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Representation of the People Act 2020
#1
I beg leave, Mr Speaker, to introduce the Representation of the People Bill.

Mr Speaker, the goals of this bill are simple: to end the flaw in our democracy that disenfranchises citizens of the United Kingdom resident abroad and to enable votes at 16. This is, quite simply, an extension of democracy that was featured in the manifestos of both the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party.

Mr Speaker, the reality that British citizens are arbitrarily stripped of their voting rights is wrong. All parties, I believe, are in agreement on this. So long as one is British, they should be entitled to all of the privileges that it entails. Our changes to the law relating to overseas electors accomplishes that.

Second, Mr Speaker, is the notion of votes at sixteen. Simple, if one can join the Armed Forces at sixteen, they should be entitled to vote at that age. And we have seen votes at sixteen work, quite successfully, in this country. It worked in Scotland to the point that the Conservative Leader in Scotland endorsed it as a good extension of democracy. It is a matter where, across the United Kingdom, the members of all parties are in agreement.

I commend this bill to the House.

Mr Speaker, I beg leave to move that this bill be read a second time.
Caroline Blakesley MP DCB
Prime Minister (June 2019-)
MP for Manchester Central (2015-) | Labour
Traits: Fundraising Extraordionare, Campaign Guru, Media Darling, Constituency Pariah
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#2
Second reading
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#3
Mr Speaker,

if I may, first of all, how exactly do the elections taking place in the United Kingdom concern citizens of the United Kingdom resident abroad when, by definition, they do not live here? Why should they, with all due respect, intervene in the working of the United Kingdom from the outside of the United Kingdom? While it may seem like an improvement of our democracy, I must say that the continual proportian of the more people, the more democracy we have does not always apply. It only makes sense to me that matters of the United Kingdom be decided by those who reside in the United Kingdom.


What I have said about democracy and continual proportion is equally true with regard to lowering of the voting age. When we look at some of the countries where the voting age is indeed lower -- such as Cuba or North Korea -- it becomes quite clear that this measure does not guarantee a better or stronger democracy. The present voting age is widely accepted not only across the United Kingdom but around the world. The comparison with armed forces does not stand its ground, either. While it is true that a person as young as 16 can become a member of British armed forces, there are clear limitations and conditions under which circumstances it can happen. There are physical and mental tests, there are team exercises. It is not effortless and it is not an entitlement.

And last but not least, Mr Speaker, I would like to query where was the concern of the Right Honourable Lady for our democracy and its flaws when this Government pledged to abolish English votes for English laws.
John Lamarr MP
Member of Parliament for Christchurch
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport & Infrastructure
(media darling / campaigning guru / maverick)
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#4
Mr Speaker, 

I rise to address this debate and would like to begin by thanking the Right Honourable Lady for drawing attention to this critically important issue as well as a myriad of other tangential concerns that this legislation touches upon. The franchise of any democracy is crucial to that democracy and its identity, if the franchise is too narrow then we cannot represent the whole country and striking that balance is obviously very important.

I would like to begin by addressing the comments made by the Prime Minister about votes for 16, while I am aware that some in the media are pushing a campaign for votes at 12 I do believe that we can all agree that those proposals would be farcical, but I equally believe that that campaign sheds an important light on a key issue at play here. Wherever we in this Parliament choose to draw the line on the voting franchise we will naturally disenfranchise those who fall just shy of that standard, I remember all too keenly myself in the 1997 election, the first election I ever campaigned in, being a year too young to vote for my local Conservative candidate although as it turns out he didn't need my vote anyway thankfully. If the franchise had been extended to the current proposal then it is true that I would have been able to vote, but just because it would let me vote does it mean that I was right to vote? the Right Honourable Lady raises a very oft-quoted statistic, we allow 16yr olds to serve in the military, this is very true and indeed I cannot dispute the Right Honourable Lady's truth in this very narrow matter, but I can remind her very pointedly that due to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict we do not send these children to fight on our behalf. As a society we recognise that with rights come responsibilities, and quite naturally we shield our children from these responsibilities until they are adults. We also allow 16yr olds to marry, but we insist as a matter of law that they seek their parent's consent before they do so, because they are children. Now the Right Honourable Lady has touched on a very important philosophical and sociological issue here in what age constitutes adulthood? But until we define 16 year olds as adults, with all the responsibilities and burdens that that entails, I do not believe that it would be prudent to give them the vote because if they are not adults they are by definition children.

Moving onto the issues raised by the Right Honourable Lady in her defence of the extension of the rights of expats to vote in our elections I do believe that she is right to address this issue although I suspect that I do so for completely different reasons. We must always strive to ensure that the right to vote is matched up with the responsibilities that such a right entails. It is for these reasons that I believe we must set new criteria for the franchise in this country and I would set them thusly. An individual wishing to register to vote in this country should be a British citizen or Irish in the circumstances laid out by the Belfast Agreement, they should also be resident in the United Kingdom for no less than six months and one day of any calendar year directly preceding an election they wish to vote in except where exception is given in the Belfast Agreement, and finally they should be a full legal adult by which I mean 18 at the present time (the Government's future actions notwithstanding).

Mr Speaker with this in mind I would like to offer the following amendments to the Bill as presented:

Quote:I move that Section 2 be struck in its entirety

Quote:I move that Section 1 and 3 be amended to read respectively:

Quote:Section 1: Consultation on Reforms to the Electoral Franchises of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland
1) The fifteen year limit on citizens of the United Kingdom qualifying as overseas electors after leaving the United Kingdom shall be repealed.
2) The Secretary of State shall begin consultation with an independent commission of experts on reforms to the voting franchise for UK General Elections, Local Elections, and Devolved Elections centring on the efficacy of setting the franchise to be British Citizens, resident in the United Kingdom for six months and one day of any calendar year before an election, who are legally adults except where such measures would contradict the Belfast Agreement
3) Section 1(2) shall not apply to devolved and local administrations that have the capacity to set their own electoral franchises or the franchises of bodies of lesser scale in their jurisdiction

2: Enactment
1) This Act may be cited as the Representation of the People Act 2020.
2) Section 1(1) of this Act shall come into force by Ministerial Order, the power to trigger this order shall elapse after 2 years from Royal Assent
3) All other sections of this Act shall come into force upon the receipt of Royal Assent
4) This Act shall extend to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland
The Hon Dylan Macmillan MP
North East Bedfordshire 2015 - Present

Chancellor of the Exchequer: 2020 - Present

Chair of the Justice Select Committee: 2019 - 2020
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