The houses of parliament are the home of the British Government. Government business is divided between the two Houses. MPs, or Members of Parliament, are elected to sit in the House of Commons, where laws are made. The laws are discussed andamended in the Upper House. You can go in thebuildings, if you makearrangement.
Medieval Palace The Parliament buildings are called the Palace of Westminster. The Palace dates from medieval times. In 1834, a fire destroyed most of the old Palace. Sir Charles Barry rebuilt it in a medieval style called Gothic.
Guy Fawkes On November 4, 1605, a man called Guy Fawkes was found in a Palace cellar. He was about to set fire to some barrels of gunpowder. His capture is celebrated with bonfires and fireworks every year on November 5.
Inside the Palace The Palace of Westminster has over 1000 rooms and 3km (2 miles) corridors.
Victoria Tower Millions of government documents are kept here, including copies of every law passed by Parliament since the 1400s. A flag flies on the tower when Parliament is sitting during the day.
Central Lobby The Central Lobby is the main reception area. It is decorated with mosaics. The Speaker (who is in charge of the Commons) walks through here on the way to debates, carrying the Mace, the symbol of royal authority.
Westminster Hall Westminster Hall is one of the few remaining parts of the old medieval Palace. The Hall has a huge wooden roof decorated with carved angels. If has been used for Royal banquets and State trials.
Big Ben Big Ben is the huge bell in the Clock Tower. The bell may have been named after Sir Benjamin Hall, who supervised the rebuilding of Parliament, or after a famous boxer.
House of Commons The House of Commons is divided into two sides. Government MPs sit on one side. MPs who are not part of the Government sit on the other side; they are called the Opposition. The distance between the two sides is the length of two drawn swords.