A Youth Parliament for Wales
 

A Youth Parliament

Background information and aims

 
banner-1.png

NAME

What should a new youth parliament be called?

Most youth parliaments or assemblies in the world adopt names along similar lines to that of their national parliament or assembly.

In July 2016, the National Assembly for Wales unanimously agreed that it “should change its name to reflect its constitutional status as a national parliament”. The Commission consulted with the people of Wales about the name change recently and the results will be considered by the Assembly Commission soon. The term, ‘parliament’ is, of course, commonly used to describe democratic institutions that make laws and carry the sort of responsibilities seen in the National Assembly.

Because Assembly Members have agreed in principle to a change of name for the National Assembly, the Steering Group advised us that the youth organisation should be referred to as a ‘Welsh youth parliament’ and in Welsh ‘Senedd ieuenctid Cymru’.

aim

What should a new youth parliament try to do?

Every effective organisation needs to be clear about its purpose and what it is setting out to achieve.

The Steering Group developed a single sentence, an aim, that they feel clearly explains the purpose of the Welsh youth parliament.

The Welsh youth parliament will give Wales’ young people a democratic voice at a national level and empower them to bring about change.

We suggest that this aim is adopted by the Welsh youth parliament so that the work and purpose of the organisation can be easily understood and shared.

The Welsh youth parliament, once elected, should have the freedom to consider any changes it wishes to make to this aim.

 
right-1.png

Membership

How should a new youth parliament elect its Members?

The Steering Group has considered the nature of the membership of the Welsh youth parliament. The group agreed that a member of the Welsh Youth Parliament should be called “MWYP” (MWYP). They also agreed that the Welsh youth parliament should have 60 members, the same number of representatives as the National Assembly itself.

They discussed at length how best to ensure that all young people in Wales feel represented by the Welsh youth parliament. Many other youth parliaments have grappled with this issue too and, as a result, youth parliaments around the world have vastly different election and/or selection processes.

The UK Youth parliament runs annual youth elections through local authority channels. The Scottish Youth parliament has a similar system of local authority based elections. There are two categories of Members of the Scottish Youth parliament, those directly elected by their constituents and those elected via voluntary organisations that support the representation of hard to reach, diverse groups. These processes are broadly in line with what the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNRC) recommends.

Other youth parliaments, such as in Pakistan, hold selection interviews and Members of the New Zealand Youth parliament are chosen by the local Members of Parliament. [1]

The group recommended to us that there should be an opportunity for young people in Wales to vote for 40 MWYP to represent the current Welsh constituencies. The Steering Group also agreed that the other 20 seats should be for representatives of specific groups so that we give the best possible chance for the Welsh youth parliament to be as inclusive as possible.  

The Steering Group thinks MWYP should serve for a period of two years.  They also think its ok for MWYP to stand for election more than once.  

The Steering Group also considered the age range for the Welsh youth parliament. Most youth parliaments concentrate on the teenage age group.[2]The New Zealand Youth parliament is made up only of 16-18 year olds. The Finland Children’s Parliament is made up of 9-13 year olds and the Pakistan Youth parliament 18-29 year olds.

In the end, the Steering Group recommended to us that anybody between the age of 11 and 18 could campaign to become a MWYP. You will have to be 11 and under 18 on election day to put your name forward. Why 18? Because once you are 18 you can put your name forward to be considered as a candidate for the National Assembly.

[1] ‘A new Youth Assembly for Wales?’ Rhian Croke. October 2015 Pages 11-18

[2] A new Youth Assembly for Wales?’ Rhian Croke. October 2015 Pages 7-10

Role

What should a new youth parliament do?

The Steering Group thinks that the right thing to do is empower the Welsh youth parliament to control the details of its own work. It should decide on the issues it considers, how it prioritises its work and how it works with Assembly Members.

The Steering Group also considered what kind of working relationship the Welsh youth parliament could and should have with those under the age of 11.

As a starting point, they thought that the Welsh youth parliament could consider how it responds to the activities we have described below. These can change in the future if the Welsh youth parliament wants to.

The Youth Parliament will:

  • investigate, debate and campaign on issues chosen by young people;
  • listen to young people and represent their views;
  • engage with Assembly Members;
  • help children and young people understand how the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Youth Parliament works;
  • meet together at least twice every calendar year;
  • report back to the young people it represents about its work and achievements on a regular basis.
 
right-2.png

Values

What values should be important to a new youth parliament?

The Steering Group considered how Welsh youth parliament members should behave, treat each other and those they represent.

The Steering Group wanted to make a strong connection between the Welsh youth parliament and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and be clear that its members should not stand for election on behalf of a political party.

A set of values have been drafted for the first Welsh youth parliament to consider.

  • The youth parliament will uphold the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
  • The youth parliament will treat everyone with respect
  • The youth parliament will represent the views of young people of all backgrounds
  • The youth parliament will be independent from all political parties
  • The youth parliament will be fully committed to young people’s right to work, communicate and engage with us in Welsh or English, the official languages of the National Assembly for Wales.

The Commission will help the Welsh youth parliament develop its rules to explain how the youth parliament will deliver its work (what the National Assembly calls Standing Orders) and how MWYP will be expected to work together with young people in Wales (what the National Assembly calls a Code of Conduct).