Opening of new session

8.31In every session but the first of a Parliament, as there is no election of a Speaker, nor any general swearing of Members, the session is opened at once by the Queen's speech, without any preliminary proceedings in either House. Until the causes of summons are declared by the Queen, either in person, or by commission, neither House can proceed with any public business: but the causes of summons, as declared from the Throne, do not bind Parliament to consider them alone, or to proceed at once to the consideration of any of them (see para 8.35 ).

Both Houses assemble on the day and immediately before the hour1 appointed for the delivery of the Queen's speech. In the Commons prayers are said before the Queen's speech, but in the Lords not until their second meeting, later in the day. The Speaker, after prayers, normally waits in the Chair or suspends the sitting until Black Rod approaches the door, at which point the Speaker proceeds to the Chair to receive Black Rod. This practice is observed because no business can be transacted until Parliament has been opened by the Crown.


  1. 1. Before 1919 the usual hour was 2 pm; from 1919 to 1939, 12 noon; from 1940 to 1960, 11 am; since 1961, 11.30 am.