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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 06:26 GMT
Q&A: Commons reforms
Q&A: Commons reforms

The centuries-old tradition of late night votes in the Commons is to be swept away after MPs backed a major reform of their hours.

BBC News Online looks at the changes.

What is the most important change?

From January, MPs will sit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1130 to 1900 GMT.

Why is that important?

It means an end to something that has been traditional at Westminster for as long as anyone can remember - the idea of voting until well after midnight.

What are the other important changes?

As a result of the new timetable, MPs will hear important ministerial statements at lunchtime rather than in the afternoon.

Prime minister's question time will be at noon.

Why is this important?

These events will have a much higher profile and be much more widely reported on radio and television news bulletins.

But will it make a great deal of difference to MPs daily lives?

Some MPs say they will still have work to do after the parliamentary chamber shuts at 1900.

What about the others?

They say it will free up evenings to relax and spend time with their families.

What else do the modernisers say?

Working in the morning will be more effective because people can contribute more when they are less tired.

And?

Some hope it will create a more attractive culture at Westminster.

But what is the downside?

A lot of Labour backbenchers and Conservatives say that while a lot of the changes may seem like common sense, they will make it easier for governments with big majorities to ignore the Commons.

Who else has concerns?

Labour whips and spouses are particularly worried about what MPs with lots of time on their hands in the evenings might find to occupy them in London.

See also:

30 Oct 02 | Politics
29 Oct 02 | Politics
29 Oct 02 | Politics
08 Jul 02 | Politics
15 May 02 | Politics
12 Feb 02 | Politics
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