Sat, 15 June 2024

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By Baroness Smith of Llanfaes
Press releases

Our Parliament is something to be proud of


3 min read

The politicians here in Westminster can argue about almost anything, at the drop of a hat. But we agree on this: our Parliament is something to be proud of.

Every day, I see tourists and school groups on their visits to the Palace marvelling at not only the architecture, but also at the thought of what happens within its walls. One minute they could be passing by a former prime minister in Portcullis House, or a former lord chief justice in The Royal Gallery.

The Palace of Westminster is an impressive place. But Parliament means much more than a building. It is not just reserved for visitors to London. It belongs equally to every person in the United Kingdom.

Every citizen, young and old, should feel empowered to write to their local representative, start a petition and—most critically—vote

I have been vocal about the fact that Parliament needs to reach out more to every corner of the UK, from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth and from Bradford to Belfast. That’s why I’ve visited every devolved legislature in the UK. I also visited the Seanad Eireann in Dublin just last month, the first Lord Speaker ever to do so. Those visits reinforced to me the value of friendship, dialogue and cooperation between parliamentarians. We share so much with our colleagues all across these islands.

This week we’re celebrating UK Parliament Week, and I’m pleased to report that we have over 700,000 people taking part in over 9,000 activities. These are taking place all over the country and around the world, including in Ukraine, India and Singapore. Nearly 500 activities are taking place in my home patch, Scotland.

The majority of those taking part in the events this week are school-age children. As a former teacher, I know the value of getting young people involved in democracy from a young age. Every citizen, young and old, should feel empowered to write to their local representative, start a petition and – most critically – vote in elections.

Numerous colleagues here – Members and staff alike – will be helping with this engagement, building understanding and a sense of ownership. Both Houses are proudly promoting their achievements, and the real value which they bring to every voter, every citizen, and every contributor to our society.

Currently, despite information being so easy to access, a voter can still feel very distant from their representatives in Parliament. UK Parliament Week is an effort to bridge that divide, and make sure that the work of the House of Lords and House of Commons is known to citizens of all ages, of all backgrounds, and in all parts of the country.


Lord McFall, Lord Speaker.

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