Prime Minister's Questions
The Prime Minister answers questions for about two hours a month. This regular and frequent questioning of the Prime Minister is relatively recent, having been introduced in 1961 when Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister.
Between 1961 and 1997, Prime Minister's Question Time (‘PMQ’s) took place twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 3.15pm to 3.30pm. From 1997 to the start of 2003 it was on Wednesdays at 3.00pm until 3.30pm. Presently the Prime Minister answers questions between midday and 12.30pm each sitting Wednesday.
Her Majesty the Queen asked the Leader of the Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher, to form a government on 4 May 1979. Margaret Thatcher became the first women Prime Minister of the United Kindgom and the longest serving of the 20th century.
The new Prime Minister first answered questions in the House of Commons on Thursday 22 May 1979. For the next 11 years, Margaret Thatcher answered questions on a Tuesday and Thursday when the House of Commons was sitting.
Her last appearance at Prime Minister's Questions was on Tuesday 27 November 1990. Margaret Thatcher had faced James Callaghan, Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock as Leaders of the Her Majesty's Official Opposition.
On Wednesday 28 November, Margaret Thatcher tendered her resignation to Her Majesty the Queen.
Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher
Full name: Margaret Hilda Thatcher
Born: 13 October 1925
Peerage: Baroness Thatcher (June 1992)
First elected to the Commons: October 1959 Total service: 32.5 years in 1 period.
Member for Finchley (October 1959-April 1992)
Also contested: Dartford (February 1950); Dartford (October 1951)
Maiden Speech: 5 February 1960 (616 c1350-8)
Privy Counsellor (1970), Fellow of the Royal Society (1983), Order of Merit (1990), Lady Companion of the Order of the Garter (1995)
Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Pensions
and Insurance (1961-1964); Secretary of State, Department of
Education and Science (1970-1974); Prime Minister, First Lord of
the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service (1979-1990)
Shadow Secretary of State, Fuel & Power
(1967-1968); Shadow Secretary of State, Transport (1968-1969);
Shadow Secretary of State, Education (1969-1970); Shadow
Secretary of State, Environment (1974-1975); Leader of Her
Majesty's Official Opposition (1975-1979)
Other posts: Leader of the Conservative Party (1975-1990)
House of Commons Library analysis
The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing note on the history of Prime Minister's Questions.
Image: Parliamentary copyright