The King’s Speech, State Opening of Parliament and next General Election

This post was contributed by Dr Eloise Ellis, Senior Lecturer in Law.

Procession during the State Opening of Parliament in the UK

I’m sure it won’t have escaped your notice that earlier this week (on Tuesday 7th November) we had the first King’s Speech for over 70 years and the first given by Charles III as Monarch. King Charles did give the speech at the last State Opening of Parliament (on 10th May 2022) but that was acting as a Counsellor of State (along with Prince William) and standing in for the Monarch who was then Queen Elizabeth II.

The King’s Speech outlines the Government’s legislative proposals and priorities for the coming parliamentary session and is a core part of the formal State Opening which marks the beginning of the parliamentary session. The speech is given from the throne in the House of Lords after which debates on held in both the House of Commons and House of Lords about the content of the speech. These debates last for several days and in the House of Commons the debate ends with a vote which it is very unusual for the Government to lose. The State Opening of Parliament is one of the rare occasions when the three entities which formally constitute Parliament are together in one place – namely the Sovereign, the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

21 Bills were announced in the speech, of which seven have been carried over from the previous session. The new Bills include several on Policing and Crime, a Holocaust Memorial Bill, an Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill and a very contemporary development in the form of an Automated Vehicles Bill.

This was likely to be the last King’s Speech before the next general election. Since the repeal of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 by the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, if an election has not been called before 17th December 2024, Parliament will be automatically dissolved, as that would be exactly five years since Parliament first met following the last general election in December 2019 (as per s.4 Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022). If that were to be the last day in the Parliament the next election would be 25 days later on 28th January 2025.

You can read the full text of the speech here and watch and learn more about the State Opening of Parliament.

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