Students peer into the life of the House of Lords

The House of Lords came to the Avonbourne Trust when Lord Whitty spoke to pupils from Avonbourne and Harewood Colleges, Avonbourne Sixth Form and Avonwood Primary.

The House of Lords came to the Avonbourne Trust when Lord Whitty spoke to pupils from Avonbourne and Harewood Colleges, Avonbourne Sixth Form and Avonwood Primary.

Bournemouth students were given a first-hand account of life as a Lord when Labour peer John Whitty paid them a special visit.

Lord Whitty visited Avonbourne Trust to encourage students to become more engaged with politics.

The former General Secretary of the Labour Party met with Avonborne sixth formers and student council representatives from Avonbourne College, Harewood College and Avonwood Primary to talk about the work and role of the House of Lords.

This was followed by a question and answer session when the students got to grill the peer on his life and work – questions posed were as far ranging as what book he would recommend to them to where he stood on Brexit.

Director of Sixth Form, Kathryn Loughnan, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to interact with someone who knows the parliamentary system inside out, as it can sometimes seem far removed from their daily lives.

“The students were fascinated to hear about life in the House of Lords and its role in the running of the country.

“Some of our sixth formers will be voting for the very first time in the upcoming local elections and it is fantastic to see them getting so engaged in politics.”

Youngsters from Avonwood Primary asked Lord Whitty if there was one book he would recommend all young people read – and his response was Jospeh Heller’s Catch 22.

They also asked him what was the most difficult part of his job and Lord Whitty said taking part in very lengthy meetings was challenging.

Girls from Avonbourne College asked him what was the most important vote in the House of Lords he had ever been involved in – and he said it was insisting on parity of NHS treatment for physical and mental illness.

Harewood College students tackled the peer on whether meat consumption needed to be reduced to protect the environment – to which Lord Whitty responded that he thought that move was inevitable.

And finally sixth formers probed him on the one area of politics everyone is talking about – Brexit.

Lord Whitty said as someone born shortly after World War II he could see the real benefits of a united Europe.

He also added, in hindsight, he wished the Lords had insisted the referendum required at least a 60% vote in favour of Brexit as we now have a divided country.

Sixth former, Sarvish Sohan, said: “I was really impressed that Lord Whitty would take time out of his busy schedule in Westminster to visit us in Bournemouth. He was a really engaging speaker and genuinely wanted to help us understand what goes on in the House of Lords.”

Lord Whitty’s visit was arranged through the Lord Speaker’s “Peers in Schools” programme, which has been running across the UK since 2007 and has so far involved more than 100,000 young people.

This continuing outreach programme sends members of the House of Lords into schools and colleges across the country to give talks in support of the citizenship curriculum.


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