Length of speeches

25.79The House has resolved ‘That speeches in this House should be shorter’.1 Clocks are installed in the Chamber, which are used principally to record:

  1. the length of speeches in all debates except debates on amendments, debates on delegated legislation where there is no speakers' list and in Committee of the whole House;
  2. the time taken on amendments at all stages and, in Committee of the whole House, on debates on the question that a clause or schedule stand part of the bill;
  3. the total time taken for oral questions and debates on delegated legislation where there is no speakers' list;
  4. for ministerial statements, the length of the statement itself, the frontbench exchanges and the backbench exchanges.

In debates where there are no formal time limits, Members of the Lords opening or winding up, from either side, are expected to keep within 20 minutes. Other speakers are expected to keep within 15 minutes. These are only guidelines and, on occasion, a speech of outstanding importance, or a ministerial speech winding up an exceptionally long debate, may exceed these limits.2

Footnotes

  1. 1. LJ (1964-65) 386.
  2. 2. LJ (1971–72) 69, 275; ibid (1976–77) 821; ibid (1977–78) 23, 893; ibid (1978–79) 41; HL Deb (1979–80) 414, c 1484; ibid (1982–83) 439, c 224; ibid (1987–88) 494, c 430.