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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 16:32 GMT
Parliament closed by man in wig
Common Cryer Richard Martin announces dissolution
Dissolution was announced in the City of London
Parliament has been formally closed for business in preparation for the general election on 7 June.

In a traditional ceremony, the Corporation of London's Common Cryer announced the dissolution from the steps of the Royal Exchange in the City of London - bringing traffic to a standstill.

Following the prime minister's decision to call the election last week, MPs sat on Friday for the final time in this parliament.

The timing meant seven of the government's bills - including the controversial measure to ban fox hunting - were axed and will not become law.

Ritual

Dissolution was announced by a bewigged Richard Martin - the current holder of a post which dates back to 1291.

But the Cryer allowed himself a small compromise in recognition of changing times.

He made the announcement through a public address system.

The Queen signed the royal proclamation on Monday morning, after which the 'great seal' was applied at the palace of Westminster.

Returning officers will now have to wait until writs are sent out, formally giving them authority to hold the election.

MPs sworn in

The new parliament will meet on 13 June, when MPs will be forced to swear allegiance to the Queen in order to take their seats as representatives of the people.

The state opening of parliament will follow a week later on 20 June.

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