PMB Watch: The Representation of the People (Young Persons’ Enfranchisement and Education) Bill

3 July 2015

DeHavilland caught up with newly-elected Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham Deptford) to discuss her Private Member's Bill, which aims to extend the franchise to voters from the age of 16.

Why did you choose votes for 16- and 17-year olds as the topic of your Private Member’s Bill?

I’m incredibly worried about the lack of youth provision for young people at the moment, particularly with all of the cuts.

I’m worried about what job opportunities young people think that they’ve got in the future, what aspirations that they’ve gone and got.

In thinking about the Private Member’s Bill - firstly, I got called at number 16, so votes at 16 has got a link!

Also, young people need to be able to have a say over their future, and for me that’s being able to vote at 16 and 17. 

One of the considerations in terms of putting forward a Private Member’s Bill is whether or not there’s a cost associated with it, and actually there isn’t a huge cost associated with bringing in votes for 16- and 17-year-olds.

You tend to find low levels of engagement among young people. Do you think that this Bill will have an impact on engagement levels?

You look in Scotland and you had huge engagement in voting from 16- and 17-year-olds. I went up there campaigning during the Scottish referendum, and one of things I saw how passionately engaged young people are.

I go out to schools and youth centres in the area and chat with young people, and they’re so incredibly engaged in politics, and I think it’s important that they are then able to use their votes at the ballot box to be able to continue that engagement.

Why has this issue come to the fore now?

We’ve got the EU referendum – it’s going to have a huge impact in the future on 16- and 17-year-olds. I think a lot of people are of the view that they should be able to have their votes cast.

Going from school straight into being able to vote seems to make sense.

Do you think the Bill will receive the support it needs to get through the House?

I hope it will do, and I’ll be campaigning to try and make sure that’s the case. The truth is, I’m number 16, so in terms of where you are on the priority list, it’s quite low down.

However, when we went through to go and present them there was a position left for second on 11 September - albeit it’s very soon. So I will be second on that day.

Hopefully, it will get the opportunity to be debated then.

Who’s supporting you in drafting the legislation and campaigning on this issue?

The Public Bill Office help in terms of that, but I’m working with lots of different groups.

So I’m working with the British Youth Council and the Electoral Reform Society. I’m working with the Young Mayor of Lewisham, Ian Islam, and anyone else who wants to get involved in terms of the campaign.

I think it’s just really important to try and give it as much priority as possible. There’s the Votes at 16 campaign as well.

Now that the Bill’s been inserted into the Order Paper, what happens next?

On 11 September, it’s the first day for the Private Member’s Bill Ballots to be debated.

There’s one that’s above me on the day, so if that’s debated and completed then we’ll be able to debate the Votes for 16s one.

If it isn’t, then it will drop off for there and then we’ll have to try and go for another day.

To read more about this year's Private Members' Bills, click here to download DeHavilland's special briefing.

Madhav Bakshi, Political Analyst
Madhav Bakshi
Political Analyst

Madhav Bakshi is a Political Analyst within DeHavilland’s Editorial Team and leads on Energy policy. He is a graduate of King’s College London, where he studied International Politics.