24 May 2024

King prorogues Parliament for first time in reign for General Election

24 May 2024

The King has prorogued Parliament for the first time during his reign for the General Election.

The formal ending of the current session paves the way for the monarch, who came to the throne in September 2022, to also make his debut in ordering a dissolution on May 30.

The royal proclamation discharges Parliament, at which point all seats in the House of Commons become vacant ahead of the July 4 poll.

In line with convention, the prorogation announcement was read out on behalf of the King at a traditional ceremony in the House of Lords, which saw leading members of the upper chamber don the traditional scarlet robes and doff their cocked hats.

Elected members, led by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, filed out of the Commons after their attendance in the upper chamber was requested by Black Rod Sarah Clarke, a senior Lords officer tasked with overseeing the proceedings.

The royal address, read out by the Lords Leader Lord True, set out legislation passed during the parliamentary session and other measures taken by the Government.

It follows the traditional “wash-up” period, which saw last-minute efforts to push laws through before the shutdown.

It included the Victims and Prisons Act which paves the way for the establishment of the independent Infected Blood Compensation Authority.

The body will compensate victims of the infected blood scandal who have lived with deadly viruses after receiving contaminated transfusions or products between the 1970s and early 1990s.

On Monday, the Infected Blood Inquiry published a 2,527-page report which found the scandal “could largely have been avoided” and that there was a “pervasive” cover-up to hide the truth.

Separately, the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Act will quash the convictions of hundreds of wronged subpostmasters, who fell victim to the IT scandal.

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act will ban foreign states from owning UK newspapers and magazines, prompted by concern over the gulf state-backed takeover of the Telegraph.

As each Act was read out, the clerk said in Norman French “Le Roy le veult” or “The King wills it”, to indicate royal approval.

But failing to make the final cut was Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s flagship Tobacco and Vapes Bill, designed to ban young people from ever being able to smoke tobacco legally.

The Renters Reform Bill, which was expected to pave the way for an end to section 21 no-fault evictions, was also axed.

The prorogation address to Parliament delivered on behalf of the King by Lord True also made reference to the Government’s Rwanda deportation plan which aims to send asylum seekers who cross the Channel in small boats on a one-way flight to Kigali.

The legislation and a treaty with the east African country are intended to prevent further legal challenges to the stalled scheme after the Supreme Court ruled the plan was unlawful.

As well as compelling judges to regard Rwanda as safe, it would give ministers the power to ignore emergency injunctions.

However, Mr Sunak has now admitted flights would not take off before the General Election, prompting Labour scorn.

The King, in his speech read out by Lord True, said: “My Government has taken measures to disrupt the business model of people smugglers and deter dangerous and illegal journeys to the United Kingdom.

“Legislation has been delivered to underpin the partnership with Rwanda to tackle small boat crossings.”

Following the election, the new Parliament is due to meet on July 9 for the election of the Commons Speaker and swearing in of newly-elected MPs.

The King’s Speech announcing the new Government’s legislative programme for the parliamentary session is scheduled to take place on will take place on July 17.

While it was not the first time the King has prorogued Parliament – he did so last October – it is the first time he has done so for an election.

It will also be the first time he has approved a dissolution.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox