Parliament's role

The main functions of the UK Parliament are to:

  • Check and challenge the work of the Government (scrutiny)
  • Make and change laws (legislation)
  • Debate the important issues of the day (debating) 
  • Check and approve Government spending (budget/taxes)

Parliament is made up of three central elements: the House of Commons, the House of Lords and the Monarchy. The main business of Parliament takes place in the two Houses. Generally the decisions made in one House have to be approved by the other.

Check the work of government

One of Parliament's main roles is to examine and challenge the work of the government through questioning ministers, debating and committee work


For new legislation to become law, or for changes to existing laws to be made, the House of Commons and House of Lords must both debate, amend and vote on the proposals.


Both Houses of Parliament hold debates in which Members discuss government policy, proposed new laws and topical issues of the day

Rules and traditions of Parliament

The origins of Parliament go back to the 13th century, so there are many rules and traditions that explain its role and workings

Relations with other institutions

Parliament is an essential part of UK politics and interacts on a daily basis with a number of important institutions

Related information

House of Commons Chamber Film

Watch our new film about the House of Commons Chamber, what it does and how it works for people across the UK

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.