Hertfordshire Member of Youth Parliament makes speech at annual debating session in House of Commons

16 November 2015

Supported by Hertfordshire County Council Youth Connexions, a group of elected Members of Youth Parliament attended the annual debates on 13 November chaired by Speaker John Bercow.

UKYP HOC Visit Nov 2015

HertsMYPs who attended were (from left to right) Amira (St Albans), Nia (East Herts), Nick (Dacorum), Monica (North Herts) and Reece (Welwyn Hatfield).

The day’s debates focused on the top five priorities from the national Make Your Mark ballot in which 969,000 young people from across the country voted earlier this year. In the morning, Members of Youth Parliament (MYPs) from across the country debated ways to tackle racism and religious discrimination, and to improve mental health services and public transport. In the afternoon, they debated the national curriculum, and whether everyone over 16 should be paid the Living Wage.

Monica, 17, elected MYP for North Herts was selected to represent the East of England region to make a speech marking the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta.  Monica urged the House to bring the Magna Carta up to date, presenting her thoughts in rhyme throughout and finishing with “We need a new Magna Carta for all creatures great and small.” She received an exceptionally long and enthusiastic applause, and the Speaker John Bercow congratulated her on her creativity, saying she had taken a ‘wonderfully creative approach’ which was effective and distinctive and would not be forgotten in a very long time.

Monica said afterwards “Speaking in the House of Commons is something I will never forget. The support of everyone there meant so much and it was such an amazing opportunity. The whole event shows how young people are politically aware, are interested and want to make a change.”

Watch the afternoon session here - Monica's speech is at 14.48 or 1hr 8 mins in:

Fellow MYP Nick, 17, from Dacorum added “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to truly make a difference to young people. I learnt so much and was moved to tears in some places by the passion many young people had for the topics discussed and debated.”

Reece, 16, representing Welwyn Hatfield commented “Today was such an amazing day. I truly believe we made a difference today; this was the experience of a lifetime.”

At the end of the day’s session a vote was taken and the 269 MYPs decided to make tackling racism and religious discrimination the subject of their UK-wide priority campaign for next year. They also voted to make improving education about mental health in schools their devolved campaign in England. Both topics are already high on the agenda for Hertfordshire MYPs: Hate Crime was a priority for young people in this year’s Manifesto launched on 17th October and Improving mental health services and education for young people featured in the 2014/15 document.

If you are a young person aged 11 – 17 who lives, works or studies in the county, and are interested in being an MYP for your district in 2016, more information can be found here. The closing date for candidates is 20th November.