Parliament visit as a guest of the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP
Harton Academy’s year 12 Government and Politics class had a once in a lifetime opportunity last week to visit Parliament as a guest of the Rt. Honourable John Bercow MP, who had very kindly visited the school last year.
We all travelled down on Tuesday 5th March where we all enjoyed an Italian meal in Locale restaurant on the banks of the River Thames. The next day we would walk the short distance across Westminster Bridge, taking in the stunning views of the London scenery, to visit the Houses of Parliament. After passing through security, we were shown around the magnificent House of Lords by Siobhan Conway, from the Parliament Education team. The whole class were taken aback by the stunning artwork on the walls and the fascinating stories told about the paintings of the Battle of Trafalgar and how it is covered up when French diplomats visit. We were also fortunate enough to experience the chamber of the Lords itself although we weren’t allowed to sit on the seats!
After our marvellous tour, we watched Mr Speaker, John Bercow, parade through Parliament to take the chair for the start of questions of the day. It was a once in a lifetime experience to watch Prime Minister’s Question Time from the Speaker’s Gallery, directly above the government benches; we were directly adjacent to former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull who was also observing. It was certainly a unique experience to witness Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn debating furiously across the dispatch box from our position.
After leaving PMQs, we enjoyed some lunch in one of Parliament’s many cafés, the Jubilee Café, before bumping into local MP Emma Lewell-Buck who was kind enough to stop and have a chat with us all. Not only that, we also had a 15 minute Q&A with her in Portcullis House before we were surveyed on Select Committees as part of some research being conducted. Two of the students, Ethan Thoburn and Elisa Smith, were even interviewed on camera to give their views regarding select committees.
Finally, to end the day off the group went to Mr Speaker’s private quarters to meet John Bercow (Mr Speaker) and ask him a few questions, but not before presenting him with a fantastic gift; this was a caricature drawn by the fantastic local artist Robert Olley – something which Mr Speaker took a liking to when visiting us. He loved it that much it even brought a tear to his eye when he was presented with it. Mr Speaker answered very honestly to the questions which were posed to him by our A-level Politics students, explaining his role as Speaker of the House and what he does to engage with younger people to get them more involved in politics.
All of us who went on the trip are very thankful to first of all Mr Speaker himself for taking the time to speak to us for over an hour at his residence, as well as inviting us onto his gallery at the House of Commons, but also to Sir Ken Gibson for making the whole thing happen and also to Mr Ellison for leading the trip and doing a fantastic job over the course of the trip. All of us in year 12 Politics loved it and will cherish the memories that were created in this once in a lifetime opportunity.