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Houses of Parliament

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Visit the Houses of Parliament for Free
Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament

© Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
There are ways for UK residents to arrange tours by contacting their MP, and other foreign nationals can apply for a card of introduction, but all of this takes time and planning. What if you just want to turn up and go to the public galleries to watch a debate? You can simply join the public queue outside St Stephen's Entrance but there is usually a 1-2 hour wait in the afternoons. To keep your waiting time down, it's best to arrive at 1pm or later. The House of Commons Information Office can let you know in advance what is to be debated. The public gallery is open when the House is sitting which is usually:
  • Mondays: 2.30pm-10.30pm
  • Tuesdays: 2.30pm-10.30pm
  • Wednesdays: 11.30am-7.30pm
  • Thursdays: 10.30am-6.30pm
  • Fridays: 9.30am-3pm

You can also sit in the Public Gallery and watch The House of Lords which usually has a shorter waiting time.

  • Mondays and Tuesdays: 2.30pm-10pm
  • Wednesdays: 3pm-10pm
  • Thursdays: 11am-7.30pm
  • Fridays (occasionally) from 10am

See the official website for more information about attending debates.

Exhibitions
Another way to visit for free is to find out if there are any special exhibitions on by checking the official website. I visited an exhibition in Westminster Hall and it was easy to gain access so don't be intimidated by the security lines for tours. Simply explain to a member of staff by the Cromwell Green visitor entrance that you would like to see the exhibition (name it, if you can) and you will not have to join the back of the line where people are queuing for tours or to attend a debate but you do need to go through bag checks. By visiting an exhibition in Westminster Hall you not only get to see inside the Houses of Parliament for free, but you can also use the well-priced cafe and clean toilets.

  1. How To Find The Houses of Parliament
  2. Houses of Parliament Tours
  3. Visit the Houses of Parliament for Free
  4. How To Visit The Parliamentary Archives
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