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UK Youth Parliament event at the House of Commons, 14/11/14 [W]

On 14 November 14, Children in Wales supported young people from all over Wales to debate youth issues in the House of Commons, with funding by the Welsh Government.

The House of Commons debate is an annual event organised by the UK Youth Parliament where young people from all over the UK come together to debate five issues chosen by young people.  This year over 850,000 young people voted on the issues to be discussed.  The event is an opportunity for young people who are engaged in their local youth forums and communities to sit on the same green benches as MPs and to see how democracy works first hand.

Children in Wales enabled the participation of 20 young representatives aged 14-18, from 18 of the local authorities youth forums.  The Welsh Government provided funding for the event, and there was also a contribution from John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons.

In October Children in Wales held an election for the Welsh Debate Lead with Avery Hubbard from Pembrokeshire being selected by the other representatives to provide a key speech on one of the five debate topics.  Avery attended an additional residential to develop the skills and confidence required for public speaking.  All the Leads were asked to rank the debate topics that they wanted to speak on; as always not all the Leads were given their preferential topics and some had to debate against topics they believed in.  Avery was asked to debate against the living wage.

The five topics that were debated in the House of Commons were:

  • Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.65 per hour (£8.80 in London). Anyone who works, regardless of age, should have a decent standard of living.
  • Bring back exam resits in Maths and English in English schools, and help us achieve our potential.
  • Work Experience. We should have the chance to do at least a week’s placement, at a place of our choosing. We should have access to professionals who inspire us.
  • Mental health services should be improved with our help.  We should all learn about common mental health issues at school and negative stereotypes should be challenged.
  • Votes at 16. Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in elections and referendums

Avery spoke passionately about the unemployment, poverty and limited opportunities that many young people in the UK face, but felt that the living wage would not solve the deeper issues of inequality and unemployment that our society has.  She argued that it would potentially increase inequality through damaging an already unstable economy, result in small businesses closing and increasing unemployment.

With the commemoration of World War One, there were also speeches from every region to mark the centenary.  Jo Stallard from Denbighshire spoke on Ellis Humphrey Evans, a Welsh war poet and Eisteddfod Chair who left a linguistic legacy and amplified the Welsh voice.

The day ended with a vote for the two UKYP campaigns for the upcoming year.  They voted to campaign for the living wage, and for better mental health services.

You can watch this years debates on bbc i player:

Morning session –  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04ph3sl

Afternoon session: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04ph3sn