Following a visit to Farlington from Liberal Democrat Lord Dholakia earlier in the year, Farlington’s sociologists were delighted to be invited for a ‘behind the scenes’ trip to the House of Lords. Accompanied by Sociology and Science teachers, Mrs Ravenscroft and Mr Maude respectively, the year 11 sociology group excitedly arrived outside the impressive Houses of Parliament on a chilly November afternoon.
Not surprisingly the first hurdle was to pass the security search. Following the confiscation of a pair of scissors and a penknife the group were taken through the hall of the House of Lords and were met by Lord Dholakia’s wife and taken up to watch the Lord Speaker’s Parade.
Year 11 student Annie Hart said: “As the Lords marched in front of us, we waited patiently until it was our time to go into the gallery to view the proceedings. There we watched as men and women asked questions and debated with each other. Although it wasn’t as ‘rowdy’ as the House of Commons (the Lord Speaker’s words, not mine), it was interesting as they got onto the subject of Jimmy Saville and the current investigation into Child Abuse in the social care system.
“After we had listened to a number of issues, we left to visit the Lord Speaker, Baroness de Souza, herself! It was more than a little intimidating to go where people are not usually allowed and even more intimidating when the Lord Speaker needed a security escort from a man in a suit. However, upon meeting her, she was very kind, and thoughtful. After a few photos we were taken on a tour from Lord Dholakia, which was very interesting. There are rooms that you are not allowed to stand in, and others with wall-length paintings with fascinating stories behind them, including one about Charles Dickens.”
Following a quick Question and Answer with Lord Dholakia in his office, it was time to leave. The group retrieved their offending items and then required a police escort out of the building. However, the policeman was kind enough to pose for a last photo before the return train journey to Horsham.
“Many people might assume that 12 sixteen and fifteen year olds being bustled up to London with the plan of seeing some lords talking and having absolutely no shopping time at all would have been a disaster,” said Annie. “Much to the teachers’ surprise we found that it was actually fun and very interesting. The Lords were very kind to us and very keen to help us with our studies for GCSEs. I think that many of us will take up Lord Dholakia’s offer to work with him for some experience, as one afternoon at the House of Lords was certainly not enough.”