Hybrid proceedings: Urgent questions

View of the Commons Chamber with screens for MPs participating virtually

Urgent questions provide an opportunity for MPs to ask a government minister for a response on an issue that requires an immediate reply. These may still take place under the current temporary arrangements for hybrid proceedings.

To be judged as urgent, a question should relate to a very recent or imminent event or development on which a government minister may reasonably provide an answer that same day.

Urgent questions are part of hybrid scrutiny proceedings. The temporary arrangements state that the first two hours of each sitting are for scrutiny proceedings. Oral questions and ministerial statements are also part of scrutiny proceedings and the Speaker shall decide in which order they are taken.

Applying for an urgent question

Applications to ask an urgent question must be submitted to the Speaker's Office. Under the temporary arrangements for hybrid proceedings, applications for urgent questions must be submitted earlier than usual.

Late applications for an urgent question to take place on a Monday may be submitted, but only if they relate to specific and important events taking place after 5pm on a Thursday.

The Speaker will reach a decision whether or not to grant an urgent question one hour after the application deadline.

The deadlines relating to urgent questions are:

MP applies for urgent question Speaker reaches decision MP submits application to speak
For Mondays

5pm on Thursday;

or 10am on Sunday in exceptional circumstances

6pm on Thursday,

or 10am on Sunday in exceptional circumstances

12pm on Friday;

or 2pm on Sunday in exceptional circumstances

For Tuesdays 1pm on Monday 2pm on Monday 4pm on Monday
For Wednesday 1pm on Tuesday 2pm on Tuesday 4pm on Tuesday

Notice to speak

If an urgent question is granted, all MPs will be notified. Any MP who wishes to make a spoken contribution must apply online to do so.

The Speaker's Office will run a shuffle to produce a random list of up to 100 MPs. From this list, a call list will be produced indicating which MPs will be invited to speak in the debate. Not all MPs who were successful in the shuffle will appear on the call list.

Participating in an urgent question

Only MPs who are named on the call list will be able to participate in the debate on an urgent question. MPs who intend to be physically present in the Chamber should be present at the start of the debate. For MPs participating virtually, they should join the conference call in good time before the urgent question is asked.

All MPs, whether attending physically or virtually, should wait to be called by the Speaker. If present in the Chamber, MPs should rise in their place when called to make their contribution. The broadcasting team will be responsible for unmuting the microphones of MPs who have been called to speak and are participating virtually.

If there are technological problems which prevent MPs from participating, those MPs can be called later in proceedings.

Find out what's on

Find out what's going on in Parliament

Parliamentary Glossary

Use our glossary to find out what parliamentary terms mean