State Opening of Parliament

On 10 May 2022 a new Parliamentary session was opened with the State Opening of Parliament. The Queen was unable to attend who was represented by the Prince of Wales. 

The process starts when MPs assemble in the House of Commons Chamber waiting for a message to be “summoned” by Black Rod.  Black Rod processes from the House of Lords but before she is allowed into the Commons, the door is shut, signifying the independence of the Commons from the Crown. Black Rod knocks on the door of the Chamber and only after 3 knocks is allowed into the Chamber with the message that the Lords requires the attendance of the Commons.  The MPs led by the Party leaders then walk from the Commons to the Lords. For only the 3rd time the Queen was unable to attend and The Prince of Wales read out the Queen’s Speech on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government.

The Speech set out the Government’s legislative priorities for the forthcoming session. There are 38 prospective pieces of legislation outlined in the speech. The Chamber sat at 2.30pm and there was an opening speech by HM leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer and the Prime Minister. Two backbenchers are chosen by the Government’s Chief Whip to reply to the address. These are usually light hearted speeches. Six days of debate on the contents of the Speech follow and each day takes a different theme: preventing crime and delivering justice; fairness at work and power in communities; making Britain the best place to grow up and grow old; tackling the short-term and long-term cost of living increases; and achieving economic growth. This is nominated by HM Opposition but MPs speeches can cover any topic.  

On Wednesday 18 May 2022 the debate will end and there will be a series of votes on the contents of “the gracious Speech.”