Lord Sharkey, a trustee of the Hansard Society, met students and answered their questions on matters such as House of Lords reform, MPs’ pay and the European Union.
“The students at Priestley are intelligent and have an obvious interest in the world around them,” he said.
Many of the students are studying on Priestley’s unique and prestigious Graduate programme which is geared towards preparing high fliers for places in some of the UK’s top universities.
A record 180 students of History, Politics, Law and Citizenship volunteered to attend the annual talk by the Liberal Democrat peer.
During a lively discussion – expertly chaired by student Katheryn Thompson – Lord Sharkey talked about careers in the Civil Service and politics.
Later he met the College Council answering further questions and talking about their work.
Lord Sharkey said: “The goal is to increase participation, not only in politics, but in wider democracy and to encourage these young adults to exercise their voting rights from a position of better understanding of the democratic process in this country.”
The visit was arranged through the Lord Speaker’s ‘Peers in Schools’ programme, which has been running across the UK since 2007 and has so far involved around 50,000 young people.
The continuing outreach programme sends members of the House of Lords into schools and colleges to give talks in support of the citizenship curriculum.
Priestley Senior Tutor Mark Salmon said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to interact with someone who knows the parliamentary system inside out as it can sometimes seem far removed from their daily lives.”