Sixteen year olds could have the vote in a referendum on whether to give new tax raising powers to the National Assembly. The Welsh Government will now be able to decide the age at which people can vote in the poll. The changes were announced in the House of Lords on November 11 as an amendment to the Wales Bill, which will grant limited tax raising powers to the Welsh Government. The amendment was tabled by Plaid Cymru’s Lord Dafydd Wigley and Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas. Lord Wigley welcomed the changes, which have been seen as a significant concession by the UK government. Speaking at the House of Lords debate, he said: “Plaid Cymru has long campaigned for the lowering of the voting age in Wales to 16 years old. As might be expected, this amendment was drawn up partly in response to the decision of the Scottish government to empower 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the September referendum, as well as the outstanding take up of that right.
“Whatever people’s politics, I hope that I would be correct in asserting that the decision to allow those aged 16 and over to vote in that plebiscite was commendable, and opened up democracy for a new generation.
“The sheer levels of engagement in that referendum were staggering, and if we in Wales, and indeed, across the UK, can try to emulate that engagement in politics and public life, it will be a tremendous success.”
In the Scottish independence referendum in September, 16-year-olds were able to vote for the first time. But the voting age for National Assembly and General Elections will remain at 18.