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'.
Adjournment debates in the Commons
End of day adjournment debates
There is a half-hour adjournment debate at the end of each day’s sitting. They are an opportunity for an individual backbench MP to raise an issue and receive a response from the relevant Minister.
The subject matter of adjournment debates is varied, examples include debates on health services, transport issues and energy supply.
MPs apply for an adjournment debate to the Speakers Office on a Wednesday for the following Tuesday to Monday. The Speaker chooses the Thursday debate, for other days debates are allocated by ballot.
At the end of the day’s main business the Speaker calls a government whip to move the motion 'That this House do now adjourn'. The MP who has been allocated the debate is then called to speak and the Minister is given time to reply. The MP who initiated the debate does not have the opportunity to speak again after the Minister has concluded. Other MPs may attend and make interventions if they are accepted.
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]', known as ‘general debates’.
Westminster Hall debates
Westminster Hall debates took place on motions for the adjournment until the end of the 2010 Parliament. Westminster Hall debates now take place on a motion 'That the House has considered [a specific matter]'.
Find out more about Westminster Hall debates.
Questions for short debate in the Lords
Questions for Short Debate in the House of Lords have a similar purpose to adjournment debates in the Commons.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.