Frequently Asked Questions: Business
Useful information about sittings, motions, bills and divisions in the UK House of Commons.
What are the sitting (meeting) hours of the House of Commons?
Tuesdays and Wednesdays 11.30am-7.30pm
Sitting Fridays 9.30am-3pm
What are the sitting (meeting) hours for Westminster Hall debates?
NB: Sittings in Westminster Hall were suspended in early March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sittings are expected to resume on Monday 5 October 2020.
Usual sitting times in Westminster Hall are as follows
Tuesdays and Wednesdays 9.30-11.30am and 2.30-5.30pm
Sittings in Westminster Hall take place on Mondays only 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 in the 2019-21 session?
The House will sit on the following thirteen Fridays to consider Private Members' Bills:
- 13 March 2020
- 11 September 2020
- 25 September 2020
- 16 October 2020
- 23 October 2020
- 06 November 2020
- 13 November 2020
- 27 November 2020
- 15 January 2021
- 29 January 2021
- 5 February 2021
- 5 March 2021
- 12 March 2021
When did the House of Commons sit on a Friday during the 2017-19 session?
The House sat on the following Fridays to consider Private Members' Bills:
- 20 October 2017
- 3 November 2017
- 1 December 2017
- 19 January 2018
- 2 February 2018
- 23 February 2018
- 16 March 2018
- 27 April 2018
- 11 May 2018
- 15 June 2018
- 6 July 2018
- 26 October 2018
- 23 November 2018
Additional dates agreed to on 30 Jan 2019:
- 8 February 2019
- 15 March 2019
- 22 March 2019
Additional date agreed to on 28 March 2019:
- 29 March 2019
When is the next recess?
Find current recess dates for the House of Commons at:
How many days did the House of Commons sit (meet) during the short 2019 Session?
15 days in the 2019 session.
How many days did the House of Commons sit (meet) during the long 2017-19 Session?
346 days in the 2017-19 session.
How long did the House of Commons sit in total during the short 2019 Session?
116 hours and 58 minutes in the 2019 session.
How long did the House of Commons sit in total during the long 2017-19 Session?
2,607 hours and 35 minutes in the 2017-19 session.
How long did the House of Commons sit each day on average during the 2019 and 2017-19 Sessions?
8 hours and 26 minutes per day in the 2019 session; 8 hours and 13 minutes per day in the 2017-19 Session, on average.
How many Early Day Motions (EDMs) were there during the last session?
102 in the short 2019 session. In the long 2017-19 there were 2,778 EDMs.
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?
17 in the short 2019 session. In the long 2017-19 session there were 446 divisions in the Commons.
How much time do MPs have to vote when a division is called?
NB: Temporary voting arrangements are currently in place - please see the following article for details: New Commons procedures under coronavirus restrictions
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 last time the House sat at a weekend on both the Saturday and the Sunday was on the outbreak of war in 1939. Saturday sittings since 1939 have taken place on:
30 July 1949 - Summer adjournment debates – last sitting of the summer
3 November 1956 - Suez Crises
3 April 1982 - Falkland Islands invasion
19 October 2019 - EU Withdrawal Agreement
How many Government Bills were successful in the last session?
3 were successful in the 2019 session. In the 2017-19 session, 51 were successful.
How many Private Members' Bills were successful in the last session?
None were successful in the 2019 session; in the 2017-19 session, 14 were successful.
- Glossary: Private Members Bills
- About Parliament: Private Members' Bills
- Publications and records: Sessional Returns
When was the last ballot for Private Members' Bills?
The ballot for the 2019-21 session of parliament took place on Thursday 9 January 2020.
The formal presentation of ballot Bills for the 2019-21 session took place on Wednesday 5 February 2020.
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.