When a parliamentary session comes to an end, Parliament is said to "prorogue" until the next session begins.
Watch prorogation 2008, broadcast on 26 November with live commentary
Following the prorogation ceremony all outstanding business falls, including early day motions and questions which have not been answered.
Any uncompleted bills have to be re-introduced afresh in the next session.
The power to prorogue Parliament lies with the Queen, who does so on the advice of the Privy Council.
In an echo of the state opening of Parliament, the Speaker and members of the Commons attend the upper chamber where they listen to a speech by the leader of the House of Lords reviewing the session's work.
By ancient tradition, legislation which has passed all parliamentary stages is given royal assent in Norman French using the words "La Reyne le veult", which roughly translates as "the Queen wills it".
The Speaker then returns to the Commons, repeats the list of the bills passed and the message that Parliament is prorogued - at which point, MPs file past the Speaker and shake his hand.
Following this, the House is officially prorogued and the Commons will not meet again until the next state opening of Parliament.
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