Houses of Parliament

  • Attractions
  • Parliament and civic buildings
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© Abigail Lelliott
The first parliamentary session was held in St Stephen's Chapel in 1275, but Westminster only became the permanent seat of Parliament in 1532, when Henry VIII moved to a new des-res in Whitehall. After strict security checks at St Stephen's Gate (the only public access to Parliament), visitors are welcome to observe the debates at the House of Lords and House of Commons for free. The experience is usually soporific, but an exception is Prime Minister's Question Time at noon on Wednesday, when the incumbent PM fields a barrage of hostile questions from the opposition (and occasionally some of their own rebellious backbenchers) and soft questions from loyal backbenchers eager to present the government in a good light. When in session, the visitors' galleries are open Monday to Thursday and on selected Fridays (times vary, so check the website before making a special visit). Tickets for Question Time are only issued to UK residents who contact their MP or a Lord to request them. UK residents can also arrange a tour of the Houses of Parliament through their MP. Tours of the Palace of Westminster, including the Houses of Parliament and selected ceremonial rooms, take place on Saturdays throughout the year (9.15am-4.30pm: £15, £10 concs, £6 5-15 years; booking advised). During the summer recess, tours run Monday to Saturday.

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We went 2 years ago, well worth going back. If you fancy coming along with a group, then join us at: We are looked to go in early September.