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Debating in Parliament

Debates enable MPs and Lords to obtain detailed responses to concerns, allow opinions to be voiced and raise issues of local to global importance.
Debating in Parliament. Debates provide an opportunity for MPs and members of the House of Lords to discuss government policy and other topical issues, and provide a forum to raise matters of importance to members of the public. Debates in Parliament cover a wide range of subjects, from foreign affairs to care home provision. Many debates relate to local matters, such as hospital services, transport links, libraries or an individual’s case. Debates allow members of both Houses to put their experience to good use by drawing the Government’s attention to particular concerns and issues. At the end of every debate, a government minister or spokesperson responds to the questions and issues that have been raised.
Since 1803, Hansard has provided a record of the proceedings of both Houses. Transcripts are available online, and Parliament TV offers live and archived coverage of all parliamentary proceedings. Find out more about parliamentary debating at www.parliment.uk/debating.
Debates are used in both Houses to scrutinise the work of the Government. They enable MPs and Lords to obtain more detailed reponses from the Government and allow opinions to be voiced and issues to be discussed at length.
Debates can range from local constituency issues, such as the proposed closure of a local hospital to matters of global importance, for example the status of refugee children or the response to public health emergencies such as the Ebola virus. Every debate is attended by a government minister who must listen to the views expressed and respond to the points raised.
These formal discussions also take place at different stages of the legislative cycle (the process of making laws) in both Houses, as we will find out next week. Additionally, major debates are held over several days in response to the Queen’s Speech and the annual Budget statement.
Similarly to parliamentary questions, backbench MPs and Lords can apply for an opportunity to hold a debate on a topic of their choosing. Regular slots for these are available throughout the week in both Houses.
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Introduction to the UK Parliament: People, Processes and Public Participation

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