UK Youth Parliament
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (July 2014)|
|Motto||Making Our Mark|
|Formation||9 June 1998|
|Headquarters||London, England |
|British Youth Council|
|Affiliations||Scottish Youth Parliament, Young Mayors Network Funky Dragon and Northern Ireland Youth Forum|
Formed in 2000, the parliament now consists of around 600 members, who are elected to represent the views of young people in their area to government and service providers. Over 500,000 young people vote in the elections each year, which are held in at least 90 percent of constituencies. It is currently managed by the British Youth Council.
Members meet regularly to hold debates and plan campaigns, at venues including the British Museum, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Young people hold important positions throughout the organisation's management, and it has been endorsed by the leaders of all three main political parties.
Those elected for UKYP hold the suffix of MYP in their names. Although the idea has been widely praised both inside and outside of government, a 2004 Department for Education and Skills report found that not a single person taking part in their consultation had even heard of UKYP.
- 1 Formation
- 2 Composition
- 3 Meetings
- 4 Regional
- 5 Campaigns
- 6 Organisation
- 7 Reception
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The concept of a United Kingdom Youth Parliament first arose at an event in Coventry entitled "Heirs To The Millennium". After the event, the MP Andrew Rowe along with the NSPCC and youth worker Kate Parish began to develop a proposal for the youth advocacy group. In 1998, a steering committee was formed, led by Andrew Rowe and chaired by a young person named James Moody.
In 2000, Malcolm Wicks, Department for Education and Employment, agreed to employ a member of staff who would work full-time on developing the UK Youth Parliament alongside Kate Parish. Soon after, the first elections for the UK Youth Parliament were held, with the first Annual Sitting being held in February 2000.
A Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) works with MPs, service providers, and decision makers in order to present the views of their constituents to them. Deputy Members of Youth Parliament are also elected, although not every MYP has a deputy. Deputies work with and support their Member of Youth Parliament locally and regionally, but are not entitled to attend the Annual Sitting or other national events – unless their MYP is unable to.
There are currently over 600 Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs), including deputies (DMYPs).
The UK Youth Parliament elections are held every two years, with all young people between the ages of 11–18 being entitled to vote. In England, 90 percent of the local education authorities currently hold UKYP elections – however, criticism has been raised concerning allegations that teachers in schools where the elections take place will sometimes tell students to vote for their own school's candidate instead of allowing them to choose the candidate they prefer. Young people elect their local area's Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs), who provide a voice for the young people in their area. The number of MYP positions is proportionate to the population of young people in the authority.
Outside of England, partner organisations undertake the elections; in Scotland, elections are held every two years for young people to elect their local Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYP). The Scottish Youth Parliament then internally appoints sixteen of their members to represent the nation as their Members of the UK Youth Parliament which means that Scottish MYPs hold a dual mandate as both a MYP and a MSYP. In Wales a similar system is used by the Children and Young People's Assembly for Wales, and in Northern Ireland by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum.
The Annual Sitting is the parliament's main yearly meeting, which all MYPs attend. It takes place on a university campus over three days. Proceedings include keynote speeches from political figures, followed by question and answer sessions. Past speakers include Hazel Blears, Ben Bradshaw, and Des Browne. MYPs also hold debates on topical issues, undertake training in campaigning, democracy and leadership, and consult with outside organisations such as the Ministry of Justice, BBC Trust and Department for Transport.
At each Annual Sitting, a manifesto is created, in which MYPs aim to fully represent the issues that affect their constituents in a single document. Policies are developed based on seven key areas: Culture, Media & Sport, Education & Employment, Empowering Young People, Health, International Matters, Law & Society, and Transport, Environment and Rural Affairs. This manifesto is then presented to government as a current overview of young peoples’ views.
The 9th Annual Sitting was held at the University of Kent from Friday 24 July to Monday 27 July 2009. Keynote speakers included John Bercow MP and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The keynote speakers were:
- John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons
- Wes Streeting, President of the National Union of Students
- Jonathan Shaw, Minister for the South East
- Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury
UKYP's 10th Annual Sitting for 2010 was held at the Ulster University marking the 1st time in the event's history to be held of the mainland of Britain between Friday 23rd July - Monday 26th July.
UKYP held its 11th Annual Sitting in 2011 at the University of Leeds from Friday 22 July to Sunday 24 July. From this Sitting onwards, the event was shortened by a day and a night. UKYP were joined by the following speakers:
- John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons
- Iby Knell, A Holocaust Survivor
- Natascha Engel, Chair of the Backbench Business Committee
- Tim Loughton, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Children & Families
- Maggie Atkinson, Children's Commissioner
- Chris Williamson, Labour politician
- Liam Burns, NUS President
- Susan Nash, Chair of Young Labour
- Ben Howlett, Chairman of Conservative Future
The 12th UKYP Annual Sitting for 2012 took place at the University of Nottingham over the weekend of 27–29 July.
The 13th UKYP Annual Sitting for 2013 once again took place at the University of Leeds. Speakers included Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable; John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons and Pamela Warhurst Incredible Edible
The 14th UKYP Annual Sitting for 2014 took place at the University of Lancaster over the weekend of 25-27 July. Keynote Speakers included John Bercow; Speaker of the House of Commons, Maggie Atkinson; Children's Commissioner for England and Kamal Hyman; A previous Member of Youth Parliament for Peterborough
Circles of Influence
The annual Circles of Influence aims to focus on key youth issues, by engaging government departments, public organisations and young people in an exciting debate format. It involves around 200 Members of Youth Parliament holding discussions seated in a circular shape.
The event was first held in 2006, and takes place at the British Museum. It has focused on topics including talent, leadership, and intergenerational relations. Attendees have included Tessa Jowell, Lord Taylor and Harriet Harman.
House of Lords debates
In May 2008, the UKYP was granted permission to hold a debate between over 300 MYPs in the House of Lords, making it one of only two organisations to ever use the venue for non-Parliamentary proceedings, the other being the English Speaking Union for their International Mace Final on May 12, 2007. The event was chaired by the Lord Speaker Baroness Hayman and was broadcast on BBC Parliament.
The debates held were:
- Recycling and the environment
- National transport concession for young people
- Abolish university tuition fees
- Fair representation of young people in the media
- Lowering the voting age to 16
- Whether the amount of betting stores should be restricted.
- Single age of adulthood
House of Commons debates
Prime Minister Gordon Brown suggested that members of the UK Youth Parliament could have annual access to the House of Commons chamber in 2007, but this did not come about until March 2009, when a motion was passed to allow the UK Youth Parliament to use the House of Commons for that year's annual meeting. However, a Conservative Member of Parliament objected, which forced a vote to be taken on the issue, also employing a procedure called "I spy strangers" (historically used to expel disruptive spectators, but now mostly to disrupt the House's business) to take business in the House beyond 7:00pm and stifle any possible debate on the issue. On 12 March, a second debate was held in the House of Commons with a vote set to be taken four days later.
On 16 March 2009, 189 Members of Parliament voted to allow the UK Youth Parliament to debate in the House of Commons, with 16 votes of opposition by Conservative backbenchers. It was the first time in history that the House of Commons chamber was used by a group other than MPs.
An online vote was held from July to determine the debate topics, which were:
- Abolish university tuition fees
- Youth crime and how to tackle it
- Free transport for over 60s, but not for young people
- Capitalism, the economy and job opportunities for young people
- Lowering the voting age to 16
|“||At 16, we can marry our MP, we can sleep with our MP and we can have children with our MP. We can sign up in preparation for fighting and potentially dying for our MP. And suddenly we are not mature enough to vote for them. What an absolute disgrace!||”|
—James Evans MYP, http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/youth/debtext/91030.htm#09110254000236
The debates took place in the House of Commons chamber on Friday 30 October 2009, from 11am to 3:30pm. The session was recorded in Hansard, and the morning debates were broadcast on BBC Parliament the same day. The final two debates were televised later in the week.
The debates were chaired by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, who closed the event with a dramatic speech to MYPs in which he described the British National Party as "a poison which we could well do without". The Speaker is usually expected to remain impartial, so as not to compromise his authority, but in this case was able to express personal opinion because the ornamental mace that indicates Parliament is sitting was not in place.
In 2010 a debate was held to disuses the possibility of the youth parliament returning for a second sitting. This resulted in the decision to allow their return not only for that year, but every year for the remainder of the sitting of the current parliament.
UKYP's 2010 Debate took place on October 29th, again chaired by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons with the topics chosen for debate being selected from an Online Ballot. It was broadcast live on Parliament's Website & BBC Parliament.
As reported on the UK Youth Parliament's official website, the results of the five issues that were debated are listed as follows:
Should sex and relationships education be compulsory from primary school onwards? FOR-211 and AGAINST-104
Should university tuition fees rise? FOR-57 and AGAINST-267
Should the school leaving age be raised to 18 immediately in order to lower youth unemployment? FOR-56 and AGAINST-271
Should we withdraw all British troops from Afghanistan by 2012? FOR-137 and AGAINST-179
Should reduced transport fares for young people be protected from spending cuts? FOR-239 and AGAINST-80
Therefore, "Should reduced transport fares for young people be protected from spending cuts?" became UKYP's National Campaign for 2011.
In 2011, once again the Members of Youth Parliament debated in the House of Commons on November 4th this time having five topics chosen by over 65,000 young people. The event was chaired by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, after his persistence in supporting the youth parliament. The sitting was broadcast on BBC Parliament but this time live from 11:00am – 4:00pm.
Following the debates, the motion entitled 'Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all' was chosen as UKYP's National Campaign for 2012.
In 2012 and for the 4th Time, Members of UKYP gathered in the House of Commons on November 23rd with yet again the topics being chosen through the Make Your Ballot which saw a massive increase in turnout. From 65,000 in 2011, over 253,000 took part to choose those 5 topics that were debated. Once more, it was chaired by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons and was broadcast live once more via Parliament's Website & BBC Parliament from 11:00-16:00 ‘A Curriculum To Prepare Us For Life’ received 154 votes from the 295 cast and therefore became UKYP's 2013 National Campaign.
In 2013, Members of UKYP came together for the 5th year in a row to debate on the green benches on November 15th the top 5 issues chosen through the Make Your Mark Ballot. Make Your Mark saw a record 478,386 Young People take part, an increase of over 225,000 from 2012. In a difference to choosing campaigns, Members of UKYP chose 2 campaigns for 2014; 1 UK Wide Issue & 1 Devolved Issue (England Only). It was chaired like the other debates by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons and broadcast live on Parliament's Website & BBC Parliament from 11:00-16:00.
Following the debates in which Nick Hurd MP, then Minister for Civil Society stated that 'Old shouldn't dominate Politics', ‘Votes For 16 and 17 Year Olds In All Public elections’ was prioritised as the UK Priority Campaign for 2014, whilst ‘A Curriculum To Prepare Us For Life’ was voted as the Priority campaign for England.
The 2014 UKYP Sitting in the House of Commons took place on November 14th with the biggest media attention in the sitting's now 6-year history. Once more chaired by John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, the topics chosen through the Make Your Ballot managed a staggering 876,488 Ballots, around 14.8% of the UK's 11-18 Year Old Population and breaking UKYP into new ground. The proceedings were broadcast on Parliament's Website as tradition but were only shown through the BBC via their Democracy Live Site; the reason for this was due to the Scottish National Party's Annual Autumn Conference commencing that day. However, it was broadcast between 20:20-00:00 on BBC Parliament that day to give chance for viewers to watch if they couldn't watch online. Also, for the 1st time the event was covered by Sky News on the world's biggest Video Sharing site, YouTube through their 'Stand Up Be Counted' campaign, which was launched in the Summer of 2014.
Before the debates on Campaigns occurred, MYP's held a special Commemoration marking the 100th Anniversary of the start of World War I. The Commemoration saw 13 MYP's selected by a video application process speak from the Dispatch Boxes on how the war affected either their families of region along with a 1 Minute Silence following this. This was agreed on at UKYP's Annual Sitting in Lancaster that Summer.
Once the debates and speeches from Leader of the House of Commons, William Hague, Natascha Engel MP & Tessa Munt MP had taken place, the following information shows the results of the 2 votes; one for the UK Wide 2015 Issue and like 2013's debate, 1 devolved issue for England:
UK Wide Issue:
Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage: 156
Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public elections: 117
England Wide Issue:
Mental health services should be improved with our help: 176
Better work experience and careers advice: 78
Bring back exam resits in English and Maths: 32
Therefore, 'Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage' was chosen as UKYP's UK Campaign for 2015 whiles 'Mental Health services should be improved by our help' became UKYP's 2015 Campaign for England.
Members of Youth Parliament in England are split into nine geographical regions, which meet and work together regularly: London, East Midlands, West Midlands, South West, South East, North West, North East, Yorkshire & Humberside, East of England.
Regional meetings known as Conventions take place three times a year (June, October and December) and last around a day. Members share news, issues and resources, in addition to taking part in training to help them in their role, relevant Government Consultations and within the October Convention, Elections occur to decide regional representatives to be a Debate Lead for UKYP's House of Commons Debate and the UKYP Procedure's Group for the following year (February 1st to January 31st).
The UK Youth Parliament launched the "Make Your Mark" ballot in 2011. The purpose of the ballot to get young people from across the UK to determine which five topics the UK Youth Parliament would debate within the House of Commons. Over 65,000 young people completed the ballot after several months of campaigning.
The five issues being debated in the House of Commons chamber are:
- "Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all"
- "No to tuition fees, yes to graduate tax"
- "Zero tolerance towards bullying in schools"
- "End child poverty"
- "A Greener future for Britain"
On 4 November 2011, Members of Youth Parliament came from across the UK to debate and vote at House of Commons the most important issue to campaign on in 2012. The winning campaign topic was "Make public transport cheaper, better and accessible for all".
2012's sitting saw ‘A Curriculum To Prepare Us For Life’ become the 2013 National Campaign. Make Your Mark saw over 253,000 Young People take part.
In 2013, ‘Votes For 16 and 17 Year Old's In All Public elections’ was prioritised as the UK Priority Campaign for 2014, whilst ‘A Curriculum To Prepare Us For Life’ was voted as the Priority campaign for England. The ballot saw a new record of 478,386 Young People casting a vote.
2014 got even better for UKYP for Make Your Mark as 876,488 young people help choose the House of Commons topics; over 14.8% of the UK's 11-18 year old population. 'Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage' was chosen as UKYP's UK Campaign for 2015 with a National Campaign Day occurring on January 24th 2015. Also 'Mental Health services should be improved by our help' became UKYP's 2015 Campaign for England.
Decisions regarding the development and progression of the organisation is undertaken by the Procedures Group, made up of one MYP elected from each region and nation (known as "PGs"), for a 12-month term from February 1st-January 31st the following year. Their main focus is "key decisions relating to the membership and the programme of work, within the given strategic boundaries".
They meet a minimum of four times a year to represent their regions nationally, coordinate campaign efforts and organise events such as the Annual Sitting. Reports are taken back to MYPs at their regional Conventions & other meetings.
There are currently 11 members of the Procedures Group. These are:
Rachel Wibberley-(East Midlands Seat)
Jakub Makowski-(East of England Seat)
Dunja Relić-(London Seat)
Ciara Brodie-(North West Seat)
Jess Belch-(North East)
Rebecca Connolly-(Northern Ireland Seat)
Jessica Elms-(South West Seat)
Thomas Soud-(South East Seat)
Martyna Napierskaa-(Scotland Seat)
Billy Howells-(West Midlands Seat)
Olivia Newton-(Yorkshire and Humberside Seat)
Management and support
The British Youth Council currently manages the UK Youth Parliament. The British Youth Council won a bid in 2011, granted by the Department for Education to lead a national Youth Voice Service. Youth Voice will support young people in influencing local and national Government decision making in England, and provide continued support for the UK Youth Parliament.
The corporate and administrative governance is overseen by the Board of Trustees of the British Youth Council.
The organisation has been endorsed by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Conservative Party Leader and British Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Party Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. In 2009, Brown described the UK Youth Parliament as "a symbol of the politics we should all strive for - politics that bring people together to work for what is best for us all."
In 2006, the organisation's Head of Programmes Kate Parish was given a National Council for Voluntary Youth Services Award, for her "commendable dedication to the development of UK Youth Parliament".
In 2008, the UK Youth Parliament was given the Positive Images award by the Children & Young People Now magazine for exposing young people’s experiences of the current levels of sex and relationships education in a high profile publicity campaign. In 2009, the organisation also received a Brook special achievement award for this campaign.
The organisation has been described by Daily Mail columnist Tom Utley as "sublimely fatuous", after MYPs co-signed an open letter with public figures including Davina McCall and Polly Toynbee to The Times. The letter protested against the lack of sufficient sex and relationships education in schools, and that the UK Youth Parliament believe that this has led to increasing teenage pregnancy. Utley argues that there is already far too much sex education, and that increasing it would only lead to more underage sex.
A study by the University of Colorado found that youth participation organisations in the UK, including the UK Youth Parliament, needed to "tackle the unintentional practice of tokenism". The paper concludes that "failing to act upon [young people's] opinions or take them very seriously" once they are identified is often a cause of frustration amongst participants.
A 2004 report commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills was critical of UKYP's relationship with the devolved nations, suggesting that it was acting more as an English Youth Parliament. The report noted issues with language for some Welsh representatives, and that it was often difficult for MYPs not near to London to get to meetings with government ministers. It also advocated stronger regional groups, and improvements to ensuring engagement with government is followed up later to assess the impact.
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