The Deputy President of Tynwald, the Hon Juan Watterson SHK, has said that Junior Tynwald is a valuable means to ‘spark young people’s interest in political engagement’.
He was speaking at the conclusion of the sitting on held on Monday July 16 which saw Year 12 students from the Island’s five state secondary schools assume the roles of Members of the House of Keys and the Legislative Council to debate a range of topics from sustainable waste management to the legalisation of cannabis.
The motion moved by the Hon Member for Glenfaba and Peel, Mr Nathan Harmer (Queen Elizabeth II High School): ‘That Junior Tynwald is of the opinion that the Island should seek the status of a sovereign nation with Her Majesty the Queen, Lord of Man, as Head of State, following a referendum’ failed to carry.
The motion moved by the Hon Member for Ramsey, Mr Jack Smith ((Ramsey Grammar School): ‘That Junior Tynwald believes that more should be done to modify the drinks culture in the Island’ was carried unanimously. Reflecting on the proceedings he said: ‘I’d never observed a Tynwald sitting, but Junior Tynwald gives you a good flavour of the real thing. As someone who’s into public speaking and wants to get into politics, this was a very useful experience.’
Representing Ayre and Michael was Barton Beaumont from Queen Elizabeth II High School. He said: ‘I found learning how Tynwald functions was very interesting and the experience will help to strengthen my course work.’ Also from Queen Elizabeth II High School was Amy Anderson who said: ‘I enjoyed taking part, especially the debating process. Junior Tynwald’s a great way of giving young people a voice and bridging the gap between what you learn in school and the real world of politics.’
Kerenza Baker from Ramsey Grammar School, who represented Ayre and Michael, said: ‘Hearing the Ministers’ replies was particularly interesting and I found I was really having to think on my feet. I also enjoyed the research process for my question.’ Saffron Montgomery, from St Ninian’s High School, who represented Douglas East said: ‘I felt very much part of the proceedings and the insight I gained into how parliament works was really useful’, while Matthew Swift, who served as a Member of the Legislative Council and is a keen follower of Manx politics, found Junior Tynwald ‘a great way to interact with Ministers’.
The Outstanding Participant Award went to Kerenza Baker, praised by Mr Deputy President for showing ‘a lot of evidence of preparation for debates and questions’ and for her ‘insightful contributions’.
Joshua Nightingale from Castle Rushen High School, who took the role of a Legislative Council Member, received ‘an honourable mention’ for his depth of engagement which saw him challenge most replies with supplementaries, while Nathan Harmer and Jack Smith were singled out for the concise way in which they summed up their arguments.
In closing Mr Deputy President thanked the students for taking part in the sitting and shared with his audience that among the Junior Tynwald participants in 1997 was a student who now serves as Speaker of the House of Keys and Deputy President of Tynwald.
Junior Tynwald is organised by the Isle of Man branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in association with the Department of Education and Children and facilitated by the Chamber and Information Service of Tynwald.
(Photos courtesy of Paul Dougherty, Tynwald Seneschal)