Prorogation (pronounced 'pro-ro-ga-tion') marks the end of a parliamentary session. It is the formal name given to the period between the end of a session of Parliament and the State Opening of Parliament that begins the next session. The parliamentary session may also be prorogued before Parliament is dissolved.
How is prorogation marked?
The Queen formally prorogues Parliament on the advice of the Privy Council.
Prorogation usually takes the form of an announcement, on behalf of the Queen, read in the House of Lords. As with the State Opening, it is made to both Houses and the Speaker of the House of Commons and MPs attend the Lords chamber to listen to the speech.
The same announcement is then read out by the Speaker in the Commons. Following this both the House of Commons and House of Lords are officially prorogued and will not meet again until the State Opening of Parliament.
The prorogation announcement sets out the major bills which have been passed during that session and also describes other measures which have been taken by the government.
What happens to bills still in progress at prorogation?
Prorogation brings to an end nearly all parliamentary business.
However, Public Bills may be carried over from one session to the next, subject to agreement. The first Bill to be treated in this way was the Financial Services and Markets Bill in session 1998-99.
What happens to questions for government departments at prorogation?
Motions (including early day motions) lapse when the House becomes prorogued, questions which have not been answered fall, nothing more will happen with them. If they have not been answered then they will stay unanswered. No motions or questions can be tabled during a prorogation. On the occasions when departments are unable to answer questions substantively before prorogation, ministers provide a standard answer worded as follows: ‘It has not proved possible to respond to the [Right] hon Member in the time available before Prorogation.
Image: House of Lords / Roger Harris