On Friday 17 March 2017, I went on a trip to the Houses of Parliament with the Jack Petchey Speak Out Challenge.
On arrival, we went through security and went into Westminster Hall, the place where King Charles I and William Wallace were sentenced to death. We then went into the central lobby and walked through the committee rooms’ corridor until we got to a committee room at the end of the corridor where we sat down with the Black Rod. He gave us a history of the role of the Black Rod and how he was appointed to look after the Knights of the Garter. We held the current Black Rod which is nearly 200 years old and has a gold sovereign dated 1904 in the bottom.
We then had a tour of the House of Lords, where we stood in the benches that they sit in and saw the throne, which is painted with 23.5-karat gold leaf! We then crossed the central lobby and entered the House of Commons where we saw statues to Prime Ministers: Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Clement Atlee and Margaret Thatcher. We then walked through Churchills Arch, reconstructed after the blitz using damaged parts of the previous arch.
The House of Commons was a lot smaller than expected but that was because it was purposefully rebuilt too small after the blitz, as the old model did not have enough seats for all the MPs and neither does the current chamber. In addition, there is a rumour that the House of Commons benches are exactly two sword lengths apart so that hundreds of years ago the MPs did not accidentally stab each other or could not attack each other unfairly. Sadly, this is a myth and MPs were not allowed to bring their swords into the chamber.
Overall, it was a fun and interesting trip and made me really appreciate what a huge history the Houses of Parliament have and some of the democratic processes to passing a new law in this country.