Parliament takes place in a building called the Palace of Westminster in London. Parliament is the place where important decisions are made about running the country.
The Palace of Westminster is a famous building and the most famous part is the clock tower. The clock tower has a large bell in it which is called ‘Big Ben’.
Parliament is made up of 3 different groups. These are called the Monarchy, The House of Commons and the House of Lords. Read more about these groups below.
The Monarchy (Group 1)
Group 1 is called the Monarchy. The Monarchy is made up of our Royal family. This means that our Head of State is a Queen, or King.
At the moment we have a Queen and she represents the whole country at official events.
Parliament has to ask the Queen’s permission to have an election.
The Queen will also ask the political party that wins the general election to be the government.
The Queen opens Parliament in a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster and makes an important speech. She also agrees to any new laws made by Parliament.
It is not possible for anyone to become the Queen or King. The Queen or King must be part of the Royal family.
When one queen or king dies or stops being Head of State, a person in their family takes over. This is usually one of their children. These children are called a prince if they are male or a princess if they are female.
The House of Commons (Group 2)
Group 2 is the House of Commons. The House of Commons is not actually a house, but a big room in the Palace of Westminster where Members of Parliament (MPs) meet to make important decisions that can affect the whole country.
MPs are ordinary people who are chosen by the general public. You can help to choose an MP by voting for them in a general election.
In the House of Commons, MPs represent everyone from all over the country.
The work they do includes talking about what is happening in the country and around the world, deciding what to do about these things (which is called policy), making speeches, and voting on policy and new laws.
Laws are the rules that tell everyone in the country what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do.
The things you can do are called legal. The things you cannot do are called illegal.
There are lots of laws that tell you things like what age you can get married, how fast you can drive a car, and how much tax you have to pay. Some laws are made to protect you from crime.
Some MPs in the House of Commons are in the Government. They have more power than other MPs.
For example they decide how to spend the money that the country has. This means deciding how much to spend in different areas of life, such as how much to spend on education or health services.
As well as making important decisions about how things are done in this country, MPs in the House of Commons can, along with Parliament, decide what this country will do about things that are happening around the world.
For example this might mean deciding to go to war, or helping a country that has suffered a disaster.
The House of Lords (Group 3)
Group 3 is the House of Lords. The House of Lords is also not a house, but another big room in the Palace of Westminster where people called Lords, or Peers, meet.
Lords are not chosen by the public and do not get elected. They are chosen by the Prime Minister and other political party leaders and given the job by the Queen.
Lords talk about the Government and things that are happening around the country and in the world. They have the job of checking what the Government is doing and they help make decisions about new laws.