Sixth Formers visit Houses of Parliament
Report by Phoebe K
Date posted: 12/12/16
On 5th December fifteen Sixth Formers made their way up to London for a visit to the Houses of Parliament. After a slow journey to Blackfriars, we were ushered past the statue of Cromwell, on Cromwell Green, through security and into the courtyard overlooked by Big Ben. We then entered Westminster Hall, where our tour began. It was clear to see the history intertwined with every corner of the building; from Westminster chapel, where Charles I was tried for treason against Parliament to the Robing room to where the monarch prepares for the opening of Parliament every May. The amazing architecture within the building, we were told, is often incorrectly credited to Charles Barry who designed the gothic exterior. In fact, it is Augustin Pugin we must credit for the opulence of the House of Lords and the portraits of the Saints in the Central Lobby. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour, gaining a fascinating insight into the place where our country’s laws are made and learning more about this renouned building. We then had the unique experience to talk with Conservative MP for Worthing East and Shoreham, Tim Loughton. He discussed his route into politics and eventually parliament, along with his honest opinions on Brexit and the operation of party “whips”. Our discussions with him gave us an insight into the busy, yet highly rewarding working life of an MP. Mr Loughton made it clear that the main duty of an MP is to serve his constituents and ensure their wishes are represented within the House of Commons.
Later in the day, we witnessed the Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms parade the mace into the House of Commons. Some famous politicians including Nick Clegg and Michael Gove were spotted. We were then shown to the Public Gallery where we were able to watch Home Office Questions (behind the bulletproof glass, implemented after a member of the public flour bombed Tony Blair in 2004). Some interesting exchanges took place between the Home Secretary and the MPs, to be followed by an emergency discussion on the recent Southern Rail issues. Somewhat ironically, we had to leave before this debate, in case we missed our train home! We found this experience invaluable and would like to thank Mr Dyson and Mr Clarke for taking us and battling through the train strikes!