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Raising matters in the House of Commons

MPs can raise matters in the House of Commons on behalf of their constituents. They can do this by asking parliamentary questions, participating in debates or introducing legislation.

Asking questions

MPs can ask Ministers questions during Question Time or send written questions to them. Question Time takes place in the first hour of business each day. The government is required to answer parliamentary written questions. From the 2014-15 session onwards all written questions and answers, in both the Commons and the Lords, can be searched for via the Written Questions and Answers service.

Adjournment debates

The half-hour adjournment debate offers another opportunity for MPs to raise matters. Usually taken as the last business of the day, MPs must either win a ballot or be chosen by the Speaker to voice their concern.

MPs can also raise matters in debates in Westminster Hall. These are similar to adjournment debates in the Chamber but take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and may last for either half an hour or an hour and a half.

Backbench Debates

MPs can lobby the Backbench Business Committee to host a debate in backbench time in either the Chamber or Westminster Hall. The House has allocated at least 35 days of debate to the Committee in the current session.  Of these, at least 27 days have to be taken in the Chamber, with the remainder to be taken in Westminster Hall.

MPs are more likely to secure a debate in Backbench time if their subject of debate has cross-party support. Some backbench debates are the result of e-petitions.

E-petitions created on the UK Parliament and Government Petitions website can be recommended by the Petitions Committee for debate in Westminster Hall. These sittings are in addition to the 35 days currently allowed for backbench business.

If the Petitions Committee decides that a petition should be debated in the main House of Commons Chamber, it can take that request to the Backbench Business Committee.

Private Members' Bills

An MP might introduce a Private Members' Bill in an attempt to pass a new law. Few of these Bills are successful but they may draw public attention to the problem.


Ministers are restricted by a Code of Conduct and cannot raise certain matters in the House. Parliamentary Private Secretaries and opposition spokespeople may also be restrained by internal party rules.

House of Commons Enquiry Service

The House of Commons Enquiry Service answers questions about the work, history and membership of the House.

Telephone: 0800 112 4272 (Freephone) or 020 7219 4272
Text phone: Dial 18001 followed byour full number

Telephone enquiry service is open between 10am-12 midday and 2pm-4pm (Monday to Friday).

Find out more


An alphabetical list of parliamentary terms with definitions.

View glossary

Code of Conduct

Adjournment debate: An adjournment debate is simply a way in the Commons of having a general debate without requiring the House to vote.

Read Hansard

Read Questions and debates going back to 1988. Older hard copy editions of Hansard are held by the Parliamentary Archives. Read House of Commons Historic Hansard for debates from 1803-2005.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct helps MPs understand their responsibilities to Parliament and the public.