National service? I'll fight to prevent my son being forced to do it | Debbie Sayers

Conservative MP Philip Hollobone’s bill to dragoon 18- to 26-year-olds into state service is ill thought-out and discriminatory

As an art teacher I understand the difficulty of painting a picture with one brush, yet this is what Philip Hollobone MP is asking us to do by introducing a bill that proposes compulsory national service for all young people aged 18-26.

He is saying that all young people are out of work, getting into trouble, have no respect for themselves or others, are illiterate and lacking basic education. They can neither cook, nor look smart nor handle their finances or even understand basic laws.

He is telling us that we need to threaten these young people with a criminal record if they don’t complete a one-year service that has compulsory residential requirements, away from home, their jobs, responsibilities and families. He thinks they need to be forced to do “good” deeds like charity work or to work for the NHS, emergency services or the military.

As a mother of a six-year-old son, I find it unbelievable that a representative of our government could discriminate against such a large percentage of our population, with this one-size-fits-all approach. That is why I launched a petition to stop the national service bill in its tracks.

My main concern is the 700,000 young carers who will not be exempt from the bill. Who will care for their relative while they serve, with social services cut dramatically and disability benefits cut by more than 20%?

What happens to pregnant mothers, also not exempt, or to children, if both young parents have to serve at the same time, or to those of single parents? They could be left with no choice but to rely on the system to care for their children, a system that is at breaking point because of cuts, with the possibility of losing their child to the system.

And what about those young people who will not be exempt on grounds of mental health or disability exemption but might still have significant disabilities. Will the support be in place to accommodate these people?

And what about the bill’s lack of exemption for those in full-time education or in work, meaning some young people may have to leave a well-paid jobs to do minimum-wage work, or leave university or college to comply, potentially having a devastating effect on their carer paths and prospects.

Some argue that we need compulsory national service to tackle youth unemployment, but unemployment is highest among 16- and 17-year-olds, and the bill doesn’t include them. Much of the proposed “help” this bill offers, such as educational support, finance and cooking skills can and should be taught at home and in school. The idea that self-respect, respect for others, and discipline can be enforced through this is absurd. The freedoms that this bill tramples over, from equality to many of the articles of the Human Rights Act, seem to have been completely ignored.

If a compulsory national service comes in, my …read more  

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