The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, in London, is where the two Houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet. The palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to the government buildings of Whitehall.
Although the building mainly dates from the 19th century, remaining elements of the original historic buildings include Westminster Hall, used today for major public ceremonial events
Parliament is open to all members of the UK public and overseas visitors. You can watch laws being made, attend debates and committees, tour the buildings, or climb the Clock Tower.The clock is famous for its reliability.
The Palace of Westminster includes over 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 4.8 kilometres (3 mi) of passageways. The building includes four floors; the ground floor includes offices, dining rooms and bars. The "first floor" (known as the principal floor) houses the main rooms of the Palace, including the Chambers, the lobbies and the libraries. The Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, the Prince's Chamber, the Lords Chamber, the Peers' Lobby, the Central Lobby, the Members' Lobby and the Commons Chamber all lie in a straight line on this floor, from south to north, in the order noted. (Westminster Hall lies to a side at the Commons end of the Palace.) The top-two floors are used for committee rooms and offices.
Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north-eastern end of the Palace of Westminster in London.This is the world's largest, four-faced, chiming clock and the third largest, free-standing clock tower in the world. It celebrates its 150th birthday in 2009, celebratory events are planned.The clock has become a symbol of the United Kingdom and London, particularly in the visual media.The clock is famous for its reliability.The tower is designed in Pugin's celebrated Gothic Revival style, and is 96.3 metres (315.9 ft) high.
The Victoria Tower is the square tower at the southern end of the Palace of Westminster in London, facing south and west onto Black Rod's Garden and Old Palace Yard. At 323 feet (98 m), it is slightly taller than the more famous Clock Tower at the north end of the Palace (316 feet (96 m)). All 14 floors of the building were originally linked via a single wrought iron Victorian staircase of 553 steps, of which five floors still survive.
The main entrance at the base of the tower is the Sovereign's Entrance, through which the Monarch passes at the State Opening of Parliament. On top of the Victoria Tower is an iron flagstaff, from which the Union Flag is flown when Parliament is in session (unless the Sovereign is present in the Palace, when it is replaced by the Royal Standard).
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which also comprises the Sovereign and the House of Lord). The Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 646 members, who are known as "Members of Parliament" or MPs. Members are elected, through the first-past-the-post system, by electoral districts known as constituencies, and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved (a maximum of five years after the preceding election).
The House of Lords is the second house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and is also commonly referred to as "the Lords". The Parliament comprises the Sovereign, the House of Commons (which is the lower house of Parliament and referred to as "the Commons"), and the Lords. "The Lords Chamber" is the site of many formal ceremonies, the most famous of which is the State Opening of Parliament, held at the beginning of each new parliamentary session. During the State Opening, the Sovereign, seated on the Throne in the Lords Chamber and in the presence of both Houses of Parliament, delivers a speech outlining the Government's agenda for the upcoming parliamentary session.