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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

UK Youth Parliament to commemorate First World War in sixth annual sitting

On Friday 14 November, Members of the UK Youth Parliament will commemorate those who gave their lives in the First World War, as well as debating a range of topical issues, including the need for improved mental health services and lowering the voting age. The Youth Parliament, sitting for its sixth year in the House of Commons Chamber, heralds the start of Parliament Week (14-20 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 - 865,000 - voted for their subjects to be debated by Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs) in the House of Commons.

The debates will be streamed live on the Parliamentary website and shown on BBC Parliament and all schools across the UK have been encouraged to tune in to watch the debates which will 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. The UK Youth Parliament is working in partnership with Sky News’ Stand Up and Be Counted initiative in the run up to the event. MYPs will be uploading videos of themselves talking about the five topics up for discussion ahead of the House of Commons debate.

Morning session

Watch from 11.10am (session concludes by 12.40pm)

  • World War 1 commemoration
  • The Living Wage
  • Exam resits in Maths and English

Afternoon session

Watch from 1.40pm

  • Better work experience and careers advice
  • Improving mental health services
  • Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections

The UKYP sitting will be presided over by Mr Speaker, the, 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."

MYPs will also be joined by Rob Wilson MP, Minister for Civil Society, and Natascha Engel MP, Chair of the Backbench Business Committee, who will both speak from the despatch box in recognition of the UKYP as the only external group permitted to use the House of Commons Chamber.

Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society, said: "We are committed to generating opportunities for young people to have their say. UK Youth Parliament helps to engage young people across the country to discuss the issues that matter the most to them. This debate will enable young people to gain experience of speaking in the House of Commons and give them an opportunity to learn more about how Parliament works. I am looking forward to hearing the Youth Parliament debate on these topics."

Natascha Engel MP, Chair of the Backbench Business Committee, said: "I am delighted to welcome the UK Youth Parliament back to the House of Commons for their annual meeting. The UKYP represent young people and the issues that matter to them, and their success can be measured in the record number of participants in the ballot to select this year’s debates. Every MYP should be proud of the work they do, and I hope they have an enjoyable and successful session in the Commons Chamber on Friday."

Over 300 MYPs 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.

Ciara Brodie, a Member of the Youth Parliament from Liverpool, who will be leading a debate on the day, said: “Friday 14 November will be a incredible day, not only for those sitting in the chamber, but for young people across the country. This is the day when hundreds of Members of Youth Parliament will take to the green benches of the House of Commons and debate on the issues that are most important to us. These five issues have been decided by a nationwide ballot taken part in by over 865,000 11-18 year olds. This day will be symbolic, because young people often feel excluded from politics, and like their voices are neither acknowledged nor represented in Parliament." 

Continuing Miss Brodie said: "This sitting is an incredible opportunity to engage young people from across the UK in political debate, just months before a General Election. With educational reform a hot topic and 16 and 17 year olds voting in the Scottish Referendum, there has never been a more important time to listen to young people. It is one thing to be given a voice but hopefully, as a result of this debate, young people will also be listened to. This is our chance to make our mark in the heart of Westminster.”

The 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.