The Conservative Government has prevented 16 to 17 year olds from voting in a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU.
These young citizens, in the long term, are likely to be more affected by the referendum result than most of the existing electorate.
Ministers have cited estimated additional election costs of £6 million to trigger ‘the financial privilege rules, which refer to the special right of the House of Commons to make tax and spending decisions’.
According to the BBC, this includes the postage cost of campaign literature, which would be incurred by Whitehall and local authorities.
Surely very few 16 to 17 year olds live in households without existing voters? The amount of extra postage required would be incredibly small.
This is a crude attempt to reassert authority over the House of Lords, who were in favour of giving 16 to 17 year olds the vote in the referendum – by the same government that, against the advice of civil servants, gave £3 million to the Kids Company Charity less than six months ago and saw it disappear within weeks.
It is politically clumsy, as what will these teenagers think of a Conservative Party that has denied them a say in this most important of political decisions?
Perhaps we will find out in the 2020 General Election, when today’s 16 to 17 year olds will all have the vote.
One final point, why hasn’t the House of Lords been reformed?
Because the Conservatives blocked reform in the last parliament – perhaps they prefer an enfeebled second chamber.
King Street, Market Rasen