Historic debate involves Colyton Grammar student

HISTORY will be made next Friday when members of Devon s Youth Parliament join 300 young people across the UK for debates in the House of Commons.

HISTORY will be made next Friday when members of Devon's Youth Parliament join 300 young people across the UK for debates in the House of Commons.

For the first time in 300 years, someone other than MPs has been allowed to sit on the famous green benches to hold a Commons debate.

MPs voted to allow members of the UK Youth Parliament the honour, giving 11-18 year-olds a one-off chance to debate issues of concern to young people across the country.

Debates on tackling youth crime, lowering the voting age to 16, jobs and transport provision for young people and free access to university will be heard.

Speaker John Bercow is expected to open the session, and Harriet Harman, MP, to welcome the UKYP.

East Devon MP Hugo Swire is unable to attend the debate because of constituency engagements, but has spoken with Adam Ward, MYP for Mid and East Devon.

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Mr Swire said: "It is more important than ever that young people engage with the political process.

"I am always heartened when I go and speak to school children in East Devon schools and am supportive of all efforts to get them thinking about the world in which they live and to think about the world in which they wish to live."

Adam, who goes to Colyton Grammar School, said: "I am extremely excited about this opportunity to represent young people in my area and I am grateful to MPs for voting to allow us to debate in the chamber."

On the day people will be able to follow what's happening in the House of Commons chamber via a live blog at www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk/liveblog

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council's cabinet member for Children and Young People's Health and Wellbeing, said she was proud to be a cabinet member on such an historic occasion.

She said: "This promises to be a really exciting debate, and one that I am sure our young people will enjoy taking part in.

"In Devon we actively encourage young people to participate in shaping their services, and the role of our UK Youth Parliament Members is an important one in gauging the views of their peers."

Devon's UK Youth Parliament is currently recruiting for new members ahead of the Big Vote 201 which takes place early next year.

Those aged 11 to 18 who feel able to represent Devon's young people on the UK Youth Parliament, can attend a free information day at County Hall, Exeter, on Saturday, November 14, from 11am to 3pm.

For details call Lizz Prangle (01392) 382044.