Page last updated at 14:17 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 15:17 UK

Early Day Motions

An Early Day Motion (EDM) is a proposal for a debate on a particular subject - to be held on an "early day", i.e. soon.

A to Z: Early Day Motions

Once an MP has tabled the motion, it can be signed by other MPs to indicate their support.

But no matter how many MPs sign up to an EDM, there is no guarantee that they will ever be debated in Parliament.

Instead, the modern-day purpose of EDMs is to allow MPs to express their opinion on a subject and to canvass support for their views.

Sometimes, MPs use EDMs to quibble over regional rivalries such as whether the Yorkshire or Lancashire accent is superior or where Robin Hood is from.

But they can also gauge the strength of feeling among MPs on serious issues.

In 2005, Labour backbencher Michael Meacher tabled an EDM which was signed by 412 MPs urging the government to introduce a climate change bill.

This indicated that the government's decision to include such a bill in the 2006 Queen's Speech would be broadly welcomed on all sides of the House.

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