2 Visitors to Parliament |
10. People visit Parliament for a wide variety of
reasons. Most visitors' first-hand experience of the work of Parliament
is gained watching debates from the public galleries in the two
Chambers. Last year 130,000 people visited the public gallery
in the House of Commons. In the winter months, there are approximately
250 visitors a day to the public gallery in the House of Lords;
this increases to between 350 and 500 a day in the summer.
11. Constituents also visit Parliament on tours organised
through their Members: last year there were around 96,000 bookings.
The introduction of summer opening has made the Palace more accessible
to tourists. Summer opening in 2003 saw around 87,000 visitors,
just under half of whom came from the United Kingdom. The Parliamentary
Education Unit organises visits for school parties and in 2003
hosted 9,000 students. In addition, approximately 38,000, of the
96,000 visitors on Members' tours, were students visiting Parliament
on tours booked through the Central Tours Office. Around 88,000
people attend dinners and receptions in the House of Commons each
12. In addition to these recorded visits, many people
visit the Palace of Westminster for other reasons. For example:
attend Select Committee meetings, either to give evidence or to
watch a public hearing;
· to lobby their
Member or an individual peer, or take part in mass lobbies of
· to attend House
of Lords judicial hearings; and
· for meetings
with staff of the two Houses.
13. The wide range of reasons why people visit Parliament
means that the information they require on arrival varies. Nevertheless
all need to be welcomed. Furthermore, non-passholders who visit
the Palace need to be searched and checked by security staff.
These requirements put a large strain on the current facilities
for accommodating visitors.