The debates were two of five scheduled Westminster Hall debates that gave MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from a government minister.
Schedule of Westminster Hall debates: 26 March 2013
9.30-11am – Munitions workers
Robert Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, moved a debate on the recognition of munitions workers. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Skills, Matthew Hancock, responded on behalf of the Government.
11-11.30am – Fetal Anti-convulsant Syndrome
Anas Sarwar, Labour MP for Glasgow Central, moved a debate on fetal anti-convulsant syndrome. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, Anna Soubry, responded on behalf of the Government.
2.30-4pm – HM Revenue & Customs closures
Andrew Turner, Conservative MP for Isle of Wight, moved a debate on HM Revenue & Customs closures. The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Mr David Gauke, responded on behalf of the Government.
4-4.30pm – Bee health
Sarah Newton, Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth, moved a debate on bee health. The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Mr David Heath, responded on behalf of the Government.
4.30-5pm – Under-Occupancy Penalty (Birkenhead)
Frank Field, Labour MP for Birkenhead, moved a debate on the effects of under-occupancy penalty in Birkenhead. The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, Steve Webb, responded on behalf of the Government.
Westminster Hall debates
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays there are two one and a half hour debates and three half hour debates. The longer debates are intended for broader subjects where a number of MPs will want to speak. The shorter debates may focus on an issue that an MP may want to raise about their constituency.
Two ballots are held on the Wednesday of the previous week for each type of debate; MPs may enter into both ballots but can only be successful in one.
Each government department responds to the debates every other week according to a rota.
The Chair is taken by a member of the Panel of Chairs, with the same duties and powers conferred on Deputy Speakers.