My second week of Westminster has been as varied as the last. On Wednesday I was lucky enough to go on a tour of Big Ben. At each third of the journey up we had a break to listen to a bit about the history of the tower and the bell, (although I’m sure it was primarily to allow us all to have a break. How come walking up sets of stairs is always such hard work?). Once we reached the top we got to walk behind all the clock faces and then stand next to Big Ben as it chimed ten o’clock. The views were absolutely amazing and it was really cool to be able to see this iconic chime in the flesh (stone?) as it happened. I’m really glad I got the chance to be able to experience this. Elizabeth Tower will be going under renovation for the next three years and so tours will be suspended until it has been completed.
I also had the opportunity to go to this week’s PMQs. With the issue of grammar schools at the forefront it was interesting to see how this was going to play out. Theresa May set out the Government’s stance and kept stating that 1.25 million children are in failing schools, and how grammar schools are going to solve that problem. Jeremy Corbyn retaliated that it shouldn’t just be good education for those selected students and that investment needs to be made more widely to solve the problem. Where I live there is one grammar school and several comprehensive schools. At 11, I decided to choose a local comprehensive and most of my friends did as well. I don’t know whether I would have passed the 11 plus, but I don’t think that I should have to feel like I may have been hindered or lost opportunities because I didn’t choose that school or might have failed the tests to get in. There are around 3,000 comprehensive schools in England compared to the 163 grammar schools. If Theresa May is all about giving equal opportunities, then maybe more should be done to bring the comprehensive schools up to a higher level instead so that everyone can have similar opportunities in life, rather than giving it to a select few.
I also decided to drop into a debate about penalties for dangerous driving. I listened to Claire Perry talk about a case of one of her constituents who was killed when he was walking across a pelican crossing. He was hit by drivers going up to speeds of 90mph. She told us about the perpetrators’ sentencing of 8 years a piece. It seems that it is difficult to give higher sentences for death through careless driving. These people have taken a life and have practically given a life sentence for his family as well, they could be out on the streets again living their lives after only 8 years. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Justice, Sam Gyimah, stated that the independent Sentencing Council currently has in its work plan a review of the guidelines for motoring offences involving death or serious injury. Hopefully this means that for those that commit these crimes in the future there will be a higher sentencing for it.