UK Parliament tour - Welcome to the Houses of Parliament

Uploaded by UKParliament on 03.08.2010

Welcome to the UK’s Houses of Parliament.
This series of short films will take you through the Palace of Westminster, introducing you to the work that Parliament does
its art and architecture, as well as telling you something of the history of Parliament and how it came to be the sort of institution that it is today.
It is thought that the word ‘parliament’ derives from the Norman French word ‘parley’ meaning ‘to talk or discuss’.
And that is exactly what happens here – debates, discussions, questions and arguments all help Parliament fulfil its roles of legislation
– creating new laws or amending existing ones – and scrutiny – checking on and questioning the work of government.
Parliament grew from the King’s advisory councils, which he would call together whenever he wanted to talk to or consult them.
These councils were originally made up of church ministers and wealthy land-owning barons.
However, they were expanded later to include representatives of local communities – the knights of the shires and burgesses from the towns or cities.
From the fourteenth century, local representatives, knights and burgesses started to meet separately from the churchmen and landowners,
thus creating the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which along with the Monarch form the Parliament that we have today.
By the early fifteenth century, Parliament would have become a body that we might recognise – where taxes were discussed, grievances addressed and laws agreed
The King’s advisory councils and the early parliaments met wherever the king happened to be, whether that be Winchester, York, Nottingham or here at the royal palace at Westminster.
It ceased to be a royal residence from the early sixteenth century and the Lords and later the House of Commons then made this their first permanent home.
Until that is the 16th of October 1834, when a spectacular fire destroyed most of the original palace
Following this, an architectural competition was held to find a design for the first purpose-built building to house the UK’s Parliament - one designed around the way that Parliament worked.
Much of the building you see today was designed in the mid nineteenth century by the architect Charles Barry assisted by Augustus Welby Pugin, during the reign of Queen Victoria.
She was the first monarch to come here to perform her constitutional duty during the State Opening of Parliament.
The State Opening of Parliament is a State occasion when the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarch all come together.
The other films in this series will show you the debating chambers used by the Lords and Commons, parts of the old palace
as well as introducing you to the work that Parliament does. We hope you enjoy your tour.