Youth Select Committee launch inquiry into lowering voting age to 16

Youth Select Committee launch inquiry into lowering vote age to 16
19 March 2014

The Youth Select Committee today announces a new inquiry into lowering the voting age to 16, where it will explore the issues and arguments around votes-at-16.

The Youth Select Committee (YSC) - a British Youth Council initiative supported by the House of Commons and now in its third year - will look at the following issues as part of its inquiry:

  • Should the age at which people are allowed to vote be lowered? Why/why not? If yes, to what age?
  • For what reasons is the voting age currently set at 18? What qualities mean that a person is ready to vote? Do 16 and 17-year-olds possess these qualities?
  • Should the age at which people are able to vote vary between types of election? For example, should the voting age be different for local and General elections?
  • What short term and long term effect would lowering the voting age have on voter turnout? Should the likely turnout of 16 and 17-year-old voters affect the decision on whether to lower the voting age?
  • What can be learned from countries where the voting age is lower than 18 or where lowering the voting age has been proposed?
  • What was the motivation for allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum on independence for Scotland? What can be learned from this example?
  • What would the practical implications of lowering the voting age be?
  • How effectively does citizenship education prepare young people to vote? How could it be used to prepare young people to vote?
  • What is the best way to engage young people with the political process?

In addition, the Committee would like to hear the views of people under 18 on the following questions:

  • Would you vote if the voting age was lowered to 16? Why/why not?
  • Do you feel ready to make an informed decision about who to vote for? What would help you feel prepared to vote?

Michael Hope, aged 17, Chair of the Youth Select Committee, from Dunbartonshire, said:

"With 16-year-olds in Scotland able to vote in this year’s Scottish Independence referendum, the issue of whether the voting age should be lowered in all UK elections has become a live political issue.

"What would be the practical impact of lowering the voting age? Would citizenship education need to be beefed up to prepare young people to vote? It’s important that politics engages with young people and as a Committee we look forward to hearing what people have to say about votes at 16."

The YSC will hold oral evidence sessions in the House of Commons in June and July 2014.

The Committee has a clear mandate to focus on 'Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections', as the issue was voted as the priority UK-wide campaign of the UK Youth Parliament at their annual House of Commons debate in November 2013 and is an ongoing campaign of the British Youth Council.

Call for evidence - how to respond

Interested groups or individuals are encouraged to submit written evidence to the inquiry.

Responses should ideally be e-mailed to The body of the e-mail should include a name and contact details.

It should be clear who the submission is from, particularly whether it is on behalf of an organisation or in the name of an individual.

If you do not have access to e-mail, you may send a paper copy of your response to the Clerk of the Youth Select Committee, Table Office, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.

It will assist the Committee if those submitting written evidence adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Written submissions should be in Word or Rich Text Format wherever possible,
  • Submissions should as short as is consistent with conveying the relevant information. As a rough guide, it is usually helpful if they can be confined to 2,000 words (about 6 pages) or less;
  • Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference;
  • A summary of the main points at the start of the submission is helpful.

Evidence that is submitted will be published on the British Youth Council website.

For an inquiry-related questions, please contact the inquiry team on

Further information

The Youth Select Committee (YSC) is a British Youth Council initiative, supported by the House of Commons. The eleven committee members are aged 14-18 and include three Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs), one former MYP, three youth councillors, a representative from the Scout Association and one elected representative from each of the devolved nations.

The 2013 YSC inquiry looked into the role of the education system and the national curriculum in equipping young people with the skills for later life.

Image: Parliamentary copyright / Jessica Taylor

More news on: Parliament, government and politics, Parliament, Commons news, Committee news, Elections, Education

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