1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Address, The

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“ADDRESS, THE,” an English parliamentary term for the reply of the Houses of Parliament (and particularly of the House of Commons) to the speech of the sovereign at the opening of a new parliament or session. There are certain formalities which distinguish this stage of parliamentary proceedings. “The king’s speech” itself is divided into three sections: the first, addressed to “My Lords and Gentlemen,” touches on foreign affairs; the second, to the “Gentlemen of the House of Commons,” has reference to the estimates; the third, to “My Lords and Gentlemen,” outlines the proposed legislation for the session. Should the sovereign in person open parliament, he does so in the House of Lords in full state, and the speaker and members of the House of Commons are summoned there into the royal presence. The sovereign then reads his speech. If the sovereign is not present in person, the speech is read by commission. The Commons then return to their House, and an address in answer is moved in both Houses. The government of the day selects two of its supporters in each House to move and second the address, and when carrying out this honourable task they appear in levee dress. Previous to the session of 1890–1891, the royal speech was answered paragraph by paragraph, but “the address” is now moved in the form of a single resolution, thanking the sovereign for his most gracious speech. The debate on the address is used as a means of ranging over the whole government policy, amendments being introduced by the opposition. A defeat on an amendment to the address is generally regarded by the government as a vote of no-confidence. After the address is agreed to it is ordered to be presented to the sovereign. The thanks of the sovereign for the address are then conveyed to the Lords by the lord steward of the household and to the Commons by the comptroller of the household.