Opening of a Sitting
Before a sitting begins, a ceremonial procession known as the Speaker’s Parade makes its way from the Speaker’s chambers down the Hall of Honour to the House of Commons Chamber. The procession is led by the Sergeant-at-Arms or his or her deputy bearing the Mace, followed by the Speaker, a page carrying the daily prayer, the Clerk of the House and other Table Officers. As the Parade enters the Chamber, Members rise while the Speaker makes his or her way to the Speaker’s chair. The Sergeant-at-Arms pauses at the end of the Table until the Speaker has taken the Chair, then places the Mace on the Table, bows and takes a seat at the Bar of the House. Once satisfied that a quorum is present, the Speaker reads the prayer and opens the sitting.2
In the absence of the Speaker, the Presiding Officer for the sitting takes the Speaker’s place in the Parade.3 Once the Presiding Officer has entered the Chamber, the Clerk informs the House of the unavoidable absence of the Speaker and the Presiding Officer takes the Chair. Once a quorum is present, the Chair Occupant reads the prayer4 and opens the sitting.
At the end of a sitting, the Speaker or Presiding Officer adjourns the House and then exits the Chamber, this time through the doors behind the Speaker’s chair, preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms, or his or her deputy, bearing the Mace.