Tories are missing link on votes at 16

The Conservatives have been urged to back the early introduction of votes at 16 in time for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections in 2016. 

Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie MSP, has said that the Conservatives are the missing link after the Labour Party today joined the Liberal Democrats and the SNP to support the policy.

Mr Rennie said:

"Sixteen and seventeen year olds carried themselves with distinction during the referendum. How they handled their democratic responsibility makes it imperative that future generations be given the same right to vote.  Not even the strongest critic of changing the franchise can deny that right with any great conviction.

"Now that three of the four Scottish parties support votes at 16 for the Scottish Parliamentary Elections all we now need is for the Conservatives to fall into line. They are the missing link.

"Lib Dem Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael lent his weight to the effort by instructing officials to investigate the steps necessary to ensure early introduction.

"The Gould report, published following the chaos of the 2007 Scottish Elections, recommended that any significant changes should be legislated for at least six months before the election.  As legislation can take months to be agreed by the two parliaments it is critical that we start the process now. Waiting until after the General Election could leave insufficient time for it to be agreed.

"As 16 and 17 year olds already have significant rights and responsibilities including joining the army, paying tax, marriage and more it is important to extend their rights and responsibilities. And they have showed they can handle that right and responsibility.

"The Conservatives need to act quickly so we can make progress quickly."

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