Parliamentary Practice

How a new session of the Parliament in the United Kingdom is to be opened

In 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 Liny 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.

Both Houses assemble on the day and immediately before the hour appointed for the delivery of the Queen’s Speech. In the Commons prayers are said before the Queen’s speech, but in the Lords usually not until their second meeting, later in the day. The Speaker, after prayers, sits in the Clerk’s chair until Black Rod approaches the door, when he proceeds to his own chair lo receive him. This form is observed, because no business can be transacted until Parliament has been opened by the Crown.***** When the Queen meets Parliament in person, she proceeds in stale to the House of Lords, where, seated on the Throne, adorned with her Crown and regal ornaments, and attended by her officers of state (all the lords, being in their robes, and standing until Her Majesty Commands them to be seated), she commands the gentleman usher of the Black Rod, through the Lord Great Chamberlain, to let the Commons know it is Her Majesty’s pleasure they attend her immediately in this House. “The usher of the Black Rod goes at once to the door of the House of Commons which he strikes three times with his rod; and, on being admitted, he advances up the middle of the House towards the table, making three obeisance’s to the chair, and says” Mr. Speaker, The Queen Commands this honourable House to attend Her Majesty immediately in the House of Peers.” The Speaker, with the House, immediately goes up to the bar of the house of Peers; upon which the Queen reads her speech to both Houses of Parliament, from a printed copy, which is delivered into her hands by the Lord Chancellor, kneeling upon one knee.

When the Queen is not personally present, the causes of summons are declared by the lords commissioners. The usher of the Black Rod is sent, in the same manner, to the Commons, and acquaints the Speaker that “the lords commissioners desire the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the House of Peers, to hear the commission read” and when the Speaker and the House have reached the bar of the House of Peers, the Lord Chancellor reads the royal speech to both Houses.

When the speech has been delivered the House of Lords is adjourned during pleasure. The Commons retire from the bar and, returning to their own House, pass through it, the mace being placed upon the table by the Sergeant and the House reassembles at halt-past two. When the Houses are resumed in the afternoon, the main business is for the Lord Chancellor in the Lords, and the Speaker in the Commons, to report the Queen’s Speech. In the former House, the speech is read by the Lord Chancellor, and in the latter by the Speaker, who states that, for greater accuracy, he has obtained a copy.”

 No business can be transacted until the Parliament has been opened by the Crown. A similar view is to be found in Halsbury’s Laws of England (3rd Ed. Vol. 7 Article 511 page 238) from which I quote the relevant extract;

“On the assembling of a new Parliament in pursuance of the royal writs, or at the commencement of a new session of an already existing Parliament after prorogation, the sovereign must meet the two Houses either in person or by representatives; otherwise there can be no legal beginning of a new Parliament, or session of an an existing Parliament, except in case of the demise of the Crown.”

In India

The procedure (o be followed in this country in summoning Slate Legislatures appears in clause (1) of Article 174 which reads as follows:

“174 (1) The Governor shall from time to time summon the House or each House of the Legislature of the State to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit, but six months shall not intervene between its last sitting in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session.”

The manner in which summoning shall be made is provided for in Rule 3 of the Rules of Procedure, which is set out below;

“Whenever it appears to the Governor that the Assembly should be summoned-

(a) he shall cause a notification to be published in the Gazette, appointing the day, hour and place for a meeting of the Assembly, and

(b) the Secretary shall send to each member a summons to attend the meeting.”



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