House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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9. Sittings of the House

Opening of a Sitting

Before a sitting commences, a ceremonial procession known as the Speaker’s parade makes its way from the Speaker’s chambers via the Hall of Honour to the House of Commons Chamber. The procession is led by the Sergeant-at-Arms bearing the Mace, [2]  followed by the Speaker, a page carrying documents for the Speaker’s use during the sitting, the Clerk of the House and other Table Officers. As the parade enters the Chamber, Members rise while the Speaker proceeds to the 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 his or her seat at the Bar of the House. Once satisfied that a quorum is present, the Speaker reads the prayer and opens the sitting.

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 will inform the House of the unavoidable absence of the Speaker and the Presiding Officer will then take the Chair as Speaker. When a quorum is present, the Presiding Officer will then read the prayer [4] and open the sitting.

At the end of a sitting, the Speaker adjourns the House and then exits the Chamber, this time, through the doors at the rear of the Chair, preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms bearing the Mace.

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