Laleham Gap pupils put their questions to North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale

Paul Ursell and one of his pupils at Laleham Gap

Students at Laleham Gap school in Ramsgate have put questions in writing to North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale.

Over the past few weeks teacher Paul Ursell has been teaching a Year 7 class about British values, discussing themes such as democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, tolerance and more.

He said: “It felt obvious that should we allow the children to question our local representatives about this.”

Unfortunately due to Parliamentary commitments Sir Roger could not attend the school. So Mr Ursell suggested he would forward any questions the children had. He then put a box out and offered the children  an opportunity to write a question, anonymously if they preferred.

Mr Ursell said:“I think it is really important that children are given the opportunity to think and learn about these things, and wherever possible in a real-life situation. So I do think they should be able to question their MP. After all schools are educating pupils, who will become the citizens of tomorrow.”

Mr Ursell said he was pleased with the questions the children came up with. They ranged from: What would the world be like without democracy to why are MPs getting a pay rise? Because they had been discussing different ways of rule one pupil, Adam, asked “ What would you think the world would be like without democracy?” Sir Roger replied “Parts of the world do not enjoy democratic government. They are dictatorships or repressive totalitarian regimes with control over speech and behaviour. Not pretty.”

The MP gave personalised answers to every question. Some questions were about what it was like to be an MP, had he met the Queen and how to you get knighted. Others were of the more ‘hard-hitting’ variety. Findley, for example, asked Why did you vote yourself a 14% pay rise but not the emergency services? In keeping his answers brief and factual Roger said “MPs did not vote themselves a 14% pay rise.  Members` salaries are determined by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.”

If any of the children felt their question had not been fully addressed “even this was an instructive lesson” explained Mr Ursell. “ It gave me the opportunity  to tell them that they have the right to go back to public representatives and seek more answers.”

Sir Roger was asked if it was ‘ good’ being an MP. To which he responded: “Like all jobs it has its rewards and its frustrations. It involves long hours and little time for leisure or families but we meet very many interesting men and women from around the world and can, sometimes, make a real difference to people`s lives. Nobody I know does it for the money!”

Mr Ursell said he was “delighted” that the pupils “were thinking about democracy and wider issues.” He thanked the MP for taking the time to answer all the questions and vowed to continue getting pupils to think about their role in society.

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