Frequently Asked Questions: Business

Useful information and reading related to House of Commons business.

What are the sitting (meeting) hours of the House of Commons?

2.30-10.30pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, 11.30am-7.30pm on Wednesdays, 10.30am-6.30pm on Thursdays  and 9.30am-3pm on sitting Fridays.

What are the sitting (meeting) hours for Westminster Hall debates?

9.30am-2pm on Tuesdays, 9.30-11.30am and 2.30-5pm on Wednesdays and 2.30-5.30pm on Thursdays.

When will the House of Commons sit on a Friday during the current session?

The Leader of the House announced the following sitting Fridays for the session 2010-12:

  • 22 October 2010
  • 12 & 19 November 2010
  • 3 December 2010
  • 21 January 2011
  • 4 & 11 February 2011
  • 4 & 18 March 2011
  • 1 April 2011
  • 13 May 2011
  • 10 & 17 June 2011
  • 9 September 2011
  • 21 October 2011
  • 25 November 2011
  • 20 January 2012

When will the House of Commons sit on a Friday during the 2012/13 session?

The Leader of the House has announced the following sitting Fridays for the session 2012-13:

  • 6 July 2012
  • 13 July 2012
  • 7 September 2012
  • 14 September 2012
  • 19 October 2012
  • 26 October 2012
  • 2 November 2012
  • 9 November 2012
  • 30 November 2012
  • 18 January 2013
  • 25 January 2013
  • 1 February 2013
  • 1 March 2013

When was the State Opening of Parliament for the 2010/12 session?

Tuesday 25 May 2010. The Government has since announced that they intend State Openings of Parliament to take place in the Spring.

When is the State Opening of Parliament for the 2012/13 session?

Wednesday 9 May 2012.

When is the next recess?

The House rose for the constituency recess on 9 February 2012 and returned on 20 February 2012. The House will rise for Easter recess on 27 March 2012.

How many days did the House of Commons sit (meet) during the last session?

60 days in the 2009-10 session

How long did the House of Commons sit in total during the last session?

540 hours and 13 minutes in the 2009-10 session

How long did the House of Commons sit each day on average during the last session?

7 hours and 50 minutes in the 2009-10 session

How many Early Day Motions (EDMs) were there during the last session?

1248 in the 2009-10 session

What is the average cost of an Early Day Motion (EDM)?

£290 (estimated figure for 2005-06).

Which EDM holds the record for the largest number of signatures?

Malcolm Savidge's EDM on the need to avoid conflict between India and Pakistan gained 502 signatures (2001-02).

How many divisions (votes) were there during the last session?

135 in the 2009-10 session.

How much time do MPs have to vote when a division is called?

Eight minutes

What is the cost of answering a parliamentary question?

Oral question costs £425 on average Written question costs £154 on average

When was the House of Commons first broadcast live?

First live radio broadcast on 3 April 1978 First live television broadcast on 21 November 1989.

How often has the House of Commons been recalled?

25 times since 1948

How often has the House of Commons sat for over 24 hours continuously?

21 times since 1877

Can the House of Commons sit (meet) on a Saturday?

Although it is possible, weekend sittings are very rare. The House has only sat on four Saturdays since 1939.

2 September 1939 - Outbreak of World War II

30 July 1949 - Summer adjournment debates – last sitting of the summer

3 November 1956 - Suez Crises

3 April 1982 - Falklands Islands invasion

How many Government Bills were successful in the last session?

23 in the 2009-10 session

How many Private Members Bills were successful in the last session?

7 in the 2009-10 session

When was the ballot for Private Members Bills?

Thursday 10 June 2010. The ballot normally takes place on the second Thursday after the State Opening of Parliament, but took place on the third Thursday of the 2010-12 session.

The formal presentation of ballot Bills for the 2010-12 session took place in the House of Commons on Wednesday 30 June 2010.

Can MPs successful in the ballot claim any extra allowances?

Yes. The ten MPs placed highest in the ballot may claim up to £200 expenses in drafting their Bills.