Over the course of Parliament Week, members of our specialist group organised workshops around the country from the University of Surrey to the University of Strathclyde to spread knowledge about the role of Parliament, and to seek ideas for the improvement of the way our parliamentary democracy works.
The main event was held at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. It was a workshop for a-level students and led by the group’s co-conveners, Cristina Leston-Bandeira and Louise Thompson.
The workshop began by asking students to reflect on their past experiences of Parliament. Whilst not everyone had been to Parliament, all of them recognised the famous jousting between government and opposition at Prime Minister’s Questions. Meanwhile, fewer than half of students had seen proceedings from the House of Lords.
Next, Louise Thompson gave an overview of some of the things that Parliament does, and explained some of the rituals and ceremonies, such as the State Opening of Parliament.
Students were asked to draw/create some of their interpretations of Parliament. These include:
After this, Professor Matthew Flinders gave a presentation on the challenges that Parliament faces in the twenty-first century, which ash been filmed and is available to watch here:
Finally, the last section of the workshop was on possible ways that Parliament could be made more effective or improve. Students were bursting with ideas, some of which included: term limits for peers, limiting the use of whipping in the House of Commons, making more use of referenda, making it cheaper to become an MP, changing the aesthetics of Parliament, changing the shape of the chamber to form a semi-circle like most continental European countries, electoral reform, and the introduction of a Northern Assembly – in other words, more devolution of power!
For more information about Parliament Week more generally, please click here.
Cover image taken at the event.