Press releases to journalists.
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition welcome growing support from within the Conservative Party for the enfranchisement of 16 and 17 year olds. With former front bench Minsters Nicky Morgan MP and Justine Greening MP joining votes at 16 supporter, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, it is clear the tide is turning.
Support for a lower voting age has increased over the last 19 years with politicians from across the political spectrum announcing their support for a lower voting age. 16 and 17 year olds are allowed to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections and are due to get a vote in the Welsh local elections, making it harder to deny an extension to the franchise in all elections. Yesterday, Rochdale Council joined the growing number of local authorities also declaring their support.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair of the British Youth Council said: “Young people have been calling for a lowering voting age for a long time and it’s about time they were heard. Cross-party support has been growing and is great to see Conservative politicians vocalising their support. The tide is turning.
“With votes at 16 in Scotland, and Wales following close behind, it seems ludicrous for 16 and 17 year olds to be denied a vote in other elections. We must have parity across the UK.”
UK Youth Parliament recently renewed their efforts to drum up support for votes at 16 across the country. Votes at 16 has been a long-standing campaign for Members of Youth Parliament with the issue topping the youth agenda on four occasions since 2011 in the Make Your Mark ballot.
Alaa Fawaz, aged 16, Member of Youth Parliament for Slough who has recently spoken to the Prime Minister about votes at 16 said: “I think it is sad that the Government is resisting a lower voting age. I hope we are able to change the minds of those in Government so 16 and 17 year olds can have their say in a meaningful way.
“Young people are more engaged than ever before and it’s imperative that 16 and 17 year olds are entrusted with the vote now!”
New figures suggest the Government may not have a majority on the issue in the Commons, reaping new hope for Peter Kyle MP’s Private Members Bill which is due to be debated in the chamber in May.
Earlier this evening, Jordhi Nullatamby, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock joined the Prime Minister, Theresa May, at Parliament to mark 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed the first women, and all men, to vote for the first time. During the event, Nullatamby addressed guests in Westminster Hall 100 years after the Representation of the People Act was passed, kicking off a year-long series of events and exhibitions commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.
The event, which officially launched UK Parliament’s Vote 100 campaign, was the largest gathering of the UK’s women politicians ever organised. Past and present female Members of Parliament attended the event to celebrate the pioneering women and men who fought for the right to vote, as well as the contribution of women to politics in the UK.
Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon the Lord Fowler, Speaker of the House of Lords and Prime Minister, Theresa May, all praised the contributions UK Youth Parliament had made to public life in the UK.
Jordhi Nullatamby, 17, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock said in her address to the Vote 100 Launch:
“Before I came here this evening I was asked why the Representation of the People Act mattered to me. Why are we celebrating its centenary? The simple answer is that without it, I, a young woman, would not be here speaking to you tonight. So many other young women throughout the last one hundred years would never have voted or had a say in the government of themselves and their country. The woman Members of Parliament, Peers and Prime Minister gathered here in celebration tonight, and all of those women who preceded them, would not be here either.
“But it’s important to remember that the Representation of the People Act, given royal assent one hundred years ago today, only allowed some women over 30 and all men over 21 to vote. Despite the journey of strife taken by passionate, principled and determined women, it was only the first step in an even longer journey to equality. It took another 10 years for women to win the same voting rights as men, and still today we face inequality at every turn. The journey is not yet complete, the vision not yet realised.
“As I mentioned, I am privileged to serve as a member of the Youth Parliament. Every year we take over the House of Commons Chamber and debate the most important issues for young people across the UK. When we sit on those famed green benches we paint a more colourful, vibrant and diverse picture than when the House of Commons itself sits. Over half of MYPs are women, versus only one third of MPs. Thirty seven percent of our MYPs are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, versus only seven percent of MPs. It is my hope that one day in the near future I will vote in a general election that returns a House of Commons as diverse as our Youth Parliament.
“As I said, the journey is not complete, but we are getting there. This Parliament has the highest number of women to date, all of them doing fantastic work to represent women of all backgrounds. And maybe one day, I too will sit alongside them on those green benches.
“Let this year of celebrations inspire us to carry on campaigning, and carry on fighting for a better and more equal world for the women who follow us, just as those suffrage campaigners of 1918 fought to create a better world for us today.”
The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women, making this day one of the most important milestones in British democratic history. Opening this event as the UK’s second female Prime Minister, Mrs May reflected on the enormous progress that has been made, but also on the vital campaigning work that continues today.
UK Youth Parliament represents the changing face of modern Britain. 52% of the Members of the Youth Parliament are female and 32% are from a Black and Minority Ethnic background.
On Tuesday 6th February 2018, Jordhi Nullatamby, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock will join the Prime Minister, Theresa May, at Parliament to mark 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed the first women, and all men, to vote for the first time. During the event, Nullatamby will address guests in Westminster Hall 100 years after the Representation of the People Act was passed, kicking off a year-long series of events and exhibitions commemorating the women and men who fought to achieve electoral equality.
The event, which will officially launch the UK Parliament’s Vote 100 campaign, is expected to be the largest gathering of the UK’s women politicians ever organised. All female Members of Parliament past and present have been invited to celebrate the pioneering women and men who fought for the right to vote, as well as the contribution of women to politics in the UK.
The Representation of the People Act 1918 extended the right to vote to all men over 21 and the first women, making this day one of the most important milestones in British democratic history. Opening this event as the UK’s second female Prime Minister, Mrs May will reflect on the enormous progress that has been made, but also on the vital campaigning work that continues today.
Jordhi Nullatamby, 17, Member of the Youth Parliament for Thurrock who will compère the event, said: “The Representation of the People Act 1918 was a vital step towards the rights women have today, and the centenary of the Act is an incredibly important opportunity for us to reflect on how far we have come, thanks to the extreme bravery and sacrifice of the women who fought – and in some cases died – for equality.
“Nevertheless, the job is not yet complete. The fight for equality continues, and we must continue to campaign for legislation which ensures equal opportunities for all people. Hopefully, in the next 100 years, we will again be able to look back and celebrate the amazing strides we have made towards an even more equal society.”
Speaking ahead of the launch the Prime Minister, Theresa May, said: “I look forward to joining hundreds of female Parliamentarians, past and present, to celebrate this very special anniversary.
“I’m proud to say we have more women and more ethnic minority MPs in government than ever before – proving that we are committed to looking more like the country we serve.
“Everyone attending tonight will be there because of the heroic, tireless struggle of those who came before us. As well as remembering and giving thanks to those who came before us, we must also look at what more we can do to ensure everyone in the United Kingdom, regardless of background, has the freedom to play a full and active role in public life.”
UK Youth Parliament widely represents the changing face of modern Britain. 52% of the Members of the Youth Parliament are female and 32% are from a Black and Minority Ethnic background.
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are delighted to learn that 16 and 17 year olds living in Wales will be able to participate in local elections. The British Youth Council are renewing their efforts to convince the UK Government to lower the voting age in all elections.
The announcement comes following 19 years of campaigning for 16 and 17 year olds to be enfranchised in all elections and referenda in the UK. Members of Parliament, Peers and local authorities continue to come out in support for a lowering voting age; with 8 local authorities declaring their support for the campaign in the past 3 months.
16 and 17 year olds in Scotland had the chance to vote in the Scottish Referendum, voted in the Scottish Parliamentary elections and Scottish Local Council elections and we are now due to see the same in the Welsh local elections. Extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds in selected parts of the UK and not others creates inequality and could drive an additional wedge between the devolved nations.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s getting increasingly hard for the Government to continue to deny 16 and 17 year olds a chance to vote in all elections and referenda. It seems ludicrous to oppose a lower voting age when 16 and 17 year olds already vote in local elections in Scotland and are due to vote in Wales.
“1.5 million young people were denied a vote in the EU Referendum and last year’s snap election – it’s now imperative that we have parity across the UK”
The Government have repeatedly shot down efforts to enfranchise 16 and 17 year olds, making it clear it is not in favour of a lowering voting age. However, mounting support and evidence in favour of electoral changes mean it’s becoming increasingly hard to deny young people their right to vote.
UK Youth Parliament has commenced its year-long campaign for a lower voting age and a curriculum that prepares young people for life. The campaigns commence following the last summer’s Make Your Mark ballot and a subsequent vote by Members of Youth Parliament at the House of Commons Sitting in November.
Votes at 16 and a ‘Curriculum for Life’ are longstanding priorities for young people within the UK. In the last 5 years, young people have declared the issues a priority and campaigned on them repeatedly. Members of Youth Parliament have acknowledged that there is still much work to be done for both campaigns but recognised their actions are making a difference.
Ayesha Khan, aged 17, Member of Youth Parliament for Peterborough said “We’ve made the case for enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds time and time again and the case for it remains strong. 1.5 million young people are being denied a vote in elections. This year we’ll continue to our efforts to convince decision makers this must change!
“The case for a curriculum for life has also been made repeatedly. We want PSHE to address all the topics that will allow young people to actively participate in life! It’s imperative that time is set aside in our timetables – it can’t just be a filler or a random session, it should go alongside academic subject lessons to ensure enough importance is being placed on those skills that are truly indispensable.”
Members of Youth Parliament will be working throughout the year to widen support for each issue. They’ll host events in schools and colleges, take collective action at a regional level and lobby decision makers. Any young person who resonates with the issue can take part in campaign activities alongside Members of Youth Parliament.
The British Youth Council’s Youth Select Committee will officially launch its report on body image and the impact it has on the wellbeing of children and young people. Body image was chosen as a topic for the inquiry as an issue which was prioritised by thousands of young people during the 2016 Make Your Mark ballot.
The eleven committee members are aged 13-18 and include Members of the Youth Parliament, Youth Councillors, a Youth Mayor and representatives from each of the devolved nations. Their report, entitled ‘A Body Confident Future’ is being launched as part of Parliament Week, an annual festival which encourages citizens to learn about and engage with the work of the UK Parliament. The launch will be attended by Minister for Women, Anne Milton MP and former Chair of the APPG on Body Image, Jo Swinson MP, as well as the Committee’s expert witnesses.
The Committee’s key recommendations include:
- Government sponsorship of an annual ‘National Body Confidence Week’ which would be supported by all relevant departments.
- Introduction of minimum standards for social media companies in relation to content moderation, to be enforced in the forthcoming digital charter.
- Measures to improve the diversity of advertising campaigns.
- Adequate funding for schools so that pupils are supported in their wider wellbeing, including on issues related to body dissatisfaction.
- Greater focus on body image in online resources aimed at young people, teachers and parents.
Thomas Copeland, 18, Chair of the Youth Select Committee said: “The Youth Select Committee has had the chance to speak to academics, social media giants, Government officials and of course young people themselves about the real impact body image is having on the wellbeing of children and young people.
“We’ve learned that body dissatisfaction is having a detrimental effect on young people today and it is quite clear that there are long-lasting consequences for health, education and wider life outcomes. The Committee is delighted to launch the report and is eagerly anticipating the Government’s response and plan of action.”
Evidence for the Youth Select Committee’s report on body image was gathered in July from a range of expert witnesses, including high-profile bloggers, social media companies, academics, teachers and mental health professionals. Just like UK Parliament Select Committees, the Youth Select Committee heard evidence inside a Committee Room in Parliament, which is normally reserved for MPs, and their report will now be sent to the Government for an official response.
UK Youth Parliament have chosen to focus on lowering the voting age to 16 and a curriculum for life in 2018. The decision came following the UK Youth Parliament’s ninth House of Commons debate which was chaired by the Speaker, Rt Hon John Bercow MP. The issues were two of five topics debated by Members of Youth Parliament on Friday 10th November 2017.
Votes at 16 continues to be an important issue for young people and has been voted as a campaign priority for the second year in a row. Ayesha Khan, aged 17, Member of Youth Parliament for Peterborough who spoke on the issue of lowering the voting age said “Votes at 16 is a pressing issue of paramount importance. I really don’t think we should confine the liberty of voting to 18 and above. Today’s event shows that young people are engaged. I sincerely hope that the decision makers recognise the talents and abilities of young people and take progressive action on the issue of votes at 16.”
David Abadir, aged 18, Member of Youth Parliament for Cardiff, who spoke on a curriculum for life which was chosen as the priority campaign for England, said: “I’m really excited to see that young people have prioritised a curriculum for life, because by addressing this issue we can go on to effectively address many of the other issues discussed today and we make Britain a better place for young people!”
Members of Youth Parliament are set to formally launch the campaigns during their day of action in January 2018. UK Youth Parliament will now begin to develop actions for the campaigns ahead.
The British Youth Council have announced the winners of the first ever Youth Voice Star Awards. The awards celebrate the breadth and diversity of local work happening across the UK to promote young people’s voices. The evening ceremony, which took place in London, was a chance to recognise the youth workers who make it happen, the change makers that champion young people, the organisations that give a platform to youth voice, and projects doing things differently to address local and national issues.
Anna Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s so important we pause to celebrate the huge amounts amazing work happening across the country.
“Young people across the country are standing up for the issues that they’re passionate about voluntarily and it’s essential we recognise not only them but the youth workers behind them, the decision makers championing them and of course the organisations enabling to happen.”
The following people/ groups won awards:
Best Campaign Award:
LINX from Lancashire – Council Tax Exemption
LINX recognise the many issues which affect care leavers and found that this group of people are vulnerable and at risk of losing housing tenancies, becoming homeless or going hungry due to spending a significant amount of their small income on council tax. Late last year, LINX took on the challenge to convince local borough councils to make care leavers up to the age of 25 exempt from paying council tax.
Celebrating Diversity Award:
The Chatterboxes from Bournemouth
The Chatterboxes is a youth-led project run by disabled young people from Dorset aged 11-25 years old whose aim is to eliminate disability discrimination within their community and ensure that young disabled voices are heard. Several young people felt that by creating a youth-led magazine project their voice could finally be heard, positive change for disabled people could happen and they could be amongst peers who they could relate to, sharing issues and finding solutions together.
How will you hear me? By Leicester City Council from Leicester
Leicester City Council has set-up a participation training resource for professionals is an innovative training resource designed and developed by young people from Leicester City Young Peoples Council and Young Advisors.
Youth Voice Champion Award:
Jim McMahon MP, Member of Parliament for Oldham West and Royton
Jim McMahon MP has not only championed youth voice but youth power. By giving the young people of Oldham Youth Council ownership over his first Private Members Bill. Jim chose to put young people over party or personal politics, and in doing so could grant 16 and 17 year olds the chance to use not just their voices, but their votes.
Youth Voice Worker of the Year:
Sarah Bellamy from Rotherham
Sarah Bellamy works hard behind the scenes and while it seems like all the work is done by young people, Sarah does all the organising. Sarah always ensures the youth cabinet have the right professionals in the room so they can effectively campaign on issues such as transport and mental health.
On Friday 10th November, Members of Youth Parliament will debate a range of topical issues, including the need for a ‘curriculum for life’ and public transport. In addition, they mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality. Over 200 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK will participate in the Commons debate.
UK Youth Parliament’s sitting will mark the eighth year that Members of Youth Parliament have debated on the green benches of the House of Commons. The sitting heralds the start of UK Parliament Week (13th-19th November), an annual festival of events intended to connect communities across the UK with their democracy.
This year’s Make Your Mark ballot, which decides the topics of UK Youth Parliament’s debate, reached 954,766 young people. Make Your Mark continues to be the biggest youth consultation of its kind in UK history, with almost three million young people aged 11-18 taking part in the last three years.
The debates will be streamed live on parliamentlive.tv and live on UK Parliament’s Facebook page. It is also scheduled to be broadcast on BBC Parliament on Saturday 11th November from 1:30pm-3:30pm and on Sunday 12 November from 10:00am-12:00pm.
Morning session 11.20am -12.50pm
- Protecting LGBT+ People
- Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections
- Work experience hubs for 11-18 year olds
Afternoon session 1.40pm- 2.40pm
- Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all
- A curriculum to prepare us for life
At the close of debates, Members of Youth Parliament will vote to decide which of the topics will become the focus of their 2018 national campaigns. Members of Youth Parliament will then mark the 50th Anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK by sharing their reflections on life for LGBT+ young people 50 years on.
The session will be presided over by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who said: “I am delighted to be welcoming the UK Youth Parliament to the House of Commons for their annual sitting, which is now firmly established as an important moment in the parliamentary calendar. The fact that almost a million young people voted for the motions to be debated by the MYPs shows that young people are making their voices heard, and engaging enthusiastically with the democratic process.“
Lara Ferguson, Member of the Youth Parliament for Sheffield, said “We are all really excited to be taking over the House of Commons chamber once again. It is absolutely fantastic to be given the opportunity to debate the most important issues for young people on the famous green benches. It is important that young people are given a platform for their issues so we are delighted to have the support of Mr Speaker and MPs from across the House. My hope is that we will be able to inspire more young people from all walks of life to use their voice and have their say on issues that matter most to them.”
Members of Youth Parliament will also be joined by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House, and Valerie Vaz MP, Shadow Leader of the House, who will both speak from the despatch box in recognition of the UK Youth Parliament being the only external group allowed to hold debates in the House of Commons Chamber.
Andrea Leadsom MP commented: “The UK Youth Parliament is an opportunity for Westminster to hear young people raising the issues they care about most. Both MPs in Parliament and ministers in Whitehall will be listening to what MYPs have to say.”
Valerie Vaz MP said: “Nearly a million young people voted to decide the topics that their Members of the Youth Parliament are debating, which range from public services to promoting democracy and fighting discrimination. These are very pertinent at this time, and I look forward to the debate which I am sure will be of the usual very high standard.”
The British Youth Council and Votes at 16 Coalition are supporting a renewed attempt to lower the voting age across the UK. On Friday 3 November, Parliament will debate a Private Members’ Bill which is set to enable all 16 and 17 year olds a chance to vote in all UK elections and referenda. The bill is sponsored by Jim McMahon MP, who has been a passionate supporter of enfranchising 16 and 17 year olds after listening to young people from Oldham Youth Council.
The announcement of the Private Member’s Bill has galvanised young people into action, seeing young people lobbying their MP to attend the debate. Many MPs have announced their support for the bill, including Diane Abbot MP, Caroline Lucas MP, and Sir Peter Bottomley MP.
Jim McMahon MP, Member of Parliament for Oldham West and Royton, who sponsored the Private Members Bill said: “It was only right that I let young people decide the topic of my Private Members Bill. For too long their voices have been left behind, and so I tasked Oldham Youth Council with debating and then choosing this topic – and I’m glad they chose ‘votes at 16’.
“I welcome the debate on lowering the voting age. A debate about, once again, spreading the freedoms and responsibilities of our society to many more people”.
Anna Rose Barker, Chair, British Youth Council said: “It’s extraordinary that we’re still having to make the case for lowering the voting age to 16. We cant continue to deny 1.5 million young people their chance to influence democracy.
“I’m really hoping MPs from across the House of Commons support this Bill because it’s about time we enfranchised 16 and 17 year olds in all elections and referenda”
The campaign for lowering the voting age began 18 years ago, in this time a number of MPs and Peers have used their influence and processes available to them to push the campaign forward. Despite the high turnout of 16 and 17 year olds in the Scottish Independence Referendum, 1.5 million young people were denied a vote in the EU Referendum, one of Britain’s largest constitutional decisions in recent history and in the General Election which took place earlier this year.