MPs agree to temporarily suspend Westminster Hall debates and sitting Fridays
14 January 2021
On Wednesday 13 January 2021, The House of Commons agreed a motion put forward by the Leader of the House, Rt Hon Jacob Rees Mogg MP, to temporarily suspend sittings in Westminster Hall and sitting Fridays.
The scheduling of business in the House of Commons is a matter for the Government to decide, through the Office of the Leader of the House. Any decisions regarding changes to the procedures or sittings of the House are a matter for MPs as a whole to consider.
In a letter sent to Procedure Committee Chair, Karen Bradley MP, the Leader of the House said the measures were “introduced as a way of reducing the number of people on the Parliamentary Estate, in line with government covid guidance.”
Changes have been made to ensure the House of Commons Chamber complies with public health guidelines relating to the coronavirus pandemic and that social distancing measures are in place. When the House of Commons was recalled on 30 December 2020, MPs agreed to extend remote participation in proceedings in the Chamber to all MPs.
Westminster Hall is commonly considered to be the House of Commons’ ‘parallel’ debating Chamber.
Debates here take place on general motions, usually ‘That this House has considered [a specific matter]'.
Sitting Fridays are normally scheduled by the Leader of the House to take place on 13 days during a session.
These Fridays are opportunities for MPs to debate Private Members’ Bills.
Private Members’ bills are public bills introduced by Members who are not government ministers. As with other public bills their purpose is to change the law.
Although only a minority of Private Members’ bills become law, by creating publicity around an issue, even bills which do not become law may affect legislation indirectly.
- Find out more about Private Members’ Bills and how sitting Fridays work by reading our Guide to Procedure.
Westminster Hall sittings and Friday sittings temporarily suspended
The decisions now mean that both Westminster Hall sittings and Friday sittings are temporarily suspended. The rescheduling of these sittings will be a matter for the Leader of the House to announce at a future date.