Henley’s MP, John Howell visited Year 6 at Valley Road School on Friday as part of UK Parliament week. The pupils had been learning about different parts of parliament, the role of an MP and how laws are made.
John opened his talk by telling the children the process of how a bill becomes law and the process of it going between the House of Commons and the House of Lords which he said is called ‘ping pong’ and can take up to 6 months to go through. Talking about Her Majesty The Queen, he told the children that when the Duke of Edinburgh was alive, they used to bring him a television set into the Royal Chamber to watch whilst the Queen was getting ready in all her robes/regalia for the opening of parliament. Most of the time John said the debates in Parliament are quiet and civilised. The only ones the public are shown are the shouting ones as it makes interesting TV. The children asked lots of questions including: Can the Queen change a bill? Favourite thing about being an MP?, Has he been late to vote?, Why did decide to become an MP? and What were his top 3 priorities (he gave 2 – climate change and the justice system)?
When John took over from Boris Johnson as MP for Henley in 2008, John said, “Everyone kept saying I’ve got big shoes to fill. When I went to see him I told him this and I asked him what his shoe size was? He replied 9 1/2 and I said that’s brilliant because I have size 10 shoes and then we both laughed.”
Afterwards John said, “I thought the questions were very good and shows what a bright class they are. They have obviously done a lot of work on parliament and I hope that I was able to provide them with some real insight using my experience there with how you go about taking a bill through Parliament. I do a lot of visiting schools and I love it. You always get a very interesting set of questions. On another visit at a school in the north of the constituency I got a lot of good questions about climate change and I was very pleased to discuss that with the school children.”
Jack, Romilly, Aaron and Frances have been appointed school councillors for Year 6. Frances said, “The best part of the talk I think was about how the bills were made.” Aaron who said he would like to be an MP when he was older said, “It sounds such a cool job. I would try and put bills forward to reduce global warning and protect the rainforests.”
Year 6 Teacher Caroline Lock said, “We are so grateful for John coming to see us today. It really helps the children to understand how important his role is. At Valley Road we think it is really important for the children to understand how they can be part of the democratic process and get them to understand that in the future they can participate in a manner that is respectful to everyone around them.”
John encouraged Caroline to bring the children to visit Parliament for the education tour and said if he was there at the time he would come and join them.