Debates end when they run out of time or speakers—whichever happens first.

Many debates last for fixed time. This can be a specific time at which the debate must end or a length of time it can continue for (for example, three hours). This is indicated on the Order Paper.

Each day has a regular time when the main business usually ends. It’s called the moment of interruption.

Certain types of debate have a length of time set down for them in Standing Orders (the House’s rules). For example, debates on delegated legislation in the Chamber can last for up to an hour and a half. Alternatively, the House can agree motions to create a fixed time for particular debates using:

  • programme motions, for a bill
  • Business of the House motions, for other debates: these can be moved on a previous day, earlier the same day, or at the moment of interruption

There are procedures you can use to try to end a debate early. Moving the closure is relatively common. Other procedures—such as a dilatory motion, a motion to sit in private and the previous question—are rarer.

Contact an expert

Table Office