Deputy Speaker Anne Tolley 'feels terrible' for upsetting Youth MP Lily Dorrance over suicide speech

Deputy House Speaker Anne Tolley has apologised for interrupting a Youth MP who was delivering a speech in Parliament about suicide. 

Christchurch student Lily Dorrance, 17, was speaking about mental health in the school curriculum when she was interrupted by Tolley, and told to stop reading from her notes. 

Dorrance had been speaking about mental health and the "consequences of taking a precious life". She said New Zealand's mental health system is at a "crisis point". 

"Every person in this room will have a friend or family member who has, or is suffering from some form of mental illness," the Youth MP, representing National MP David Carter, said. 

"I am particularly alert to this issue because it was only a few months ago that I lost a friend - a classmate - to suicide."

As Dorrance's speech went on to highlight the need for greater access to mental health services, Tolley, a senior National Party MP, told her, "Put your notes away and tell us what you think we need". 

A fellow Youth MP tried to come to Dorrance's defence, but Tolley stood by her ruling. She said she was trying to get the 17-year-old to stop reading her notes and "tell us what you think". 

Dorrance then put down her notes, and told Parliament she felt mental health should be a standalone subject taught in schools and "not meshed with other health topics". 

Newshub tried to contact Dorrance for comment but did not have a response at the time of publishing. She told NZME she started crying as she sat down, adding that the experience was "humiliating". 

Tolley, the MP for East Coast, told Newshub she was "sorry" if she upset anyone and said she had delivered apologies in person. 

"I was trying to get them to speak 'from' their notes rather than just 'read' them in the general debate, which as you know, is a robust debate in Parliament," she said. 

"I feel terrible that it upset a couple, but we heard many outstanding and passionate speeches and I certainly admire them all for that."