6th Form politics class goes to Parliament

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The Government & Politics A level class paid a visit to the Palace of Westminster recently where they not only had a guided tour of Parliament but also had the opportunity to participate in their own debate. Here is their report:-

“Once we arrived in Westminster, we made the short walk to Parliament which consists of three parts; the House of Lords, the monarch and the House of Commons where we were able to sit in the public gallery, overlooking the chamber of green benches (a tradition going back 300 years). Here we witnessed the MPs questions and statements as well as business question to the leader of the house. We also observed some traditional customs that are still upheld, such as members referring to each other as ‘my right honourable friend’ (since referring to people by their names is not permitted) and a snuffbox by the door.

“In the House of Commons, voting is also done using division lobbies. It might sound very old-fashioned and outdated in today’s age where in the European Parliament you simply need push a button to vote but, conceivably, it all adds to the pomp and ceremony of Parliament.

“We also learnt about the history of the houses and that it was actually a former palace, the palace of Westminster. In 1042-65 Edward the Confessor built a royal palace on the site so that he could oversee the construction of Westminster Abbey and in 1097-9 William Rufus, the son of William the Conqueror, built the original Westminster Hall where many a historical event has taken place such as the trial of King Charles I after he was charged with high treason in 1949. Another famous trial also took place there for a man who inspired bonfire night: Guy Fawkes.

“Following our tour, we took part in a workshop where we were quizzed on our knowledge of parliament and we had a mini-debate on whether the best way to encourage young people to vote is to lower the voting age to 16 which got quite heated but it was all a very healthy debate, of course. This marked the end of a very interesting and memorable trip which gave us an insight into some of our oldest traditions.”