A once in a lifetime experience; debating in the House of Commons. Something that became a reality for me and over 250 other Members of Youth Parliament from around the United Kingdom.
I never thought that I’d ever get to take up such an exciting and rare opportunity to even visit the House of Commons never mind debate on the famous green benches. I always wanted to become a member of parliament but never thought that I’d be getting to debate in there at the age of 14.
The day consisted of many hours of gripping debate among MYPs, before we had to vote on what we wanted to see as the National Campaign for 2012-13.
The 5 issues of debate along with vote numbers are as follows:
• Public Transport – 23
• Getting ready for Work – 46
• Marriage for all – 22
• National Minimum Wage for All – 50
• Curriculum to prepare us for life – 154
MYPs across the UK will now be campaigning for “A curriculum to prepare us for life”. We will all be campaigning hard to try to get this off the ground and improve the situation for Children and Young People across the UK.
We could not have been in the House of Commons debating if it wasn’t for the 250,000 young people who took part in the “Make your Mark” ballot which chose the 5 issues that were debated in the Commons. The number of ballots that came back was truly astonishing, an amazing number of young people made their voices heard.
Those who were lucky enough to lead the debates were truly inspirational, showing such passion on the issues which they were speaking about, it made me truly question which issue was getting my vote.
It was amazing to see the kind of support that the UK Youth Parliament is getting from Parliament and Government. This was proved by the fact that the debate was chaired by the speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP. He expressed his support by saying “If the quality of debate was anything like this morning, you’ll be just fine.” There was also an official statement from the Prime Minister, read out by Rahib Shabir, representing the city of Bradford. The Leader of the House of Commons, The Rt. Hon. Andrew Lansley MP, Shadow Leader of the House, Angela Eagle MP and Parliamentary under Secretary of State at the Department of Education, Edward Timpson MP all gave speeches expressing their support for the Youth Parliament. They even made their speeches humorous with the Shadow Leader of the House reminding us all of a certain MPs musical tie gaffe when telling us to turn off mobile phones.
As Deputy Member of Youth Parliament (DMYP) for Rotherham, I am working hard with my colleagues to focus on local issues. For example we are working hard on the “Young Carer’s Card” project and we are still hard at the previous year’s national campaign, “Making public transport cheaper, better and more accessible for all”.
I hope that not only my work, but the work of the Youth Paliament as a whole, will be successful this year and that by the next time we sit down on the famous green benches of the Commons we will be praising each other for the effective representation we have given to young people across the country.
By Oliver Blake