We get lots of enquiries about visiting the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and we are always delighted to see constituents.
Alistair has to book tours for groups through the Central Tours system of the Palace of Westminster. These tours are very popular, and if you are planning a visit to Westminster please give as much notice as possible, preferably looking several months ahead.
Tour times in session
Monday : 9am-12noon (full tour)
Tuesday/Wednesday: 9am-9.55am (full tour) and 10am-12noon (partial tour of Lords only)
Thursday: no tours
Friday: 3.30pm-5pm (full tour)
Saturday: 9.15am - 4.30pm (full tour)
Non-sitting days and recesses
Non-sitting Fridays 9.30am-5pm
Christmas / New Year Closed
Easter and Spring Weekdays 9.30am-5pm
Whitsun Recess Weekdays 9.30am-5pm
2013 - dates not available yet
Full tour includes: Sovereigns Entrance, Norman Porch, Royal Gallery, Princes Chamber, Lords Chamber, Central Lobby, Voting Lobby, Members Lobby, Commons Chamber, St Stephens Hall and Westminster Hall.
Partial tours: the same tour but missing out the Voting Lobby, Members Lobby and Commons Chamber, as the House sits in the morning.
A full tour takes approximately 75 minutes. All tours have to be completed by 1pm. At the end of the tour there is the Jubilee Café that sells sandwiches, cakes, soup etc. that is open to the public, and a gift shop.
Tours are in groups of 20 maximum, but if you are a larger group we can ask another Member to co-sponsor the tour and have further groups or part groups. Numbers for groups are restricted by the Palace authorities, and therefore it is advisable to book well in advance. Small groups of up to four people can often be fitted in at short notice, or taken round by a member of Alistair’s staff.
Gallery tickets are allocated to MPs a couple of times a term, and we can ask other Members for their allocation. Tickets for Prime Ministers Question time are quite rare, but do ask if you would like to see the House in action. Gallery tickets for late afternoon are often easier to obtain.
Trips up the Tower to visit Big Ben can also be arranged – but you have to be very fit and able and not scared of heights! You will have to climb 334 stone spiral steps up and down, so sensible flat shoes are recommended. Groups are 16 in number, and children under 11 are not permitted. Tours run at 9.15am, 11.15am and 2.15pm Monday to Friday. Tours are for UK residents only; tours for overseas visitors are not available.
*Please note that due to security at the present time a long notice period is required for Big Ben tours
The Records Office can also be visited by groups of up to 20, by prior arrangement. Records can be viewed on specific interests if notified in advance. This can be of particular interest to local history groups.
Do contact the Alistair's Westminster if you would like to come and visit, we would be delighted to help arrange an interesting day at the Palace of Westminster