Daily business

The business of both Houses follows a similar daily pattern. An example of the main business in each House is set out below.


Sittings in both Houses begin with prayers. The practice of prayers is believed to have started in about 1558.

Question Time

Question Time is an opportunity for MPs and Members of the House of Lords to ask government ministers questions.

Urgent Questions

Urgent Questions

If something has happened which an MP believes requires an immediate answer from a Government Minister, they may apply to ask an urgent question

Ministerial statements

After Question Time (and any urgent questions that may have been allowed) a Minister may make an oral statement to the House.


The main business in both chambers often takes the form of a debate. This includes debates on legislation, general topics of interest or issues selected by the major parties.



Members of both Houses register their vote for or against issues by dividing into division lobbies. Therefore, a vote is called a 'division'.

What are Early day motions?

Early day motions (EDMs) are formal motions speculatively tabled for debate in the House of Commons.

Written questions and answers

In addition to oral questions, MPs and Peers can ask government ministers questions for written answer. Government ministers can make written statements to Parliament as well as oral ones.

Written ministerial statements

Written ministerial statements

Ministers can make written, as well as oral, statements to Parliament. They are normally used to put the day-to-day business of government on the official record and in the public domain.


Browse the archive of judgments by the House of Lords - the UK's highest Court of Appeal until 30 July 2009.

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Parliamentary Glossary

Use our glossary to find out what parliamentary terms mean

Related Information


A vast amount of business takes place away from the chambers in committee, further information can be found using the following links:

House of Commons Chamber - A Day in the Chamber

This chapter of our film looks at what happens in the House of Commons Chamber, hearing from those who work there every day