General debates

18.32Since a proposal from the Select Committee on the Modernisation of the House of Commons in 2007, the House has used a standard motion ‘That this House has considered [the matter of] …’ to hold general debates on particular subjects without the House coming to a definitive conclusion.1 These debates have replaced substantive motions for the adjournment as the vehicle for general debate. Under Standing Order No 24B, made at the same time, if the matter to be debated is expressed in neutral terms, no amendment to the motion may be tabled.

Such motions are often the form used, for example, for a general foreign affairs debate, or for a wide-ranging debate on a topic such as the protection of the environment, or for debate of a report from a select committee.2 The Government may also move such a motion to provide for discussion of a topic at the instance of the Opposition. Backbench debates may also take this form. Although such motions do not generally give rise to controversy, debate can be concluded by a division to indicate dissent from government policy.3


  1. 1. Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, First Report of Session 2006–07, HC 337, para 85; HC Deb (2006–07) 465, c 502 ff.
  2. 2. HC Deb (22 May 2018) 641, c 738 ff; ibid (11 October 2018) 647, c 331 ff.
  3. 3. Parl Deb (1893) 440, c 449; HC Deb (1974–75) 897, c 1719; ibid (6 December 2011) 537, c 269.