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Houses of Parliament
Visit the building where laws are made, you can attend debates and committees.
Introduction to the UK Parliament
The UK Houses of Parliament is one of the oldest representative assemblies in the world, having its origins in the mid-13th Century. From the 14th Century, parliamentary government in the United Kingdom has been based on a two-chamber system. The House of Lords (the upper house) and the House of Commons(the lower house) sit separately and are constituted on entirely different principles. The relationship between the two Houses is governed largely by convention but is in part defined by the Parliament Acts. The legislative process involves both Houses of Parliament and the Monarch.
The main functions of Parliament are to:
- make all UK law
- provide, by voting for taxation, the means of carrying on the work of government
- protect the public and safeguard the rights of individuals
- scrutinise government policy and administration, including proposals for expenditure
- examine European proposals before they become law
- hear appeals in the House of Lords, the highest Court of Appeal in Britain
- debate the major issues of the day. Parliament has a maximum duration of five years. At any time up to the end of this period, a general election can be held for a new House of Commons.
There are devolved Parliaments/Assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland created by legislation passed by the UK Parliament.
Houses of Parliament - House of Lords
The House of Lords is the second chamber of the U.K. Houses of Parliament. Members of the House of Lords (known as 'peers') consist of Lords Spiritual (senior bishops) and Lords Temporal (lay peers). Law Lords (senior judges) also sit as Lords Temporal. Members of the House of Lords are not elected. Originally, they were drawn from the various groups of senior and influential nobility in Britain, who advised the monarch throughout the country's early history.
Houses of Parliament - House of Commons
The House of Commons is the centre of parliamentary power. It is directly responsible to the electorate, and from the 20th century the House of Lords has recognised the supremacy of the elected chamber.
The House of Commons is traditionally regarded as the lower house, but it is the main parliamentary arena for political battle. A Government can only remain in office for as long as it has the support of a majority in the House of Commons. As with the House of Lords, the House of Commons debates new primary legislation as part of the process of making an Act of Parliament, but the Commons has primacy over the non-elected House of Lords. 'Money bills', concerned solely with taxation and public expenditure, are always introduced in the Commons and must be passed by the Lords promptly and without amendment. When the two houses disagree on a non-money bill, the Parliament Acts can be invoked to ensure that the will of the elected chamber prevails.
Visiting the House of Commons' Gallery
The Strangers' Gallery is open to the public when the House is sitting, which is usually:
- 14.30 - 22.30 or later on Mondays
- 11.30 - 19.30 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- 11.30 - 18.30 on Thursdays
- 09.30 - 15.00 on sitting Fridays
When the House returns after a recess on a day other than a Monday, the first day will have Monday sitting times.
The queue starts at the St Stephen's entrance link to plan. There are two queues, one each for the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Lords' queue is usually shorter so it is easier to get into the Lords' Gallery, although it may not always be possible to secure a place for Question Time. Question Time lasts for 40 minutes from 2.30pm on Mondays to Wednesdays and for 30 minutes from 3.00pm on Thursdays.
You can buy a ticket for the spectator's gallery, and listen to a session of Parliament. Alternatively, if politics is heavy going when you're on holiday, the building itself with Big Ben is beautiful and worth a visit. It is a stone's throw from Westminster Abbey, which is another important and lovely historic building, and also open to the public.
Hotels Near the Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament are located about 15min walk from Georgian House Hotel and about 10min walk from Big Ben and Houses.
For more information visit www.parliament.uk
Georgian House Hotel is ideally situated in a very central location, so visiting sights all over London is quick and easy. Why not book Georgian House Hotel when you plan your trip to Houses of Parliament? You can book online or email to make a reservation on firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone on 0044(0)207 834 1438