PRESENTATION BY HONOURABLE JULIAN WILLOCK
FIRST WORKSHOP FOR THE VIRGIN ISLANDS YOUTH PARLIAMENT
TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 2020, AT THE HLSCC
Members of the House of Assembly, Fellow Virgin Islanders, Ladies and Gentlemen, Nominees of the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament, Presenters, Staff of the House of Assembly, Good Morning.
Welcome to the first of three training workshops, as we begin a new session of the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament.
My name is Hon Julian Willock the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament Management Committee.
It was in February of 2015 that a Virgin Islands Youth Policy was passed in the House of Assembly, which included re-establishing the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament (VIYP) as it remained the portfolio of the then Minister.
Following the 2019 general elections, the Premier, Hon Andrew A. Fahie after consultation with the Minister for Youth Affairs, Dr. the Hon Natalio D. Wheatley re-assigned the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament under the ambit of the House of Assembly in keeping with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s best practice.
The Premier made the announcement via a statement in the House of Assembly on Monday 3rd June, 2019, and also named a committee to manage the Youth Parliament.
The Committee of House Members then began the work of re-establishing the Youth Parliament. In addition, on Thursday, 27th February 2020 via a Resolution taken to the House of Assembly by the Premier, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, at the Fifth Sitting of the Second Session of the Fourth House of Assembly, the committee was formalised and two additional members were added.
The Committee now includes:
A. Hon. Julian Willock- Chairman
B. Hon. Kye M. Rymer - Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities, and Member for the 5th District
C. Hon. Sharie B. de Castro - Jr Minister for Tourism and Territorial At Large Member
D. Hon. Shereen D. Flax-Charles, Jr Minister for Trade and Economic Development and Territorial At-Large Member
E. Hon. Neville A. Smith - Deputy Speaker and Territorial At Large Member
F. Hon. Marlon A. Penn - Leader of the Opposition and member for the 8th district
G. Hon. Julian Fraser - Senior Member of the House of Assembly and Representative for the 3rd District as well as
H. Hon. Melvin M. Turnbull Member for the 2nd district
Under the revised structure, it will give participants between the ages of 18 – 35 an opportunity to understand in theory and practice, the important principles of governance, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and how the House of Assembly functions.
In other words, it will be different from just a mere Youth Policy, but the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament will mirror, how the House of Assembly works with all 18 plus, positions.
Furthermore, in keeping with transparency and greater participation, all 13 elected Members of the House of Assembly were invited to nominate young people to the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament, along with the Speaker and the Director of Youth Affairs.
The Virgin Islands Youth Parliament will comprise a cohort of about 40 young people drawn from all segments in the Territory, and include young people from youth organisations, churches, youths from both the public and private sectors, non-profit organizations, both genders and residents of the sister islands.
It is important to note, that the Virgin Islands Youth Parliament will run for four years or for the life of the current House of Assembly. Because we have three years left in the life of this administration, mid-way though, after consultation with the management Committee of House Members, we will do a rotation giving others an opportunity to hold a portfolio and participate in the public debate in the House of Assembly.
A series of workshops will be ongoing to train Virgin Islands Youth Parliament members and you will be aware that the next one is scheduled for March 23, 2020 and after our launching on March 30, 2020, another workshop will take place.
The Objectives are, for you to learn all accepts of how the House of Assembly functions both in theory and practice.
There are also plans to pair youth parliament members with all Members of the House of Assembly and the relevant staff, Speaker, Premier, Clerk, Ministers, Leader of the Opposition, district representatives etc.
During our workshops and training, Youth Parliamentarians will learn about:
- Standing Orders of the House of Assembly,
- The role of the Speaker
- The Constitution
- The History of the Legislature
- The art of debate and public speaking
- How to dress for success, as Youth Parliamentarians
- The Cabinet vis - a vis the House of Assembly
- The role of the Leader of Government Business, who is the Premier and the role of the Leader of the Opposition, as well as the role of the Clerk
- How a Bill becomes law in the Westminster system of government
- The function of the Legislative Branch, to name a few
The Management Committee, in consultation with Youth Parliament members, will set up yearly work plans and, it is expected, to have a minimum of two Sittings per year. We have proposed our first sitting where you will debate a topic live in the House of Assembly Chambers for May 2020.
While all the members of the Youth Parliament will not hold a portfolio, some will be engaged in research, an important aspect of the Legislative process, as one of the goals for the Youth Parliament, as I stated earlier, is to be a replica of the House of Assembly.
The Management Committee is working on the constitution and by-laws, and we will be calling on you, to help shape the revised first draft.
In order to properly manage the work of the Youth Parliament and create more opportunities for interest, sub-committees will be set up to assist with research on topical issues such as:
(a) Financial Services, the Environment, Tourism
(b) Health and Education
(c) Justice and Security
(d) As well as the Standing Committees that exist in the House of Assembly
In conclusion, at the end of your tenure, all Youth Parliament members should be very versed in:
- How Parliament works
- The Standing Orders that govern the House
- The importance and role of the Legislative Branch
- The art of Public Speaking and Debate
- The topical issues affecting the Virgin Islands
- The Virgin Islands Constitution Order of 2007
- Be skilled in Parliamentary practice and procedures
- Be exposed via research to influence decision making and public policy
- Improved Leadership skills, and a greater sense of national awareness
- More equip to promote broader awareness amongst young people, while achieving consensus building, without resorting to civil disorder
- And finally, more knowledge of the General principles of Democracy, good governance and representative government, as practiced in the Westminster system.