City student leads Parliament debate

A student from Liverpool represented the North West as she spoke at The UK Youth Parliament.

Caitlin Cavanagh, a Year 12 student at Archbishop Blanch School, led a debate to mark the 750th anniversary of the Magna Carta, which discussed what the principles of the document mean to young people today.

Caitlin, who is a Member of the Youth Parliament (MYP), was one of many members taking part in the debates throughout the day. A range of topical issues were discussed, including the need for improved mental health services and tackling racist and religious discrimination.

The Youth Parliament, sitting for its sixth year in the House of Commons Chamber, signalled the start of Parliament Week, a UK-wide programme of events and activities that inspire, engage and connect people with parliamentary democracy.

Caitlin Cavanagh (pictured speaking during the debate) says: ‘It was an amazing experience that I got to do, and in my speech I got to say why 16 and 17 year olds should have the right to vote, something I truly believe we deserve. Although it was nerve-wrecking, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.’

The debates were streamed live on the Parliamentary website and Archbishop Blanch School were delighted to watch Caitlin live from Parliament.

Headteacher Heather Duggan says: “We’re so proud of Caitlin! She represented the North West brilliantly and is an excellent role model for our younger pupils.

“We try to encourage our pupils to take part in as many extra-curricular activities as possible, and The UK Youth Parliament is a fantastic way to represent the region and make your mark.”

This year, a record number of 11-18 year olds, 969,992 to be exact, voted for five campaign subjects to be debated in the House of Commons by Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs), who themselves have been elected to represent constituencies from every part of the UK.

The North West of England had one of the highest regional turnouts, with over 1 in 4 young people voting in the 2015 ballot. All 13 regions and nations prioritised the Living Wage as their number one priority campaign.

Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, says: “I am delighted to welcome the UK Youth Parliament back to the House of Commons for their annual meeting. The number of young people who participated in the ballot is a clear testament to the importance of this annual event.

“I hope that every MYP is proud to have the opportunity to represent their peers, and I am certain that they will have enjoyable and successful session in the Commons Chamber.”