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Westminster Hall debates

Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister.

Any MP can take part in a Westminster Hall debate.


What happens in Westminster Hall debates?

Debates in Westminster Hall take place on ‘general debate' motions expressed in neutral terms. These motions are worded ‘That this House has considered [a specific matter]'.

Amendments to such motions cannot be tabled. Divisions (votes) cannot take place in Westminster Hall. If the question is challenged the Chair reports to the House. This could lead to a vote in the main Chamber.

A sitting can include oral questions, although this has not taken place since 2004.

The principal Deputy Speaker, the Chairman of Ways and Means, has overall responsibility for the business at all sittings in Westminster Hall.

The quorum for a Westminster Hall sitting is three, including the Chair.

The scheduling of debates reflects the rota of availability of departmental ministers.

When do Westminster Hall debates take place?

Debates take place in Westminster Hall on Mondays if agreed by the Petitions Committee, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

If sittings are suspended for divisions in the House additional time is added.

Monday Westminster Hall debates

The Petitions Committee can determine whether a sitting should take place on a Monday in Westminster Hall to consider one or more petitions or e-petitions.

Monday sittings begin at 4.30pm and can continue for up to three hours.

The House agreed on 24 February 2015 to establish a Petitions Committee.

Tuesday and Wednesday Westminster Hall debates

Debates are held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays 9.30am-11am, 11am-11.30am, 2.30pm-4pm, 4pm-4.30pm, and 4.30pm-5.30pm.

MPs apply for a debate which are then allocated by a ballot arranged by the Speaker's Office. The ballot takes place on sitting Tuesdays. The Backbench Business Committee has the option to allocate the 1.5 hour debate on a Tuesday morning.

Thursday Westminster Hall debates

Debates are held on Thursdays from 1.30pm for up to three hours.

Debates are either requested by MPs and determined by the Backbench Business Committee, or are on select committee reports chosen by the Liaison Committee.  The Liaison Committee is expected to get about half of the total time available across Thursday sittings.

How can I find out what's on in Westminster Hall?

Find out what debates are being held in Westminster Hall on the Parliamentary Calendar.

How can I watch Westminster Hall debates and read the transcripts?

Westminster Hall debates are available to watch on Parliament TV. Transcripts of proceedings are available in Commons Hansard, the official report of the House of Commons.

How can I attend a Westminster Hall debate?

Westminster Hall debates are held in the Grand Committee Room, just off Westminster Hall.

Find out more about attending Westminster Hall debates.

Related information

Standing order No. 10 covers procedure relating to Westminster Hall sittings

Image: Parliamentary Copyright