A motion is substantive if it calls for action or expresses an opinion.

Most substantive motions are tabled by the Government, and by Opposition parties in Opposition day debates. The only way for a backbencher to hold a debate on a substantive motion is by applying to the Backbench Business Committee for a debate in the Chamber.

You can try to change the wording of a substantive motion by tabling an amendment to it in the Table Office. If you want to add your name to another MP’s motion or amendment, you can do this in the Table Office too.

Only amendments that the Speaker selects can be discussed and decided on by the House. The Speaker will tell the House at the beginning of a debate whether any amendments have been selected. The Speaker can’t give reasons and the decision can’t be challenged.

At the end of the debate, the House will be asked first to decide whether to agree any amendment(s), and then whether to agree the motion (as amended, if it’s been amended).

Contact an expert

Table Office