Guernsey Press

Neave, 16, is first islander to address House of Commons

A teenager has become the first Guernsey resident to address a packed House of Commons chamber from the despatch box.

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Neave Chatting-Tonks, 16, addressing the UK Youth Parliament. (32729861)

Neave Chatting-Tonks, 16, was among the first representatives from the Crown Dependencies to speak at the UK Youth Parliament and she was followed by delegates from Jersey – who spoke from the opposition’s side of the Chamber – and the Isle of Man.

Speaking to nearly 250 young people from all over the UK and the overseas territories, she spoke for about two minutes on the topic ‘the important issue of equality facing young people on my island today’.

Neave, 16, is chairwoman of the Guernsey Youth Forum and her speech touched on how it had addressed a rise in bullying at local schools by bringing in a pledge which was incorporated in high schools which was shown with a badge and the signing of the pledge.

The anti-bullying policies of all schools were now being reviewed, she said.

Her second topic was the importance of young people having their voices heard and referred to how only 4% of those aged between 16 and 19 were on the electoral roll.

A youth manifesto was being drawn up to ensure that what young people wanted was considered, she said.

‘I really enjoyed it,’ she said after the session.

‘It was amazing. After the first sentence of saying “hello” I was clutching the despatch box.’

She had found out about the invitation to address the Youth Parliament about two months ago and was given a topic to speak on.

Helped by the Youth Commission’s Hayley Winter, they came up with what they felt were two of the most important issues facing young people in the island.

Currently working at Aurigny, Neave she said she had not yet decided if a future career in politics was a possibility.

Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt had welcomed the delegates, followed by Shadow Minister for Arts, Heritage and Civil Society Lilian Greenwood.

‘The inclusion of members from the overseas territories and the Crown Dependencies is very special and so I offer them an extra warm welcome,’ she said.

The meeting was chaired by Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lyndsey Hoyle, and the Crown Dependencies’ representatives were invited to speak after debates on holiday hunger among young people and improving the quality of school meals.