The debating chamber at the House of Commons is no bigger than a school hall, and 10 Downing Street has a door that swings open as if by magic – just like Hogwarts.
Secrets of life in government were revealed by Marlborough’s MP, Claire Perry, when she faced some of the toughest questioning of her political career – from 70 primary school children.
During her hour-long visit to St Katharine’s School, in the heart of the Savernake Forest, Ms Perry – who has three school-age children of her own – revealed to members of the school council that they had far more experience of democracy than she’d had at their age.
“You’ve already been elected to the council,” she said. “I wasn’t elected for anything until I became an MP.”
During a question-and-answer session with the whole school, Ms Perry explained that her job was to represent her constituents, and to help make new laws and abolish old ones – like the red tape that dissuaded grownups from volunteering at schools.
She revealed that David Cameron is a very nice man who is kept awake at night by baby Flo; that when she attended a drinks party at Number 10 the Cameron children were running around in their pyjamas swiping sausage rolls; and that she has no idea exactly how many different laws there are, “probably hundreds of thousands”.
Later, the children demonstrated their knowledge of different laws before voting on one of their own.
Murder, keeping lions in your house, and driving too fast were all against the law, pupils concluded, although when one girl piped up “my mum drives too fast,” the MP was forced to concede that many mums and dads sometimes break the speed limit.
Pupils established that it was the law that they had to go to school from the age of six, but the MP was stumped when one child asked whether it was the law to do your homework.
“Glancing towards the teachers – most of whom were desperately trying to suppress giggles – for support, the MP explained: “No, it’s not the law, but if you want to get the most of your schooling you should do your homework.”
Finally, it was time to vote. A motion – proposed by headteacher Sharon Cross – that children should eat five pieces of fruit a day was narrowly defeated after pupils were invited to shout aye or no.