On Friday 9th November, Members of the Youth Parliament will debate topics as diverse as knife crime, votes at 16, and homelessness, as part of their annual session in the House of Commons Chamber. Over 250 Members of Youth Parliament from across the UK will participate in the Commons debate.
The sitting will become the ninth session of the UK Youth Parliament in the Commons Chamber and the topics for debate were selected through the annual Make Your Mark campaign. This was the UK’s largest ever ballot of young people, with over 1.1 million young people aged 11-18 voting. The campaign was coordinated by the British Youth Council with the support of local authorities, the UK Parliament, and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The debates raise the curtain on this year’s UK Parliament Week (12-18 November), an annual festival of events intended to connect communities across the UK with their democracy.
Morning session 11:00am -12:50pm
- Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections
Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in all elections/
- Tackling Homelessness
Every person should have a place to live and the opportunity to live comfortably. Let’s make it happen and put a stop to homelessness.
- Equal Pay, Equal Work.
Give young people the same amount of pay, if they are doing the same work as adults in the same job.
Afternoon session 1:40pm- 4:00pm
- Mental Health
Mental health services should be improved with young people’s help; and should be available in schools.
- Put an end to Knife crime
Too many young people’s lives are lost to knife crime; the Government need to do more to help end the knife crime epidemic.
At the close of debates, Members of Youth Parliament will vote to decide which of the topics will become the focus of their 2019 national campaigns. Members of Youth Parliament will then mark the 1918 Representation of the People Act which granted the vote to some women and all men.
The debates will be streamed live, with a 20 minute delay, on parliamentlive.tv and UK Parliament’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Highlights from the debates will also be broadcast on BBC Parliament from 12noon on Saturday 10th November.
The session will be presided over by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, who said: “I am very pleased to be welcoming Members of the Youth Parliament to the House of Commons for the 9th time. This annual event is now a well- established and important moment in the parliamentary calendar. At such turbulent times it is vital that the voices of our future are heard – and the fact that over a million people voted for the motions to be debated by the MYPs, shows that young people are engaging fully and enthusiastically with the democratic process.”
Marcus Dyke, Member of Youth Parliament for Kingston upon Thames, said “Members of Youth Parliament will takeover the Commons chamber to debate the top concerns of young people in the UK.
“These issues were chosen in a nationwide ballot of over 1.1 million young people. Their voices must be heard! It’s imperative that moving forward, young people’s views are not only given a platform but are listened to by decision makers across the country.”
Members of Youth Parliament will also be joined by Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons, and Valerie Vaz MP, Shadow Leader of the House of the Commons, 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: “At such a crucial time for our country, we need to hear the voices of young people, who will help steer our future.
“UK Youth Parliament is a fantastic opportunity for young people to raise the issues they care about most, right in the heart of our democracy. I know that MPs in Parliament and Ministers in Whitehall will listen carefully to what MYPs have to say.”
Valerie Vaz MP said: “I am delighted to welcome and to hear Members of the Youth Parliament to the House for the 9th time. Over a million young people voted to select the topics.
“From mental health to promoting democracy and tackling the scourge of knife crime, these are all extremely pertinent issues, and I look forward to an engaging debate which I am sure will be of the usual high standard.”
My time at the British Youth Council has been exciting, new and busy to say the least! I have been exposed to and given different opportunities that I will remember for a very long time. From being in contact with journalists to meeting and speaking with people from different industries who all come together to do something great; give young people like myself a voice.
If you are wondering about the title of this post, this is what I first thought when I was told that I would be involved in the planning process for the Youth Select Committee hearings this year. My role on the day involved helping to create tweets which highlighted the main points, arguments and ideas given by those who gave up their time to give evidence on an important issue that affects thousands of young people every day; body image, it’s contributing factors and how we can ensure that difference and diversity is celebrated, rather than used as a tool of abuse. During the first committee hearing, I was able to meet and hear people who I personally followed, speak about issues close to myself, for example, the blogger The Slumflower who used her platform to speak about the body issues affecting women of colour. During the second hearing, I was able to meet someone in policy (who went to the same university that I currently attend!) and find out about opportunities at my university which may help to provide a pathway into a similar industry. (I also got to hear John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons say ‘ORDERR’ live)
Each day at the Brtish Youth Council has been different. Whether it’s been a long term project over a period of months or a simple day meeting, my skills have been put to test in this fast-paced environment. Sometimes, I have needed a little extra help or explanation about specific tasks. But the great thing is, the British Youth Council staff are very understanding and have offered support and clarity when I am having difficulty with a task. A chance for creativity has also been heavily present in my role. Whether it be designing tweets which are able to draw people in and get them involved in projects (Make Your Mark, or giving evidence to the Youth Select Committee) or finding creative solutions to problems, I have had a chance to bring some of my own ideas into my work.
I am really grateful and happy that I have had this opportunity. I hope to use this experience when I’m further into the working world, and the British Youth Council is something I hope to continue to get involved with, well past my youth.