Friday, June 5, 2015

Further to the previous

It is appropriate that on the fortieth anniversary of the 1975 referendum that kept us in the EEC we should go on discussing the forthcoming referendum.

As it happens the question of EU citizens, who live in the UK but have not bothered to take UK citizenship for reasons of their own that I fully accept and respect, voting in the referendum and other elections has come up though is unlikely to go far. A European Union Citizens (Electoral Rights) Bill was introduced into the House of Lords by Lord Balfe and read for the first time, which is a formality. Its purpose is to
Make provision to allow European Union citizens who are resident in the United Kingdom to vote in parliamentary elections and to become members of Parliament; and for connected purposes.
The "connected purposes", one assumes, refers to the referendum. I do not see this Bill going very far as Private Members' Bills need HMG's support to achieve even a Second Reading, let alone further stages. All the same, it is a silly idea, especially as it seems to make no provisions even for the length of time an EU citizen has been resident in the UK in order to qualify.

Lord Balfe, a former member of the Toy Parliament, is a Conservative though he seems to have started life as a Labour politician.

And now, back to the question of whether children should be given the vote in the referendum or not. The subject of 16 and 17 year-olds voting was raised in the House, as this blog reported, and will, undoubtedly come up again.

Curiously enough, part of the same age group was discussed in the ensuing debate on the Queen's Speech. Speaking for the Liberal-Democrats, Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, a barrister himself said inter alia [scroll down when you go to the link]:
In the justice area there are several proposals which are to be welcomed. I will mention just four. First, the proposed policing and criminal justice Bill promises that 17 year-olds will be treated as children under all the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, bringing English law into line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights, and in particular ensuring that 17 year-olds have a legal right to be interviewed in the presence of an appropriate adult.
I assume this means that 16 year-olds are already treated as children under all the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Equally, I assume that Lord Kennedy of Southwark, who asked the question on the subject, and his party (Labour) do not object to that or to the notion that 17 year-olds should be reduced to being children when questioned by the police or required to give evidence. Yet, at the same time, they propose that both those groups should be raised to the status of adults when asked to vote in a referendum. Logical, this ain't.


  1. I've been meaning to ask what you mean by 'toy parliament', as so many institutions seem to qualify, from Strasbourg/Brussels to Westminster. In my opinion, the best description I've heard of a parliament is Billy Connolly's of Holyrood, which he calls 'the wee pretendy parliament.'

    1. That's a good one about Holyrood. I might use it some time, with full acknowledgement. I describe the European Parliament as the Toy Parliament because it does not resemble a real one in any sense of the word.

  2. Will no-one think of the children! I note it is now the law in this country that all shop/bar staff must be rude to anyone looking under the age of 25, they even have to wear badges saying so. In fact society in general seems to be doing all it can to delay the passage into adulthood. Except when they think they might give the right answer in an election/referendum.

    1. Exactly. These points are not raised too often in parliamentary debates.

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