Weekend sittings

17.5The House regularly met on a Saturday until the turn of the twentieth century. Since 1900 it has met 21 times on a Saturday, and on only four occasions since the Second World War. On the demise of the Crown,1 and also on occasions of emergency,2 Parliament has occasionally been assembled on a Sunday.3

Under Standing Order No 11(6) a sitting on Saturday or Sunday (except in the case of the demise of the Crown or of a recall in accordance with Standing Order No 13) can be secured only by a resolution of the House, made normally by a Minister at the commencement of public business.4 As a sitting on either of these days is not subject to any rules of the House regulating the hours of meeting, interruption and adjournment, such matters have been provided for in the resolution appointing a Saturday sitting or, when the House is recalled under Standing Order No 13, in a resolution moved at the commencement of the sitting. When the House sits on a Saturday,5 if the House has not ordered otherwise,6 the Speaker has fixed the same hour for the meeting of the House as on a Friday.7 Saturday sittings have been held under the limiting conditions applying to Friday sittings,8 or subject to special directions, such as that when government business is concluded,9 or at a stated hour,10 the House will adjourn without question put. As in other cases when a special sitting occurs, during a periodic adjournment it is necessary to provide that when the special sitting concludes the House will adjourn till the day previously appointed.

Footnotes

  1. CJ (1699–1702) 782; ibid (1714–18) 3; ibid (1757–61) 933; ibid (1819–20) 89.
  2. For example, outbreak of war, CJ (1938–39) 411, 412.
  3. The prolongation of a sitting till Sunday morning has not occurred since 1883, CJ (1883) 471.
  4. HC Deb (2002–03) 400, c 1053.
  5. CJ (1920) 495; ibid (1921) 52, 67.
  6. CJ (1873) 122; ibid (1912–13) 533; ibid (1955–56) 429.
  7. On Saturday 12 December 1936, the day after His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Act 1936 had received the Royal Assent, the House met at 2.45 pm for the purpose of taking the oath of allegiance to the new king. On Saturday 3 April 1982, the House met at 11 am after an emergency recall pursuant to SO No 13.
  8. CJ (1920) 492; ibid (1921) 51, 65.
  9. CJ (1889) 453; ibid (1890) 553; ibid (1893–94) 57.
  10. CJ (1955–56) 429; ibid (1981–82) 286.