Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 16:43 UK

Adjournment debates

An adjournment debate is a short debate - normally lasting half an hour - that is introduced by a backbencher at the end of each day's business in the House of Commons.

A to Z: Adjournment Debates

The technical procedure of debating a motion that the House should adjourn gives backbench members the opportunity to discuss issues of concern to them, and to have a minister respond to the points they raise.

But the wording of the motion means that MPs can only come to a decision on whether to adjourn for the night - and not on the substance of the debate.

The Speaker decides the subject of the adjournment debate on Thursdays. For the other days ballots are held.

Backbenchers normally use this as an opportunity to debate issues related to their constituency.

An adjournment debate may last longer than 30 minutes if the day's main business concludes early.

There is no exact equivalent to the adjournment debate in the House of Lords.

An all-day adjournment debate is normally held on the final day before each parliamentary recess begins.

On these occasions MPs do not have to give advance notice of the subjects which they intend to raise.

In addition, all debates held in the side chamber of Westminster Hall are formally called adjournment debates.

Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Similar procedures to the end-of-day adjournment debate exist in all the devolved institutions.

In Stormont, MLAs hold debates at the end of plenary days in a period known as "private members' business".

In Holyrood, MSPs can bring up issues for debate at the end of a sitting day during "members' business", which lasts 45 minutes.

In the Senedd, AMs can raise a subject of importance to them before the end of plenary on a Wednesday. This is called, simply, "short debate".

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