Age and the law: some facts about Britain


School-leaving age: Children have to stay at school until the age of 16. There is no upper age limit.

Alcohol: You have to be 18 to buy alcohol in a shop or a pub,but if you are having a meal in a pub you can drink beer or wine with it.

Prosecution: In Scotland you can be prosecuted for a crime at the age of 8. In England and Wales this age is 10. You cant be sent to prison until you are 21.

Motor vehicles:  16 years olds can ride a motorbike of up  to 50cc. At 17 you can ride any bike or drive a car.

Smoking: You can smoke cigarettes at any age,but you cant go into a shop and buy them until you are 16.

Armed forces: Men can join the army at 16, women at 17. If you under 18 you need your parents consent.

Marriage:  You can get married at 16 with your parents consent. Otherwise you have to wait till you are 18.

Paid employment: you can take a part time job at 13,and a full time job at 16 (i.e. when you’ve left school)

Voting: anyone aged 18 or over can vote in a general election.

Retirement age: Women can retire on full pension at 60. Men have to wait till they are 65.

Entering Parliament: The minimum age for becoming a Member of Parliament is 21. The youngest person to become an MP in the 20th century was Bernadette Devlin who was elected a week before her 22nd birthday.


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