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Published 8th March 2007, 11:37am

This year's Youth Parliament hosted by the Cayman Islands Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association holds all the potential for being a highly interesting exercise for the participants and spectators alike.

The participants have already made history by enthusiastically determining to extend the proceedings to two days. Now they have decided to debate six motions three each from either side of the aisle, covering vital topical issues.

Their youthful zeal has found a perfect foil in the accommodating approach of the House Speaker, the Hon. Edna Moyle, and the Youth Parliament Sub-Committee, led by George Town MLA Alfonso Wright. The committee members aim to not only ensure the participants will have a truly memorable experience but also to take the workings of a dynamic democracy several notches higher.

The Youth Parliament will be held for two consecutive days, with the opening scheduled for 9.30am on Monday (13 March) which is Commonwealth Day 2006.

The entire two days' proceedings are open to the public as are all sittings of the Legislature.

Some 100 seats on the second floor of the Legislature including in the VIP areas will be reserved for the invitees including Associate Members of the Cayman Islands Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Members (past MLAs) parents, school principals, school students and chaperones, Chief Officers and other top Government executives, sponsors and persons who have assisted. The Youth Parliament Sub-Committee looks forward to seeing as many youth as possible attend both days' proceedings.

On Monday, the formal opening will be followed by the swearing-in ceremony for the youth parliamentarians; the election of the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the five Cabinet Ministers; the assignment of responsibilities to the Ministers and the Instruments of Appointment to the Leader of Government Business and the Leader of the Opposition.

After that, debate ensues on the first Government Motion followed by the first Private Member's Motion. The remaining two Government and two Private Member's Motions will be debated on Tuesday, the second day of Youth Parliament proceedings.

The first motion from the Youth Parliament's government bench reflects the importance of this year's Commonwealth Day theme which is "Health and Vitality The Commonwealth Challenge" and draws attention to the urgent need to combat HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean which is now second only to sub-Saharan Africa in percentage of adults infected. The motion calls for the CPA Youth Parliament to develop a national strategic 10-year policy to combat HIV/AIDS in the Cayman Islands and calls for: enhanced testing methods/procedures and education; investigation/exploration into new community approaches; and research/investigation into the impact of the role of tourism and emigration on this disease.

The motion also seeks that government's "Workplace Health Promotion Programme" be reviewed and adopted in all workplaces.

Nurse Pauline Ffrench who is the STI/HIV Coordinator of the Health Services Authority made a presentation to the participants on the subject at the pre-event meeting on Saturday 24 February.

The second Government Motion tackles the topically charged subject of Sunday trading and proposes an amendment to the Sunday Trading Law in such a way that it adds to the convenience of the populace, yet upholds the religious beliefs of practitioners. The amendment seeks to enable the opening of supermarkets on Sundays but proposes that language be added to the law to protect the rights of employees to the observance of their religious beliefs on Sunday.

The third motion mirrors the community's serious concern to the continuing increase in youth fatalities in road accidents. The Government Motion calls for an amendment to the licensing aspects of the Traffic Law. The motion calls for the Youth Parliament to implement a drivers' education course and facility to better prepare teens to drive responsibly. The government bench seeks the Youth Parliament's approval for amending the age in the law at which teens are eligible for drivers' licensing "to allow more restricted driving practice", the motion states.

The three Private Member's Motions, equally significantly, touch upon three key topics: freedom of information; technical education; and gangs and gang-related activities.

The first calls for the Government to present to the Youth Parliament a Freedom of Information Bill for enactment. The youth parliamentarians received a presentation from Government Information Services Director Pat Ebanks on Saturday 24 February on Government's ongoing Freedom of Information initiative.

The second motion draws attention to the very limited opportunities available for technical and vocational education in the Islands and governmental consideration for enhancing technical education opportunities by encouraging public/private sector partnerships.

The third spotlights the worrisome topic of gangs and seeks a study into the causes of gangs and gang-related activities. It calls for government-introduced programmes: to prevent gangs and related activities, and for those convicted of gang-related crimes. Additionally, the motion asks for a revision of the penalty regime surrounding such crime.

A number of local entities, public and private, have come forward to be sponsors for the event. They are CPA Headquarters Secretariat; Cayman Airways; Cable & Wireless; CUC; Ernst & Young; Radio Cayman; Thompson Development; Tropical Metals Ltd; Truman Bodden & Co; and Weststar.

Weststar will televise all proceedings and broadcast them live on Channel 24 free over the air or on Channel 9 via cable. The proceedings will also be aired live on Radio Cayman 105.3 FM in Grand Cayman and 91.9 FM in Cayman Brac.

Youth choose electoral representatives

The 26 participants of Cayman's second Youth Parliament have already put in many hours of effort into rehearsals for the upcoming event on Monday (13 March).

Six of them hold the positions of the Governor, the three Official Members of the Cabinet, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and the Serjeant-at-Arms.

Twenty parliamentarians represent the six electoral districts, with 13 sitting on the Government bench and nine across the aisle on the Opposition bench.

Positions emerging from the government side will be the Speaker as well as five Cabinet Ministers consisting of the Leader of Government Business and four other Ministers.

Opposition members will include the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Speaker.

The 20 parliamentarians representing the different districts and the two sides are as follows:

Government Bench (11 representatives one of whom will be the Speaker):

Miss Marzeta Bodden
The First Elected Member for West Bay
Mr Joseph Gracey
The Second Elected Member for West Bay
Miss Kayla Archibold
The Fifth Elected Member for West Bay
Miss Kimberly Robinson
The Second Elected Member for George Town
Miss Kelly Brown
The Fourth Elected Member for George Town
Mr Brian Whittaker
The First Elected Member for Bodden Town
Miss Kimberly Solomon
The Second Elected Member for Bodden Town
Miss Heidi Knowlton
The First Elected Member for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman
Miss Nikeeta Seeram
The Third Elected Member for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman
Mr Brian Ogilivie
The Second Elected Member for North Side
Mr Sidney Terry
The First Elected Member for East End

Opposition Bench:

Mr W Marvin Hurlston
The Third Elected Member for West Bay
Miss Kalesha Edwards
The Fourth Elected Member for West Bay
Mr Orrie Merren
The First Elected Member for George Town
Mr Mikhail McLaughlin
The Third Elected Member for George Town
Miss Paige Foster
The Fifth Elected Member for George Town
Miss Sherie Jackson
The Third Elected Member for Bodden Town
Mr Kamaal Connolly
The Second Elected Member for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman
Miss Chantal Whittaker
The First Elected Member for North Side
Mr Richard Watson
The Second Elected Member for East End.

The Official Members of Cabinet are:

Mr. Travis Ritch
First Official Member responsible for Internal and External Affairs and the Civil Service
Mr. Alexander Stoll
Second Official Member responsible for Legal Affairs
Miss Elizabeth Charles
Third Official Member responsible for Finance and Economics.

The officers of the Legislative Assembly are:

Miss Calicia Burke
Clerk of the Legislative Assembly
Miss Gabriela Mendoza
Serjeant-at-Arms.

The position of His Excellency the Governor will be held by Mr. Stuart Gorter.