THE UK will follow Wales and Scotland in allowing votes 16 for before the end of the decade, a former cabinet minister has suggested.

Lord Adonis made the prediction as the Government resisted his Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement) Bill.

The Labour peer’s Private Member’s Bill seeks to lower the voting age from 18 to 16 for UK parliamentary elections and all local elections in England.

Teenagers in those age groups already have the vote for elections in Wales and Scotland, other than UK general elections. Last May's Senedd elections were the first in which those aged 16 and over could vote in Wales.

Speaking for the Government, Baroness Scott of Bybrook noted that MPs had rejected – by a majority of 91 – a similar proposal earlier this month when considering a separate piece of legislation.

She said: “The Government believes the voting age should remain aligned with the age of majority at 18; this is the point when many other key rights and obligations as a citizen are acquired.

“Having been elected on a manifesto commitment to retain the current voting age on these grounds, the Government will not be supporting the Bill today.”

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But Lord Adonis said the “acid test” for whether a reform is worthwhile is whether anyone would want to reverse it once introduced.

He highlighted how 16 and 17-year-olds have been granted the vote in elections in Scotland and Wales, adding it would be “inconceivable” for this right to be removed.

Lord Adonis went on: “This has the future written all over it.

“It will happen. It may not happen in this Parliament; if it doesn’t happen in this Parliament, it will probably happen in the next.

“And one thing I’m very, very confident of is that in 10, 20, 30 years’ time after it has been introduced, almost no-one will be speaking in this House against votes for 16 and 17-year-olds.”

Lord Adonis’s Bill received an unopposed second reading but it is unlikely to progress much further due to a lack of parliamentary time.

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