On Friday 13 November, Members of the UK Youth Parliament will debate a range of topical issues, including the need for improved mental health services and tackling racist and religious discrimination. In addition, they will mark the 750th anniversary of the Magna Carta through a discussion of what its principles mean to young people today. The Youth Parliament, sitting for its sixth year in the House of Commons Chamber, heralds the start of Parliament Week (16-22 November), a UK-wide programme of events and activities that inspire, engage and connect people with parliamentary democracy.
This year, a record number of 11-18 year olds 969,992 voted for five campaign subjects to be debated in the House of Commons by Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs), who themselves have been elected to represent constituencies from every part of the UK. In contrast to the actual House of Commons the young MYPs, who have worked as volunteer representatives and campaigners for over a year to earn their seat at this debate – are more representative of those they speak for, than their adult equivalents, in terms of gender, background and ethnicity.
The debates will be streamed live on the Parliamentary website, and all schools across the UK have been encouraged to tune in to watch the debates which will be broadcast from 11.10am. At the close of debates, MYPs will vote to decide which of the topics will become the focus of their national 2015 campaign.
Pictured: Avery Hubbard, during the 2014 House of Commons Sitting)
Morning session – watch from 11.10am (session concludes by 12.40pm)
- 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.
- Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all.
- Mental health. Services should be improved with young people’s help and mental health education should be compulsory and challenge stereotypes.
Afternoon session – watch from 1.40pm
- A Curriculum to prepare us for life. Schools should cover topics including finance, sex and relationships and politics in the curriculum.
- 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.)
- ‘My Magna Carta’
The UK Youth Parliament sitting will be presided over by the Speaker Rt Hon. John Bercow MP, who said: “The record number of ballots in the vote to select issues to be debated at the annual sitting of the Youth Parliament demonstrates that it is a showcase event for young people and the issues that matter to them. I am pleased that the House of Commons can offer the Chamber as a platform for young people to share their views.”
Members of Youth Parliament will also be joined by Dr Therese Coffey MP, Deputy Leader of the House, Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Leader of the House, and Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civic Society who will both speak from the despatch box in recognition of the UK Youth Parliament as the only external group permitted to use the House of Commons Chamber.
Dr Therese Coffey MP, Deputy Leader of the House of Commons said: “This is a very special occasion for young people from across the country to come and debate in the Commons chamber. I am sure they recognise this special privilege and will be powerful advocates for other young people.”
Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, said: “I am delighted to welcome the UK Youth Parliament back to the House of Commons for their annual meeting. The number of young people who participated in the ballot is a clear testament to the importance of this annual event. I hope that every MYP is proud to have the opportunity to represent their peers, and I am certain that they will have enjoyable and successful session in the Commons Chamber on Friday.”
Namir Chowdhury, aged 17, Member of Youth Parliament for Walsall said: “The House of Commons Sitting is a highlight for all Members of Youth Parliament, and is fitting considering we delivered the biggest consultation of young people in the world with an incredible 969,000 voices heard. The opportunity to debate these topics in such a prestigious chamber is a true honour, and a credit to the inspirational work that young people, and the youth workers and our partners, have done over the last year. We will be remembered for generations because we brought real change. Now, it’s time to make the people we represent proud!”
279 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK will participate in the debate and have been elected by their peers to represent them. MPs have also been invited to meet their local Youth Parliamentarians on the day to discuss these key issues.
The UK Youth Parliament is one of the key events of Parliament Week, a national awareness week supported by the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
A detailed report on what local areas voted for and regional/national preferences is available – including a list of hundreds of volunteers who mobilised the mass youth vote. The highest turnout was Blackpool – 64%, West Belfast in Northern Ireland with 44% and the Orkneys 45% . The most successful volunteer champion was Minhaz Abedin MYP from Leeds with 8,732 ballots completed. The Northwest of England had the highest regional turnout with 27%, over 1 in 4 young people.
All 13 regions and nations prioritised the Living Wage as their no 1 priority campaign. Only in their second choice was their a change in the order with Northern Ireland, Scotland and the West Midlands prioritising Mental Health over a Curriculum for Life.
|Region/Nation||2015 Ballot||2015 Turnout|
|East of England||85,962||15.23%|
|Yorkshire and Humber||96,739||19.00%|
|Army Welfare Service||350||28.71%|