Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords



One Thursday[512] in each month up to the Whitsun recess is set aside for two balloted debates.[513] These balloted debates are limited to 2½ hours each and therefore speeches are usually time-limited. They are intended for discussion rather than decision and their subjects should be narrow enough to be debated within the time limit. These debates may be initiated only by members on the back benches and cross benches and a member may initiate only one balloted debate per session.

The choice of the two subjects is made by ballot, which is carried out by the Clerk of the Parliaments, two or three weeks before the debates are due to take place. A member wishing to initiate a balloted debate must give notice by tabling his motion in House of Lords Business under Motions for Balloted Debate. It is not in order to put down a motion for a balloted debate which is the same, or substantially the same, as a motion that is already entered in the Motions for Balloted Debate section of House of Lords Business.[514] It is assumed, unless notice to the contrary is given to the Clerk of the Parliaments, that any member who has a motion down in House of Lords Business under Motions for Balloted Debate on the day of the ballot is willing and able to move his motion on the day appointed.

The purpose of these debates is to provide a forum for discussion rather than questions which the House may decide on a division. Motions should not, therefore, be couched in a form to provoke a challenge.

When a motion has been set down for a particular day, it may be amended in form but not in substance: that is to say, a member who has been successful in the ballot may not substitute another subject for that originally proposed.

511   Procedure 1st Rpt 1974-75. Back

512   Procedure 6th Rpt 2005-06. Back

513   They were formerly called "short debates". Back

514   Procedure 5th Rpt 1974-75. Back

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