Dorset students debate in House of Commons

YOUNG people from Dorset are preparing to fight their corner in the House of Commons.

More than 300 Members of the UK Youth Parliament will take part in a national debate today to decide their priority campaign for 2013.

Lloyd Hatton, 16, of Weymouth, who is a deputy member of UKYP for Dorset, said he is 'incredibly excited' about the event.

The debate will be chaired by the Speaker of the House of Commons Right Honourable John Bercow MP and broadcast live on BBC Parliament.

It will focus on the top five chosen by more than 250,000 young people in the UK Youth Parliament's Make Your Mark ballot earlier this year.

Lloyd, who attends Thomas Hardye School sixth form in Dorchester, said: “I hope to be able to directly voice the young people of Dorset's views in the chamber and subsequently influence the vote to support the needs of Dorset.

“I am incredibly excited about this hugely important event and feel very privileged to be representing Dorset when debating important issues.”

He added: “I believe the topics selected for the debates show a good variety, but perhaps do not always reflect the issues in Dorset.”

The dedicated teenager is urging for other young people to watch the debate on TV to help them decide on future issues they may vote on.

Other Dorset representatives include Natasha Glendening, 16, of The Gryphon School in Sherborne, and Moya Dunne, 15, of Ferndown Upper School in east Dorset.

The five issues up for debate are make public transport cheaper, getting ready for work, marriage for all, an equal national minimum wage for all and a curriculum to prepare for life.

At the end of the five debates, members will vote to decide which issue will become their national campaign for 2013.

The UKYP is a national organisation that gives young people, aged 11 to 18, an opportunity to get involved in national and local decision-making.

The election process is managed by Dorset County Council's youth and community service.

In the past members have campaigned on a range of issues including cheaper public transport, more ways to give young people a voice and anti-bullying initiatives.

This debate marks the finale of Parliament Week - an annual national awareness week which aims to build engagement with parliamentary democracy in the UK.

It is the fourth time that the UK Youth Parliament has debated in the House of Commons and they are the only group other than MPs allowed to do so.

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