House of Commons Library

Commons Opposition Day debates since 1997

Published Monday, April 30, 2018

Opposition day debates in the House of Commons since the 1997 General Election - with links to Hansard.

Jump to full report >>

Opposition Day debates in the House of Commons since 1997 with links to debates in Hansard

This Note lists Opposition Day debates in the House of Commons by party and by session. The three tables cover different administrations; the first table lists Opposition Days since the May 2015 General Election, the second and third tables detail Opposition Days under previous administrations.

  • Table 1, 2015 - Present - Opposition Day debates under the Conservative governments of David Cameron and Theresa May.

    Table 2, 2010 – 2015: Opposition Day debates under the Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition.

    Table 3, 1997 – 2010: Opposition Day debates under the Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Number of Opposition Days

Opposition Days are days where the main subject of business is chosen by the opposition parties. Under Commons Standing Order No.14, 20 days in each session are made available to the opposition, of which:

  • 17 are allocated to the Leader of the official opposition, and
  • 3 to the Leader of the second largest opposition party.

The Government may also make additional days available, these are noted as unallotted days.

Debates on Opposition motions

Dates for Opposition Day debates are announced by the Leader of the House in the weekly business statement on Thursdays. The subject of the debate and text of the motion appears in the Future Business section of the House Business Papers once decided by the opposition. Sometimes the full text of the motion is not tabled until the day before the debate which means it is not available until the date of the debate when it appears in the Order Paper.

In an exception to the normal rules of debate, the main motion - the opposition motion - is voted on first, rather than any amendments; This is to allow the debate to focus on the Opposition motion.

Many opposition motions criticise Government policies and decisions and the Government often tables an amendment to the motion to take out most of the text and replace it with text commending the Government policy or decision instead. Government amendments are usually carried because of their in-built majority in the House.

Unless specifically framed, motions tabled on Opposition Days are not seen as censure motions. See the Commons Library briefing on Confidence Motions for information on the practice of confidence motions in the House of Commons.[1]

Not all motions are critical of the Government and the Government does not table an amendment to every motion. In these cases, the opposition motion is often agreed to without a division. Amendments can be tabled by other opposition parties; The Speaker selects which amendment is taken.


Opposition motions that have been agreed by the House without a division are marked with an asterisk. Those that have been agreed following a division are noted and the result of the division is given in the notes at the end of the table.

Parliamentary Search

You can use Parliamentary Search on the Parliament website to find the latest opposition day debates by following this link to update opposition day debates.


Please send any comments or corrections to: Parliamentary Information Lists Editor, Parliament & Constitution Centre, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA. Suggestions for new lists welcomed.



Commons Briefing papers SN06315

Author: Sarah Priddy

Topics: House of Commons, Political parties

Share this page

Stay up to date

  • Subscribe to RSS feed Subscribe to Email alerts Commons Briefing papers

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.