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12 October

2015

Tour of the UK Parliament and the end of my Enid Dowling trip

By Margaret Forrest 2014 Bursary No Comments

While in London, I also enjoyed undertaking a tour of the UK Houses of Parliament. The first Royal Palace built on the site of the current Palace of Westminster was constructed in the eleventh century. Despite two major fires destroying significant portions of the Palace in 1512 and 1834, some of the original medieval sections of the Palace survive today. Construction of the current Palace began in 1840 and was completed over 30 years.   Extensive repairs also took place after much of the Palace, including the Commons Chamber, was bombed during WWII.

Interestingly, the current Commons Chamber only seats 427 of the 650 Members that make up this House. When the Chamber was being reconstructed after WWII, Winston Churchill opted not to expand its layout to ensure that debates would remain intimate and Members would be able to ‘see the whites of their opponent’s eyes’ across the Chamber. After Charles I stormed into the House of Commons in 1642 seeking to arrest five Members of Parliament on charges of high treason, it has become tradition for the British Sovereign not to enter the Chamber of the House of Commons. The Speaker’s Chair in the Commons Chamber was a present from the Commonwealth of Australia and is an exact copy of the Speaker’s Chair given to Australia, by the House of Commons to celebrate the opening of Old Parliament House in Canberra. The Lord Speaker’s Chair in the House of Lords (the “Woolsack”), is an armless red cushion stuffed with wool (respresenting the historical importance of the wool trade in the UK). My guide informed me that today the chair is stuffed with Australian wool.

Big Ben

The conclusion of my week of research and other meetings in London marks the conclusion of my six month Enid Dowling trip.  I will remain in the UK for the next nine months undertaking a Masters of Philosophy in Criminology at the University of Cambridge.  I anticipate that this course will assist me to further my knowledge of the criminal law and the development and application of evidence-based policy.  I am extremely grateful to the Enid Dowling Foundation Trustees, Patrons and Donors for facilitating my internship at the ICTY and my week undertaking campaign research and other meetings in London.  The experiences I have had over the past six months have contributed immeasurably to my personal development.  I have not only increased my knowledge of international criminal law and digital campaign techniques, but have also been exposed to the different political systems of many countries in Europe and have built up a network of friends and colleagues from all over the world.  When I return to Australia next year, I have no doubt that these experiences will assist me to better contribute to policy development in Queensland as an LNP member or as a candidate for office in the future.