Ed Miliband says people will be able to vote at 16

Labour leader Ed Miliband
Labour leader Ed Miliband
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SIXTEEN AND 17-year-olds would get the vote in UK elections from as early as 2016 under Labour proposals, Ed Miliband said.

The Opposition leader and Doncaster North MP promised to pass legislation to extend the franchise to 1.5 million more teenagers in the first session of the next parliament.

And he said schools and colleges would be required to help reverse a slump in the numbers of young people registered to vote.

Mr Miliband set out the timetable as he became the latest politician to face questions from a young audience at a Leaders Live event - organised by voter engagement group Bite the Ballot and streamed by YouTube and ITV News.

Pressure to lower the voting age across the UK has become stronger after 16 and 17-year-olds were allowed to take part in the Scottish independence referendum.

Electoral law is one area due to be devolved to the Scottish Government as part of an extended devolution deal and Mr Miliband urged the UK Government to grant the freedom for it to be changed north of the border in time for the 2016 elections to the Scottish Parliament.

There are also elections due to the Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies and Labour said it would work with both to make the change.

Other elections in May 2016 include those for the London Mayor and Assembly and in many local authorities.

Mr Miliband said: “Britain will only succeed as a country if we give our young people the chance to fulfil their potential and play their part.

“And when decisions are being taken which affect their future, a democratic country like ours should ensure that they have their voice heard.

“Too many young people are turning their backs on politics which is bad for our country and bad for them too.

“That’s because too often young people don’t get a look-in with politicians who know they can’t vote - or assume that they won’t vote. The measures we will introduce in our first year of government represent the greatest extension of the franchise in my lifetime.”