Westminster Hall is the entry point to the Parliamentary Estate for the majority of visitors. Occasionally, exhibitions and events are held in the Hall, particularly those which have a strong link to Parliament.
Westminster Hall has three Keyholders:
- the Speaker
- the Lord Speaker
- Lord Great Chamberlain (represented by Black Rod)
They make decisions on whether exhibitions or events may be held in Westminster Hall, with advice from the Westminster Hall Advisory Group. This is a group of officials from both Houses of Parliament that provides advice to the Keyholders on proposed exhibitions or events.
Decisions are based on whether the proposed event or exhibition is:
- relevant to Parliament
- appropriate for the status, history and heritage environment of Westminster Hall
The existence of the Keyholders dates from 1965, when the Queen passed control of the Palace of Westminster to the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
At that point, control of Westminster Hall was vested jointly in the Lord Great Chamberlain on behalf of Her Majesty, and in the Speaker and Lord Chancellor (then ex officio Speaker of the House of Lords).
Applying to hold an exhibition or event
To apply to hold an event or exhibition, complete the application form. The 'initial details' section should be completed by all, with the 'exhibition application’ section or 'events application' section completed as appropriate.
Please email or post completed application forms to the Secretary to the Westminster Hall Advisory Group, whose details are provided above.
Your request will be reviewed by the Group at its next quarterly meeting.
The Group will then send their recommendations to the Keyholders, who will decide on your application. The Secretary to the Group will contact you as soon as possible to let you know whether or not your application has been approved.
Requirements and costs
The key criterion for holding an event or exhibition in Westminster Hall is relevance to Parliament as an institution. The Hall forms an integral part of the Parliamentary estate and is not a venue available for hire.
Parliament will want to be satisfied that the design, quality, construction and content of an exhibition are of the highest quality, that the content is linked to Parliament’s history, work or Members, and that the physical structures meet the heritage requirements of Westminster Hall.
Parliament is not able to support the costs of, or provide staff resources to help with, designing, constructing and striking an event or exhibition.
Parliament may require the use of a consultant to help with planning an exhibition. In this case, the organiser would be required to meet the costs of their time, an estimate of which can be provided.
Liaison and notice required
If an exhibition or event is accepted, an individual will be appointed as a primary contact within Parliament for the organiser. Due to the large number of security and heritage requirements of Westminster Hall, organisers should anticipate frequent contact with this individual in the lead-up to the exhibition or event.
Successful applicants will be required to work closely with Parliament to ensure that these points are covered in advance of the event/exhibition taking place.
Due to the number of factors needing to be taken into account, organisers are urged not to underestimate the amount of work (including liaison with Parliament) that is required for an exhibition or event in Westminster Hall.
For the same reason, considerable lead-in times of approximately six months for events or exhibitions are normally required.
Upper Waiting Hall
Occasionally the Advisory Group may recommend the Upper Waiting Hall for an exhibition in place of Westminster Hall.
To apply to use the Upper Waiting Hall, please contact the Clerk to the House of Commons Administration Committee.