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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Find guidance on temporary procedures during the pandemic including voting, questions and statements. Members can find detailed guidance on participating virtually and voting on the Parliamentary intranet (please note: this link will only work if you have a parliamentary email account.)

Moment of interruption

The moment of interruption is a regular time each day when the main business in the Chamber usually finishes and the House moves onto the half-hour adjournment debate. This happens at:

  • Monday 10pm
  • Tuesday 7pm
  • Wednesday 7pm
  • Thursday 5pm
  • Friday 2.30pm

After the moment of interruption, usually only business that’s unopposed can continue.

What happens at the moment of interruption

In most cases, a debate will be concluded by the House deciding on the matter being discussed. This may happen in one of several ways:

  • The debate may be brought to an end shortly before the moment of interruption. For example, a minister replying to a debate on the second reading of a bill may end their speech just before the moment of interruption. Then the Speaker will put the question and the House will make a decision, by a vote if necessary.
  • A Business of the House motion, or programme motion for a bill may require the Speaker to interrupt the debate and put the questions to be decided, by votes if necessary
  • An MP may successfully move a closure motion, which means the debate ends immediately and the Speaker puts the question on the matter under discussion and asks the House to make a decision on it, by a vote if necessary.

Sometimes there is no decision. This may be because:

  • Time run outs and the debate is left unresolved.
  • Time runs out, or the last speaker of the day finishes just before the moment of interruption, and another day is named for the continuation of the debate. This happens during the debates on the Queen’s Speech and the Budget.

Certain types of debate – such as debates on Finance Bills and statutory instruments – are ‘exempted business’, meaning they can continue, or start, after the moment of interruption. The House can agree a Business of the House motion to exempt other types of business from the moment of interruption. The motion can be agreed by the House before the debate, or can be moved at the moment of interruption if it’s needed. A Business of the House motion can allow a debate to continue indefinitely (‘until any hour’) or for a specified time. The Business of the House motion will usually specify what happens at the end of the debate: either it lapses without a decision, or the Speaker will put the question for decision.

If you’re unsure what will happen to a particular item at the moment of interruption, you can ask the Table Office for advice.

If a vote begins or is taking place at the moment of interruption, it can be finished. If there are further questions that are related to the question that is the subject of the vote, these questions can also be put to a vote after the moment of interruption. For example, if the House is voting on an amendment to a motion at the moment of interruption, it can then vote on the motion itself.

What happens after the moment of interruption

After the moment of interruption, remaining items on the Order Paper are decided formally, without debate. Generally, if they’re opposed, they can’t proceed. For some types of business, opposition leads to a deferred division (a delayed vote) on the next Wednesday. Such items include motions relating to statutory instruments or European documents that have already been considered in a committee.

The final item of the day is the half-hour adjournment debate.