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Use of the Chamber (Youth Parliament)

Part of Royal Assent – in the House of Commons at 5:27 pm on 12th March 2009.

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Photo of Martin Salter Martin Salter Labour, Reading West 5:27 pm, 12th March 2009

If I am ever elected to the Muslim Council of Britain or the women's institute, I may make similar arguments, but I am not. I am an elected Member of this place and I want to open it up to the next generation of voters, who I hope will form a House of Commons that is more progressive, liberal and open-minded than what we have heard from Members in some parts of the Chamber—I use the word "liberal" advisedly.

The arguments are so clear and overpowering that we do not need to get stuck in process. In the few minutes before I conclude, I want to give those in the UK Youth Parliament a voice. We have been talking at them, rather than about what they might do, what they might get out of the experience or what they might feel. Let me read into the record what the chief executive of the UK Youth Parliament said only a couple of days ago. He is a gentleman called Andy Hamflett and he gave evidence to the Speaker's Conference in Parliament, highlighting how politicians could be doing more to reach out to young people. Speaking about the Speaker's Conference, Andy said:

"It was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the great work that Local Authorities and young people undertake as part of the UKYP partnership...Many ideas were discussed, but for me the unifying theme was that young people from diverse communities often feel disconnected from Parliament because they cannot see role models representing them in the House. They need to see people like themselves in representative positions to believe that it can be done.

I therefore made the point that if Parliament really wants to open its doors to young people, a very simple first step would be to allow Members of Youth Parliament to sit in the House of Commons chamber. It would be the perfect opportunity for young people across the country to see the fantastic diversity of Members of Youth Parliament, and to inspire them to take their own steps to get involved in politics and decision making."

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