‘Why can I marry MP but not vote for him?’ Camden School for Girls pupil asks Commons

Camden School for Girls pupil Hannah Morris, 15, speaks in the House of Commons

Camden School for Girls pupil Hannah Morris, 15, speaks in the House of Commons - Credit: Archant

A Gospel Oak schoolgirl became one of the youngest people ever to make a speech in the House of Commons as members of the UK Youth Parliament held their annual debate in Westminster last Friday.

Camden delegate Hannah Morris, 15, gave a moving tribute to former British army major Leonard Parrington, her great-grandfather, as part of a commemoration marking 100 years since the start of the First World War.

Hannah, who attends Camden School for Girls in Sandall Road, Kentish Town, said: “The Great War was horrific. I think we absolutely have to stop fighting battles and losing blood.

“The number of people we have lost is simply ludicrous, so we have to commemorate them and learn lessons from it for the future.”

The teenage activist was among 285 Youth Parliament members, aged 11 to 18, who filled the chamber’s famous green benches for a debate on the living wage, work experience, the voting age and other issues chosen by a ballot of 876,488 young people across the UK, in a session chaired by speaker John Bercow.

Hannah said of the event: “It was amazing being at a place that I had only seen on TV, where huge decisions like abolishing slavery and declaring war were made.

“It was great to meet lots of other Youth Parliament members, who were all very inspiring, and share experiences about what works in our own constituencies.”

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The representatives voted to make improving mental health services with the help of young people the focus of their national campaign for 2015, whilst Hannah is also a keen supporter of the drive to grant 16-year-olds the vote.

“I think votes at 16 would help young people get involved in politics because they deserve a say on the decisions affecting them,” she said.

“I don’t see why at the age of 16 you could marry your MP but you can’t vote for them,” she said.

On a local level, Savernake Road resident Hannah leads weekly meetings of Camden Youth Council and hopes to campaign for independent schools in the borough to work more closely with neighbouring state schools.

She explained: “I think private schools should do more to help state schools because it seems unfair that children with less money get fewer opportunities just because they can’t afford them.

“They could share their sports facilities, for example.”

Opening Friday’s sitting, leader of the House of Commons William Hague congratulated the delegates for participating in politics from a young age and cited his own career as evidence that they could “go to the top” regardless of their background.