Commonwealth Youth Parliament debates the throne speech

The Commonwealth Youth Parliamentarians had their first chance to put each other’s debating prowess to the test today, in a day full of both dialogue and dispute. The first of the day’s set-piece events was a debate on yesterday’s Commonwealthland Throne Speech, over which CPA Chairperson Rt Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst MP presided, taking on the role of Commonwealthland’s Speaker.

Graeme Osborn of the Isle of Man, Commonwealthland’s Prime Minister, set out the governing Young Democrat Party’s key priorities, firstly to stimulate economic growth through incentivising the private sector and freezing benefits, and secondly to increase the ‘accessibility, accountability and transparency’ of its Parliament through devolution and reducing the number of parliamentarians. Matthew Crow (UK), leader of the opposition Progressive Youth Alliance, in response called the Government’s actions ‘an attack on the poorest,’ and condemned the short-sighted nature of its agenda. Amy Robinson (Northern Territory, Australia), the Convenor of the Independents, then pledged that the Independents would hold the Government to account and reminding both Government and Opposition of their duties.

With the debate opened to the House, CYPs continued the discussion of economic, political and social measures to which the Throne Speech referred. Many of the Government’s plans, including health spending, ‘green’ initiatives and education, were criticised, and the Leader of the Opposition concluded it was ‘the Throne Speech that didn’t go far enough.’ The Government emphasised its strong economic record, its dedication to realising the Millennium Development Goals, its commitment to gender equality, and its long-term and resource-efficient health schemes.

Highlights of the debate included the YDP Foreign Minister, Kondwani Namagowa (Malawi), reminding the Opposition in strong terms of its responsibility to work with the Government in realising its positive agenda rather than merely criticising for its own sake. There were also many humorous contributions, one of the best coming from Dwayne Worrell (Barbados), of the PYA, who stood up to announce, ‘I am wearing black, because I am in mourning. I am in mourning for confidence in this Parliament.’

On closing the debate, Sir Alan commended the ‘extremely high quality of debate,’ a standard that was upheld through the rest of the day. The next meeting, a Committee Of The Whole House on the Climate Change Bill chaired by Hon. Lindsay Hoyle MP, Chairman, Ways and Means and Deputy Speaker, drew very wide-ranging contributions. It sparked a particularly detailed and intelligent discussion of the relative merits of implementing a carbon trading scheme as opposed to an emissions tax.