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Motions are debates on a specific subject. Anyone may submit a motion for debate. A motion must take the form of "That this House..."
It is up to the Government (normally the Leader of the House) to decide whether to grant time to debate and vote on a motion or not. He (or she) must do so by saying "Time will be allocated for debate on this matter." If the Leader of the House does not do this within 48 hours a motion automatically falls. The following are exceptions and automatically receive time for debate:
- Motions from Government Ministers
- Motions on Opposition days
- Backbench business motions (reward received when you attain 20 Parliamentary experience)
Most motions, except government motions (see below), have no practical impact but will be covered in the press and are increasingly the way in which Parliament makes its view known.
Occasionally, there will be things the government seeks to do that still need to be voted on, but don't need a full Bill - things like approving a Brexit deal, or a third runaway at Heathrow.
In that case, a Minister will present a motion on text agreed with the A Team which will serve that purpose. This should be used instead of, for example, drafting secondary legislation.
Those votes and debates do matter. They should be prefixed as "GM-1" and "GM-2" and so on to denote that they are substantive debates (government motions).
Speak to the A Team if you aren't sure what your motion should be.