Junior Tynwald 2014 has been distinguished by outstanding standards of debate.
Organised by the Isle of Man branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) in association with the Department of Education and Children the sitting, held on Monday July 14th, brought together Year 12 students from the Island’s five state secondary schools to assume the roles of Members of the House of Keys and the Legislative Council and debate a range of topics ranging from improving driving safety for the Island’s young people to Government spending priorities.
For the first time the sitting of Junior Tynwald was recorded and a Hansard transcript made. Additionally a student, Sinead Allen, served as acting Lord Bishop and led the Court in prayers.
The Court was also pleased to welcome a delegation from the County Assembly of Laikipia, Kenya, observing proceedings as part of a week-long study visit to Tynwald.
Two motions were tabled. The Hon Member for Council, Mr Ciaran Mackay (Ballakermeen High School) moved the Court was of the opinion that the Department of Home Affairs should introduce legislation to legalise the production, supply, possession and use of marijuana. The Hon Member for Castletown, Mr Kitto Maddrell (Castle Rushen High School) moved the Court was of the opinion that assisted suicide should be legalised. In a departure from previous years each motion was subject to an amendment, the procedure for which provided an added dimension to the proceedings, adeptly handled by the students under the guidance of the President of Tynwald, the Hon Clare Christian.
Ahead of the sitting Joe Chamberlain from St Ninian’s High School and representing Onchan said: ‘Junior Tynwald is great because we don’t usually have the opportunity to see how parliament works.’ Fellow St Ninian’s High School student and Onchan representative Joel Padi added: ‘I chose to take part because it’s a valuable experience and helps you understand the Manx parliamentary system.’ Acting press representative and St Ninian’s High School student Tom O’Connor said Junior Tynwald had appealed because it would help develop a range of skills while Castle Rushen High School’s Jordanne Kennaugh, an aspiring journalist also representing the press, said: ‘It’s important people have a voice and understand what’s going on in Manx current affairs.’
At the conclusion of the sitting Ballakermeen High School student and Douglas West representatives Kate Corkish said: ‘With the focus more on social rather than economic issues the session prompted some really interesting and lively discussion.’
Madam President observed: ‘It was a wonderful session, with two excellent topics debated, an impressive standard of contributions and students demonstrating great skill in thinking on their feet.’
For 2014 an Outstanding Participant Award was introduced, which went to Robert Leece. Presenting the award Madam President praised the St Ninian’s High School student for his accomplished responses to supplementary questions and informed comments on government policy.
Receiving his award Robert, who had represented Douglas East, said: ‘I really enjoyed Junior Tynwald. It was interesting how a single point made could influence the debate and the whole “theatre” of the Court was fascinating to observe. As someone interested in current affairs it’s been an invaluable experience.’
CPA Isle of Man branch chairman Mr Juan Watterson MHK said: ‘Junior Tynwald goes from strength to strength. The talent of these young people, demonstrated by the high standard of questions and responses, was truly exceptional. Observing the sitting reminded me of the time when, as a student, I took part in Junior Tynwald; it was an experience that inspired me to pursue a career in politics. Offering students the opportunity to submit questions to “real” Ministers and receive “real” answers is invaluable and does much to advance young people’s understanding of parliamentary democracy.’
(Photo: Paul Dougherty, Tynwald Seneschal)
For further information:
Deputy Clerk of Tynwald
Legislative Buildings, Douglas, IM1 3PW
Tel: (01624) 685500