Web Science Policy and Practice visit to the Houses of Parliament

This week, one thing came out of the Houses of Parliament that was not Brexit related – or only slightly. Four Web Science students joined the Policy School trip to the Houses of Parliament and the Treasury to take part in a Policy Practice day.

After a tour of the Houses of Parliament, Ryan Javanshir, Juljan Krause, Peter Sturgess and Clare Walsh went to a Q&A with Romsey and Southampton North MP, and Minister of State for Immigration, the Rt Hon Caroline Nokes. She spoke very openly about the challenges of a working day in Parliament and the importance of finding consensus and compromise outside of the noisy public Prime Minister’s Question Time. She also answered questions on a range of issues, from dealing with a very divided and active inbox when it comes to Brexit and media scrutiny, to the impact of the murder of their colleague, Jo Cox.

Later in the morning, at the Treasury office nearby, the real Spending Review committee left the Atrium, and we moved in to have a go at their job. The activity was to find savings of £15bn on the budget, using the data on government expenditure online. We were briefed and accompanied by people who do this job day-to-day, who were quick to point out the unintended repercussions of every decision. There are no easy ways to reduce the budget deficit and turning to data solutions to reduce overheads often seems the path of least harm. This exercise was an excellent opportunity to get a feel for the complexities that day-to-day decision-making at the Treasury and the Cabinet Office involves.

Chris Webber, our host for the event and tour guide around some very impressive James Bond filming locations, was keen to welcome Juljan Krause, who will be taking up a placement at the Treasury in September and Chris repeated his invitation to any other Web Science students to consider working on placement in the office.

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