After a whirlwind first week in Westminster, Hannah Jordan is getting to grips with the scope of the work of the House of Lords. She feels she has a lot to learn.
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As newly graduated vets we are often reminded that, akin to being a new driver, the learning curve is really just beginning. After a whirlwind first week in Westminster I can confirm this.
My first day working as an intern for veterinary peer Lord Trees was exciting and terrifying. However, excitement won out in the end. The initial challenge was to locate the correct exit from the strikingly industrial underground station. A short stretch of tourist-laden pavement, several cheerful policemen and a security pass check later, I stepped into what I can best describe as Hogwarts with more gold leaf. As a little girl I used to trot past the grand buildings in Westminster in awe and never considered that I might end up working in them. Lord Trees gave me a tour of the building and I gradually began to relax and feel less of an imposter. However, I won't deny being slightly starstruck when I spotted Lord Sugar and a few other public figures around and about!
Week 1 was a bit of a crash course in the business, etiquette and various quirks of the Palace of Westminster. Getting around the Palace is in itself quite a challenge. Almost none of the corridors have windows and some areas are forbidden to staff; several times I set off into the labyrinthine depths and had to seek a second opinion on the best way back.
Daily business begins with the Speaker's procession and introductions. Following that, it moves on to topical questions, short debates on a range of topics and addressing the Bills currently passing through the House. Consequently, the working day is punctuated with bells to announce divisions (votes) and peers bustling to and fro.
In the short time that I have been here I have had plenty of veterinary material to start getting my teeth into. There is a constant battle to stay on top of the bovine tuberculosis literature, although the use of dogs by the army, dangerous dogs and antimicrobial resistance have all been brought up for discussion. Having been immersed in the veterinary ‘bubble’ for the past seven years it seems odd that veterinary matters are regarded as a bit ‘niche’, but the sheer variety of other subjects raised in the daily business is surprising. Crossbench peers have the difficult task of trying to whittle down which of this business might benefit from their scrutiny and expertise.
The experience thus far has been humbling. However, I have already had the chance to meet some fascinating people in veterinary and other industries and it is tremendously exciting to be working so close to the heart of Her Majesty's government. Every time I cycle past the Palace on my way home and Big Ben chimes, I find myself grinning from ear to ear.
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