A group of Year 9 students toured the Houses of Parliament and met local MP Louise Mensch during a trip run by the Citizenship department. The day started with a whistle-stop tour of landmarks including Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. The students then had a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament and were able to see the House of Commons, the No Lobby and Westminster Hall, that has been central to the English legal system for centuries.
The 43 students saw the stringent security including sniffer dogs and armed police officers that patrol the buildings and were also impressed by the history and tradition of the Palace of Westminster. Some of the MPs they spotted included David Blunkett, Keith Vaz and Jack Straw.
The students walked through a now-decommissioned tube station, formerly used by pre-Second World War Ministers, to reach Portcullis House, a modern brick and glass structure that houses MPs’ offices. They then had a dynamic session where each of the two groups had to devise and propose their own bill, then vote using interactive electronic pads. One of the bills was for everyone in the country to be entitled to free Wi-Fi access, while the second was devoted to lowering university fees. That session was followed by a meeting with Louise Mensch, MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire.
Teacher Mrs Martin said: ‘We had a very valuable question and answer session and I was proud that the students formulated a lot of good questions for her. We learned a great deal about her role on the culture, media and sport select committee and the students came away with a much better understanding of what MPs actually do. That was the whole point, getting them to see that Parliament is just not sitting around debating but physically changing the laws of our country. The MPs were debating some very important issues to do with sentencing during an emergency question time and made two changes to laws while we were there.’