Sunday Times Prep School of the Year 2013-14

Houses of Parliament

We had the chance to tour the House of Lords and The House of Commons with Chloe’s dad, Lord St John.

Firstly we had to go through security machines like in the airport and have our picture taken for the passes that we had to have to go around Parliament.

Then we met up with Lord St John and he told us that on 25th May the Queen will come through the special gates in her carriage and that is the only time the gates are opened.

We were standing where the Queen has stood!

Everyone had many questions as it was the day after the general election and there wasn’t a big enough majority for the Conservatives to win the election against Labour, so it looked like a hung parliament.

After that, Lord St John took us out on the Peer’s Terrace, where he told us how we could identify each part of the Parliament: red for the House of Lords and green for the House of Commons. Even the nearby bridges had matching colours!

We walked around the buildings and learnt these facts:

·        There are many beautiful paintings displayed in the parliament buildings

·        It is morning until 2.30 pm, until the session begins

·        It takes exactly 25 seconds to get from where the Prime Minister gets out of his car, up the lift and into the House of Commons. That is why the Prime Minister goes up the lift 30 seconds before he is due in the room and sits down with 5 seconds to spare before starting;

·        There is a bag in the House of Commons where Bills are put inside by MPs. The bag is shaken and a Bill is picked out to be discussed and may become a law;

·        You can’t become Prime Minister if you are a Lord, unless you give up your title which you can reclaim afterwards;

·        Guy Fawkes put his gunpowder in the Crypt, which is in the only place in the whole of Parliament that is original, everything else had been damaged at some time;

·        Big Ben is actually called St Stephen’s Tower.

by Tessa Jensen-Hedgecock