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The "Speaker" Jon Bercow with Iby Knell, Holocaust survivor, who both spoke about the importance of living in a free society where we can all speak without fear of arrest or persecution.
Three hundred Members of the UK Youth Parliament from across the country gathered in Leeds for the 11th Annual Sitting of the UK Youth Parliament (22-24 July). It was opened by the House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow MP who underlined the value and importance of the UK Youth Parliaments role in free society, and closed by Natascha Engel MP Chair of the Backbench Business Committee who congratulated members on their hard work and achievements over the weekend.
The Sitting also heard from Childrens Minister Tim Loughton MP, Childrens Commissioner Maggie Atkinson, Labour politician Chris Williamson MP, NUS President Liam Burns, Chair of Young Labour Susan Nash, and Chair of Conservative Futures Ben Howlett. MYPS also attended skills development sessions and briefings on a range of policy issues. One of the outcomes of the weekend was to refresh and update UKYP Manifesto for change and the final session saw 20 new motions adopted into the manifesto which will be published later in the year. A public youth vote will identify those to be debated in the UKYP House of Commons sitting in November.
Some of the motions included:
Press freedom – the UK press should have the freedom to publish any material as long as the information retrieved is done so legally and morally; and that the press should be more diverse in what it publishes and represent different aspects of society more accurately.
Youth unemployment – a strategy should be put in place for every local area that has youth unemployment of 20% or more, based on better skills, reviving the curriculum, investing in jobs, apprenticeships and internships, with all young unemployed people have their own personal adviser. As well as tax breaks for young entrepreneurs to help them start their own business.
Environment – for government support to households embracing energy efficient technologies; and an education programme for sustainable living to be added to the school syllabus, starting in primary schools.
Basic Life Skills – PSHCE lessons should include finance, domestic activities and political skills; and for finance professionals to be trained to educate young people about the economy and treated fairly.
Constitutional affairs – there should be a codified UK constitution, giving the judiciary a fair base from which their decisions can be made; young people should be involved in democracy from an early age, pre-voting to increase participation; and that Government should support widening of opportunities to people of all backgrounds for senior posts in public office. Representatives also reaffirmed a call for votes at 16.
Cuts to youth services – UKYP believes that the cuts to youth provision are damaging, unfair and done with haste.
Other successful motions include: fair maternity leave; lowering the legal age for women to have a free smear test for cervical cancer; young people to have access to free and clear, comprehensive legal aid; rehabilitation of young offenders, education and transport issues.