Frequently Asked Questions: Business

Useful information and reading related to House of Commons business.

What are the sitting (meeting) hours of the House of Commons?

2.30-10.30pm on Mondays, 11.30am-7.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9.30am-5.30pm on Thursdays; and 9.30am-3pm on sitting Fridays.

What are the sitting (meeting) hours for Westminster Hall debates?

4.30pm-7.30pm on Westminster Hall sitting Mondays, 9.30-11.30am and 2.30-5.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 1.30pm-4.30pm on Thursdays.

The House of Commons agreed on 24 February 2015 to extend the final debate on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Westminster Hall from half an hour to an hour, and that sittings in Westminster Hall will take place on Mondays if the Petitions Committee has agreed that one or more petitions or e-petitions should be considered on that day.

When will the House of Commons sit on a Friday during the 2015-16 session?

The House is expected to sit on the following Fridays to consider Private Members' Bills:

  • 11 September 2015
  • 16 October 2015
  • 23 October 2015
  • 30 October 2015
  • 6 November 2015
  • 20 November 2015
  • 4 December 2015
  • 22 January 2016
  • 29 January 2016
  • 5 February 2016
  • 26 February 2016
  • 4 March 2016
  • 11 March 2016

When did the House of Commons sit on a Friday during the 2014-15 session?

Private Members' business had precedence over government business on the following Fridays:

  • 5 September 2014
  • 12 September 2014
  • 17 October 2014
  • 24 October 2014
  • 7 November 2014
  • 21 November 2014
  • 28 November 2014
  • 5 December 2014
  • 9 January 2015
  • 16 January 2015
  • 23 January 2015
  • 27 February 2015
  • 6 March 2015

Government business had precedence over Private Members' business on the following Friday:

  • 20 March 2015

When was the State Opening of Parliament for the 2015-16 session?

Wednesday 27 May 2015

When was the State Opening of Parliament for the 2014-15 session?

Wednesday 4 June 2014

When is the next recess?

Find current recess dates for the House of Commons 

How many days did the House of Commons sit (meet) during the 2014-15 Session?

133 days in the 2014-15 session

How long did the House of Commons sit in total during the 2014-15 Session?

989 hours and 14 minutes in the 2014-15 session

How long did the House of Commons sit each day on average during the 2014-15 Session?

7 hours and 26 minutes in the 2014-15 session

How many Early Day Motions (EDMs) were there during the last session?

919 in the 2014-15 session

What is the average cost of an Early Day Motion (EDM)?

£290 (estimated figure for 2005-06).

Which EDM holds the record for the largest number of signatures?

Malcolm Savidge's EDM on the need to avoid conflict between India and Pakistan gained 502 signatures (2001-02).

How many divisions (votes) were there during the last session?

188 in the 2014-15 session.

How much time do MPs have to vote when a division is called?

Eight minutes

What is the cost of answering a parliamentary question?

Oral question costs £450 on average Written question costs £164 on average

When was the House of Commons first broadcast live?

First live radio broadcast on 3 April 1978 First live television broadcast on 21 November 1989.

How often has the House of Commons sat for over 24 hours continuously?

21 times since 1877

Can the House of Commons sit (meet) on a Saturday?

Although it is possible, weekend sittings are very rare. The House has only sat on four Saturdays since 1939.

2 September 1939 - Outbreak of World War II

30 July 1949 - Summer adjournment debates – last sitting of the summer

3 November 1956 - Suez Crises

3 April 1982 - Falkland Islands invasion

How many Government Bills were successful in the last session?

26 in the 2014-15 session

How many Private Members' Bills were successful in the last session?

8 in the 2014-15 session

When was the ballot for Private Members' Bills?

The ballot for the 2015-16 session was held on Thursday 4 June 2015. 

The formal presentation of ballot Bills for the 2015-16 session took place in the House of Commons on Wednesday 24 June 2015.

Can MPs successful in the ballot claim any extra allowances?

Yes. The ten MPs placed highest in the ballot may claim up to £200 expenses in drafting their Bills.

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