Visits to the public galleries at Westminster are suspended until further notice but you can still watch live feeds of debates and committee hearings on Parliament Live TV.
Tickets can only be booked via a Member’s Office. Members of the public cannot book tickets themselves.
Question Time takes place from Mondays to Thursdays (2.30pm on Mondays, 11.30am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, followed by Prime Minister’s Questions, and at 9.30am on Thursdays).
PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) take place every Wednesday from midday for half an hour. Tickets are normally highly sought-after and constituents love coming up to experience the Westminster action, (especially if they live close to London). They are usually fully booked several months in advance.
If a constituent wishes to watch a debate or question time, you will need to book or find tickets. Make sure that you know what dates they would prefer, and warn them that if it is very short notice, that it might not be possible. If you have a choice, pick the latest date, as it gives more time to obtain tickets and they are more likely to be available.
Check the Gallery Ticket allocation list to see if your MP has already been allocated some on that day (unlikely) and if so make sure these haven’t already been promised to someone else. You can find the allocations calendar here: https://intranet.parliament.uk/access-buildings/access/galleries/allocation-list-by-calendar/
You can also ask other MPs if they will give you their allocation of tickets – again check the chart to see who has tickets and when – but this normally requires a certain amount of swapping and haggling. If you get tickets in this way, don’t forget to make sure they are passed onto you.
It is quite easy to get tickets for other days as long as you apply a long time in advance. You can apply using the form on the Parliamentary Intranet https://intranet.parliament.uk/access-buildings/access/galleries/. You can apply for tickets for normal question times, but only two tickets PMQs. Mondays are 2.30pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are 11.30am, Thursdays 9:30am and Fridays (if the house is sitting) 9:30am. People understandably prefer PMQs but will sometimes be happy with normal departmental question time. The Order of Questions can be found here: https://commonsbusiness.parliament.uk
You will need to fill in the full name and address of one of the people who will be using the tickets (i.e. a teacher if it’s a school visit, but it can be the school address).
The Admissions Order Office (AOO) staff are very helpful, so if you need any assistance, give them a call on ext 3700. They try to be as accommodating as possible within the rules.
If you’ve still been unable to get tickets for PMQs then it’s worth ringing in the morning and checking if they’ve had any handed back. In theory you have to queue from 11am when unclaimed tickets are released (get there early) but if you ring up and are nice enough you can sometimes get them earlier in the day. (If your MP is particularly keen to get tickets then they can also queue and will get priority over staff.)
It is also possible to put your name on a waiting list in the Admission Order Office from the Thursday before the relevant Question time, but this does not operate on Wednesdays. Visitors can also always wait in the public queue but there’s absolutely no way they’ll get PMQs tickets this way, it is only likely to work for sittings later in the day or some of the less popular departmental questions and should not be relied upon.
If it’s a school visit and you’ve run out of options, you can ring the Education Unit on 0207 219 4496 or email firstname.lastname@example.org – they sometimes have tickets reserved for schoolchildren.
If someone known to your MP would like tickets and they have run out then you can apply for seats in front of the security screen (which is also far more interesting as you get a better view and can hear what’s going on away from the microphones). There aren’t many of these so you’ll need to check with the AOO that there is space and then download the form from here: Request for Special Side Gallery Tickets – In Front Of The Security Screen. This form has to be signed by your MP and taken to the AOO personally by them. This can take some doing and you will have to pester them repeatedly to make sure they do it (it’s worth checking with the AOO that it actually made it there after it left your office).
In addition, close family members of MPs can often use Speaker’s Allocation of tickets. You’ll need to ring the Speaker’s Office on 020 7219 5300 to see if they are willing to do this and if they have any space.
Once you’ve managed to get tickets you can either pick them up from the AOO closer to the time, or give your constituents directions to do so themselves when they arrive. Either way, you will need to ask the visitors to come to the Cromwell Green Visitors Entrance around 45 minutes before the Question Time begins, in order to allow for them to pass through the security checks. They can then wait in Central Lobby and watch the Speaker’s Procession, when the Speaker and the mace – the symbol of the Queen in Parliament – make their way into the Chamber and which is pretty exciting for the first time.
Make sure the visitors have a contact number for your office (and that you have a contact number for them on the day) in case it all goes terribly wrong (when it does, don’t worry, you’re not the first, just grovel and do everything you can to put it right/make it less bad).
If you need it more information can be found here: https://intranet.parliament.uk/access-buildings/access/galleries/
If you are reading this and are a constituent who is interested in obtaining gallery tickets, contact your MP’s office directly. Don’t know where to find it? You can search here: https://members.parliament.uk/members/commons
Constituents can find further information on watching debates and committees here: https://www.parliament.uk/visiting/visiting-and-tours/watch-committees-and-debates/