Headlines: July 21st, 2006

Young people will get an opportunity to air their views on how public money should be spent in Scotland as part of this year’s Festival of Politics taking place at the Scottish Parliament. Six teams of 14 to 17 year olds will be given access to real figures and the actual bills presented to MSPs.The teenagers will be asked to draw up their budgets and then debate what reforms they could afford to make if they were running the country. The budget debate in late August is one of a series of events designed to involve people from all age groups in the parliamentary process.

A number of other events are being organised for school students, with pupils also getting the chance to design a politician in a ‘Build Your Own MSP’ game. Young people from different faith backgrounds will also take part in a debate on how to create more peaceful societies.

The Parliament’s Presiding Officer, George Reid, said, “It’s vital for a healthy democracy to involve and engage young people in the democratic process. And who knows – maybe some of our younger visitors might even return again as MSPs.”

It is hoped that this year’s festival will build on the success of the programme last year. The number of events has almost doubled to around 50 and the festival will run for four days, one more than in 2005, and include a dedicated family day.