Parliament's role

Parliament is an essential part of UK politics. Its main roles are:

  • Examining and challenging the work of the government (scrutiny)
  • Debating and passing all laws (legislation)
  • Enabling the government to raise taxes

The two-House system

The business of Parliament takes place in two Houses: the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Checking the work of government

Parliament examines and challenges the work of government.


Parliament is responsible for approving new laws (legislation).


Both Houses of Parliament hold debates in which Members discuss government policy, proposed legislation and current issues.

Rules and customs

The origins of Parliament go back to the 13th century, so there are many rules about how it runs.

Traditions of Parliament

A number of traditions are involved in the working of Parliament.

Parliament and government

Parliament and government both play a part in forming the laws of the United Kingdom.

Parliament and Crown

Along with the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the Crown is an integral part of the institution of Parliament.

Devolved Parliaments and Assemblies

UK devolution created a national Parliament in Scotland, a national Assembly in Wales and a national Assembly in Northern Ireland.


The UK is one of 27 member states of the European Union and is subject to European Union (EU) legislation.

Related information

Living Heritage

Learn about the history of Parliament's role

Virtual tours of Parliament

Parliament is developing a series of virtual tours. The first of these is a visit to the House of Commons Chamber and surrounding rooms. This tour uses Flash Player.