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On the first meeting of Parliament after state opening, two members of the House of Lords move that a humble address be presented to the sovereign as an expression of thanks for the “most gracious Speech” that had been addressed to both Houses of Parliament. The debate on the humble address is often referred to as the debate on the Queen/King’s Speech.

The two members chosen to move a humble address are selected by the Leader of the House of Lords, and each delivers a speech which by custom is uncontroversial. Convention has it that the first speech is delivered by a long-standing member (known as the ‘mover’) and it is seconded by a newer member (known as the ‘seconder’), although this convention is not always followed. Both members are government backbenchers. When these speeches have concluded, the House debates the legislative programme that was presented in the sovereign’s speech. The debates are the first main item of business of each new parliamentary session and take place over a number of days.

The address to Parliament on 7 November 2023 was the first to be given by King Charles III following the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 and his subsequent coronation in May 2023. It was the first King’s Speech for 70 years.

The table below lists the movers and seconders of the humble address since 1979.

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