Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords



A Royal Commission consists of three or more (usually five) Commissioners, including the Lord Chancellor and Lord Speaker, who are Privy Counsellors appointed by Letters Patent to perform certain functions on the Queen's behalf. These functions include:

  • proceedings at the opening of a new Parliament in connection with the election of a Speaker by the Commons (see appendix F, page 217);
  • proceedings at the opening of Parliament[515] when the Queen is not present (see appendix G, page 220);
  • proceedings in relation to the giving of Royal Assent to bills (see appendix H, page 223);
  • proceedings at the prorogation of Parliament (see appendix J, page 224).

Proceedings on Royal Commissions differ in their details but share common characteristics, which are described in this appendix. Appendices F-J describe the differences.

Entry of Commissioners

The Lords Commissioners enter the Chamber by the door on the Spiritual side near the Throne, all in their Parliament robes and all except the Lord Chancellor wearing their cocked hats. They take their seats on a form placed between the Throne and the Woolsack. The Lord Chancellor puts on his tricorn hat. The Lord Chancellor sits in the centre; the senior in precedence of the other Lords Commissioners sits on his right and the next senior on his left, the remaining two in order of seniority on the right and left of these respectively.

Summoning the Commons

The Lord Chancellor commands the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod:

    "Let the Commons know that the Lords Commissioners desire their immediate attendance in this House [to hear the Commission read[516]]."

Black Rod summons the Commons.

The Commons proceed from their Chamber and advance to the Bar of the House of Lords, bowing three times, the first time at the step, the second time midway between the step and the Bar, the third time at the Bar. Each bow is acknowledged by the Lords Commissioners. Male Commissioners raise their hats; women Commissioners do not.

Reading the Commission

The Commission is read by the Reading Clerk at the Table. He bows to each Lord Commissioner as he is named, and the Commissioner responds by raising his hat. Women Commissioners keep their hats on.

Departure of the Commons

The Commons withdraw, with three bows which are acknowledged as on their arrival.

Departure of Commissioners

The Lord Chancellor leaves the Chamber by the door on the spiritual side near the Throne. Then the Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms takes up the Mace from the Woolsack and the Lord Speaker leaves the House by the Bar. The remaining Commissioners leave the Chamber by the door on the spiritual side near the Throne, and disrobe.

515   Either a new Parliament or a new session. Back

516   These words are added on the first day of a new Parliament, or if Parliament is to be prorogued. Back

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