Hansard Society Young People's Question Time
Monday October 31, 6.30pm, Attlee Suite, Portcullis House
A panel of MPs debated questions put to them by an audience of young people. The Hansard Society event was part of Parliament Week - a national awareness week which aims to build greater awareness, understanding and engagement with parliamentary democracy in the UK. For more information about what happened during Parliament Week including details of other events and videos and articles which bring to life the UK's democratic history please go to www.parliamentweek.org
- Krishnan Guru-Murthy (Channel 4 News)
- Chris Bryant MP (Labour)
- Sam Gyimah MP (Conservative)
- Caroline Lucas MP (Green)
- Jo Swinson MP (Liberal Democrat)
For photos of the event, please click here
To listen to this event in full, please click here
Last nights question time was really successful. We had well over 200 young people turn up and participate in the Question Time. The panel consisted of Chris Bryant MP (Labour), Sam Gyimah MP (Conservative), Caroline Lucas MP (Green), Jo Swinson MP (Liberal Democrat). Krishnan Guru-Murthy from Channel 4 News made an excellent chair to the panel.
The audience was really lively and the questions started straight away. The main bulk of the questions at the beginning were about how young people felt disengaged from politics as it is the older generations that are making decisions on their behalf. The main issue that was focused on was the decision to raise tuition fees to help with the deficit. Many felt that the Liberal Democrats lied about their policy to get voted in then went back on their word as soon as they were elected. Chris Bryant received a round of applause for his comment, ‘politicians need to tell the truth more often’. The debate then got quite heated when Sam Gyimah said that, people need to think very carefully about what they do at university because the worst thing would be to get a degree and then be told they job at the end of it’. An audience member called him condescending for making a sweeping generalisation about university students not thinking of the consequences of taking their degree. It was stated that it was because of the economy that graduates can’t get jobs. Then one person asked, why do English people have to pay to go to University but Welsh and Scottish people don’t.’ Chris Bryant then explains that it is because in Wales there are other things that you don’t get instead and it depends how important the government thinks policies are.
The topic then moved away from tuition fees and loads of good questions were asked such as, ‘as one of the top five democracies in the world why do we not have compulsory conscription in the UK’, Jo Swinson replied that ‘she is Liberal so she is against people being told what they have to do’. Sam Gyimah agreed with Jo but wanted to see more people get involved in the community. Someone asked a really good question, 'what has been your biggest mistake as an MP and what did you do to make it right?' Caroline Lucas said, ‘we shouldn’t be afraid to make them, its how we learn’. However, this question caused some embarrassment for Chris Bryant. The panel was then asked if they voted for or against the EU referendum, and what were their reasons for doing so. Caroline Lucas said she ‘voted in favour of a referendum but if there was a referendum she would make a strong case for us staying inside the EU’. Chris Bryant said he ‘voted against the referendum but it pro European and that the European Union was the most successful political venture of the last fifty years.’
There were loads of other interesting questions asked covering topics such as, immigration, the police, the riots, the citizenship test, and youth disengagement etc. It was a really energetic event and loads of the audience even said at the end they would consider standing as an MP.