The debates were two of five scheduled Westminster Hall debates that gave MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister.
Schedule of Westminster Hall debates 22 January 2013
9.30-11am – Hospital Services (South London)
Heidi Alexander, Labour MP for Lewisham East, moved a debate on the future of A&E and maternity services in South London. Anna Soubry, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, responded on behalf of the Government.
11-11.30am – Personal Independence Payments
Julie Hilling, Labour MP for Bolton West, moved a debate on personal independence payments and blind and visually impaired people. Esther McVey, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, responded on behalf of the Government.
2.30-4pm – Taxation (Living Wage)
Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow, moved a debate on taxation for low earners and the living wage.
4-4.30pm – Dementia services (Gloucestershire)
Richard Graham, Conservative MP for Gloucester, moved a debate on dementia services in Gloucestershire. Norman Lamb, Minister of State, Department of Health, responded on behalf of the Government.
4.30-5pm – Under-occupancy Penalty (Wales)
Jessica Morden, Labour MP for Newport East, moved a deate on the effect of the under-occupancy penalty on tenants in Wales. Steve Webb, Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, responded on behalf of the Government.
Westminster Hall debates
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays there are two one and a half hour debates and three half hour debates. The longer debates are intended for broader subjects where a number of MPs will want to speak. The shorter debates may focus on an issue that an MP may want to raise about their constituency.
Two ballots are held on the Wednesday of the previous week for each type of debate; MPs may enter into both ballots but can only be successful in one.
Each government department responds to the debates every other week according to a rota.
The Chair is taken by a member of the Panel of Chairs, with the same duties and powers conferred on Deputy Speakers.