Feature: MPs on Youth Parliament’s Commons takeover

MPs debated whether or not to allow the Youth Parliament to debate in the Commons chamber before the summer recess.

By Alex Stevenson

In the event only 22 voted against the measure, paving the way for children aged 11 to 18 to make history by becoming the first ever non-MPs to be allowed to sit on the famous green benches.

politics.co.uk has looked back at the debate and picked out a few of the best quotes.

Christopher Chope, Conservative

“I can imagine a very strong case for an incoming Conservative government with 400 or 500 Conservative MPs being able to say, ‘There is nowhere else large enough on the estate where we can meet following our great election victory, so why not take over the House of Commons Chamber for a meeting?’

“That would be wrong, because we should not abandon or abandon lightly the traditions of this House, which have meant that this chamber is the one for those who have the privilege of being elected as members of the real parliament, not members of a mock parliament, whether it be a youth parliament, a Muslim parliament or any other parliament.”

Bob Spink, independent

“Without the Mace, which gives the chamber its constitutional and legal significance, this place is just a set of green benches. I really do not see the problem, and I do not think that the public do, either.”

Edward Leigh, Conservative, chairman of the public accounts committee

“It is said that the Youth Parliament is different from any other organisation because it is uniquely representative, but I do not see why it is more representative than any other group, such as the pensioners’ parliament. Is not it a corporatist view of society that we have to be sidelined into certain groups – youth, the elderly, trade unionists and employers? Dare I say it, it is almost fascistic.”

Michael Jabez Foster, Labour

“As my hon. Friend the member for Reading West [Martin Salter] said, it is a question of only elected posteriors being allowed to sit on these green benches. I do not understand that concept. We are just ordinary representatives of people. We got voted for, and it is a great privilege to be here, but the members of the Youth Parliament were voted for, too.”

Philip Davies, Conservative

“I am certainly very happy for the Youth Parliament to have its annual meeting in parliament. I am happy to play my part by having a discussion with the Youth Parliament about politics, and by even showing people round and trying to inspire them to get involved in politics. However, that can quite easily be done by using committee room 14, Westminster Hall, or anywhere else for that matter.”

Tim Loughton, Conservative

“What are we scared of? Why do we apparently assume that Youth Parliament members will misbehave? Do we seriously think that they will leave gum under the seats and swing from the chandeliers, or that we will have to install jukeboxes and that there will be a major chav riot?

“Of course that is not going to happen. We are not going to have to install BMX bike ramps here, or revolving glitter balls on the ceiling. We can go about our normal business without having to move the furniture around, and it will be for one day only.”