Page last updated at 17:31 GMT, Tuesday, 6 May 2008 18:31 UK

Reporting Youth Parliament

By Keziah and Amrita
School Reporters, Mayfield School, Essex

On 1 May 2008, over 25 million adults voted for the local and London mayoral elections, but when does anyone under 16 get their say?

On 2 May 2008, the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP), which represents young people's opinions locally, regionally and nationally, met to debate issues which concern us all.

School Reporters from Mayfield School in Dagenham, Essex

It was a historic event as it was the first time ever the UKYP has sat in Parliament itself.

Following an introduction from Lord Speaker Baroness Hayman, 300 of the 500 members, aged between 11 and 18, debated six issues in the House of Lords, which they then voted on.

The top three issues became the campaigns which UKYP would focus on during 2008/9.

University tuition fees

A recent UKYP survey showed that 60% of people want to go to university but that only 40% can afford it. Many are deterred from going because they fear falling into debt.

The majority of Youth Parliament members felt that everyone should have the same opportunity to go, not only those with money.

Fair and accurate representation of young people in the media

Many articles about young people are negative, describing us as yobs and thugs, which a lot of young people feel is unfair.

The message put across by the members of the Youth Parliament could not be clearer: All teenagers are not bad and we deserve more respect.

Closer working between media organisations, youth groups and forums would go a long way towards a fair representation of young people in the media.

Lowering the voting age to 16

Views were very split on this topic. Some argued that at 16 you don't know enough about politics to vote and that extremist parties could target young people.

In opposition to this was the argument that people start paying taxes at 16 so they should have some say on the government.

National public transport concession cards for young people under the age of 18

This is a topic which really affects young people. Many people's pocket money is not enough for a single bus journey, which leaves them with no money to spend elsewhere.

Also many people are dependent on buses to get them to places, so it would be very helpful if concession cards were brought into place.

Single age at which young people are deemed to become an adult

This debate was one many people had strong opinions about. Some members believed that there should be one set boundary at which young people become adults, as opposed to the current system. However, no-one proposed an age at which adulthood is reached.

One member said that UKYP should debate something else because there was not a realistic chance of this happening.

Another member went on to ask: What if the policy backfires and they raise the age of everything to 21?

Others argued that it is not necessary to have an age boundary because when people are mature enough, they will be seen as adults.

Recycling and the environment

UKYP member Acie Marshall, 18, gave the opening speech, which swept everyone with emotion and got a standing ovation from everyone inside the House of Lords.

He asked the big question in terms of recycling: Are you in or out?

Personally, I am in.

With such a heart-warming speech there was not much opposition, apart from one member arguing that this topic should not be selected as a campaign because it is one which the government is already dealing with.

Decision time

At the end of the debating the members voted for the three campaigns to focus on for 2008/9.

In third place was university tuition fees with 252 votes.

In second place was national public transport concession cards for young people under the age of 18, with 425 votes

In first place was recycling and the environment with 490 votes.

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