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, 11.30am-7.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9.30am-5.30pm on Thursdays  and 9.30am-3pm on sitting Fridays.

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

4.30pm-7.30pm on Westminster Hall sitting Mondays, 9.30-11.30am and 2.30-5pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 1.30pm-4.30pm on Thursdays.

On the 17 July 2012 the House of Commons agreed that there could be sittings in Westminster Hall on a Monday, during sitting weeks, from 4.30pm for up to 3 hours. These sittings will only occur when the Backbench Business Committee decides that one should be held and may be used only for debates about e-petitions that have been brought by an MP to the Backbench Business Committee, having attracted over 100,000 signatures on the Government’s e-petitions website.
These Monday sittings are in addition to the 35 days currently allowed for backbench business.

When will the House of Commons sit on a Friday during the 2014-15 session?

Private Members' business has precedence over government business on the following Fridays:

  • 5 September 2014
  • 12 September 2014
  • 17 October 2014
  • 24 October 2014
  • 7 November 2014
  • 21 November 2014
  • 28 November 2014
  • 5 December 2014
  • 9 January 2015
  • 16 January 2015
  • 23 January 2015
  • 27 February 2015
  • 6 March 2015

When did the House of Commons sit on a Friday during the 2013-14 session?

The Leader of the House announced the following sitting Fridays for the 2013-14 session:

  • 10 May 2013

Private Members' business did not have precedence on this day.

Private Members' business had precedence over government business on the following Fridays: 

  • 5 July 2013
  • 12 July 2013
  • 6 September 2013
  • 13 September 2013
  • 18 October 2013
  • 25 October 2013
  • 1 November 2013
  • 8 November 2013
  • 22 November 2013
  • 29 November 2013
  • 17 January 2014
  • 24 January 2014
  • 28 February 2014 

When was the State Opening of Parliament for the 2014-15 session?

Wednesday 4 June 2014

When is the next recess?

The House will rise for February recess on Thursday 12 February 2015 and will return on Monday 23 February 2015.  

How many days did the House of Commons sit (meet) during the 2013-14 Session?

162 days in the 2013-14 session

How long did the House of Commons sit in total during the 2013-14 Session?

1270 hours and 16 minutes in the 2013-14 session

How long did the House of Commons sit each day on average during the 2013-14 Session?

7 hours and 51 minutes in the 2013-14 session

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

1336 in the 2013-14 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?

280 in the 2013-14 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 £450 on average Written question costs £164 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 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 - Falkland Islands invasion

How many Government Bills were successful in the last session?

25 in the 2013-14 session

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

5 in the 2013-14 session

When was the ballot for Private Members' Bills?

The ballot for the 2014-15 session was held on Thursday 12 June 2014. 

The formal presentation of ballot Bills for the 2014-15 session took place in the House of Commons on Wednesday 2 July 2014.

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.

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