My name is Ben Lomas. I am in Year 10 at Rainford High School and I am the Member of Youth Parliament (MYP) for St Helens. This means that I represent young people from the ages of 11-18 years old on a national scale.
As part of this responsibility, I get the privilege of representing young people in the House of Commons (known as the Mother of all Parliaments) annually and this year, I was able to take part in the UK Youth Parliament Debate on November 8th in the famous venue. During the debate, which lasted the entirety of the day, five different motions that had been submitted by MYP’s from across the country were discussed. They were, Tackling Knife Crime, Tackling Hate Crime, Protecting the Environment, A Curriculum for Life and Mental Health. These issues were discussed because they were the top five issues from the recent Make Your Mark Ballot, which over 800,000 young people took part in nationally, including students from Rainford, where over 1,000 young people participated. Tackling Child Poverty (a motion that I had forwarded) and Protecting the Environment were voted as the most pertinent topics from the ten motions which featured on the ballot paper.
In the debate, there are approximately 15 contributions to each topic from across the chamber. This means that there are around 75 contributions in total. However, there are around 300 MYP’s from across the country, most of whom have a desire to speak on behalf of their constituencies. I was honoured to be selected by Madame Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing MP – who co-chaired the debate alongside newly elected Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP – to speak about the scourge of Knife Crime.
Whereas some other MYP’s had planned numerous different speeches in order to attempt to get selected to speak, I had only planned one speech for this one issue. I felt like I had to truly reflect what the main issues for the young people of St Helens were in the Ballot and the main issue was Tackling Knife Crime, with 2264 votes. Furthermore, it was particularly poignant that I spoke about the issue, as just three days before I spoke in the House of Commons. A 17 year old boy, from St Helens, was stabbed in Sherdley Park, at a Bonfire Night event which I had attended and I was very conscious that I had to use this privilege for the good of the young people of our town.
I am the first Member of Youth Parliament, from St Helens, to ever have spoken in the House of Commons and it was the proudest moment of my life to be able to give St Helens a voice on the national stage.
At the end of the debate, me and my fellow MYP’s voted in the division lobbies for two of the five issues that we felt should be made into the UK Youth Parliament national campaigns for the year. The two issues that received the most votes from MYP’s were made into the campaign for the year. Whilst I legally can’t say what these two issues are, because of restrictions relating to the General Election – Purdah – I am allowed to say that the two issues that I voted for were Protecting the Environment and Tackling Knife Crime, as they were the two issues that young people in St Helens voted for the most.
If you are a young person, between the age of 11 and 18, and you want to contact me about Parliament, a local issue that is important to you, how to get involved in Youth politics and Youth Parliament, or about my manifesto and what work I do, then please contact me on my school email address: