Visit to the Houses of Parliament
Twenty-one students studying A-Level Politics at the High School Sixth Form had the opportunity to see the Commons in action this week.
The coach opened it's doors, following the long journey up from Gloucester, to reveal Parliament Green bustling with tourists, civil servants, MPs and journalists.
Walking past Westminster Abbey, the trip began at the UK Supreme Court. The highest court in the land was established in 2009 as part of the reform of the House of Lords. Students enjoyed an excellent tour of the three court rooms and listened to details of some of the controversial cases that the twelve justices have had to preside over. This included rulings on Assisted Suicide and removing support for Abortions on religious grounds. The building is modern and magnificent and was in total contrast to the Palace of Westminster that we visited after lunch.
The ageing building remains magnificent and, after passing serenely through the security checks and armed police officers, we were given a tour of some of the 1600+ rooms in the Palace. It felt very much like the working office building that it is, but crossed with a traditional gentleman's club as the ageing furniture, many libraries, nine bars and shooting gallery on-site suggest. Nevertheless there was a tangible sense of 'power' among the corridors which we walked as well as real buzz building with many MPs arriving to hear the Prime Minister's statement to the Commons on the Panama Papers.
The tour included an opportunity to visit some select committee and public bill rooms ; the real heart of the political legislative process at Westminster. Following a workshop on electoral systems in the Parliament Education Centre, we were escorted back into the Palace and up to the public viewing gallery of the House of Commons to watch Teresa May answer questions from the Home Office and David Cameron deliver his statement to the house.
The trip was a fantastic and memorable introduction to the corridors of power, as well as useful revision for the upcoming A-Level examinations!