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30 June, 2004

Parliament welcomes tomorrow's leaders

At a reception in the House of Lords today, Home Secretary David Blunkett and Schools Minister Stephen Twigg congratulated the young winners of the National Youth Parliament Competition.

Organised by the Citizenship Foundation and sponsored by Norwich Union, the competition helps bring to life the process of politics and government by offering young people the opportunity to set up and video their own parliamentary session. Re-launched in summer 2003, the competition this year involved 170 schools and over 3,000 young people across theUK. 

A panel of MPs including Children’s Minister, Margaret Hodge, awarded the top national prize to St Michael’s RC Specialist Science School from Cleveland. Pupil James Morgan was also awarded Best Backbencher. They were joined by first-time participants, Joseph Leckie Community Technology College in Walsall, which was the runner-up team for this year. Prizes were also be given to winning individuals, including James Oliver from Gravesend Grammar School who was named ‘Best Prime Minister’.

Rt Hon David Blunkett MP, Home Secretary, said:

“Young people are vital to the health and strength of our democracy. It is important that young people are helped to appreciate the importance of engaging with the community both locally and nationally, because they have much to offer as active citizens. The Citizenship Foundation's National Youth Parliament Competition makes an important contribution to this goal.

"The interest shown by all the entrants, and the high quality of the winners' entries in particular, are clear indications that by engaging and developing young people today we are nurturing the leaders of tomorrow. I congratulate everyone who took part and wish the Competition success in the future."

Stephen Twigg MP, Minister for Schools, said:

“These competitions make an invaluable contribution to active citizenship. The opportunity for young people to learn actively about our democratic process and the role of those in public life is an apprenticeship I hope will stay with them for a long time.”

Pupil Samantha Linton, Backbench MP in St Michael’s winning team, said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of entering the National Youth Parliament Competition. It has greatly increased my confidence, as well as improving my knowledge of the democratic system.”

Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation, said:“All the participants in the National Youth Parliament Competition have gained invaluable skills and understanding for long-term engagement in our democracy. St Michael’s have the added benefit of a very well-deserved success to celebrate.”

Simon Machell, Customer Service Director at Norwich Union, commented:“We are delighted to be working with the Citizenship Foundation on the National Youth Parliament Competition. The quality of entries has not only been impressive from the level of effort and understanding of the political process but has opened my eyes to how diverse and knowledgeable young people are on a wide variety of topics.”

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