STUDENTS have been given a taste of the workings of parliamentary law, from deciding on the sugar content of crisps to the rules governing mobile phones.
Lord Best discussed the Westminster process and life at the Houses of Parliament with GCSE and A level history, economics and business students from Richmond School and Sixth Form College.
The retired chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Trust also fielded questions from students, ranging from the accountability of the House of Lords to university tuition fees as part of the Peers in Schools project.
The Lords’ outreach programme is designed to encourage students to become more engaged with the political and parliamentary process and so far has involved around 90,000 young people.
Lord Best told students: “We have just been making the rules about mobile phones. There is some nasty stuff out there so we are ensuring Microsoft and Google make it appropriate. We have also addressed, recently, the sugar levels in crisps.
“Young people often think that Parliament doesn’t really affect their lives but it does. Their vote really does matter and they should use it as the earliest possible opportunity.”
Students heard that current reforms were trying to reduce the number of peers from 800 to 600 and that currently they were involved in more than 5,000 amendments to laws a year.
Questioned on accountability, Lord Best said that while they could propose changes, MPs made the final decisions. “So democracy wins in the end,” he said.
Lead teacher of business and economics at Richmond School Clare Clish said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to interact with someone who knows the parliamentary system inside out, as it can sometimes seem far removed from their daily lives.
“I was delighted with the level of interest from our students who asked some very intelligent and insightful questions.”