Youth Parliament

Oral Answers to Questions — House of Commons Commission – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 8th February 2005.

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Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

In its report on connecting Parliament with the public, the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons suggested that the United Kingdom Youth Parliament should be able to meet and debate occasionally in the Chamber when Parliament is not sitting. However, my hon. Friend—if I may call him that—will be aware that there is a long-standing convention in the House that Mr. Speaker shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the use of the Chamber.

Photo of Mr David Stewart Mr David Stewart PPS (Rt Hon Alistair Darling, Secretary of State), Department for Transport

Has the hon. Gentleman read the poll in today's edition of The Herald, which shows that 80 per cent. of young people aged between 16 and 20 surveyed are very interested in the politics of crime and punishment? Does he not think that that would be an excellent debate for the Youth Parliament to have in this very Chamber?

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

I am aware, as is the Commission, of the need to try to engage greater interest among that age group in particular, and we are also aware of the valuable work of the United Kingdom Youth Parliament. The hon. Gentleman might not know that Committee Room 10 is already used very effectively by the education unit, and it is on a much more sensible scale for the number of youngsters often involved. I say to him in the spirit of compromise—although we have to be careful about the practicalities and precedents—that if the representatives of the United Kingdom Youth Parliament want to get in touch with the Commission and the education unit, I am sure that we will be able to promote their interests in a way that is beneficial to both parties.