Parliament – duration

State opening of Parliament: After a general election the state opening marks the commencement of a session of the Parliament.  The monarch reads a speech, known as the King’s Speech, prepared by the government, which outlines the agenda for the coming session.

Sessions: A parliamentary session typically lasts for a year, although it can be longer or shorter depending on when the government seeks to have it ‘prorogued’ by Royal Decree.

Prorogation: A session ends with the prorogation of parliament, a short formal speech on behalf of the Crown which terminates all unfinished business.  This is why a number of bills often receive Royal Assent shortly before a prorogation.

Dissolution: a Parliament dissolves no later than the fifth anniversary of the day on which it first met.[1]  Prior to 2011, the Prime Minister could advise the Monarch to dissolve Parliament at any earlier time, a power that was then ended by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. However, new legislation in 2022 repealed this act and reverted to the status quo ante by reviving the royal prerogative to dissolve a Parliament.[2]

[1] Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, s4.

[2] Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, ss 1 & 2.