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Parliament Visit

Tyler Cook, Year 11, was lucky enough to be invited to visit the Houses of Parliament last week! Here is what Tyler says about his day in Westminster.

‘As a member of the local Conservative Party, I had the privilege of being invited to a free tour of the Houses of Parliament and a talk with Kelly Tolhurst, MP for Rochester and Strood, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility. I learnt a lot about current affairs on both a party level and the national level during Kelly’s talk and Q&A session, including many things the party is doing but are not typically talked about in the media. I learned a lot about work being done for workers’ rights, small businesses and young people, especially apprenticeships programmes, an issue close to me due to the fact I want to go through the paralegal and solicitor apprenticeships post 16. I got a unique insight into Brexit, directly from a Member of Parliament and minister who has been on both sides of the Brexit debate and has had a lot of first-hand experience dealing with Europe through her role.

The tour itself was much less about current affairs and more about the history of Parliament and how it runs. The tour started in Westminster Hall. We learnt about the beginnings of the Houses of Parliament and the different rulers that oversaw the construction of the different buildings. Next, we entered the House of Commons, following the pathway an MP would take if they wanted to vote ‘no’ on a bill. We learnt a lot about the smaller details and traditions that have been going on for centuries and also many other incidents.

One of the most notable things about the Commons Chamber is it is very small, much smaller than it seems on TV. When the chamber was destroyed in WWII, many architects suggested it should be built bigger but Churchill wanted to keep the dimensions similar. He wanted a rectangular chamber (contrary to most of Europe which had adopted semi-circular parliaments) because he wanted to face his enemy, not see them over his shoulder. He also wanted to keep it small to preserve the intimacy of Commons; he wanted his enemies close. Next, we went to the Queen’s Chambers and followed the route she would take on the state opening of Parliament and finally, we went through the House of Lords. The House of Lords does not typically make it to the news as often but it was still very interesting learning about the differences in the structure, power and politics of the two Chambers.’

Thank you Tyler for this detailed insight into the world of Westminster!

Pictured below: Tyler with MP Kelly Tolhurst in Westminster Hall.

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