News story

UK Government to fast-track Holyrood votes for 16 & 17 year olds

This is the start of a landmark week for Scotland says Carmichael.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Scottish Parliament

The legislative power to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in future Scottish Parliament elections should be transferred from the UK Parliament to Holyrood in March, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael announced today.

The timetable for the Section 30 Order – which will devolve the power from the UK Parliament to Holyrood in March - has been agreed by both the UK and Scottish Government. It will be brought before both Houses of the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday) and then put forward for Privy Council approval in March.

This is the first stage in implementing the Smith Commission’s historic cross party agreement on devolution which will bring more powers and more financial responsibility for the Scottish Parliament.

Delivery of the Section 30 Order was brought forward as an exception from the rest of the Smith package so the power could be devolved in time for 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

The Scottish Secretary also confirmed that the UK Government would publish draft legislation on the Smith Agreement later this week – ahead of the Burns Day deadline announced prior to the independence referendum.

To mark the occasion the Secretary of State visited Edinburgh College to meet 16 and 17 year olds and discuss the importance of having the right to vote.

Edinburgh College
Alistair Carmichael meets students at Edinburgh College to discuss votes for 16 and 17 year olds.

Mr Carmichael said:

I’m delighted to confirm a timetable has been agreed for 16 and 17 year olds to vote in future Scottish Parliament elections. I’ve always been a firm believer in votes at 16, with the sheer number of young people participating and voting in last year’s referendum I believe the case has become undeniable.

Today marks the next phase in our commitment to people in Scotland and the start of an landmark week for the future of our country. Later this week we will publish draft legislation ahead of Burns Night meeting our promise to bring new powers built to last for the Scottish Parliament.

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said:

Following the huge levels of participation and engagement from young people in last year’s referendum, now more than ever, they are telling us that they feel switched on, engaged and passionate about having their voice heard in the democratic process and the difference they can make to their local communities.

We welcome the agreement of a timetable for 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the future Scottish Parliament elections - it was through their positive engagement that young people persuaded those in power this was the right thing to do - young Scots are ready to play their part.

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Published 19 January 2015