On 22 May 2024, Rishi Sunak announced the general election would take place on 4 July. When the King then dissolved Parliament on 30 May 2024, he put in train the process to elect new MPs and he summoned them to meet at Westminster on 9 July 2024.

Following the election on 4 July 2024 new MPs will make their way to Westminster. Arrangements are in place to welcome new MPs and provide them with essential equipment and guidance. They will receive briefings on their roles and responsibilities from their parties and from House of Commons staff. All this will take place before MPs assemble in the Commons Chamber on 9 July.

Timings are as expected on 24 June 2024.

Election of the Speaker

When the House of Commons meets for the first time on 9 July, MPs will be summoned to the House of Lords. There Royal Commissioners appointed by the King will direct MPs to elect their Speaker.

They return to the House of Commons and, with the longest continuously serving MP (the so-called Mother or Father of the House) in the  chair, choose the Speaker. If the former Speaker has been re-elected in the general election and wants to be chosen as Speaker again, an MP moves that the former Speaker “do take the Chair as Speaker of the House”. The question is put. If it is agreed, they are the Speaker-elect (see Standing Order No 1A).

Sometime later (either on the same day or the following day), MPs are again summoned to the House of Lords where the Speaker-elect receives His Majesty’s Royal Approbation via the Royal Commissioners and formally becomes Speaker.

If the former Speaker is not re-elected, a secret ballot will be held the following day (10 July) to elect a new Speaker (see Standing Order No 1B).

Swearing-in of MPs

Once MPs return to the Commons, after the Speaker has received the Royal Approbation, the Speaker takes the oath or affirms.

The wording of the oath comes from the Promissory Oaths Act 1868. The form and manner of giving the oath are set out in the Oaths Act 1978.

MPs take the oath by holding the sacred text in their uplifted hand and saying the words of the oath:

I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, his heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

The 1978 act also permits the oath to be taken in the Scottish manner, with uplifted hand but not holding the sacred text.

Members may make a solemn affirmation instead of taking the oath, using the words:

I do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, his heirs and successors, according to law.

After the Speaker, the longest continuously serving MP, government ministers, shadow spokespeople and senior MPs swear-in.

Swearing-in will continue over the following days. Timings of these later sessions will be announced by the Speaker, who has to be in the chair while MPs take the oath or affirm.

MPs cannot take their seat, speak in debates, vote or receive a salary until they have taken the oath or made the affirmation. Under the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866, they could also be fined £500 and have their seat declared vacant “as if they were dead” if they attempted to do so.

The King’s Speech

The formal opening of Parliament – the King’s Speech – will take place on Wednesday 17 July.

The King delivers the speech from the throne in the House of Lords.

After the King’s Speech, the House of Commons returns at 2.30pm to debate it. This debate usually lasts five or six days, with all but the first day focusing on particular subjects raised in the speech. On the penultimate day of debate, an Official Opposition amendment is usually debated and voted upon; and on the final day of debate, another Official Opposition amendment is debated and voted upon, and up to two other amendments can be voted on.

The first business statement

Each week, on a Thursday, the Leader of the House of Commons announces the subjects of the main debates in the House in the coming week and usually gives an indication of the ‘provisional business’ for the following week.

The Leader of the House will make the first business statement of the new parliament on Thursday 18 July, the day after the King’s Speech.

After the statement, MPs can ask questions about the business that has been announced or to raise questions about topics they would like to be debated.

Introduction of bills

The government can start introducing bills on the day after the King’s Speech. It would need to give notice of its intention to introduce a bill on the previous sitting day: the bill’s short title will then appear on the Order Paper.

Backbenchers’ first opportunity to introduce a private member’s bill (PMB) comes through the ballot for PMBs. The ballot takes place on the second Thursday of the parliamentary session, which is likely to be 25 July in the coming session. Bills are then introduced by MPs who were successful in the ballot, on the fifth Wednesday of the session.

From the following day, backbenchers can give notice of their intention to introduce PMBs, either using the ten-minute rule procedure or by presenting a bill.

Election of deputy speakers

At the beginning of a new parliament, the Speaker announces the arrangements for the election of three deputy speakers.

Nominations can be made on the day before the election of the deputy speakers.

The three deputy speakers elected are:

  • Chairman of Ways and Means (an MP from the opposite side of the House from which the Speaker originally came)
  • First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (an MP from the same side of the House from which the Speaker originally came)
  • Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (an MP from the opposite side of the House from which the Speaker originally came)

The three deputies are elected using a single transferable vote system, constrained to ensure the correct numbers come from the correct side and to ensure that at least one man and at least one woman is elected across the four posts of Speaker and deputy speakers.

Before the deputy speakers are elected, the House is asked to approve the appointment of some temporary deputy speakers. This is likely to happen on the day of King’s Speech.

Oral questions

Usually, Mondays to Thursdays in the House of Commons start with oral questions to government ministers, with Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesdays.

Oral questions have to be tabled (delivered to and checked by the Table Office) by 12.30pm three (in some cases five) sitting days before Question Time.

Because of these notice periods for tabling, the first oral question session will take place on Tuesday 23 July; and the first session of Prime Minister’s Questions will be on Wednesday 24 July (assuming the same slot is used for Prime Minister’s Questions).

Select committees: Electing chairs and members

Most select committee chairs are elected by the whole House.

The Speaker notifies parties how many chairs they are entitled to (based on the proportion of MPs each party has).

Those parties then decide which committees one of their MPs will chair. The House is asked to approve the allocation of chairs. This can be done within a week of the King’s Speech.

Standing Order No 122B states that any ballots to elect select committee chairs should take place 14 calendar days after the allocation of party chairs has been agreed. But the Speaker has the power to vary timings.

Once select committee chairs have been elected, each political party can then elect MPs from their party to serve on select committees. Those elected by individual parties are confirmed by the decisions on the floor of the House of Commons, before committees can meet.

For those committees whose chair is not elected by the whole House, the members nominated to the committee choose their chair from among their number.

About the author: Richard Kelly is a researcher at the House of Commons Library, specialising in parliamentary procedure.

Photo by House of Commons

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