SID - Section A
House of Commons

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Weekly Information Bulletin
Sessional Information Digest: 1997-98



The House sat on every Monday, bar one, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and all but twelve Fridays during the following periods (all dates inclusive):

    7 May - 22 May 1997

    2 June - 1 July 1997

    27 October - 22 December 1997

    12 January - 8 April 1998

    20 April - 21 May 1998

    1 June - 31 July 1998

    2 - 3 September 1998 (Emergency Recall)

    19 October - 19 November 1998

The total number of sitting days was 241. The House sat for 2,117 hours and 36 minutes, and the average length of the daily sitting (including Fridays) was 8 hours and 47 minutes.

The House did not sit on the following Fridays: 13 June; 31 October 1997; 20 February; 3 April; 1 & 15 May; 12 & 26 June; 23 & 30 October; 6 & 13 November 1998 and on one Monday: 12 May 1997.

Analysis of the time of the session

Total time spent Type of Business
1. Addresses, other than Prayers
(including debate on Queen's Speech)
2. Government Bills
a) Second Reading debate (Bills committed to a Standing Committee) 116:38
b) Second Reading debate (Bills committed to a Committee of the Whole House) 95:42
c) Committee of the Whole House 255:52
d) Consideration (Report stage) 201:08
e) Third Reading 25:52
f) Lords Amendments 71:50
g) Allocation of Time Orders (including Programme Motions) 13:31
h) Committal Motion 0:24
3. Private Members' Bills
a) Motions for the introduction of Ten Minute Rule Bills 16:29
b) Second Reading 35:11
c) Other stages 29:08
4. Private Business 6:33
5. Government motions
a) European Community Documents 21:17
b) General 41:02
6. Opposition motions
a) Opposition Days (20 days) 124:56
b) Opposition Motions in Government Time (No Confidence Motions) 10:14
7. Adjournment
a) Government debates on motions for the Adjournment 166:23
b) Last day before Recesses 17:34
c) Emergency debates (SO No 24) 00:00
d) Daily (at end of business) 121:58
e) Wednesday morning adjournment 203:03
8. Estimates 10:22
9. Money Resolutions 3:01
10. Ways and Means Resolutions (including Budget Debate) 47:43
11. Affirmative Statutory Instruments 36:59
12. Prayers against Statutory Instruments etc. 6:06
13. a) Oral Questions 190:05
b) Private Notice Questions 12:52
c) Statements 95:16
d) Business statements 28:56
e) SO No 24 Applications* 0:12
f) Points of Order and Speaker's Rulings 9:22
g) Miscellaneous 49:12
h) Presentation of Public Petitions 1:25
Daily Prayers           19:55
SESSIONAL TOTAL            2117:36

Note: The time taken up by Divisions is included with the class of business upon which the divisions were called

* Previously SO No 20 Applications



Statistics of Parliamentary Questions are available in two forms. The figures for each, which for various reasons (mainly owing to methods of counting and recording) are not exactly comparable, are as follows:

Questions appearing on the Order Paper calculated by the Journal Office

Appearing on the Order Paper for Oral Answer  8,1131
Put down for priority Written Answer 23,532 
Put down for non-priority Written Answer 29,120 
Total 60,765


(Not more than about half of all questions put down for Oral Answer will receive such an answer - the rest are answered in writing)

Questions appearing in Hansard, and indexed in the Parliamentary On-line Information System (POLIS)

Oral replies (including supplementaries) 8,1322
Written replies 51,4513

Total 59,583

The total number of private notice questions (excluding Business Questions) was 28

1 Of which 3,382 received an oral answer in the House on one of the 198 days on which such answers were given

2 Number of tabled questions answered (excluding supplementaries) was 3,382

3 With POLIS, several written questions from the same Member, if answered together by the Minister, may have been treated as one question



Date Day No. Subject of debate
25.6.97 1 a) Future of London Underground
b) Charging for NHS services
9.7.97 2 Pensions
4.11.97 3 a) Government’s proposals for student finance
b) Countryside under siege
17.11.97 4 a) Public services (LD)
1.12.97 5 a) Pension and Welfare Reform
b) Competition and Business Policy
27.1.98 6 a) Development in the countryside and the green belt
b) London Underground
9.2.98 7 a) Child Support Agency (LD)
b) Railway services (LD)
3.3.98 8 a) ISAs, PEPs & TESSAs
b) The countryside
10.3.98 9 a) Labour’s hidden taxes
b) The Government’s damage to pensioners' incomes
6.4.98 10 a) Trade union recognition
b) Manufacturing industry
18.5.98 11 a) Sierra Leone
b) Territorial Army
2.6.98 12 Dangers of changing Britain’s successful and fair electoral system
16.6.98 13 a) NHS waiting lists
b) The Crisis in Scottish local government
25.6.98 14 a) Sitting on Friday 3rd July (LD)
b) Government strategy for social welfare (SNP)
29.6.98 15 a) Government’s mishandling of the economy
b) Government’s broken pledges on class sizes
7.7.98 16 a) Release of information to Select Committees
13.7.98 17 a) Crisis of manufacturing and the deterioration of industrial relations
b) Incompetent management at the Department of Social Security
21.7.98 18 a) Relationship between Government and Parliament (LD)
b) European Single Currency (LD)
29.7.98 19 a) Government’s obsession with style over substance
b) Government’s threat to the quality of life in rural areas
4.11.98 20 a) Economy
b) Agriculture

LD - Liberal Democrat motions

SNP - Scottish National Party motions




The Guillotine, or Allocation of Time Motion (ATM), is used to timetable proceedings on a Bill. This Session saw the introduction, on a trial basis, for some Bills of a Programme Motion (PM). In the 1997-98 Session, Guillotine or Programme Motions were used 18 times on 13 Bills during the session. Factsheet 23, available from the House of Commons Information Office, contains more information. The details are as follows:

Bill title
and length
Date of ATM/PM Stages
Progress before
ATM/PM (No. of
sittings on SC:
Time allowed
under ATM/PM
Referendums 3.6.97 C, R, 3R 2R 2 days (inc ATM)
(Scotland and Wales)
(6cl 2 sch)
- ditto - 30.7.97 LA 3R ½ day
Finance 14.7.97 CWH, 2R CWH - 2 days
(53cl 8 sch) R, R, 3R SC to report by 23.7.97
R, 3R - 1 day
- ditto - 28.7.97* R, 3R - R - 2 days
3R - 1hr
European 17.12.97 CWH,R,3R 2R,CWH 2 days
Communities (3 days, Cl.1)
(3 cl)
Scotland 13.1.98* CWH,R,3R 2R CWH-8 days
(116 cl 8sch) (PM)+ R,3R-3 days
- ditto - 30.4.98 R,3R 2R,CWH R,3R-3days
(PM) (6½ hrs each day)
Government of 15.1.98* CWH,R,3R 2R CWH-7 days
Wales (PM)+ R,3R-2 days
(149 cl 14 sch)
Regional 27.3.98* R,3R 2R,CWH R,3R-1 day
Development (PM)+
(47 cl 9 sch)
Northern 22.4.98 2R,CWH 1R 2R-4 hrs
Ireland (PM)+ R,3R (CWH,R,3R-7 hrs)
(9 cl 1sch)
Teaching and 19.5.98* R,3R 2R,C R,3R-2 days
Higher Education (PM)+
(32 cl, 3 sch)
Human Rights 1.6.98* CWH 2R, CWH- CWH-4 days
(22 cl , 3 sch) [HL] (PM)+ (1day:cl 1) (Max. 6½ hrs each day)
-ditto- 17.6.98* CWH 2R, CWH-3days CWH-4 days
(PM)+ (Max.3hrs on 4th day)
ditto 21.10.98* R, 3R 2R, CWH R-17½ hrs
(PM)+ 3R-6 hrs
Northern Ireland 11.6.98* CWH, R, 3R 2R CWH-2days
(Sentences) (PM)+ (Max. 6½ hrs 1st day,
(21 cl, 2 sch) 3hrs 2nd Day) R, 3R- 1 Day
Crime and Disorder [HL] 16.6.98* R,3R 2R,C R,3R-2days
(119 cl,10 sch) (PM)+ (Max. 6½ hrs each day)
Landmines 9.7.98* All Stages 1R 2R-1½ hrs
(29cl.) (PM) CWH-2 ¼ hrs
3R-¼ hr
Northern Ireland 17.7.98* All Stages 1R 2R-1day
(82 cl., 15 sch.) (PM)+ CWH-4 days
R, 3R-2days
-ditto- 18.11.98 LA 2R,CWH,R,3R LA-4 hrs

* Proceedings formal, no debate

+ All Party Programme Motion

For abbreviations see SECTION C1: Complete List of Public Bills: General Notes




Standing Order No.52 provides that three days shall be allotted during each session for the consideration of Estimates (see Factsheet No.18). The Subjects are set down by resolution of the Liaison Committee.

No of Estimate class no
Date Allotted Day and Vote discussed Principal Subjects
6.7.98 1st (part 1) Class IX, Vote 1 Further education
6.7.98 1st (part 2) Class XVII, Vote 1 Freedom of Information
14.7.98 2nd (part 1) Class IV, Vote 1 UK beef industry
14.7.98 2nd (part 2) Class V, Vote 2 Structure and funding of
university research






Date Subject
14.5.97 Sessional Orders
4.6.97 Modernisation of the House of Commons
30.6.97 Scottish Grand Committee
23.07.97 European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993
30.10.97 Standards and Privileges
5.11.97 Ministerial and other Salaries Bill
10.11.97 House of Commons Members' Fund
13.11.97 Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund
13.11.97 Modernisation of the House
17.11.97 Standards and Privileges
20.11.97 Public Accounts
18.12.97 Clerk of the House (Retirement)
17.2.98 Iraq
19.2.98 Committee of Selection
21.4.98 European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993
4.6.98 House of Commons (Modernisation)
1.7.98 Lords Amendments to the Teaching and Higher Education Bill
(Lords) (Reasons Committee)
19.10.98 Strategic Defence Review
20.10.98 Strategic Defence Review
17.11.98 Scrutiny of European Business






Standing Order No 24 allows Members to suggest that a specific and important matter should have urgent consideration and that an emergency debate be held upon it. It is for the Speaker to decide whether the matter is sufficiently specific, important and urgent to warrant giving it precedence, and among other things to have regard to the probability of the matter being brought before the House by other means; the Chair in general gives leave very seldom. During the 1997-98 Session, there were 4 unsuccessful applications.




The total number of divisions during the Session was 380





The total number of Early Day Motions tabled during the Session was 1,757, of which 300 were prayers for the annulment of statutory instruments. Factsheet No 30 on Early Day Motions is available from the House of Commons Information Office.


© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared February 1999