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Pupil report: A3 Politics trip to London
On Tuesday 26 April the A3 politics pupils set off early on a trip to London to visit the Houses of Parliament and Westminster.
After a four-hour bus journey, we went through security and were greeted by our tour guide in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament following a fire in 1834. Some debates, which are referred to as ‘Westminster Hall’ debates, are held near here and it is where foreign dignitaries such as Barack Obama, Pope Benedict XVI and Nelson Mandela have addressed members of both houses. It is also where members of the Royal Family lie in state before state funerals, the last being the Queen Mother in 2002.
We were then taken through St Stephen’s Hall into the Central Lobby, a meeting place for members and peers, sitting between the Commons and Lords. It is also where members of the public can be met by MPs. St Stephen’s Hall was once the last point an unattended woman was allowed to go within the building, and we learned how this was where the suffragettes set up one of their protests. Four woman chained themselves to statues. As the protestors were being removed one of the statues was damaged. It has remained unrepaired in monument to those who fought for women’s right to vote.
We proceeded along the House of Lords corridor where we were shown the voting book, and then into the prince’s chamber before entering the House of Lords itself. We were all impressed by the Sovereign’s Throne, which as the guide told us, Michael Jackson once offered to buy for a huge amount of money, however we were not told exactly how much. The room was also filled with red benches and the Woolsack, where the Lord Speaker sits. Unfortunately, owing to parliamentary business, we were unable to see the Commons, however we saw and learnt a lot having been shown around The House of Lords, where the artwork was notably impressive.
Once our tour had come to an end, Mr Waters walked us through Westminster pointing out government departments, pressure groups, think-tanks and the Supreme Court. We had our customary photos outside Downing Street, discussed the Cenotaph, Foreign Office and Treasury and were told about ways in which we could work in the world of politics and government within Westminster. This was followed by lunch on the Strand.
In a short space of time, we learned a huge amount. It was a well spent day which increased our knowledge and understanding of UK politics, and most importantly, everybody thoroughly enjoyed it.
By A3 pupil Giselle F