The debate on the Loyal Address, which follows the Queen's Speech, is the first major debate of any Parliamentary session and lasts for five or six days.
It provides MPs with an early opportunity to discuss the government's proposed programme for the year.
Debate begins after the Loyal Address has been moved by two backbench government MPs. These speeches are usually non-party political and humorous, and give the two members the chance to air constituency matters.
The leader of the opposition then comments on the contents of the legislative programme, followed by the prime minister, who defends the government's policies. After this, backbenchers may speak.
On the first day, debate can cover any aspect of government policy.
Each following day, a different topic is chosen for debate. The secretary of state responsible speaks first to defend the government, then opposition frontbenchers and backbenchers make their contributions.
Traditionally, economic affairs are left until the last day, and the opening speech for the government on this day of the debate is made by the chancellor of the exchequer.