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Democracy in the digital age: young and old debate the issue in Lords Chamber

On Friday 28 November, the House of Lords Chamber will host an inter-generational debate for around 240 participants of all ages.

Through partnerships with UK Youth, the University of the Third Age, Tinder Foundation and the English Speaking Union, debaters young and old will come together in the Lords Chamber to discuss how democracy can work in an age when technology is seen to be king, and will seek to answer the question: Parliament 2.0: In a digital society, is politics for politicians or is everyone a decision maker?'

The Lord Speaker, Baroness D'Souza, said:

“This year marks the 25th anniversary of the internet, and technology has become essential to nearly everything we do, every day. And although it is often believed that young people are the greatest adopters of new technology, in fact, people of all ages are embracing the digital era and all it has to offer.

“This includes the facility to allow anyone and everyone to share their views on any number of topics; fashion, cooking, travel – and politics. Technology has allowed citizens to engage with people they would otherwise never have the opportunity to speak to. We live in an age where anyone can start an online petition in an attempt to influence the Government of the day and its policies. And politicians are engaging with voters more and more through social media and online platforms; hearing their views, their opinions and their voices.

“Once again I shall be chairing the debate from the Woolsack, and I am very much looking forward to hearing the speakers' views on how they see democracy working in a digital age.”

There will be three core teams, comprised of both young and old, who will each take a different stance on the debate. The teams, who have received debate training from The English-Speaking Union, will present the case for each of the following arguments:

  • we should leave politics to our representatives;
  • we should include more expert advice via online conferences and/or community consultation; and
  • most, if not all, local, national and international decisions should be made by UK citizens collectively through online voting.

Pauline Taylor MBE, Director of Youth Work, UK Youth, said:

”We are delighted to support young people in shaping this year's House of Lords chamber debate because, at UK Youth, helping young people have their voices heard is at the very heart of our work. Experiencing personal engagement with the political process is also something we are supporting young people to do, through our Democracy Toolkit, and has real relevance to this important debate. The debate's topic - ‘Parliament 2.0' – is something they could see in their lifetime, and also something that we know young people can offer vital perspectives on, because of our work with the Microsoft IT Youth Hubs programme.”

Barbara Lewis, Chairman of the The Third Age Trust, said:

“On behalf of the 950 U3As in the UK I would like to thank the House of Lords for giving U3A members the opportunity once again to participate in, and attend, the inter-generational chamber event.  We are looking forward to what we know will be a wonderful occasion and to a stimulating debate on democracy in a digital age.”

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