Members of the public and school groups are encouraged to visit the Houses of the Parliament and Palaces of Westminister. Paid tours can be arranged through the Houses of Parliament but free tours are available to UK Residents booking through their MP.
These tours (called Democratic Access Tours) , are only available on certain days and at certain times, depending on whether Parliament is in session or in recess. They usually last approximately one hour and at present, tours are only available on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Friday tours are available all day if the Commons are not sitting and in the late afternoon if they are.
The Central Tours Office issue MPs with a limited number of special permits each day, and once these have all been allocated no more will be issued. Where possible I will try to arrange for me, or one of my team, to meet you on your tour, but this is not always possible.
If you would like me to try to arrange a tour on your behalf please contact me using the form below. Applications should be made as far in advance as possible and as it is difficult to arrange for everyone to take a tour on their preferred date, it would be helpful it could have some alternative dates on hand.
Watching a debate
Members of the public can see the House of Commons in action by sitting in the Public Gallery. It is located on a level above the floor of the Commons and looks down onto it. The Public Gallery is open to the public when the House is sitting, and is closed to the public when the House is in recess.
Tickets to the Public Gallery are also available through your MP but members only have a small allocation of tickets (two tickets, about once a fortnight) so requests should be made as far in advance as possible. The Wednesday afternoon sitting including Prime Ministers Question Time is particularly popular.
As an alternative to making ticket arrangements, visitors may join the public queue outside St. Stephen’s Entrance. A wait of 1 or 2 hours or more is usually common during the afternoons. Generally speaking, after ticket holders have left the Gallery and the afternoon queue has subsided, there is not normally too much pressure on places in the Gallery, except during controversial debates. Visitors who wish to minimise waiting times are therefore advised to arrive at about 13.00 or later.