967,000 young people make their mark in UK Youth Parliament’s biggest ever mandate for House of Commons debates.

The British Youth Council and UK Youth Parliament released details today (Friday 16thOctober) of their largest ever youth referendum ballot of issues to be debated in the House Of Commons by young elected representatives. Living Wage (the real one) topped the poll, followed by Curriculum for Life, Mental Health, Public Transport, and tacking Racism and Religious Discrimination.

This years campaign has seen a 10% increase on last year (877,488 votes) setting a new record for the biggest  youth consultation of its kind in UK history, with nearly 1 in 5 of all young people aged 11-18, taking part.

The Make Your Mark ballot, supported by this year by NCS Trust (National Citizen Service), Local Authorities, Parliament, The British Youth Council and the Cabinet Office gives young people across the country a say on what is to be debated to be a priority campaign by their Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) in their annual House of Commons debate, to held this year on 13th November.

The five issues that received the most votes in the ballot are:

  • Living Wage. Everyone should be able to live comfortably. Everyone aged 16 or over should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.85 per hour (£9.15 in London). (The ‘Living Wage’ as devised by the Living Wage Foundation.)
  • A Curriculum to prepare us for life. Schools should cover topics including finance, sex and relationships and politics in the curriculum.
  • Mental health. Services should be improved with young people’s help and mental health education should be compulsory and challenge stereotypes.
  • Transport. Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all.
  • Tackling racism and religious discrimination, particularly against people who are Muslim or Jewish.All young people should work together to combat racism and other forms of discrimination, and ensure we know the dangers of such hatred.

Each issue ranked most important to young people will become the topics of debate within the chamber on Friday 13th November during the UK Youth Parliament’s sixth sitting in the House of Commons. This years debate is due to be chaired by John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons who has chaired every debate in the House of Commons since their first sitting in 2009. The sitting of youth parliamentarians is still the only time anyone other than MPs debate on the famous green benches with MPs only recently granting access for this new term of Parliament. The debates will be concluded with a vote to decide on which issues should become their priority campaign in 2016.

Ciara Brodie, [17] Procedures Group representative for North West, UK Youth Parliament said: “This is yet more proof that if you give young people the opportunity to have their voices heard they’ll jump at the opportunity! Every year the Make Your Mark campaign creates such a buzz, and its so inspiring to see so many young people involved! I’d like to thank every single young person who took part, this is just the beginning of our journey lobbying for change for and with our peers!”

Jon Foster, Chair, British Youth Council said: “This number of ballots represents the phenomenal efforts Members of Youth Parliament, their peers, schools and our partners have made up and down the country to ensure young people have a chance to tell us exactly what the UK Youth Parliament should be prioritising. Members of Youth Parliament can now walk into the commons armed with a massive mandate for debate and I can’t wait to see them in action next month!”