Are the Lords listening? Creating connections between people and Parliament - Information Committee Contents


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 157 - 159)

WEDNESDAY 29 APRIL 2009

Ms Jaimini Patel, Ms Akua Yeboah, Ms Samira Ahmed, Ms Laurette Kitoko and Ms Parminder Rathore

  Chairman: You have heard how Bede Sixth Form got on and I am sure you were interested in listening to their answers. The first thing to do is to say how very grateful we are to you for coming today. Thank you very much indeed. I am going to ask Baroness Coussins to lead the questions to you for the next ten or 15 minutes. As you will have heard, anyone from this side may come in. We look forward very much to what you have got to say. Lady Coussins?

  Baroness Coussins: Somebody from Bede Sixth Form described the House of Lords as a "big scary thing" which, quite honestly, is how it still feels to me sometimes. I wondered if each of you might say how the House of Lords feels to you and how you think we could do more to explain what we really do in here to people like you?

  Q157  Chairman: Do not hesitate to be critical of us. We are not just looking for praise. Tell us what you really think.

  Ms Patel: I think there should be a wider link between schools and the House of Lords because, to be honest, in the House of Lords obviously there are much older people than us and our views are not fairly represented there because there are not many people that are young here. I think there should be a clearer link. Obviously we have our constituency MPs who we can talk to about our views and stuff. However, there is not a clear link between schools and the House of Lords. I think there should be a mediator who can help us make a clearer link between schools so that our voices can get heard and also our views.

  Ms Ahmed: Like they said, it was definitely scary because it is not what we are used to and seeing how people were in the Commons was completely different. It is a good experience but I think also if the Lords come down to our school as well and see how we are, that will help them understand us better as well. It is good for us to come here to see how it is because it is completely different, but it would also be good if they come down and get a feel for what we are interested in and how we like to communicate as well.

  Ms Yeboah: I would like to say if we are able to communicate with the House of Lords and collate ideas together it would be beneficial for sustainable development because we are not only planning now, we are planning for the future, and it will limit the risk outcomes in the future.

  Q158  Baroness Coussins: When you participated in the Women in Parliament event was that a surprise to you? Was it how you expected it to be or did you get any surprises there?

  Ms Patel: We were surprised actually because women were not fairly represented in Parliament compared to men because there was a higher number of males than there were women. We thought it was just a bit unfair because obviously we do go to a girls' school and stuff so we thought that it was not fair to women that we should not be fairly represented. We thought that our views and our opinions were not fairly represented in Parliament because it was more dominated by males than females.

  Q159  Baroness Coussins: Did it put you off Parliament or did it make you determined to change things?

  Ms Ahmed: I think it made a lot of people determined to change things because they did a slide show presentation and we had to vote as well. At first, not many people were interested in politics but by the end of it the majority of people were interested because it was inspirational to see other women there. We heard stories about how they got there. It seemed less impossible for us to do it also. It was a good day. The only thing was that the things that we were really passionate about were not able to come across because it was limited to just what they wanted to do. When we were talking about climate change, for example, we were able to speak to them one-to-one afterwards, which was really good, but it was very limited. It was a really good day and really interesting and beneficial but I think we would have liked it better if we could have put what we are concerned about more.

  Ms Rathore: The information and statistics that were used were really helpful to all of us. We were quite shocked that there were not a lot of woman that were represented in Parliament. The way the politicians put their words across, they really did persuade the girls and they did make us think that maybe we have a chance to go into the government and actually make a change, because seeing it from everyone's perspective, I never imagined working here because it is just so unreal, but the way they put it across they did say that we could have a chance to actually work here.

  Baroness Coussins: So what could we do to make ourselves more approachable and less unreal?


 
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