The Member of the Youth Parliament for Wealden argued for a living wage for all workers during a debate at the House of Commons.
Harry Elphick MYP, who represents young people in both Wealden and Lewes districts, spoke in the annual Commons debate at Westminster.
Sixteen-year-old Harry Elphick, who studies at Uckfield Community Technical College, said:
It was a really nerve-wracking experience but it felt amazing when it was over and I was sad to leave the House of Commons.
The debate on 14th November was also attended by Eastbourne’s representative, Paddy Stewart, who was picked to speak on a motion arguing for re-sits in maths and English to be reinstated, and Hastings, Bexhill and Rother MYP Charlotte Thomas.
The five topics for the debate were selected by a ballot of young people across the country – including a record turnout of almost 7,000 in East Sussex – as part of the Make Your Mark campaign, supported by the East Sussex Youth Cabinet.
The top five topics were:
- Votes at 16. Give 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote in elections and referendums.
- Everyone should be paid at least the Living Wage of £7.85 per hour (£9.15 in London). Anyone who works, regardless of age, should have a decent standard of living.
- Mental health services should be improved with our help. We should all learn about common mental health issues at school and negative stereotypes should be challenged.
- Work Experience. We should have the chance to do at least a week’s placement, at a place of our choosing. We should have access to professionals who inspire us.
- Bring back exam re-sits in Maths and English in English schools, and help us achieve our potential.
The debate, screened live on BBC Parliament and attended by 258 MYPs, was opened by William Hague, leader of the House of Commons, and chaired by Commons speaker John Bercow.
Cllr Nick Bennett, East Sussex County Council lead member for learning and school effectiveness, said:
The youth parliament is an excellent way for young people to influence debate on issues which affect them and to witness democracy in action.
Speaking in the House of Commons, where so many great orators have debated over the years, is an experience they will never forget.