State Opening of Parliament

24 May 2010

The State Opening of Parliament on Tuesday 25 May marks the formal start of the new 2010-11 parliamentary session. The primary purpose of this colourful state occasion is to set out the Government’s legislative agenda in the Queen’s Speech.

This State Opening also signals the official start of the new Parliament following the General Election. The Queen’s Speech will outline the new Government’s proposed policies for the forthcoming parliamentary session which, because of the election, will be longer than usual.

Watch the State Opening

You can watch the State Opening of Parliament from 11.20am.

Please note that roads around the Houses of Parliament are subject to closure before the ceremony.

If you wish to watch the journey of the carriage procession from Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament, you may be able to do this from street level either on the Mall or from Parliament Square.

Members of the public cannot attend the State Opening itself. However, members of the public can gain access to Parliament in the afternoon - when normal business resumes.

State Opening ceremony

The ceremony brings together the constituent parts of Parliament: the monarch, the Lords and the Commons – a symbolic reminder of Parliament’s unity.

As a symbol of the Commons' independence, the door to their Chamber is slammed in the face of Black Rod – an official who acts as the messenger of the Queen whenever MPs are required in the House of Lords – and not opened until he has knocked on the door three times with his staff of office: the Black Rod.

The Yeoman Usher is deputising for Black Rod on this occasion.

The Queen’s Speech

Although the speech is delivered by the Queen in the House of Lords Chamber, the content of the speech is entirely drawn up by the Government and approved by the Cabinet. The final words of the speech are always "other measures will be laid before you." This allows the Government to introduce other laws as required. No business can take place in the House of Lords or the House of Commons before the speech is read.

Back to business

After the Queen’s Speech, both Houses start to debate the proposed programme of new laws and policies. The Commons debate begins at 2.30pm. The debate in the Lords begins at 3.30pm to allow time for the Chamber to be cleared.

The official record of the debate is reported in  Lords Hansard.

The debates will take place over five days in both Houses, including the afternoon of the Speech, from 25 May to 2 June.

Find out what's on in both Houses on 25 May and beyond:

Further information

More news on: Parliament, government and politics, Parliament, House of Commons news, House of Lords news, Lords news, Parliamentary business, Central government

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