Clear the Lobby gives you a roundup of legislation and ten minute rule motions in Parliament each week. Sometimes there’s not a lot of it, which makes it look like MPs aren’t spending much time in the debating chamber. But there’s plenty else going on that doesn’t directly involve voting on laws.

Oral questions

A government minister takes topical questions from MPs. It’s usually the first thing to happen Monday to Thursday when the House is sitting. The department that the minister is from rotates, so it might be Housing, Communities and Local Government one day and International Development the next.

Urgent question

Requires a government minister to answer a question at short notice. The Speaker will only grant one if the matter is urgent and there’s no other way of addressing it that day. Usually happens after oral questions or prime minister’s questions (see below).

Ministerial statement

Speech by a government minister addressing a major incident or government policy. The statement can also be written, which acts as a way of putting government business on the official record and in the public domain.

Business statement

The Leader of the House announces the agenda for the following week. Happens every Thursday. Followed by business questions, which are often used by MPs to request debates on specific issues.

Select committee statement

A select committee updates MPs ona¬† report that it’s working on.

Backbench Business

Debates among backbench MPs (no government ministers are present). MPs must fill in a form to suggest a topic, but it can be anything: national or local campaigns, select committee reports, issues suggested by constituents, petitions, etc.


A proposal for a debate. Must happen before any debate or vote can take place.


Half-hour debate that takes place at the end of each day. The motion is “that the House do now adjourn,” so technically MPs are just voting to end the parliamentary session rather than taking a stance on the topic in question. Allows MPs to debate a wide range of topics without needing to make a specific decision at the end.

Prime Minister’s Question Time

The Prime Minister answers questions from MPs. Six come from the Leader of the Opposition, and the rest are asked by MPs on both the government and opposition benches. Happens every Wednesday at midday for half an hour. Also known as PMQs.

Opposition Day Debate

A chance for the opposition to set the agenda. Happens twenty times a year.

Westminster Hall Debate

Debates also happen outside of the Main Chamber. Westminster Hall debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues. This is also usually the place where e-petitions are debated.