Procedure of prorogation

8.8Parliament is prorogued either by a commission (preceded by a proclamation) or by a proclamation alone.

At the close of a session, according to the usual procedure, the prorogation of Parliament is effected by an announcement made to both Houses in the House of Lords of the Queen's command that Parliament should be prorogued by one of the commissioners of a royal commission.1 The royal functions at prorogation are now exercised by certain Lords acting by virtue of a commission under the Great Seal.2 If there are any bills awaiting Royal Assent the commission authorises it to be signified.3 In this case Royal Assent is pronounced before the reading of the Queen's speech.4 Otherwise the senior member of the Government present proceeds immediately to the reading of the speech after the commission has been read by the Clerk. At the conclusion of the speech the Commissioners prorogue Parliament to the date named in the commission.5

On the return of the Commons to their own Chamber, the Speaker, sitting in the Clerk's place at the Table, reads to the House the terms of the commission and directs the terms of the speech to be entered in the Votes and Proceedings.6


  1. A short suspension of the House of Commons, followed by a resumption, may occur while the House awaits the message to attend the House of Lords: HC Deb (12 May 2016) 609, cc 761–62.
  2. Parliament was last prorogued by the Sovereign in person in 1854. For procedure when the Sovereign attends in person, see Erskine May (16th edn, 1957), p 294.
  3. LJ (1967–68) 667.
  4. For cases of prorogation without a speech see LJ (1783–87) 383; CJ (1820) 485; ibid (1892) 422; ibid (1895) 391; ed Sir Henry Maxwell The Creevey Papers: A selection from the correspondence and diaries of the late Thomas Creevey MP (1903) i, 341, ii, 5.
  5. For procedure when a dissolution is contemplated, see Erskine May (23rd edn, 2004), p 274.
  6. For example, HC Deb (27 April 2017) 624, c 1231.