Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg had plenty of advice for students at Christ the King College when he visited on Friday 21 November:
— ChristTheKingCollege (@ChristTheKingIW) November 25, 2014
The Conservative politician – a frequent guest on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You – was visiting the school to give a talk about the influence his Roman Catholic faith has had on his life, as well as his education at Eton College (which currently charges fees of £34,000 per year) and the University of Oxford (currently a third of Eton leavers are offered places at Oxford or Cambridge).
After his half-hour talk, students and visitors quizzed the Tory backbencher for around an hour on topics such as gay marriage and short-term loan company Wonga.
One pupil asked, “Given how diverse our country is, do you think there are too many ex-Eton students in the House of Commons?”
The MP repled: “No, there are not enough.
“We should not be ashamed in this country of having institutions of excellence.”
He went on to compare Eton to Oxford and Cambridge as other examples of such institutions, reported the County Press.
In 2011, the BBC reported research revealing that just five schools in England – Eton College one of them – sent more pupils to Oxford and Cambridge over three years than nearly 2,000 others combined. Educational charity the Sutton Trust also found that “university chances can vary dramatically for schools with similar average grades”.
More than one-third of MPs elected in 2010 attended fee paying schools (including twenty Old Etonians), compared with less than 10% of the adult population, says Parliament.uk.
When prompted by Principal Pat Goodhead, Rees-Mogg added there should be more Christ the King College students in the House of Commons, too, and spoke later about how he would like to see that happen.
Another student asked the MP why the Conservatives are encouraging the privatisation of the NHS.
Mr. Rees-Mogg responded: “They are not. Privatisation means selling it, moving it from the public sector.
“Chairs in this school haven’t been made for public sector. Does that mean schools have been privatised?”
He said the government was committed to keeping the NHS free at the point of access.
“Whether part of that service is provided by a private or public company makes no difference.”
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Mr. Rees-Mogg concluded his talk to students saying:
“If you really want to do something, despite whatever setbacks you may encounter, always remember to try, try, try and try again.
You can do whatever it is you want to do, but you must never accept no and always seek alternative ways to achieve what you want.”
Principal Pat Goodhead, said:
“It was both a pleasure and a privilege to host such an articulate and intellectual speaker at the college, and a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain a wider understanding of political issues today.
Mr Rees-Mogg handled some controversial questions with ease and was inspirational to the young people.”
And Christ the King College’s local councillor, Chris Whitehouse (Conservative, Newport West), who arranged the visit, said:
“Jacob is one of the most sought-after speakers in the House of Commons, so it’s a real coup to have secured him to visit Christ the King College.
He’s always willing to give generously of his time and promised a return visit in the future. He’s a top Tory toff alright!”
Photos credit: Laura Holme/Isle of Wight County Press