What do we know about the working of the modern British parliament?

 In Britain, a new parliamentary session commences with an annual event called the State Opening, presided by the Queen. The Queen, in her stately attire, formally opens the new session of parliament giving a speech from the throne in the House of Lords. The speech outlines the government’s proposed plans for the coming year. The Black Rod-an official from the House of Lords- summons the members of the House of Commons to hear the speech. The doors of the Commons are shut when the Black Rod approaches them on this occasion, and he has to knock three times with his ebony staff of office before they are opened. This custom marks the protest against Charles I’s interruption of the Commons in 1642, and his attempt to arrest leaders of the opposition. The Commons then proceed to the House of Lords led by their Speaker which is called the Speaker’s procession. They stand behind the Bar of the House of the Lords to hear the Queen’s speech. Later the speech is debated in the House of Commons and House of Lords where members voice their opinions.

All members of parliament receive the daily order papers in which are listed the parliamentary activities. The Commons can put questions to government ministers at the beginning of each day’s business. The parliamentary managers or the party whips issue a circular of future activities, which is also known as a whip. The items listed in a whip may be underlined once, twice, or thrice, according to its importance. A three line whip is of utmost importance which no MP can ignore.