UK residents and overseas visitors may watch debates for free on current issues or proposed new laws in both Houses by visiting the public galleries.
The galleries are open to the public when the Houses are sitting (meeting), which is from Monday to Thursday and on Sitting Fridays, with differing times for each House. The galleries are not open during recess, when neither House is sitting.
Tickets are not required for debates (other than PMQs) and there is a public queue for both UK residents and overseas visitors - outside the Cromwell Green visitor entrance. A wait of one or two hours is common (although it's usually less for the House of Lords).
In both Houses, the busiest time is during Question Time. In the Commons it is Prime Minister's Question Time (PMQs). Free tickets are necessary to ensure entrance, and are only issued to UK residents who contact their MP to request them. Overseas visitors and UK residents without tickets can queue but will only gain entrance if there is space after ticket-holders.
Tours are generally fully booked 6 months in advance. Demand is high so early booking and flexibility regarding dates and times is strongly recommended. To book a tour, please email me.
Tours last approximately 75 minutes and start between the following times:
During Parliamentary Sessions
Monday: 9.00am-12noon (full tour)
Tuesday and Wednesday: 9.00am-9.55am (full tour)
Tuesday and Wednesday: 10.00am-12noon (partial tour; House of Lords only)
Thursday: no tours
Sitting Fridays: 3.30pm-5.15pm (full tour)
Non-Sitting Fridays: 9.30am-5.15pm (full tour)
Summer Recess: Monday morning 9.30am-12.30pm (except Bank Holidays)
Short November Recess: 9.30am-5.15pm
All other recesses: Monday 9.30am-5.15pm (except Bank Holidays when an alternative day will be made available)
Big Ben Tours
Due to the unique layout of Elizabeth Tower, there is a very limited capacity for visitors each year. To manage demand for tours, MPs are limited in the number of applications they are able to make for constituents to climb the tower each month. Tours are generally fully booked 6 months in advance. Demand is high so early booking and flexibility regarding dates and times is strongly recommended. If you would be interested in booking a tour of Big Ben, please email me.
Tours are at set times of 9.00am, 11.00am and 2.00pm Monday-Friday (except Bank Holidays).
There is also a tour at 4.00pm from May to September.
To find out about booking a tour for your school, please visit http://www.parliament.uk/education/visit-parliament-with-your-school/ or contact the Parliamentary Education Service by calling them on 0207 219 4496 or emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.