peter

Borwick, Victoria

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Brazier, Mr Julian

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, rh James

Bruce, Fiona

Buckland, Robert

Burns, Conor

Burns, rh Sir Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Cairns, Alun

Carmichael, Neil

Carswell, Mr Douglas

Cartlidge, James

Cash, Sir William

Caulfield, Maria

Chalk, Alex

Chishti, Rehman

Chope, Mr Christopher

Churchill, Jo

Clark, rh Greg

Cleverly, James

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Colvile, Oliver

Costa, Alberto

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, rh Stephen

Crouch, Tracey

Davies, Byron

Davies, Chris

Davies, David T. C.

Davies, Glyn

Davies, James

Davies, Mims

Davies, Philip

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donelan, Michelle

Dorries, Nadine

Double, Steve

Dowden, Oliver

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Drummond, Mrs Flick

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Duncan Smith, rh Mr Iain

Dunne, Mr Philip

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Eustice, George

Evans, Graham

Evans, Mr Nigel

Fabricant, Michael

Fallon, rh Michael

Fernandes, Suella

Field, rh Mark

Foster, Kevin

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Frazer, Lucy

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Fysh, Marcus

Garnier, rh Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Ghani, Nusrat

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Glen, John

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Grant, Mrs Helen

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, Chris

Greening, rh Justine

Grieve, rh Mr Dominic

Griffiths, Andrew

Gummer, Ben

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Halfon, rh Robert

Hall, Luke

Hammond, rh Mr Philip

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, rh Matthew

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, rh Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Sir Oliver

Heappey, James

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Heaton-Jones, Peter

Henderson, Gordon

Herbert, rh Nick

Hinds, Damian

Hoare, Simon

Hollingbery, George

Hollinrake, Kevin

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Holloway, Mr Adam

Hopkins, Kris

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Howell, John

Howlett, Ben

Huddleston, Nigel

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Hurd, Mr Nick

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

Javid, rh Sajid

Jenkyns, Andrea

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Mr Marcus

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Knight, Julian

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewis, Brandon

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lidington, rh Mr David

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lord, Jonathan

Loughton, Tim

Lumley, Karen

Mackinlay, Craig

Mackintosh, David

Main, Mrs Anne

Mak, Alan

Malthouse, Kit

Mann, Scott

Mathias, Dr Tania

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCartney, Karl

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

McPartland, Stephen

Menzies, Mark

Mercer, Johnny

Merriman, Huw

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, rh Mrs Maria

Milling, Amanda

Mills, Nigel

Milton, rh Anne

Mordaunt, Penny

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Morton, Wendy

Mowat, David

Murray, Mrs Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Neill, Robert

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

Offord, Dr Matthew

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Parish, Neil

Patel, rh Priti

Paterson, rh Mr Owen

Pawsey, Mark

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Philp, Chris

Pickles, rh Sir Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pow, Rebecca

Prentis, Victoria

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pritchard, Mark

Pursglove, Tom

Quin, Jeremy

Quince, Will

Raab, Mr Dominic

Redwood, rh John

Rees-Mogg, Mr Jacob

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Gavin

Robinson, Mary

Rosindell, Andrew

Rudd, rh Amber

Rutley, David

Sandbach, Antoinette

Scully, Paul

Selous, Andrew

Shapps, rh Grant

Sharma, Alok

Shelbrooke, Alec

Simpson, rh Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Royston

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Solloway, Amanda

Soubry, rh Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Spencer, Mark

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stuart, Graham

Sturdy, Julian

Sunak, Rishi

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swire, rh Mr Hugo

Syms, Mr Robert

Thomas, Derek

Throup, Maggie

Tolhurst, Kelly

Tomlinson, Justin

Tomlinson, Michael

Tracey, Craig

Tredinnick, David

Trevelyan, Mrs Anne-Marie

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tugendhat, Tom

Turner, Mr Andrew

Tyrie, rh Mr Andrew

Vaizey, Mr Edward

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Charles

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Warburton, David

Warman, Matt

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wharton, James

Whately, Helen

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, rh Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Williams, Craig

Williamson, rh Gavin

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Wood, Mike

Wragg, William

Wright, rh Jeremy

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Noes:

Stephen Barclay

and

Mr David Evennett

Question accordingly negatived.