The House of Lords is open to the public and you can watch business in the chamber and select committees for free. You can also tour the Houses of Parliament as a guest of a member (for free) or as a visitor on Saturdays and during the summer months.
Watch debates in the chamber
Everyone is welcome to watch debates from the galleries in the House of Lords chamber when the House is sitting (from Monday to Thursday and during around 10 ‘sitting Fridays’ in the year). There are no debates during recess (holiday periods). It is advisable to give yourself plenty of time to get through security as queues can get busy when there are high-profile debates.
The first 30 minutes of business in the chamber on Monday to Thursday are dedicated to question time, where a government minister responds to Lords members’ questions on aspects of government policy. They will then move on to other business, which may be amending legislation, debating an issue of current concern or considering a committee report. This work can run late into the evening.
There are two main ways to gain entry to the chamber:
- Get tickets in advance: You can request tickets from members of the Lords, who each have a small allocation. Find out how to contact a member.
- Queue up on the day: You can turn up on the day and queue to get into the chamber at the Cromwell Green visitor entrance to the main building. The queue opens an hour before the proceedings begin.
- Plan your visit to the House of Lords
Watch Lords select committees at work
The House of Lords has several select committees which usually meet at least once every sitting week and look at specific issues. Everyone is welcome to attend evidence sessions on a first come first served basis.
Visitors should arrive one hour before the session begins and wait at the Cromwell Green visitor entrance.
Summer opening and tours
You also can get a glimpse behind the scenes at the House of Lords on an organised tour of the Houses of Parliament. The visitor route will take you through highlights such as the Robing Room, Royal Gallery, Peers’ Lobby and the chamber.
There are three main types of tours:
- Member tours: These are free and on weekdays. You can book in advance by contacting a member of the Lords. Available to UK residents only.
- Saturday tours: These take place on most Saturdays between 9.15am and 4.30pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day.
- Summer tours: These are held during August and September, six days per week.
- Tour bookings and ticket prices.
Visit Parliamentary Archives
The public are also welcome to visit the Parliamentary Archives for research purposes. The archives, which date back to 1497, are housed over 12 floors in the House of Lords’ Victoria Tower.