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Start of a new Parliament

After a general election a new Parliament meets and a new parliamentary session begins.

Calling of a new Parliament

The date for the first meeting of a new Parliament is given in a royal proclamation when the previous Parliament is dissolved. The royal proclamation is published in both the London and Edinburgh Gazettes.

Sitting of the Houses

The House of Commons and the House of Lords sit for a few days before the State Opening of Parliament, the formal start of a parliamentary session. During this time the re-election, or election, of a Speaker of the House of Commons takes place. MPs and Lords take the oath or affirmation.

Role of the Father of the House in the Commons

The MP with the longest continuous service is the Father of the House of Commons. They act as the Chair and preside over the election of the Speaker.

Re-election/election of the Commons Speaker

The election of the Speaker will take place when the House returns. Members of the House of Commons are led to the House of Lords by the Father of the House. There they receive a message from the monarch asking them to elect a Speaker.

If the current Speaker is returned at the election and wishes to stand for re-election, that decision is made immediately.

A ballot will take place for a new Speaker if there is no returning Speaker wishing to stand or the House votes against the current Speaker.

Following the Speaker's election, the Speaker-Elect leads MPs to the House of Lords to hear another message from the monarch. This message confirms the Speaker's appointment.

For more information about the procedure for electing the Speaker of the House of Commons:

Election of Commons Deputy Speakers

Following a general election and election or re-election of the Commons Speaker, the election of Deputy Speakers will take place.

The Speaker notifies the House of Commons of the arrangements for the election. The election of Deputy Speakers is by secret ballot.

Find out more about the election of Deputy Speakers:

Swearing in and the Parliamentary oath

Members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords are required to take an oath of allegiance to the Crown before they take their seats in Parliament after a general election.

Any MP or Member of the House of Lords who objects to swearing an oath can make a solemn affirmation instead. This is known as swearing in.

State Opening and the King's Speech

State Opening takes place after a general election following the election of the Speaker of the Commons and the swearing-in of Members of both Houses.

The State Opening of Parliament marks the formal start of the parliamentary year. The King's Speech sets out the government's proposed policies and legislation for the coming session.

Debating the King's Speech

After the State Opening members of both Houses debate the content of the King's Speech. They agree an 'Address in Reply to His Majesty's Gracious Speech'. Each House continues to debate the planned legislative programme for several days, looking at different subject areas.

The House of Commons votes on the reply to the King's Speech, the House of Lords does not.

MPs maiden speeches

It used to be a custom that a new MP did not participate in proceedings in the Commons Chamber before making their maiden speech. After the 2010 General Election MPs were advised that this custom was a matter of choice.

Select committees in a new Parliament

Select committee chairs and members are chosen for the new Parliament.

Commons select committees: election of chairs

On the day after the election, the Speaker communicates the proportion of committees to be chaired by each political party, based upon the outcome.

A motion, allocating specific committees to specific parties, is tabled by the leaders of all the parties entitled to seats on committees within a week of the King's Speech. Once the motion is approved by the House, chairs should then be elected two weeks after this.

The majority of select committee chairs are elected by all their fellow MPs. This applies to departmental committees and the Environmental Audit, Procedure, Public Administration and Public Accounts committees as well as the Petitions Committee.

Commons select committee membership

The members of a select committee, other than a chair elected by the House, are nominated by a motion before the House. The names are put forward after having been democratically chosen within each political party. The party composition of the committees will reflect that of the new House of Commons.

House of Lords select committees