PLANS to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in Assembly Elections and change the name of the Welsh Assembly are moving ahead.

AMs have voted to proceed with a bill which will lower the voting age in Assembly Elections to 16 in time for the 2021 election, as well as to rename the Assembly as the Welsh Parliament - or Senedd Cymru in Welsh - in 2020.

But, although it was overwhelmingly supported by 44 votes to one, with three abstentions, some AMs raised concerned over some elements of the bill.

Leader of the Assembly's Ukip group Gareth Bennett said he was not convinced lowering the voting age was appropriate, saying: "We feel that this is a young age at which to ask people to make political decisions. There are enough things for 16 and 17-year-olds to think about as it is without adding the difficulty of political allegiances."

And Independent Mandy Jones said she believed "our time - in fact, the people of Wales's time - could be much better spent".

"Some people in Wales will be facing a hard winter living on the streets, NHS staff are contemplating the chaos winter inevitably brings, the elderly and the poor will be choosing between heating and eating, and, as the United Kingdom comes ever closer to leaving the European Union, we have potentially transformational additional powers set to arrive at this Assembly," she said.

"Changing the name of this institution, or changing our titles, will not address those issues. Changing our title from Assembly Member to Member of Parliament, or even Senator, will not help any constituent.

"Our time should be better spent improving our constituents' lives, not our curricula vitae."

But presiding officer Elin Jones said: “We've come a long way, some distance, from the National Assembly that was first elected in 1999.

“We are a proper Parliament now, and we should call ourselves that in whatever language.”

Speaking after the vote she said: “Lowering the voting age to 16 will give young people a stronger voice in the future of our nation. Votes at 16 and renaming the Assembly will be the first step in a programme of wider reform to make our parliament a more effective, accessible and diverse legislature that fully reflects the communities and people that we serve.”

The name change would result in the suffix 'AM' being replaced by a new suffix such as MWP (Member of the Welsh Parliament). But the Assembly has said "this is a matter which is still under consideration".

It is is based on a report published in November last year, which also recommended the number of AMs should be increased to as many as 90 - a proposal which was supported by 56 per cent of those who responded to the consultation. The new bill does not include a proposal to increase the number of AMs, but the Assembly has said this and other issues are still under consideration.

Other recommendations include the deadline for the first meeting of the Assembly after an election to be extended from seven to 14 days, allowing more time for power-sharing discussions to be carried out. Similar arrangements are already in place in Scotland.

The bill also includes a revamp to the rules around who is eligible to stand as an AM, meaning people who would be forced to resign from their jobs if elected - such as members of the police force - will be able to keep their jobs during the election period, only having to quit if they are elected.

The bill will now pass through the Assembly's legislative process and will require a 'super majority' of at least 40 of the 60 AMs to be passed.