Tuesday 6 September saw the arrival of participants in the Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP).
CPA UK and the CPA Secretariat welcomed delegates representing legislatures across the six continents spanned by the Commonwealth. Many, including participants from Samoa, in the Pacific, and St Vincent & the Grenadines, in the Caribbean, have travelled long distances in order to reach London to be part of the event. June Lavatai, a delegate from Samoa, flew for over 36 hours to get to London via New Zealand and Hong Kong. June, who works for the Speaker of the Samoan Parliament, has made this journey for the opportunity to voice her views and listen to those of CYP colleagues. 'I hope to hear about issues from the younger generation's point of view, which ordinarily doesn't get a voice in Parliament.'
The CYP programme began with welcomes by Rt Hon. Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, Chairperson of the CPA International and UK Branch Executive Committees, and Dr William F. Shija, Secretary-General of the CPA. Sir Alan said 'It is important that people who aspire to be Parliamentarians and who are interested in politics attend these programmes. More than that though, we encourage these friendships which may form and grow and be useful to you many years from now as political leaders. I hope you will not lose the focus you have on politics to help with the process of change. We all have similar problems, issues and opportunities... I hope that the Commonwealth and CPA can be a force for good and change across the world and I look forward to working with you all in the future.'
Dr Shija continued the theme of renewal, saying, '60% of the CW is under the age of 60. This highlights the importance of your attendance as our possible future leaders. The youth parliament programme offers you the opportunity to see democracy and good governance, providing practical opportunities to engage in debate and understanding the complexities in law making.'
Tomorrow, the Youth Parliament will meet formally, when delegates will take part in a forum with House of Commons Speaker Rt Hon. John Bercow MP, caucus in party groups, have a session on parliamentary questions, and listen to the Throne Speech read by Dr Shija, setting out the legislative agenda for the Government of Commonwealthland - their adoptive nation for the coming days. The youth parliamentarians will also meet with Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, Ms Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, at the Commonwealth Secretariat offices at Marlborough House.