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In 1965 Justice John Latey was chosen as Chairman for a Committee examining whether the Age of Majority should be lowered from 21 to 18 to reflect changes in society. The main issues under scrutiny were marriage, wardship, contracts and property. Latey endeavoured to change committee procedures and break with tradition by inviting a diverse range of members including journalist Katharine Whitehorn.
The committee experimented with innovative tools of inquiry such as opinion polls and college workshops to understand the aspirations of the younger generation. The Latey Report, published in 1967, made 44 Civil Law recommendations and influenced future legislation, as demonstrated by the 1969 Representation of the People Act which lowered the voting age to 18. As Latey wrote in his conclusions ‘We are all absolutely of one mind in thinking that technical reforms are needed, and needed badly’.
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