EU Referendum Bill

On Thursday 18 June 2015 Parliament debated the EU Referendum Bill.

The first vote was on an amendment tabled by the Scottish National Party to allow EU nationals living in Britain to vote in the referendum. I voted against the amendment. The amendment was defeated by 514 votes to 71.

The second amendment would allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the referendum. I voted for the amendment. The view of HM Opposition is that the law allows 16 or 17-year-olds to give full consent to medical treatment, leave school, enter work or training, join a trade union, pay income tax and national insurance, obtain tax credits and welfare benefits, consent to sexual relationships, get married, change their name by deed poll, become a director of a company and join the armed forces. 16-17 year olds can be trusted to participate in a democratic decision that will determine their future as much as it will ours.

The Scottish Referendum showed us what enfranchising 16 and 17-year-olds can mean – over 80% of them registered to vote in the referendum last year. They participated and brought energy and vitality to the debate. The amendment was defeated by 310 votes to 265.

The third vote was on a Labour amendment to prevent the referendum from being held on the same day as any other election. I voted for the amendment because holding the referendum on the same day as another election would risk complicating the debate by bringing in other issues which are not relevant to the referendum. The amendment was defeated by 308 votes to 267.