On the 28th of July I had the real pleasure of spending the morning with a group of visitors from the organisation Urban Synergy. The mixed group of 14 secondary and college aged students, along with accompanying adults, started off with a tour of the Palace of Westminster, with plenty of time built in for questions and answers. Everyone seemed very engaged and interested in discovering as much as possible, not only about the main building and it’s history but also about the work that takes place there on a daily basis.
After a quick stop for photos in Westminster Hall we then adjourned to Portcullis House and the Thatcher room for the second part of our morning. The focus for this part of the day was to give the group the chance for a House of Commons style debate with the students taking the lead on setting the topic and regulating the argument. After a very competitive icebreaking activity of Parliamentary Taboo, the selected issue for debate was chosen; The Reintroduction and increase of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). Under the watchful and expert eye of our Mr Speaker (Elliot) the newly formed Urban Synergy Government and Opposition Members soon got down to discussing the pros and cons of this initiative. There were very good points made by both sides of the debate and It became apparent that certain young members of Urban Synergy were thoroughly enjoying the adversarial nature of debate. At the end of their discussions the group held a verbal vote, which was hard to discern a victorious side, and then a division where we discovered that 9 people voted IN FAVOUR of the reintroduction and 4 people voted AGAINST; Mr Speaker tried to remain neutral!
I really hope that for the various people who attended today and their wider community that this is just the start of their involvement with Parliament. I certainly would encourage everyone who visited today to consider future involvement in the political process both locally and nationally, there is certainly the talent available and more importantly great enthusiasm.
Diane Hedditch, Education Outreach Officer, Houses of Parliament
Some feedback from the event:
What they enjoyed the most?
Parent Sandra Cole ‘The day to day work of Parliament – The Lords and the Commons and the history around law making and the Kings and Queens.
Chad 18 ‘debating, finding out the hierachy of Parliament’
Elliott 13 ‘it gave me a clear insight to government’
One thought, action they will take away from today.
Chad 18 ‘Iooking into being a young member of Parliament’
Parent Monica Harris ‘discuss more topics with Simeon’
Joel 15 ‘take away how the Chambers work and to maybe be one (member of Parliament)’