STUDENTS have been inspired by a peer of the realm in an initiative designed to promote interest in politics.

Baroness Harris spent an afternoon with students at the King’s Academy, Coulby Newham, giving them an insight into the workings of Parliament’s second house.

She also dispelled myths about the nation’s life peers. “We are not all rich and live in castles,” said Baroness Harris, who is deputy speaker of the House of Lords.

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“I live in a brick house in Richmond and my husband is a retired teacher.”

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 in support of the citizenship curriculum.

Baroness Harris is a former chairman of North Yorkshire Police Authority and still has a particular interest in policing.

“No one else knows much about policing so when we discuss it in the Lords they tend to listen to me, which is nice,” she told the students.

“What is important, I feel, is not necessarily voting with the party line; if I believe in something I stick to my guns.”

Politics teacher Jenni Yuill added: “Listening to Baroness Harris has really put paid to the common myth that the people in power are pale, male and stale.

“The students now have a much better understanding of the political process and the fact that the Lords are here to serve the public.”