MP Tim Loughton passionately defended the rights of young people in a debate over the use of the Commons chamber today (Tuesday, June 23).
The Conservative member for East Worthing and Shoreham argued in favour of the UK Youth Parliament’s annual use of the historic chamber for its debates.
He faced opposition from fellow Tory Philip Davies, who felt allowing their use of the Commons to continue would leave MPs open to accepting other groups.
Mr Davies said: “My fear is if it is fine for the Youth Parliament to sit and use these Benches, why not other groups that want to meet and congregate and have a debate here? The Muslim Council of Britain may want to have a debate in the House of Commons chamber.
“We have always had a rule that these Benches are only able to be used by MPs and that it is a great privilege to be here.”
Mr Loughton took to social media after the debate, saying a ‘few dinosaurs’ still oppose the idea.
The former children’s minister praised the bravery of the Youth Parliament members who had been elected by their peers.
He helped set up the Youth Select Committee during his time, which he said gave him the ‘biggest grilling’ he had ever had.
He said: “Over the past few years its members have proved wrong all the scare stories that they would be hanging from the chandeliers or leaving chewing gum under the seats, and they treat this place with rather greater respect than some honourable members who sit here day after day.
“They have earned the right to continue to sit in this House once a year and, more than that, I feel that they have earned the right to be taken rather more seriously, so their proceedings should become a matter for automatic debate by this House in future years.”
Mr Loughton received support from several Youth Parliament members on Twitter after the debate, which saw a motion to allow the use of the Commons granted for the rest of the Parliament.
Analysis: Oli Poole, deputy political editor
Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of speeches I have heard in council chambers across the Herald patch in recent years, two stand out.
They were not those of eloquent politicians. They were uttered by Worthing’s current and former youth mayors.
Young people often get a bad name, blamed for all that is wrong with society.
But when Harry Williams and Jenny Hirst took accepted their badges of office, the speeches they delivered were beyond their years.
No doubt Harry and Jenny’s maturity is echoed in the members of the UK Youth Parliament, who quite rightly will continue to enjoy the huge privilege of debating in the very chamber frequented by the great political leaders of centuries past.
You may not agree with all Tim Loughton stands for but few could doubt his passion for upholding the rights of young people.
What do you think? Email us with your thoughts.
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