UK Parliament, Day 1
In this session you will get to know the UK Parliament, and you will learn about some ways in which you can get involved. We will start by learning about Parliament and its history, and finish off the day with some votes and debating exercises. Then, tomorrow you’ll be able to see how everyone else voted, and we have some fun interactive activities lined up about women’s suffrage and what it means to be an MP.
Introduction to Parliament
Your task: Read the ‘Get to know your UK Parliament’ booklet. You might already know a lot of the topics covered in this booklet, so it’s okay to skip around and focus on the parts that you don’t know as well. There are ideas scattered throughout the booklet for ways in which you can get involved with the work of Parliament – choose one of these to complete today.
History of Parliament
Explore fascinating moments from the history of Parliament, or learn about some issues that are particularly relevant today! Click each link below to learn more about that topic.
A debate is a formal argument with agreed rules on a specific topic. A debate usually has a way to decide which side of the argument has won, such as a vote.
In the following exercises you will be introduced to the essential components of a debate, and you’ll then be able to prepare your side of a debate.
Pick a side
When MPs vote on laws, they vote either ‘Aye’ (yes) or ‘No’ by walking through the corresponding lobby door. Cast your own vote on the following issues:
Choose one of the statements above to focus on for the following exercises. For a greater challenge, you can complete the following exercises for both the “for” and “against” sides of the statement, regardless of which side you voted.
Create a soundbite
Soundbites are short snappy phrases which are memorable and get a message across. An example of a soundbite we’ve all heard quite often in recent times is the UK government’s slogan on safety during the Coronavirus: ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives.’
Your task: Considering one of the statements you voted on above, develop a soundbite to support your vote. Remember, your soundbite should:
- Be short and easy to remember
- Give the essence of your message
- Provoke a response from the audience
Test your soundbite out loud: it’s important to remember that soundbites need to sound good, as well as looking good on paper.
Prepare your side
Take a look at some examples of formal debates from the House of Commons or the House of Lords. You can find these online at www.parliamentlive.tv or on the UK Parliament YouTube channel. As you watch, try to pay attention to the following points:
- The style, rules and language of the debate
- The role of the Speaker in the House of Commons, or the Lord Speaker in the House of Lords
- The techniques used by those speaking
Your task: Considering one of the statements you voted on above, prepare your side of a debate on this topic. Use the ‘Preparing for a debate’ worksheet as a guide, and spend some time researching any relevant supporting points. You might even want to use your soundbite as part of the opening or closing statement! Then present your side of the debate to a family member, or over the phone to a friend arguing the opposite side.