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Clive Lewis criticises Tory MPs as votes at 16 bill fails to reach a vote

PUBLISHED: 19:51 03 November 2017 | UPDATED: 19:51 03 November 2017

Clive Lewis, Norwich South MP, will read 17-year-old Ruby Staton's letter in a parliamentary debate on lowering the voting age to 16. Photo: Norwich Youth Advisory Board

Clive Lewis, Norwich South MP, will read 17-year-old Ruby Staton's letter in a parliamentary debate on lowering the voting age to 16. Photo: Norwich Youth Advisory Board

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A bill proposing to lower the voting age to 16 has failed to reach a vote in parliament after it was ‘talked out’ by Conservative MPs.

Labour MP Clive Lewis was due to read out the letter of a 17-year-old constituent, Ruby Staton, from Notre Dame Sixth Form advocating the extension of the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds.

Mr Lewis described the bill’s failure to reach a vote as “disappointing”, and later tweeted that MPs were asked not to speak to allow the vote.

He added: “Still didn’t work because the Tories talked it out.”

Tory MPs were faced with shouts of “shame” after being accused of blocking attempts to lower the voting age.

Labour’s Jim McMahon said MPs on the Government benches had spoken at length during an earlier debate “to reduce the amount of time” available for his proposal to give 16 and 17-year-olds the right to vote in UK parliamentary elections, local elections and referendums.

His Labour colleagues shouted “shame” repeatedly before Mr McMahon later told the Commons: “I think the Government benches ought to be very concerned.

“Because 16 and 17-year-olds today might be denied the right to vote but in two years’ time, they will remember who blocked them from having that democratic right only two years earlier.”

A spokesperson for Clive Lewis said: “Its really disappointing that the bill didn’t make it to a vote.

“It would have been one of the very few times when the voice of a young person would have been heard in the chamber - so Clive is of course upset for Ruby.”

They added: “But its entirely unextraordinary that the Tories would do something like this.

“They’ve been playing games in the chamber over universal credit.”

Speaking to this newspaper. Mr Lewis said: “It was very sad.

“I was asked by the Labour whips not to speak so it wouldn’t be talked out.”

He described the debate as agitated, and added: “Large numbers of Tories turned out to speak against the bill.

“The only conclusion is that they wanted to talk it out.

“They clearly did not want a vote on votes at 16.

“I think a lot of young people in Norwich will be asking why.”

The Norwich South MP said the issue of votes for 16-year-olds “won’t go away”, and added: “This is the right thing to do.”

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