During the Parliamentary recess all sorts of sprucing up and repair work takes place at the Palace of Westminster. They also allow more visitors than usual in, as there is no business going on. You can buy a ticket for the audio tour and go round any day you please or you can request a free tour from your MP like we did and have to go on a specific day !
August is the ideal time to go as the House of Lords and House of Commons are both empty which means that you are allowed to go inside and even have a little turn at the dispatch box, just like the Prime Minister ! We were very surprised to contact the MP's office just a couple of weeks ago and be given the choice of 3 dates. But apparently there is quite a bit of space as so many people are on holiday.
You are given a print out of your date and time and must specify beforehand how many people are coming. After that you go through airline type security, collect your visitor's badge and there you are inside the Palace of Westminster.
Since they were doing so many repairs the direct access to the House of Commons was blocked and we were allowed to go round by the Members' Library and saw quite a few things which were not on the regular tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable and really worked hard to make sure the children in the party understood things and had a good time.
I would thoroughly recommend the tour and once it was finished I quite fancied becoming an MP so I could go round again ! However, apparently I don't need to as every constituent has the right to enter parliament, go to the central lobby and ask to speak to their MP. If the MP is in the house, they have to come out and speak to you ! Apparently this is how lobbying began !
Anybody else been on a great free trip recently ?