THE CROWN AND
of a new Parliament
2.01 A proclamation issued at the dissolution of an old
Parliament appoints a day and place of meeting of the new Parliament. The new
Parliament is summoned to meet a few days, usually a week, before the Queen's
Speech. During this period the House of Lords usually sits for two or three "swearing-in" days.
Only business which does not require the House to take a decision on a motion
may be taken on these days. The principal business is:
relating to the election of a Speaker of the House of Commons, which takes
place on the first and second days (see appendix D), and
the oath of allegiance to members of the House.
2.02 New members of the House of Lords may be introduced
after the first day.
2.03 Members may attend to take the oath at any time the
House is sitting during the swearing-in days. The House sits long enough
(sometimes with short adjournments
"during pleasure") to enable those who are present to take the
of subsequent sessions
2.04 The election of a Commons Speaker and the
swearing-in of members occur only in the first session of a Parliament. Each
subsequent session is opened with the Queen's Speech without any preliminary
proceedings. The Queen usually delivers the Speech in person. In her absence
the presiding Commissioner delivers it. The procedure for delivery of the Queen's
Speech is described in appendix E.
meeting after State Opening
2.05 At the time appointed for the sitting of the House
(usually 3.30 p.m. on the day of State Opening) the Lord Speaker takes his seat
on the Woolsack. Prayers are read and members of the House may take the oath. A
bill, for the better regulating of Select Vestries, is then read a first time pro
forma on the motion of the Leader of the House, in order to assert the
right of the House to deliberate independently of the Crown. Until this has
taken place, no other business is done.
2.06 Immediately after the
Select Vestries Bill has been read a first time, the Lord Speaker informs the
House that the Queen delivered the Gracious Speech earlier in the day to the
two Houses of Parliament. She says:
I have to acquaint the House that Her Majesty
was pleased this morning to make a Most Gracious Speech from the Throne to both
Houses of Parliament assembled in the House of Lords. Copies of the Gracious
Speech are available in the Printed Paper Office. I have for the convenience of
the House arranged for the terms of the Gracious Speech to be published in the
2.07 A government backbencher chosen by the Leader of
the House then moves:
an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the
Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your
Majesty for the Most Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both
Houses of Parliament."
2.08 The mover then makes a speech and at the end says "I beg to move
that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty." He or she then
proceeds to the Woolsack with the Address and bows to the Lord Speaker, who
rises and bows in return and receives the Address. When the mover has returned
to their seat, the Lord Speaker rises and says:
Question is that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows"
and reads the text of the Address.
2.09 A government backbencher also chosen by the Leader
then seconds the motion for an Address. It is customary for the speeches of the
mover and seconder to be uncontroversial. After the speech of the seconder the
Leader of the Opposition moves the adjournment of the debate. On this motion
the Leader of the Opposition and the other party leaders congratulate the mover
and seconder and comment generally on the Queen's Speech. After the Leader of
the House has responded, the debate on the Address is adjourned.
2.10 Certain formal business is then taken. The Senior
Deputy Speaker and Chairman of the European Union Committee are nominated on
the motion of the Leader of the House. Formal entries in the Minutes of
Proceedings record the laying before the House by the Clerk of the Parliaments
of a list of members of the House, a list of hereditary peers who wish to stand
for election as members of the House of Lords under Standing Order 10
(Hereditary peers: by-elections), and the sessional order for preventing
stoppages in the streets.
2.11 The general debate on the
Address is resumed on the next sitting day. The principal topics for debate
(e.g. foreign affairs, home affairs, economic affairs, agriculture, transport)
are taken on different days. Amendments, of which notice must be given, may
be moved to the Address at any time in the debate, and are disposed of at the
end of the day on which they are debated or at the end of the whole debate. If
there is no voice against the Address the Lord Speaker declares the Question
"nemine dissentiente". The House then orders the
Address to be presented to Her Majesty. This is usually done by the Lord
2.12 The prorogation of Parliament, which brings a
session to an end, is a prerogative act of the Crown. By current practice
Parliament is prorogued by Commissioners acting in the Sovereign's name.
2.13 On the day appointed for prorogation, prayers are
read and any necessary business is transacted. The procedure followed at
prorogation, with or without Royal Assent, is given at appendix G. Parliament
is always prorogued to a definite day. Prorogation for further periods may be
effected by proclamation.
Parliament, while prorogued, can be summoned by proclamation pursuant to the
Meeting of Parliament Acts 1797 and 1870
and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
2.14 Under the Fixed-term
Parliaments Act 2011 general elections are held on the first Thursday in May in
the fifth calendar year following the previous general election. Parliament
will be dissolved at the beginning of the 25th working day before polling day. Parliament may not be dissolved otherwise than under the
Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.
of termination of session
2.15 Prorogation has the effect of putting an end to
all business before the House, except:
· private bills
and hybrid bills which may be
"carried over" from one session to another (including
on Measures, statutory instruments and special procedure orders laid in one
session, which may be continued in the next, notwithstanding prorogation or
dissolution. Prorogation and dissolution are disregarded in calculating "praying time";
sessional committees which remain in existence notwithstanding the prorogation
of Parliament until the House makes further orders of appointment in the next
session (but this does not apply to a dissolution, when all select committee
activity must cease);
2.16 Government public bills may also be "carried over" from
one session to the next, but not over a dissolution. See paragraph 8.10.
of the Crown
2.17 The Succession to the Crown Act 1707 provides that
in the event of the demise of the Crown, Parliament, if adjourned or prorogued,
must meet as soon as possible
and if sitting must immediately proceed to act without any summons in the usual
2.18 The Representation of the People Act 1985 provides that,
in the case of the demise of the Crown after the dissolution of one Parliament
and the proclamation summoning the next, but before the election, the election
and the meeting of Parliament are postponed by fourteen days. If the demise
occurs on or after the date of the election, Parliament meets in accordance
with the proclamation summoning the next Parliament.
2.19 When Parliament meets under either of these Acts,
there is no speech from the Throne. Members take the oath of allegiance to the
new Sovereign. In the course of a few days a message under the Sign Manual is
sent formally acquainting the House with the death of the Sovereign, and
stating such other matters as may be necessary. The House votes an Address to
the new Sovereign in answer to the message, expressing condolences upon the
death of his predecessor and loyalty to him upon his accession.
2.20 If the demise of the Crown has taken place during
the session, business is resumed and proceeds as usual; but if it has occurred
during an adjournment or prorogation, both Houses again adjourn as soon as the
Addresses have been presented.
recall of the House
2.21 The Lord Speaker, or, in his absence, the Senior
Deputy Speaker, may, after consultation with the government, recall the House
whenever it stands adjourned, if satisfied that the public interest requires it or in pursuance
of section 28(3) of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
to the Crown
2.22 The ordinary method by which the Houses communicate
with the Sovereign is by Address. Addresses may be agreed by both Houses and
jointly presented, or agreed separately but presented together, but are more
commonly agreed and presented separately. From the House of Lords, they may be
presented by certain designated members, by members who are members of the
Royal Household or Privy Counsellors, or by the whole House. The most common
form of Address occurs at the beginning of every session in reply to the Queen's
Speech. Other forms of Address are those requesting the Queen to make an Order
in Council in the form of a draft laid before the House or praying the Queen to
annul a negative instrument. There has been an Address for the exercise of the
prerogative of mercy.
There are also Addresses of condolence or congratulation to the Sovereign on
family or public occasions. An Address may also be presented in response to a
Royal Message, concerning for example the Civil List or the declaration of a
State of Emergency.
2.23 The Sovereign's reply is communicated to the House
on the first convenient occasion. The member reporting the reply to the House
(usually the Lord Chamberlain or another member of the Royal Household) does
so at the beginning of business.
Messages to members of the Royal Family
2.24 The congratulations or condolences of the House are
communicated to a member of the Royal Family other than the Sovereign by a
message, and not by an Address. In such a case certain members of the House are
ordered to present the message, and one of them reports the answer or answers.
Address presented by the whole House
2.25 On occasions of particular importance an Address
may be presented by the whole House. Until 1897 (the diamond jubilee of Queen
Victoria's accession) such Addresses were presented at Buckingham Palace or
another royal residence. Since then Addresses by the whole House have been
presented, together with Addresses from the House of Commons, within the Palace
of Westminster. Thus Addresses were presented in Westminster Hall to mark the
50th Anniversary of the end of World War II (1995) and the Queen's Golden
Jubilee (2002) and Diamond Jubilee (2012).
2.26 After prayers on the day appointed for the
presentation of the Address, the House proceeds to the designated place. The
motion that the House do now proceed to the designated place also provides that
the House do thereafter adjourn during pleasure and meet again in the Chamber
at an appointed time. The Lord Speaker and the Commons Speaker either lead
their respective Houses or arrive with their processions after the members of
both Houses are seated. The Commons Speaker usually arrives last. Both Houses
sit facing the Queen, the Commons on Her left and the Lords on Her right. As
soon as the Queen has arrived, the Lord Speaker reads the Lords' Address and
then presents it to the Sovereign. The Commons Speaker likewise reads and
presents the Commons' Address. The Queen delivers Her reply to the Addresses
and withdraws. The Lords withdraw followed by the Commons. By virtue of the
terms of the motion moved earlier in the Chamber, the House then adjourns
during pleasure and resumes its sitting at the appointed time.
from the Crown
2.27 Messages from the Crown other than in reply to an
Address are rare. They are formal communications relating to important public
events that require the attention of Parliament, for example, the declaration
of a State of Emergency. A message from the Crown is usually in writing under
the Queen's Sign Manual. It is brought by a member of the House who is either
a minister, for example the Leader of the House, or one of the Queen's
Household. A message from the Crown has precedence over other business, except
for introductions, oaths and the Lord Speaker's leave of absence.
2.28 The member bearing a message announces to the House
that he has a message under the Queen's Sign Manual that the Queen has
commanded him to deliver to the House. He reads it at the Table, and then gives
it to the Lord Speaker at the Woolsack, who hands it to the Clerk of the
Parliaments. When the message has been read, it is either considered
immediately on motion or, more usually, a later day is appointed. An Address is
then moved in reply, usually by the Leader of the House. However, the House
takes no further action on messages from the Crown in reply to an Address from