On Monday 20th November, thirty Etone students from Years 8-10 attended a School Trip to the UK Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London. The trip included a tour of Parliament and a workshop on the legislative process, based at Parliament’s Education Centre. Students went on a guided tour of Parliament, starting in Westminster Hall, the oldest part of Parliament, where King Charles I was put on trial and sentenced to death in 1649. The students then walked through to the Members’ Lobby, which contains the statues of former UK Prime Ministers, including Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Margaret Thatcher and David Lloyd George. From the Members’ Lobby, students were taken to the House of Commons’ division lobbies, where MPs vote ‘aye’ or ‘no’ on Parliamentary bills. From these lobbies, students entered the House of Commons chamber, which was rebuilt following a bomb attack during the Second World War, with its iconic green leather benches. It was whilst in the House of Commons chamber that students learned from our tour guides that there are only 427 seats for the 650 MPs, and that Winston Churchill had insisted that the Commons chamber be rebuilt with the same confrontational character, with the government benches and opposition benches directly facing each other. Students also went through the iconic Central Lobby, which contains the statues of numerous English and Scottish Kings and Queens all the way from King Edward I. Unfortunately we couldn’t pay a visit to the House of Lords Chamber, as it was being readied for the formal introduction of the Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, our new Foreign Secretary and former Prime Minister.
Following the tour, students returned to the Education Centre and participated in a workshop focusing on Parliament’s legislative process. Students split into two groups – government and opposition – and elected leaders: a Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Students chose to debate a new bill on the issue of banning petrol and diesel vehicles, with the government in support. Following a lively debate, the students voted in favour of the bill, on the condition that people be encouraged to give up their petrol and diesel cars with financial incentives.
Before returning home to Nuneaton, the students took a quick walk down Parliament Street and Whitehall to see the Cenotaph, the entrance to Downing Street and Horse Guards Parade.