Students visit Houses of Parliament

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Students studying Public Affairs enjoyed a tour of the Houses of Parliament this week as part of a Sheffield Hallam University field trip.

The event included a guided tour around Westminster Hall, the Royal Robing Room, the site of St Stephen’s Chapel and both the House of Lords and House of Commons.

The tour across the eight acre site was given by Ron Tucker who explained the complex history of the ‘working men’s club’ and ‘gentleman’s club’ from the Norman times to the present day.

Journalism course leader Lily Canter, who arranged the trip, said it was well worth the long coach journey down from Sheffield.

She added: “There was so much information to take in but it was a really fascinating tour and great for the students to see democracy in action – including watching some of the peers napping in the House of Lords chamber.”

The 17 students also spent time quizzing Sheffield Labour MP Paul Blomfield and sitting in the House of Lords during a parliamentary debate on the immigration act.

Mr Blomfield – who won by just 165 votes in the last election – explained how he represented more students than any other MP in the country (around 36,000).

The third year SHU students questioned Mr Blomfield about his proposed graduate tax scheme to replace student fees, the HS2 rail network and its impact on Sheffield, problems facing the student electorate and how he used social media to engage the public.

Mr Blomfield, who posts all of his own tweets, admitted he was “still trying to work out” social media but he did have 4,500 subscribers signed up to his e-newsletter.

He also spoke about the continued importance of local newspapers and said: “I believe to make democracy work we need well informed voters. We will live in poorer communities if we don’t have local newspapers.”

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