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5 July, 2007

Competition winners meet MPs at Westminster

Schools and youth groups from around the UK attended an awards ceremony at the House of Lords yesterday for winners of the National Youth Parliament Competition.

St Michael's Specialist Science College, winner of the National Youth Parliament Competition 2007.
St Michael's Specialist Science School, winner of the National Youth Parliament Competition 2007
Citizenship Foundation trustee and BBC presenter Jon Sopel compered the ceremony where David Cameron, Jack Straw and Sir Menzies Campbell were some of the presenters handing out the prizes.

St Michael’s Specialist Science School from Billingham were handed the top team prize and made the most of sharing a stage with David Cameron by asking whether he thought taking part in the national youth parliament competition more beneficial, particularly in developing skills, than sitting 70 exams during school life.

Minister of Justice and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw was quizzed by Best Question Time winners, The Stanway School from Colchester. They asked whether he thought judges were out of touch with youth culture. Bridget Prentice presented the Runners Up Pershore (who shared the second place with Knowsley Youth Parliament) with their award as they questioned her on whether the Ministry of Justice’s methods for combating terrorism really examined what makes people turn to terrorism. Handing out the award for best Prime Minister to Christopher O’Brien from Simon Langton School for Boys, Sir Menzies Campbell was asked whether he thought voting Liberal Democrat would ever become a realistic option.

Other awards handed out were to Bex Bailey from Rushcliffe School in Nottingham for Best Press Officer, awarded by David Laws MP Liberal Democrat Schools Spokesperson, to Sean Kelly (St Michael’s) shared with Richard Reid from Knowsley by Beverley Hughes for the Best Minister award. Hannah Proctor received her award for the Best Speaker by the Speaker of the House Michael Martin. Best Backbencher was awarded to Simon Langton’s Rebecca Moss by Jo Swinson and Best Leader of the Opposition to Michael Sweetman, also from Simon Langton by Don Foster.

Best Opposition Spokesperson winner, St Michael’s Daniel Kirby received his award from Theresa May. Speaking about the competition he said, “Our team has had non-stop fun, we all got on so well together. It’s helped me develop skills of public speaking because I hadn’t done anything like it before.”

Speaking about what the students had got out of the competition, Darren Butler, teacher from Simon Langton School for Boys said “It allows the students to engage physically with Parliament, rather than passively with a book in the classroom. They end up getting a lot more knowledge than they are aware of compared to traditional teaching.”

MP for St Michael's, Frank Cook added "I've taken a direct interest in this competition ever since the idea was first conceived. I've taken a direct interest in St Michael's participation throughout and I can say without fear of contradiction in regard to both that the experience has filled me with great satisfaction and joy to date and encouragement for the future."

Sponsored by the Ministry of Justice and the Jack Petchey Foundation, the National Youth Parliament Competition helps bring to life the process of Parliament, government and politics. To enter, teams of 11–18 year olds recreate the parliamentary chamber, take on the roles of Government, Opposition and backbench MPs and make a 20 minute video debate on a mock bill. Debates this year included proposed Bills to:

• Introduce Compulsory Voting

• Allow total freedom of the wearing of religious items in the workplace

• Make all vehicles over 1600ccs to pay an extra £100 in road tax

• Raise the legal age of alcohol consumption to 21

• Withdraw the United Kingdom from the Eurozone

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