Balloted debates

25.41One Thursday in each month from the start of the session to the end of December is set aside for two balloted debates. These debates are limited to two-and-a-half hours each, so that speeches are normally time-limited, and their subjects should be narrow enough to be debated within the time limit.1 These debates may be initiated only by backbenchers and crossbenchers.

The choice of the subjects is made by ballot, carried out by the Clerk of the Parliaments two or three weeks before the debates are due to take place. A Member of the Lords wishing to initiate a balloted debate must give notice by tabling their 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 Motions for Balloted Debate.2 No Member of the Lords may initiate more than one balloted debate each session.3

The rules about speaking time are set out at para 25.79.

Motions for balloted debates are phrased neutrally, in the same way as other take note motions, so as to avoid the possibility of a division.4


  1. 1. LJ (1992–93) 627–28.
  2. 2. HL Deb (1974–75) 365, cc 1146–48.
  3. 3. LJ (1971–72) 275–76.
  4. 4. HL Deb (1985–86) 471, c 410.