An adjournment debate is a way in the Commons of enabling a debate to take place but without a question which the House must then decide.
An adjournment debate is held on the motion 'that the House (or sitting) do now adjourn'.
In the Commons Chamber
Motions for the adjournment
Motions for the adjournment have been used in the past by the Government, and for backbench debates before Christmas and Summer recesses for example, to allow wide ranging debates in the Chamber, but it is now more common for debates to take place on a motion 'That the House has considered [a specific matter]'.
End of day adjournment debates
There is a half-hour adjournment debate at the end of each day’s sitting. The subject matter of adjournment debates is varied; examples include debates on defence issues, pensions and combating benefit fraud.
Members apply for an adjournment debate to the Speakers Office by 7pm on a Wednesday for the following week. The Speaker chooses Thursday’s subject; for other days, MPs are selected by ballot.
At the end of the day’s business, which is normally 10pm on Mondays, 7pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5pm on Thursdays and 2.30pm on Fridays, the Speaker calls a government whip to move 'That this House do now adjourn'.
The MP who tabled the relevant adjournment debate is called to speak and a Minister will reply. The MP has no right of response, but can intervene in the Minister’s speech if he or she is willing to allow it (called ‘giving way’).
Westminster Hall debates
Westminster Hall debates took place on motions for the adjournment until the end of the 2010 Parliament. In the 2015 Parliament Westminster Hall debates will take place on a motion 'That the House has considered [a specific matter]'.
Find out more about Westminster Hall debates.
In the Lords Chamber
The House of Lords do not have adjournment debates as such but their Questions for Short Debate have a similar purpose.
These questions allow for a short debate that lasts for up to one-and-a-half hours (or one hour if taken in the dinner break).