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Young politicians argue for England

AS the Tory party contemplate choosing their new leader, could one for the future be Christopher Wheeler of King's school, Peterborough, who has won the prize for Best Spokesperson for the Opposition in this year's Motorola Youth Parliament Competition?

And should Peter Mandelson, former Northern Ireland Secretary, be taking tips from Georgina Warren, of James Allen's girls' school in London, who won the prize for Best Minister with a speech in favour of a Bill to ban the physical punishment of children?

Prizes were presented in the House of Lords on Tuesday. Christopher, who won his prize for an impassioned speech against the repeal of Section 28, might not be quite right for the new, inclusive, Tory party (he's pro-family values, not homophobic, he told The TES). But he has the fluency and brains of a young William Hague with - for the moment - the advantage of thick black hair and eyebrows.

The prize for Best School went to the youngest-ever winners: Year 8 and 9 pupils from High Tunstall, an 11-16 comprehensive in Hartlepool, with a lively debate on the Euro. They were kept firmly in order by their Speaker, Stuart Bell, who won the prize for Best Speaker (of the House). Best Backbencher was Jonathan Hicks from Fulford School in York, making a punchy attack on the Government's Freedom of Information Bill. Best Press Officer was Marcus Lovatt from Derby Grammar School.

The competition aims to encourage participation in politics by inviting secondary schools to submit a short video of a mock parliamentary session.

Biddy Passmore

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