Take a tour of the House of Lords
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Take a tour of the House of Lords


>>Baroness Jenkin: So here we are in central
lobby, this is the heart of parliament, and we are equidistant between the Commons chamber
and the Lord’s chamber. Usually this space is teeming with people, it’s where any member
of the public can come, but today we’re here to talk about the House of Lords, so
we’re going through to the Peers’ lobby. So here we are in the Peers’ lobby, again,
this is usually teeming with people. There might be members of the public who have come
to watch our proceedings and they walk through here to go up to the gallery where they watch
what’s going on in the chamber, but through those gates is the chamber, where of course,
most of our work is done, whether it’s questions, debates or part of the legislation, that is
where it all happens.>>Male speaker 1: The press reports show
how damaging that can be, but I shall indeed take all the noble Lord’s points on board.>>Lord Inglewood: We’re right at the heart
of the House of Lord, the chamber, and it’s in the chamber that we debate government policy,
pass laws and generally scrutinise the activities of the whole of what’s going on in Britain
today. And despite the gold leaf, the carved wood, the heavily embossed leather, it’s
actually very much a working chamber and I’m standing at the despatch box which is where
government ministers lead with government business.>>Male speaker 2: However, I can report to
the house that a pilot who returned these bookings.>>Lord Inglewood: Behind me on my right,
here, is the government side and most of these benches are occupied by the peers who are
the government party, save that right at the far end over my shoulder, is where the Bishops
always sit. I’m now crossing the chamber of the House of Lords onto the opposition
side, and the opposition sit along the benches on my left and it’s not only the main opposition
party, it’s also the cross-benchers who are the independents, and one of the unusual
characteristics of the House of Lords is that there is a large independent presence which
means that no one party has an overall majority. There are three other important parts of the
chamber that I think it’s useful to know about, and the first one is the Woolsack,
which is where the Lord Speaker sits. Over to my right here is the clerk’s table and
the clerks are the administrators, the civil servants who keep us all right. And finally,
over my shoulder, is the royal throne.>>Baroness Jenkin: So here we are in the
grand committee room, but it’s also known as the Moses room and you will see from that
picture of Moses coming down the mountain why it’s known as that. It’s used for
debates and where we discuss some of the detail of the legislation, so it enables the chamber
to be used for one bit of legislation and here for another. And the minister sits here
at the despatch box, the civil servants sit behind him and members of the public can sit
here and watch the proceedings in a very intimate experience for them.>>Lord Haskel: We’re in one of the division
lobbies, this is where we settle our arguments. There are two division lobbies, one for content,
which means you’re happy with the argument and the other is the not content, where you
disagree, and we’re in the not content. If there is a dispute, it is put to the vote,
when the vote is called, bells ring throughout the Houses of Parliament and you have eight
minutes to walk through this lobby. After eight minutes they see how many people have
walked through, they go into the chamber and they will read out who has won and who has
lost, and that’s the way we settle our arguments.>>Lord Faulkes: This is the Royal Gallery,
and the Gallery is used for ceremonial occasions, which don’t take place that often, but it
is used every day for meetings. For example, here we have a table, six chairs, there are
other tables like this and there may be a meeting which has been set up, involving people
from outside the Houses of Parliament, or it may be simply peers hatching together some
plan. Sometimes it’s very crowded and very busy, there’s a lot going on and other times
it’s very quiet and slightly spooky, particularly late at night. That way is the chamber but
it’s on the upper floor that a lot of the work is done, in the committee rooms.>>Baroness Parminter: Well we’re up on
the committee corridor and with the House of Lord’s chamber over there and the river
over there and this place is really quiet now, but normally it’s a buzz with people.
Peers will spend as much time up here on the committee corridor as they do down in the
chamber. We just get that sense of everything is alive here, all the issues that are worrying
people out there in the street, are actually going to be talking about here in this corridor.
Well we’re up in one of the committee rooms, some of the rooms are bigger than this, some
are smaller, but they all pretty much look the same, and this is where we do the important
work of scrutinising government policy and trying to influence future public policy debates.
We’ll have people from all parties and indeed no parties, coming together to really dig
deeply into an issue that we feel strongly needs investigating, be it energy or transport
or how we’re going to feed the world in the future.
So these doors here mark the end of the House of Lords committee corridor, down below us
is the Central Lobby, which is the central point of the Houses of Parliament with the
two chambers flowing off from it, the House of Lords on one side, the House of Commons
over there.

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