Students question the new Commons Speaker

15 July 2009

The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, today visited students at Lilian Baylis Technology School in Lambeth, London.

The visit was the first of what the Speaker hopes will be regular sessions with schools and educational establishments around the country to explain the work of Parliament and to hear the views of young people.

The Speaker, who was elected to the role on 22 June 2009, told students part of the job was being an ambassador for the House. He said:

"One of the problems is that as Members of Parliament we tend to talk to each other a lot and we tend to talk to our constituents a lot but we have not got anyone to speak up for Parliament as a whole."

The Speaker told students it was important to engage young people with what goes on in Parliament because that is where decisions are taken on issues that affect everyone’s lives, like education, health and transport.

"Our democracy may not be perfect but at least we talk about and sort out our differences peacefully. Unfortunately there remain other countries which are not in that position and where there is no democracy in any meaningful sense," he added.

During his visit, the Speaker talked to year 8 and 9 students at the morning assembly and answered their questions. As preparation, the students were given sessions by Parliament's Education Service on the Speaker's job and the work and role of the House of Commons.

The Speaker's visit also included a tour of the school and an informal question and answer session with the school’s student Parliament representatives.

Headteacher of the school Gary Phillips said:

"We really appreciated the Speaker’s visit to Lilian Baylis. We hear a lot from politicians but in the past have not had the opportunity to focus on how Parliament actually works. So it was very interesting to get the chance to talk to the person who has the job of refereeing what goes on there and to discuss the process of democracy."

Image: Parliamentary copyright

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