Votes for 16-year-olds 'not inevitable'

Lord Wallace Lord Wallace advises the UK government on Scots law

Allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the Scottish independence referendum will not lead to them voting in all UK elections, the UK government has said.

Westminster appears to have conceded the measure to ensure there is a deal with the Scottish government for a simple yes or no question in 2014.

But former Tory Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth said it would have "huge implications" for the rest of the UK.

Advocate general Lord Wallace said there were no plans to change the law.

Prime Minister David Cameron said in his speech at the Conservative party conference that he would meet First Minister Alex Salmond on Monday in an attempt to finalise a deal on how the Scottish referendum will be staged.

It is likely to be held in the autumn of 2014 with voters given a straight choice between independence or remaining in the United Kingdom.

It is also expected that 16- and 17-year-olds will be allowed to take part in the ballot.

In a exchange in the House of Lords, Lord Forsyth said the Scottish move would inevitably lead to extending the franchise to 16-year-olds in all elections throughout the United Kingdom - bringing politics into schools.

He said such a decision should not be made in "closed corner negotiations".

Responding for the government, the Lib Dem peer Lord Wallace, whose party supports lowering the voting age, insisted there was "nothing inevitable" about the move.

"The franchise for referendums is set out in the legislation that enables each referendum to take place," he said.

"If we agree to transfer powers to the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum then it is they who would determine the franchise."

Tory Lord Jopling said it was "a major constitutional change" and Labour's Lord Foulkes of Cumnock said it had "not be thought through" and questioned how extending the electoral register to include younger votes would be funded.

More on This Story

More Scotland stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cerro RicoSatanic mines

    Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain

  • Nefertiti MenoeWar of words

    The woman who sparked a row over 'speaking white'

  • Oil pumpPump change

    What would ending the US oil export ban do to petrol prices?

  • Brazilian Scene, Ceara, in 1893Sir Snapshot

    19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets


  • European Union's anti-terrorism chief Gilles de KerchoveHARDtalk Watch

    Anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove on the threat from returning Islamic State fighters

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.