President of Commonwealthland opens its fourth parliament

On Wednesday 7th September, the delegates at the Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP) began their business as the legislature of [the fictional country of] Commonwealthland.

Caucusing in party groups, both the Youth Democratic Party (in Government) and the Progressive Youth Alliance (in Opposition) elected their leaders and front bench teams.

Congratulations go to Commonwealthland’s Prime Minister Graeme Osborn (from the Isle of Man) and Leader of the Opposition Matthew Crow (from the UK), and their teams of Ministers. The small group of Independents selected Amy Robinson, of the Northern Territory in Australia, as their convenor.

The parties then tabled amendments to the draft Climate Change Bill. They worked closely with Clerks from the House of Commons who generously gave their time and expertise. These proposed amendments will be discussed tomorrow when the CYPs form a Committee of the Whole House.

Following the party caucusing sessions, Dr William F. Shija, Secretary-General of the CPA – and for this week President of Commonwealthland – set out the agenda of his Government in the ‘Throne Speech’. He outlined the government's priority, 'to enhance economic growth,' and affirmed his commitment to reducing youth unemployment by working with the private sector to create apprenticeships and training opportunities.

Other key measures focused on gender equality; boosting tourism, high tech and low carbon industries; tackling health issues including HIV and AIDS; devolution; increased governance and accountability standards; media control; realising the MDGs and climate change. It included the Government's intention of setting 2050 as the target for reducing carbon emissions. 

Delegates were given the opportunity to meet with House of Commons Speaker Rt Hon. John Bercow MP, who encouraged CYPs to 'engage with the big issues of the day in their own parliaments,' and to follow their parliamentary aspirations. This session gave delegates an understanding of the crucial role of the Speaker, and his belief in the importance of parliamentary outreach.

Other workshops covered parliamentary questions, led by Clerks from the Table Offices of the Houses of Commons and of Lords, and introduced delegates to the lively exchanges of Prime Minister's Questions. 

The final event of a very busy and productive first day was an address from the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Ms Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba. She discussed the work of the Commonwealth, emphasising the importance of youth engagement and education and the areas of political governance and development. The Lord Speaker, Rt Hon. Baroness D'Souza CMG, then spoke, in what was the first external engagement of her term. 'I am a huge fan of the Commonwealth and the CPA... It is a political force, a cultural force, a creative force, a social force; a force for good.'