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Parliament opening set for May 27

The State Opening of the new Parliament after the general election will be on Wednesday May 27, Downing Street has announced.

Parliament will meet on Monday May 18, when the business will be the election of the Speaker and the swearing-in of members.

MPs and peers concluded the current Parliament's business today, culminating in the prorogation of Parliament until dissolution on Monday.

The timing effectively gives parties just short of three weeks to negotiate the formation of a new government if, as polls suggest, the election results in another hung parliament - where no one party commands an overall majority.

In 2010 the process took five days but it is anticipated that a more lengthy negotiation could be in store this time because of the anticipated closeness of the result.

The announcement will disappoint the cross-party Political and Constitutional Reform Committee which had called for Parliament to meet a week earlier to ensure it could have a role in any post-election deal.

"Parliament should be able to discuss the issues and compromises around the creation of a government and not be 'parked' while party leaders decide amongst themselves," its Labour chairman Graham Allen said.

The committee said David Cameron should remain in Number 10 even if the Tories lost until a new government had been formed, with incumbent ministers continuing to perform their roles in a "caretaker" administration - even if they have lost their seats.

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