In early October, Richmond upon Thames College’s 1st year A Level Politics students took an important and insightful trip to the Houses of Parliament to help aid their studies and witness parliamentary debates. The trip was recounted by student, Sofia Seymour:
“The Houses of Parliament are home to various sights and sectors that serve as tourist attractions, a place of educational opportunity and where laws and legislation are created and debated across the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Our trip to Parliament began with locking away our phones and cameras before being taken on a tour. The tour began with viewing historical paintings, which detailed how the Houses of Parliament came to be, statues of various past political figures that the Suffragettes bound themselves to and intricate designs within the buildings, from mosaic depicting patron saints - to floor tiles showing national flowers.
This choice of intricate interior design was not continued into the House of Commons, which is mainly finished with green leather and dark wood. As guests at the House of Commons, we, alongside other members of the public, were situated behind a glass window and able to watch debates between members of Parliament. The topic on this day was Housing, which saw deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner debate with Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Conservative party member, Michael Gove. Subjects such as non-existent meat taxes, cancelled transport links and the current housing crisis were discussed and disputed. Minutes after we left, the Prime Minister delivered a statement covering the conflict in Israel and Palestine.
Moving onto the House of Lords, we observed its ornate designs and decorations; including a golden centre piece, a red motif and in contrast to the House of Commons, no window separating the public from government officials. The discussions that we witnessed were centred around water and sewage regulations. We watched politicians converse for a few minutes and were then taken to a workshop which focused on pressure groups and think tanks. During this workshop, we learned about various groups, both inside and outside government and their differing processes. We had also planned to meet MP for Twickenham, Munira Wilson, but were unable to on this occasion due to the Prime Minister's involvement in the House of Commons at the time.”
Tutor Kasim Agpak commented on the outing, “It was a great experience for our students to visit and observe both houses at the heart of British democracy. They have also learnt about different ways of participating in politics, which is significant considering the increase in political apathy in recent years.”
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