UKYP - Debatable 2013
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A summary of the debates held in the House of Commons by the UK Youth Parliament, 15th November 2013
DebatableDemocracy is such a beautiful thing I want a piece of that(Georgina Hands, MYP for Lincolnshire Central)
Welcome On Friday, 15 November 2013, 293 Members of the UK Youth Parliament from across the country gathered in the House of Commons chamber to debate the merits of five campaigns voted for by 478,386 young people aged 11-18 in the largest single consultation of UK youth the Make your Mark Ballot. The record turnout of almost half a million young people represents a huge increase on last years figure of 253,637. This trend is mirrored in the numbers and turnouts of young people in local youth council, young mayor and youth parliament elections in recent years, indicating a growing (and unreported) interest in democracy an indication of potential for growth in the number and proportion of first-time voters in the 2015 General Election.
In the debate chaired by Speaker of the House, The Rt Hon John Bercow MP, and witnessed by the Deputy Leader of the House, Tom Brake MP; Shadow Leader of the House, Angela Eagle MP; the Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP; and Chair of the Backbench Business Committee Natasha Engel MP, Members of Youth Parliament debated five topics from which Votes for 16 and 17 year olds in all public
elections was prioritised as the UK-wide priority campaign for 2014, whilst A curriculum for life was voted as the priority national campaign (England). The Deputy Speaker of the House and First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, Eleanor Laing MP, and the Member of Parliament for Wells, Tessa Munt MP, were among other MPs in attendance.
The other three topics debated were Zero tolerance to bullying in schools, Combating youth unemployment and Better work experience and careers advice. They were chosen from a shortlist of fifteen issues included in the UKYP manifesto including issues such as equal minimum wage, environment and apprenticeships.
Debates began at around 11:00 and finished at 14:30, at which point the Speaker directed Members of Youth Parliament to the division lobbies to decide which of the topics discussed would become the focus of their devolved and reserved campaigns for 2014.
1. DEBATE SUMMARIESA Curriculum for Life
Speaking in favour of the motion, Jamie Macleod, 16, MYP for Fife (Scotland)
focused on a curriculum for life as the solution to unemployment, poverty and
debt. He urged MYPs to take on the campaign for a second year. [It won the
UKYP debate in 2012, and was the subject of a Youth Select Committee enquiry]. Calling on members to follow the example of the Scottish Youth Parliaments two year campaign and Scotlands Curriculum for Excellence he said The curriculum must be steered more towards equipping future generations to getting jobs, so that they can actually live a high-quality life. We need a versatile curriculum that helps both 11-year-olds, who worry what the big, bad world is really like, and 18-year-olds, who wonder how exactly they are going to infiltrate a seemingly impenetrable employment market.
Opposing the proposal that this should be a UKYP priority campaign was Harry Samuels, 17, MYP for Plymouth (South West), who questioned its relevance to the problems young people face and whether its objectives were achievable, We see injustice after injustice, and we see failure after failure for young people in this country, yet our solution here, today, is to tinker with the curriculum?
In a summation speech described by the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow MP as fluent, passionate and charismatic, Chant Joseph, 17, MYP for Brent (London), said A curriculum for life is all about skills. Not only are we giving young people transferable skills; we are giving them their ticket of confidence. We are telling the young person from Hackney, Hounslow, Haringey, Hull or Hertfordshire that their education is not in vain. No longer should any young person be disillusioned by conventional education. They should not be, because they should be enticed by the practicality of it.
136 out of 293 MYPs voted for A Curriculum for Life, making it the priority national campaign.
Motion: The national curriculum should be radically overhauled through a youth-led review that helps develop young peoples political knowledge, better sex and relationships education, cultural awareness, community cohesion, finance skills and sustainable living.
To find out more about the campaign, the Youth Select Committee and its report, please visit http://bit.ly/1jI3WiL Harry Samuels, MYP for Plymouth
Zero tolerance to Bullying in SchoolsIn the second debate of the day, Jakub Makowski, 16, MYP for Essex (East of England), expressed concern that bullying had become normal, natural and accepted. A Beatbullying report said 69% of young people in the UK report being the victims bullying. Speaking in favour of the motion becoming the priority campaign for 2014, he told fellow MYPs that the problem of bullying affects thousands of young people, and that it was the duty of the Youth Parliament to do something about it.
However, Kieara McKay, 15, MYP for the Army Welfare Services (British Forces Germany), argued that a year-long anti-bullying campaign would not achieve the desired outcome of eradicating bullying. She described it as a widespread problem that is deeply rooted within society, affecting young people from all social and ethnic backgrounds and in need of a much more long-term and widespread approach of educating young people and adults alike on what bullying is and the effect it has on its victims
In his summation of the zero tolerance to bullying in schools debate, Rupom Subramanian, 17, MYP for Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire (South East) said it was the duty of every MYP to use their knowledge and skills to stand up against bullying, which he described as a deplorable, disgusting, degrading act that is rife in our society. However, he went on to ask if MYPs should devote themselves to a such a worthy cause that already receives so much attention from government and other charities.
42 out of 293 MYPs voted for Zero Tolerance to Bullying in Schools to be the national priority campaign.
Motion: Schools should have a zero tolerance policy to bullying. The policies and guidance about preventing, and dealing with bullying, should be written by students in consultation with teachers and relevant professionals. We believe that schools need to have professional advice and peer support for both the victim and the bully, better training for staff about bullying, and improved information and advice for students about bullying.
Kieara McKay, MYP for Army Welfare Services
Combating Youth UnemploymentBefore breaking for lunch, MYPs debated the need for a coherent strategy to tackle the rate of youth unemployment.
Steven Atkins 16, MYP for Warrington (North West) described the problem of 965,000 unemployed young people as a major issue that needed to be addressed by the UKYP.
Speaking in favour of the motion he said, Every statistic, every number, every figure represents a young person who has been given no hope for the future and is a story of untapped potential. Generation Jobless are meant to be the citizens of today, creating a brighter future for tomorrow, but how can we fulfil our stake in society when all that is being offered to us is despair and hopelessness?
To oppose the prioritisation of this campaign, Jawaad Ashraf MYP, 17, from Birmingham (West Midlands) pointed to the education system, careers advice provision and work experience opportunities as the root causes of youth unemployment and called for us to target them first. He said, Employers value work experience more than anything, but many young people spend all their lives in education and being looked after, and when we get into the real world we dont know what to do. We have a good education system, but it does not always prepare us for the world of work. The most important issue is ensuring that all young people get the skills and experience needed for the workplace.
Summarising the debate, Laurie Donaldson MYP, 17, from Edinburgh (Scotland) said Young people are often told that we are the society of the future, but people who say that forget that we are the society of now. He argued that although the Government had already injected a significant amount of resources into improving the situation, the Youth Parliament had a part to play in alleviating the problem. He called for the appointment of a dedicated Minister for Youth Employment in Westminster, as is the case in Scotland.
76 out of 293 MYPs voted for Combating Youth Unemployment to be the priority UK-wide campaign.
Motion: We believe that the rate of youth unemployment is far too high and that young people need more support through education to help equip them with the right tools to enter the employment market. We believe that every local authority that faces youth unemployment rates of 20% or more should have to put into place a strategy for tackling this problem.
Jawaad Ashraf, MYP for Birmingham
Better Work Experience and Career AdviceAfter lunch, MYPs reconvened to debate the need for improved work experience opportunities and careers advice provision.
Ruairi Kennedy, 18, MYP for North Down (Northern Ireland) reminded fellow MYPs that work experience is no longer compulsory in schools and criticised the shift to online and telephone careers advice. He said High-quality work experience and careers guidance is both aspirational and proactive, and the outcome, rather than the output, is the focusit motivates and inspires
He told fellow MYPs that there was a ne