Today Peter Ashton finished his short internship in my office. Here he blogs about his experience:
On Monday 19th October my work experience began with a tour of the Houses of Parliament. I visited both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. In the Lords, I was told by my tour guide the workings and conventions such as where the Lords Spiritual (bishops) sit, why the seats are red and so on. I also enjoyed learning about the functions of the House of Lords, which is now nearly entirely appointed. For example it used to be the case, up until a week ago, that the House of Lords was in fact the highest Court of Appeal in the UK; but this is no longer true with the establishment of our own Supreme Court. Next followed a visit to the Commons Chamber where I was shown how MPs vote. I later returned to the Commons to watch the House in action with a debate on youth unemployment, in which Mr Heald was scheduled to ask a question. After this, I sat in on a Select Committee (chaired by Sir Menzies Campbell) which was gathering evidence from Damian Green MP about his and Chris Galley’s arrest due to their role in Home Office leaks in 2008.
Today I arrived in time to watch the Home Affairs Select Committee, which was discussing the topic of cocaine trade in the UK. The committee took evidence from a number of people including Mitch Winehouse, father of Amy Winehouse, who is currently in the process of making a documentary on heroin addiction and how it affects not just the addict but also the family. Mitch Winehouse argued that whilst he had been in a fortunate enough financial position with his daughter, treatment for addicts without substantial financial support was not widespread and accessible enough. It was even suggested to the Committee by Steve Rolles, from Transform Drugs Policy, that illegal drugs trade should be legalised which, he argued, would allow for effective government regulation of the industry.
Finally I sat in the public gallery for a debate in the House of Commons in which the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Milliband) was questioned, most notably by his opposite number William Hague who was thoroughly entertaining to watch.