Labour's Ed Miliband formally pledges to give 16-year-olds the vote during Leaders Live event

Promise for if Labour wins the general election was announced during a debate held via YouTube

Oscar Quine
Monday 08 December 2014 19:12 GMT

Ed Miliband has delivered a formal commitment to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in elections from May 2016.

Speaking at a Leaders Live event, the Opposition Leader promised to introduce legislation in the first session of the next parliament that would give the vote to 1.5m more people.

The event was arranged by Bite the Ballot, an organisation that campaigns to engage 16- to 24-year-olds with politics ahead of the general election in 2015. In a series of discussions, the leaders of the five main parties have faced a panel of young people while answering questions sent in via social media.

Fielding questions on a range of key policy areas, Mr Miliband told 15 young people on a YouTube discussion panel that the Government needed to “ensure that they have their voices heard".

“Britain will only succeed as a country if we give our young people the chance to fulfil their potential and play their part,” he said. “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."

Mr Miliband went on to say Labour was committed to “do everything we can” to see a higher turnout among young voters.

“The measures we will introduce in our first year of Government represent the greatest extension of the franchise in my lifetime,” he said.

“But it is not enough just to give young people the right to vote. We must do everything we can to ensure they have the chance to exercise it.

“With more and more young people heading off to study or moving home, it is vital that new rules on electoral registration do not deter them getting the chance to vote.”

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