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COVID-19 proceedings: Urgent questions

Urgent questions provide an opportunity for MPs to ask a government minister for a response on an issue that requires an immediate reply.

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.

Applying for an urgent question

As with normal proceedings, MPs should apply to ask an urgent question by emailing the Speaker's Office.

Under the temporary arrangements, applications need to be made by:

  • 1pm on the previous day for urgent questions on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays;
  • 9am on Mondays for urgent questions on the same Monday.

The Speaker will reach his decision on whether to grant any urgent questions by 2pm on the day applications are made.

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 deadlines to apply to speak are 11.30am on Mondays for the same day, or 3.30pm fro Tuesdays - Thursdays.

The Speaker's Office will run a shuffle to produce a list of 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.

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