Page last updated at 18:09 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Each parliamentary year is known as a session.

The first session of every new Parliament begins with the election of a Speaker and the swearing in of new members.

At the start of every subsequent session, the first item of business is the royal address.

The length of a session is determined by the government but is controlled to some extent by convention and by the need to get legislation through Parliament on a yearly basis.

On average, there are four sessions to a parliament.

Most begin in October or November and last until the following October, although the House will take several breaks or recesses during the year.

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