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Question Time

Students were invited to the Houses of Parliament on Budget Day and put pressing questions to MP's

First NewsSchools from all over the UK were invited by First News, the weekly newspaper for young people, to the Houses of Parliament on Budget Day in March. Students were given a tour of the Houses of Parliament, then headed to Speaker’s House to quiz three MPs about current issues affecting their lives and education.

George Osborne with the budget for 2013Speaker, John Bercow chaired the event in one of the staterooms overlooking the River Thames. Conservative MP, Tim Loughton, Liberal Democat MP, Duncan Haynes, and Labour MP Seema Malhotra were all put on the spot by the youngsters. Topics covered included everything from GCSE exams to lowering the voting age to 16- and the young people asking the questions weren’t afraid to be brutally honest! ‘Why can’t politicians accept when they are wrong and own up to what they have done wrong in a straightforward and truthful way?’ asked Jack from Lancing College Preparatory School.

Students in front of the Elizabeth TowerAlex Segar from The Mosslands School in Merseyside asked the panel what they were doing to make cycling, the eco-friendly mode of transport, safer. MP Tim Loughton admitted to being too scared to cycle on London’s streets, and the politicians suggested more cycle lanes, better training in schools for both cycling on the roads and bicycle maintenance, and new rules for mirrors for lorries. Can they be persuaded to follow through on these suggestions to improve conditions for everyone wanting to get on their bikes?
First News is very passionate about giving children a voice and the First News Debate is a wonderful way of getting children asking questions and knowing more about how the country is organised and operated. It’s not always easy to understand why certain decisions are made but speaking to some of the people responsible and hearing the reasons behind them is a wonderful way for the children to develop their own opinions and understandings.

Students in the Speakers chambers“What excites me about politics is that I now realise I can make a difference. The highlight of the day was seeing the politicians’ reactions to our questions.” said Phoebe, a student from Tackley School in Oxford.
With the House of Parliament supporting First News in giving young people a voice, we’re hoping to host this event on a regular basis inviting schools from all over the UK to come and have their say.

Alex Segar asks the panel what they were doing to make cycling safer.