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Rules: Motions


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Motions and Ministerial Statements is the place for motion debates, debates on a particular question in the form of a single sentence starting with “That this House”, expressing the opinion of the House. Please do not number your motions, an admin will do this when the motion is granted time for debate.

Anyone can raise a motion, with a few restrictions, but if you cross the line (and that seldom happens), we’ll close debate. A straightforward restriction is that motions should be of the form “that this House…” (for example: “That this House believes the Secretary of State for Silly Affairs should stand on his head.”) Another restriction is that when the government moves a motion, it has to be timetabled in advance.

Motion debates can be moved to express the opinion of the House on any issue, be it related to a scenario, just a backbencher’s pet issue, or in relation to a certain government action. Even if the issue isn’t particularly prominent, feel free to make a motion and start debating it! To move a motion, just create a thread, titled “M-(number): (topic of motion)”, with the first post containing the motion. It is also advisable to post a speech either in the same post or in the post after. As soon as the thread is made, debate is open: there is no need to wait for the Speaker saying it is open; if it’s posted and the topic is not locked, it’s open and you can start debating right away! Also, although we will close debates that, after the minimum amount of time of 4 days has passed, have died down, there is no limit on how long debate will last.

Sending motions to debate
Of course, it would be a waste of the House’s time to have a debate on motions made by everyone and their grandmother. For that reason, only the Leader of the House (or the Prime Minister) may move a motion to debate, with the only exception being the Shadow Leader of the House or Leader of the Opposition on an opposition day using their weekly opposition day quota of 2 motions per week. To move a motion to division, the Leader of the House has two options to post in bold for our convenience, each with different consequences:

“Mr Speaker, Time will be allocated for division on this matter”: by moving that time be allocated, you let the House know the Government wishes the motion voted on, but not right away. Once debate has died down, the motion will be moved to division by the Speaker.

“Mr Speaker, I pray this motion advance to division” or “Mr Speaker, I pray the House do now divide on this matter” or something the like: seeing as moving this is more explicit, the Leader of the House announces that there is to be a division, and right now. As soon as the Speaker sees this motion by the House Leader, debate will be closed and the House will divide. This motion can only be made after 4 days of debate have passed to prevent the Government from stifling debate by immediately sending motions to a vote.

Killing motions
Conversely, the Government can also decide when motions are not to be voted upon. Of course, they can do this by leaving the motion alone and letting it die on the floor of the House, but the government can also explicitly kill a motion.

To do this, the Leader of the House (or Prime Minister, and only the real House Leader) has to announce “Mr Speaker, time will not be allocated for division of this matter.” If this announcement is made, debate will not open.

Unanimous Consent
If it is plain that a motion will be passed by the House anyway, the Leader of the House can move as follows: "Mr Speaker, I pray this motion be adopted by the unanimous consent of the House." In such a case, the Speaker will give members objecting to the motion 24 hours to cry "Nay!" (just post it). If that does not happen, the motion is deemed adopted. If it does, debate will continue.

No confidence
A special case is a motion of no confidence, the motion “That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government” or something the like. For such a motion, different rules apply as to sending it to a vote. Of course, if the Government House Leader were allowed to choose when this motion was voted upon, time would not be allocated and the Government could never fail to obtain confidence. To make a motion of no confidence, the opposition has to use an opposition day, or it will not be valid. After 4 days of debate, a motion of no confidence will move to division automatically. If a motion of no confidence fails, the opposition cannot move another for 2 weeks (and the public usually, but not always, end up liking the Government a bit more). Anyway, it is best used sparingly.

The Queen’s Speech
At the opening of each parliamentary year, the Government has to write a Queen’s Speech detailing their agenda in the usual format of “My Government will do this, My Government will do that, and so on and so forth”. This speech, when sent to the AVs, will be debated in this forum as well, but special rules apply: before anyone else can speak, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have to respond, and they have to do so within 24 hours each from the speech being posted (Leader of the Opposition and then Prime Minister), or they will just rise, thank the Queen, and sit down, which will be very bad for their party. After the two speeches have been posted, debate is open for 4 days.

Arnold J. Appleby

MP for North Bedfordshire (1979-Present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary

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