Young people from Cornwall Youth Council and Camborne Youth Council enjoyed a trip to the Houses of Parliament to learn more about how the country’s laws are made.
The group of 24 had to be up at 4.30am on the day, with bus drivers Phil and Wayne from Go Cornwall Bus and Plymouth Citybus giving up their time to whisk the youngsters to London.
For some this was their first ever trip to the capital so there were shrieks of delight when the likes of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben loomed into view.
Youth Councils aim to give young people a forum and a voice to influence and inform the decisions that affect their lives. In Cornwall, members are active in their communities and use their position to help the Council make important decisions and plan for the future.
Ahead of the visit on Friday, March 24, Owain, the chair of Cornwall Youth Council and a Member of Youth Parliament for Cornwall, said: “I’m really looking forward to going to Parliament so we can learn about the processes that get laws passed, as well as to learn how our law makers do stuff.”
And Emily, from Cornwall Youth Council, added: “I’m really excited to go to Parliament today because I’ve always wanted to, and I really want to see some people who run the country.”
As it happened, the group bumped into MP and former health secretary Matt Hancock who had been in the House of Commons to discuss a bill to screen all young people for dyslexia.
He asked them what law they would like to create, whereupon Danny, a member of Cornwall Youth Council and Camborne Youth Council, launched into a passionate speech about funding the NHS and paying teachers more.
The group were also treated to a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament during which they learnt a huge amount of history.
They were also surprised by some of the things they were told, with Joey and Ruby from Cornwall Youth Council learning that unmade decisions are called bills and Zoe, who is also from the Cornwall Youth Council, shocked to see bills being physically printed out on tables.
After the tour the group headed into a classroom where they had the chance to debate their own bill. They chose to debate whether 16-year-olds should have the vote with convincing arguments from both sides and shouts of ‘hear, he’ in support of one another’s remarks.
After a quick photo in the rain everyone jumped back on the coach and reflected on the day.
Elora, from Camborne Youth Council, said: “Today I learnt what Hansard is - the official record of debates in the British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, or South African parliament.”
The young people said they had left Parliament inspired and more knowledgeable about how laws are made and passed as well as many other things such as ‘parliament ping pong’, which is when a bill is sent back and forth between the House of Commons and the House of Lords as they try to resolve disagreements.
Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, cabinet member for children and families at Cornwall Council, said: “I’m delighted that the group enjoyed their trip to London, and I’d like to say a big thank you to all the people and organisations that made it possible.
“I’m incredibly proud of all our Youth Council members here in Cornwall who work so hard to make the voices of every child and young person heard on issues that really matter to them.”