House of Commons
Session 2009 - 10
Publications on the internet
Weekly Information Bulletin
Weekly Information Bulletin: 21st November 2009

Glossary of Parliamentary Terms

Questions to Ministers The first hour each day except Friday is devoted to Oral Questions to Ministers. Each Government Department has a slot once a month.

Ten Minute Rule Bill An opportunity for a backbench MP to "seek leave" to introduce a Bill in a 10-minute speech. An opponent may speak against, also for 10 minutes, after which there can be a vote.

Second Reading The first debate on a Bill, at which the House is asked to give approval to the principles of the Bill. Detailed consideration in Committee follows. No changes can be made to the text of the Bill at this stage.

Adjournment Debate A half-hour debate at the end of each day's sitting introduced by an individual backbench MP and responded to by a Government Minister. Often an opportunity to raise a constituency issue.

General Committee Usually, Public Bill Committees of between 16 and 50 MPs that examine the detail of Bills which have had a Second Reading. Other General Committees include Grand Committees, which usually debate an issue, Delegated Legislation Committees, which debate secondary legislation and European Standing Committees, which examine EU documents.

Select Committee One of 40 or so cross-party Committees of backbench MPs appointed to consider particular subjects. The "Departmental Select Committees" investigate the expenditure, administration and policy of each Government Department. The membership is stable across the term of a Parliament.

Report Stage The House considers any amendments (changes to the Bill) made by a public bill committee. Further amendments can be made to the Bill at this stage. A new version of the Bill incorporating the changes made during Committee Stage is normally printed before Report Stage.

Westminster Hall Debate The "parallel Chamber" which sits three days a week, mostly debating subjects raised by backbenchers, and Select Committee Reports. "Cross-cutting" sessions of Oral Questions, on topics which affect several Government Departments, are also held.

Third Reading The final debate on a Bill as amended in Committee and at Report stage, before the Bill is sent to the Lords for consideration (or, in the case of a Lords Bill, for Royal Assent).

Backbench MP A Backbench MP is a Member of Parliament who holds no official position in government or in his or her party.

House of Commons home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Lords home page Contents Search Enquiries Order Index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 21 November 2009