Reducing the voting age to 16 will make young people more vulnerable to sexual predators, a Labour MP has said.
During a debate about the franchise for the forthcoming EU referendum Mr Sheerman argued that lowering the voting age was equivalent to saying someone was an adult at 16.
“Isn’t what is missing out of this the responsibility we have as parliamentarians to care for young people who are very vulnerable?” he said.
“Up and down this country we’ve had vulnerability to sexual predators and ghastly things happening right through to 18.
“This move to have adults at 16 will make a lot of young men and women more vulnerable to sexual predation than happens at the moment.”
The voting age is current 18 while the age of sexual consent is 16 in most cases.
Labour frontbencher Pat McFadden, who was leading the debate for the opposition, said he did not agree with his colleague.
“I have a huge mutual respect for my honourable friend but I do not see the connection between extending voting rights to people at 16 and making them more vulnerable to sexual predators,” he replied.
16 and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote in the Scottish independence referendum last year – an opportunity many took advantage of.
Labour’s manifesto at the general election pledged to reduce the voting age to 16. The Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the Green Party all also support the move.
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