You can apply to hold a 30, 60 or 90-minute debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday and Wednesday. Applications are submitted via the Table Office and the Speaker’s Office hold a ballot. The debate can be on any subject for which the Government are responsible, as long as your main aim is not to call for legislation.
You can also speak in Westminster Hall debates. For the 30-minute debates, you need the permission of the MP whose debate it is and the minister. For 60 and 90-minute debates, you should follow the usual process of writing to the Speaker in advance and then standing to indicate to the Chair that you want to speak. The debates are chaired by members of the Panel of Chairs, who are MPs appointed by the Speaker for this purpose.
Westminster Hall debates are held in the Grand Committee Room off Westminster Hall. All debates here are on neutrally worded, general motions that begin “That the House has considered”.
You can’t vote on, or table an amendment to, a motion in Westminster Hall.
Debates are held on:
- Monday from 4.30pm to 7.30pm. This time is allocated for debates on petitions, on subjects chosen by the Petitions Committee.
- Tuesday and Wednesday from 9.30am to 11.30am and from 2.30pm to 5.30pm. These times are broken up into a mixture of 30, 60 and 90-minute slots.
- Thursday from 1.30pm to 4.30pm. This time is allocated to debates sponsored by the Backbench Business Committee or the Liaison Committee (on select committee reports).
Ministers can’t apply for Westminster Hall debates. Principal Opposition frontbenchers shouldn’t ordinarily apply. Other frontbenchers can, as long as the debate is not on a subject on which they are spokespersons. You can ask the Table Office for advice if you’re unsure whether you can apply.