The Department of Politics and International Relations' student engagement week included a field visit on Tuesday 1 November to the Palace of Westminster for those studying the first-year module British Politics.

Students were welcomed to Westminster by Lord Tyler, Principal Spokesperson for Constitutional and Political Reform, Liberal Democrats.

In his opening remarks, Lord Tyler explained the functions of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, drawing upon his huge experience and distinguished career as Britain's youngest county councillor, as a Cornish Liberal Democrat MP (including a spell as shadow Leader of the Commons) and, currently, as a proponent of radical reform of the House of Lords. Lord Tyler spent over an hour answering student questions ranging from the impact of the American presidential elections on British politics, Brexit and its impact on young people and the City of London and constitutional reform (specifically election reform, reform of the House of Lords and the case for a new UK constitution) to UK relations with China, immigration, and future prospects for the Liberal Democrats.

Students were also introduced to Lord Tyler's two interns, current third-year politics students, Megan Gibbs and Andreas Pachomiou. Students then viewed Westminster Hall, the oldest building on the Parliamentary estate since its construction in 1097, and Central Lobby, the location where corridors from the Lords and Commons meet which is traditionally used as a meeting place for Members of both Houses.

The visit continued with a trip to the Lords’ rooms in the Committee Corridor to observe the European Union (EU) Select Committee and the Select Committee on Charities. The EU Select Committee was taking evidence from the Rt Hon David Jones MP, Minister of State at the Department on Exiting the European Union, on the outcome of the October European Council meeting. The Select Committee on Charities, set up to consider issues related to sustaining the charity sector, was considering the challenges of charity governance. Students were able to witness how select committees operate largely by an investigative process and on a non-partisan basis.

Finally, the trip was concluded by the students viewing business in the chambers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Lords was considering the second reading of a Pension Schemes Bill, while business in the House of Commons included considerating an Investigatory Powers Bill and an adjournment debate on the Chase Railway Line. The adjournment debate demonstrated how backbench MPs can raise important (and often local) issues and receive a response from the relevant Minister.

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