Children quiz Commons Speaker

Tue, 6 Nov 2018

More than 50 children from Monmouth had the chance to quiz the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Pupils at Monmouth School Girls’ Prep and Monmouth School for Girls relished the live 50-minute Ask the Speaker skype session with John Bercow on Monday 5th November.

The children, from Years 6 to 11, asked the former Conservative MP a range of questions, including the Queen’s role in Parliament, his early political influences, how he became the Speaker, and his views on feminism and equality.

Mr Bercow told the children that MPs needed an impartial chair for debates, particularly when there were differences of opinion, and he had removed only three MPS from the Chamber since his election as Speaker in June 2009.

Students were well informed and did not shy away from questioning Mr Bercow on controversial issues reported recently in the national press.

On the topic of feminism and equality, Mr Bercow said: “I am a feminist and my wife is a feminist.

“I have done everything I can in Parliament in the Chamber to increase opportunities for women and I have made a number of senior appointments in the House for prominent women.

“I run the Chamber of the House and I am very keen that our culture is equality friendly.”

Mr Bercow said that Britain’s first female Prime Minster, Margaret Thatcher, was the person who inspired him to enter into politics.

Organised by Ms Jodie Knight, Head of Drama and Teacher Ambassador for the Parliamentary Education Service at Monmouth School for Girls, it was the first time children at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools have taken part in the sessions.

Year 6 pupil, Lily, said: “We asked the Speaker questions about his job and he responded with some very interesting answers about what it was like to chair the meetings.

“It was very exciting to speak to him. I am very interested in politics and in global warming.”

Daisy, from Year 8, said: “We found out about what the Speaker does in his role in the House of Commons and that he enjoys his job and all the different things that go on in Parliament.

“We also discussed whether or not there should be oral exams rather than written exams for GCSE English.

“Some people find it easier to put their answers across verbally than to write them down.”

Carys, from Year 10, believes the House of Commons should be more representative and reflective of today’s society.

She said: “I was intrigued to hear the Speaker’s view on feminism and it has given me a lot to think about.

“I believe there should be equality between everybody and I think it’s important for Parliament to get around any divide to increase diversity.

“Perhaps video conferencing could be introduced in Parliament so that people can stay at home with their families and still take part in debates in the House of Commons.”

Ms Knight said: “Although the number of women in Parliament has risen, they are still hugely outnumbered by their male counterparts, with two-thirds of seats held by men.

“It is vital that girls and young women see Parliament and the democratic process is accessible and relevant to them.

“This was a great opportunity for our students to engage with what happens in Westminster.”

Pupils Carys and Daisy.