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27 September 2011
The Labour Party will be "a voice for young people", the shadow secretary of state for education has declared.
Expressing concerns that the coalition is cutting youth services rather than provision for the elderly because the young tend to vote less, Andy Burnham called for the introduction of votes at 16.
This came on Monday at a Labour Party conference fringe, 'Giving young people a stake in society', hosted by Action for Children and also attended by MPs Derek Twigg, Julie Elliot and Paul Goggins.
Burnham's particular concern lay with the lack of action over helping those young people who had left school but decided not to go on to university.
He also expressed the hope that the budget for children's services would one day be protected in a similar way to overseas aid.
He did concede that whilst in government, Labour had not done enough to deliver on this front.
Baroness Royall, shadow leader of the House of Lords, spoke of the need to extend the recent e-petition initiative to councils, suggesting a 2,000-person threshold.
She also hoped young people would challenge local authorities more over service provision, suggesting that a young peoples' advocate may have to be introduced as a facilitator.
Councillor Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council, pledged to investigate the idea of councils matching funds raised by local groups for services and projects.
Pat Glass, MP for North West Durham, suggested a contract between the government and young people at ages 14 or 18 that would outline rights and responsibilities in exchange for service provision.
She continued by voicing concern over government cuts and adding that the coalition "dislikes" young people, targeting them for cuts.