Page last updated at 22:41 GMT, Monday, 6 February 2012

Adjournment debate

On 6 February 2012, Conservative MP Graham Evans led a well-attended adjournment debate on reforming Early Day Motions (EDMs).

Early Day Motions allow MPs to call for a debate on an issue of interest to them, and colleagues can add their signatures as a sign of support.

But the Weaver Vale MP questioned the value-for-money posed by EDMs, claiming that they have "no legislative effect" and rarely spark a debate in the Commons.

Mr Evans told MPs that nearly 3,000 EDMs had been tabled so far in the parliamentary session, at a cost of nearly £1m each year.

He argued that the meaning of EDMs had been devalued as a result of the "utter ridiculousness" of some of the subjects raised, claiming that recent examples included a motion congratulating former MP Ann Widdecombe on her Strictly Come Dancing appearance, and one congratulating two celebrities on their engagement.

Mr Evans argued that advent of the Backbench Business Committee had reduced the significance of EDMs, and suggested they could be made available online only, thereby saving some £750,000 each year in printing costs.

Deputy Leader of the House, David Heath told MPs that the EDMs had become much less popular amongst MPs since 2010.

But he suggested that they proved a useful tool for the Backbench Business Committee to gauge the level of support for a particular subject.

Mr Heath told MPs he would refer the issue to the Procedure Committee for further consideration.

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