Page last updated at 11:21 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Major policy changes or initiatives are frequently announced by ministers in the form of statements to the House.

The minister does not need to give MPs prior notice of his or her intention to make a statement but the Speaker must be informed.

Statements occur after oral questions and the minister will normally speak for 10-20 minutes.

This initial statement is followed by a reply from their opposition counterpart.

Other members may then ask questions.

This session may last up to an hour, depending on the importance of the statement.

Sometimes an opposition spokesperson, or backbencher from either side of the House, will table an urgent question forcing a minister to make a statement on a given matter.

Statements are usually repeated in the House of Lords after they have been given in the Commons.

Ministers may announce less important policy changes to the House in the form of a written statement.

More from BBC Democracy Live
Compare who does what across the UK and Europe
Our A-Z of words used in the business of politics
Discover what BBC Democracy Live has to offer you


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2016 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific