parliamentThe LVI (Year 12) Politics class were given a wonderful opportunity to explore the corridors of power on Wednesday 2nd March when they were invited to the Palace of Westminster by the Earl of Kinnoull.

They were given a tour of the palace by the Earl of Kinnoull, who showed them around both the House of Lords and Commons, as well as the many sub-chambers, committee rooms and breath-taking halls, where the business of government takes place. The Earl had many fascinating anecdotes about the palace, that brought the colourful history of the building and the many people who have occupied it over the centuries, alive. They stood where personalities as varied as William Wallace, Guy Fawkes, King Charles I, Nelson Mandela and President Xi Jinping, had all addressed different audiences for different reasons. The historical significance of this political hub became vividly real to the class.

Then the students got to put their political skills into action by holding their own Parliamentary Committee meeting with the Earl of Kinnoull, who allowed them to question him on a vast range of political matters for an hour. The Earl’s responses were both candid and enlightening, showing the students the complexities of modern British politics and enabling them to put their classroom theories to the test with the Chair of the European Affairs Committee and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords.

Lunch was enjoyed in the atrium of Portcullis House, amongst the hustle and bustle of political life. The students rubbed shoulders with MPs, Lords, civil servants, administrators, security staff, journalists and facilities staff, soaking up the energy of the centre of government.

After lunch the students were able to watch a debate on the need to address the growth in violence towards women and girls in the House of Commons, before moving to question time in the House of Lords. A fascinating debate about the importance of music in education was part of this session.

Once the actions of our political representatives in both Houses of Parliament had been observed, there was time to visit the gift shop and pick up some pretty unique souvenirs before boarding the coach and heading home.

The main feeling created by the day’s many experiences was one of good fortune, that we are lucky enough to live in a country where the workings of the government are open to all citizens to witness, where politicians are elected to serve the people and where those who make the laws are accountable to the people who live by those laws. At this time of military strife in Europe, it is important not to take democracy for granted.

The St Mary’s LVI class would like to thank the Earl of Kinnoull for his generosity with his time and for the fantastic activities that he provided for them. They would also like to thank Mrs Visser for organising the visit.