A living wage and the right to vote for 16-year-olds are two of the big issues that members from Central Bedfordshire Council’s Youth Parliament will debate in the House of Commons to kick-start an annual national awareness week.
Today, Friday, November 14, they will tackle the burning issues affecting young people today to open Parliament Week, a yearly initiative to build greater awareness, understanding and engagement with parliamentary democracy in the UK.
Central Bedfordshire’s Member of UK Youth Parliament Michael Ita (Redborne School) and Deputy Member of UK Youth Parliament Ellen Burke (Sandy Uppper School) will be among 300 members aged 11-18 from across the nation that will take part in a debate chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP.
Screened on the BBC Parliament channel they will debate five issues, which have been whittled down from 150 in a UK-wide ballot, and then vote to decide which two should become the UK Youth Parliament’s priority campaigns for 2015.
The five key topics up for debate are:
•A living wage of £7.65 per hour for everyone regardless of age
•The right for 16 and 17 year olds to vote in elections and referendums
•Improved mental health services
•The return of exam resits in maths and English
•Work experience at a place of an individual’s choosing
The ballot, which was part of the Government-backed ‘Make Your Mark’ campaign, saw Central Bedfordshire’s Youth Parliament enjoy the highest percentage turnout in the county (23.76 per cent), where 5,796 people had their say including 1,100 through the @CBYouthVoice Twitter page alone.
Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “I want as many young people as possible to be involved in the way our country and local communities are run and CBC have been putting a lot of work into ensuring that young people are engaging with us locally. So, I’m really pleased that two of our young people will get the chance to be involved in this fantastic event.
“It’s great that so many people took part in the ballot as this means they have a real say on the issues that are important to them and the decisions that affect them.”
For more on Central Bedfordshire Youth Voice go online to www.centralbedsyouthvoice.wordpress.com or follow @CBYouthVoice on Twitter.
To have your voice heard on Parliament Week follow @parliament_week on Twitter and tweet using #DoDemocracy, or visit facebook.com/parliamentweek11 and instagram.com/parliament_week