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What is the difference between a Parliament and a session?

A Parliament can last a maximum of five years and runs from one general election to the next.

A session of Parliament usually runs from the State Opening of Parliament in May  through to the following May.

The next State Opening of Parliament is yet to be scheduled.

Dates on which Parliamentary sessions began:

  • 2010-12: 25 May 2010
  • 2012-13: 9 May 2012
  • 2013-14: 8 May 2013
  • 2014-15: 4 June 2014
  • 2015-16: 27 May 2015
  • 2016-17: 18 May 2016
  • 2017-19: 21 June 2017
  • 2019-19: 14 October 2019
  • 2019-21: 19 December 2019
  • 2021-22: 11 May 2021
  • 2022-23: 10 May 2022

What is a recess?

Recess: a break within a session. For example Christmas, Easter, Whitsun, Summer.

What is prorogation?

Prorogation: the gap between the end of one session and the State Opening which begins the next session.

What is dissolution?

Dissolution: the end of one Parliament before an election and the beginning of the next Parliament.

When are the House of Lords recesses?

The House of Lords normally has a recess of two or three weeks at Christmas/New Year, about a week at Easter, and a week at Whitsun. The summer recess normally runs from August to early October.

State Opening

For more information on The State Opening of Parliament, please see our State Opening FAQs.

Can members of the public attend debates at the House of Lords?

Yes. Members of the public are admitted to the Public Gallery of the House of Lords Chamber.

Can I view live coverage of the House of Lords online and on television?

Yes. Continuous live coverage of the proceedings is available online.


Image: Roger Harris / House of Lords February 2020

Lords Enquiry Service and FAQs

House of Lords FAQs

The Lords Enquiry Service provides information on the role, work and membership of the House of Lords.

  • Telephone: 0800 223 0855 (Freephone) or 020 7219 3107
  • Email:
  • Text Relay: 18001 7219 3107

The telephone enquiry service is open from 10am - 5pm Monday to Thursday, and 10am - 4pm on Fridays. During recess, the hours are 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 4pm Monday to Friday.

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