Talk:Prime Minister's Questions

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Are the questions pre-submitted so the PM can prepare an answer? He always seems to have a bevy of statistics on almost any subject, even obscure hospital budgets in obscure regions.

Kitplane01 (talk) 06:11, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Fixed Grammar[edit]

I tried to fix the grammar in the first section, but it's a little unreadable. With the risk of munging the content again, I think I'll propose the change here first.

Original: on every Wednesday that the House of Commons is sitting the Prime Minister spends roughly half an hour answering questions from MPs.

Proposed: on every Wednesday the House of Commons is sitting with the Prime Minister, spending roughly half an hour answering questions from MPs. -- is this better, and correct?

Thx Dysprosia 21:45, 5 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Anyone know when the practice originated? Mackensen 15:08, 9 May 2004 (UTC)


Do continental European parliamentary systems have prime minister's questions? dinopup


Prime Minister's Questions were part of the inspiration behind the Anglophile Woodrow Wilson's revival of the State of the Union Address.

I believe that PMQs only began during the premiership of Harold MacMillan, so this seems to be an anachronistic assertion. Mintguy (T) 22:19, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)
They're that young, Mintguy? Are you sure?
They certainly seem like they've been around forever.:-) In any case, if anyone knows, adding more information on their history would be a good idea. --Penta 19:25, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)
On it says that they were in fact started under Harold MacMillan in 1961, so one does doubt that they were Wilson's inspiration. I have no great knowledge of this topic, but according to the State of the Union Address article the speech was inspired by the Speech from the throne. Epugachev 5 July 2005 03:31 (UTC)
It's great you found this. The State of the Union looks nothing like PMQ anyway, so we should not even have left that bit in. Dinopup 5 July 2005 13:26 (UTC)
Not only that, the State of the Union is mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and has been delivered -- at times orally and at times on paper -- by every president in U.S. history. Wilson revived nothing.CoramVobis 00:25, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
According to State of the Union, Wilson revived the doing it in person bit, which Jefferson had dropped in 1801. Enlightened Bystander 21:26, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
If that's true, then should the leaders at the dispatch box bit be modified to run from 1961 instead?Enlightened Bystander 21:23, 13 August 2007 (UTC)


I've noticed that when somebody gets up to ask a question at PMQs often a number of other MP's from the same party will stand up and then sit straight down again. I was wondering if someone could enlighten me as to why this is? Iron Ghost 21:25, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

I think it's because those MPs are hoping they'll be called by the Speaker. Mackensen (talk) 21:44, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

Oh I see. I thought the questioners were all chosen ahead of time, but that makes sense. Thankyou. Iron Ghost 22:06, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

That is not true. During PMQs, an MP standing up and sitting straight down again is there way of showing support or agreement with a point that had just been made! It is not so they can get picked by the Speaker as the people chosen to question the PM are chosen using a completly random 'raffle' type system. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:44, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
This is also not true. MPs are chosen to speak by computer, at random, after submitting a request. Those who stand up and sit down (it is called 'bobbing') are hoping to be called by the Speaker to fill any time available beyond that taken up by those chosen prior to PMQs.Digitaltyke (talk) 21:31, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

Would you say that PM Question time is a way of Parliament controlling the executive and because Tony blair changed the two sessions to one half hour session that was his way of trying to take the control back? Has there been any other recent examples of the Parliament clearly controlling the executive?

Lots of them, thats practically a topic in AS level polotics (thats not very high level) Tony Blair has dominated parliment althoguh with a much smaller majority he may have to change. High Party loyalty, carear politictions who want the job rather than feel responsible and his ability to appoint "loyal" MPs to any position or kick rebels out the party are some reasons why he has so much power.


The first formal question on the Order Paper is to ask the Prime Minister if he will list his engagements for the day, to which the Prime Minister replies: -
This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall have further such meetings later today.
After this the MP may ask a supplementary question about any subject which might occupy the Prime Minister's time. The reason for asking the Prime Minister about his engagements is because, until recently, any member of the cabinet could answer the posed question, allowing the Prime Minister to avoid having to answer any questions himself, but once someone answers a question, they are obliged to answer follow up questions (on any topic). The only question that the Prime Minister had to answer personally was his list of engagements for the week, hence he is asked this question first, and all subsequent questions are follow up questions, forcing the Prime Minister to answer the questions himself.

Aren't the other questions on the Order Paper technically questions in their own right? Sometimes MPs have tabled specific questions and the Speaker has slapped down supplementaries on different subjects saying it's a "closed question". Can anyone confirm? Timrollpickering 00:51, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

Hansard for Feb 28 2007 gives an example of the non-open questsions. The first question was by Dr Evan Harris (Oxford West & Abingdon): What assessment he has made of the impact on patient services in Oxfordshire of financial pressures on the NHS ? Blair answers, and Dr Harris, has another follow up question as shown here.

Dr. Harris: Does the Prime Minister’s briefing note make reference to the plans to restrict access to various operations in the county, for the strategic health authority to spend £2 million asking PricewaterhouseCoopers how to privatise commissioning services, or to cut nearly two thirds of the community hospital beds, including at Abingdon community hospital? If he provides the number of nurses for which his funding—which I voted for—has paid, will he explain whether the figure is net or gross of the hundreds of job cuts at the Oxford John Radcliffe hospital? which was given a further answer.

The 2nd question on the order paper was about the engagements for the day, and the open follow-up, as were the 3rd and 4th. The 5th question was again a specific one, with a specific follow-up on the same topic. For a specific question, the follow-up must be related to the original. In this case they are both about patient care in Oxfordhsire.

That day was certainly an unusual one for PMQ's. The first question wasn't the customary engagements question, but the second one was, and then there were 2 fixed questions on the order paper, usually there aren't any.Catwhoorg 19:34, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

The Hansard for June 27, 2007 gives an interesting version of the "engagements for the day" on Tony Blair's last day on the job:

This morning, I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I will have no such further meetings today, or any other day.

Tangurena (talk) 22:31, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Further Content[edit]

This article could do with a few further details - why PMQs were launched in the first place and so on. I have a very good book at home on the history of the role of the Prime Minister in the UK and will delve into that to see if it could help here. I know using a book is not always accepted here =) but we'll need historial context as well as modern practices. doktorb | words 16:14, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Presidential PM[edit]

"This, coupled with large majorities that rarely require his vote, has led to the claim that Blair is running a "presidential" government, acting more as a head of state rather than a head of government. (The Queen is head of state)."

This doesn't seem quite right. No PM submits to the Queen; every modern PM is a de facto head of state. The presidential criticism is rather to do with his perceived lack of respect for Parliament and Cabinet. Jon.baldwin 22:30, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Comedy Value?[edit]

Should something be noted about the often jokey atmosphere in the PMQ? I think that would help to explain why it's become popular in the US. - MichiganCharms 04:00, 21 June 2007 (UTC)


I've been wondering what the commotion in the House means. It sounds like a mass of people hollering and booing during the question and answer portion. Can this article address it or at least explain what is going on? Is that noise of support or scorn?04:18, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

  • It's because applause is banned in the House of Commons, so they have to find other ways so showing appreciation or otherwise. --Philip Stevens (talk) 06:17, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Question Numbers[edit]

"The first formal question on the Order Paper, posed by simply saying "Number One, Mr Speaker"" - Should this be changed? I heard that theyve recently changed the format and no longer can backbenchers ask questions simply by telling the prime minister the question number. Can anyone clarify this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:30, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

I think "Number One" is still said but often there's noise and disruption at the start (and the BBC sometimes switch in a few seconds late). What was dumped in 1997 was the repeated asking of the same question - an MP would say "Number Three" and the PM would say "I refer the/my (Rt) Honourable Member/Friend to the reply I gave some moments ago" before the MP would ask the actual question. This was thought to be time consuming and was jettisoned in the changes. However it can create real confusion because sometimes there are specific questions tabled and the MP asking one still has to shout out the number, so it's easy to lose track of when they're coming up. (John Prescott, standing in for Blair, once had an absolute car crash of a PMQs because of both this and his ignorance of the European Union withholding tax.)
The other confusing one is (approximately) "To ask if the Prime Minister has any plans to visit the MP's constituency" - I don't know if this is considered the same or not (it may depend if the constituency is named or not). This is another basically open question as the supplementary is about how if the PM does go and visit (they usually have no plans) they will be able to see for themselves the effect of some government policy and "doesn't this prove the government is doing a fantastic/atrocious job?" Timrollpickering (talk) 10:03, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Comb affair?[edit]

Does anybody else have a problem with the line "Compared to the British questioning it's a rather comb affair" in the introduction? If nobody objects, I'll remove it in a few days. I'm assuming that the original contributor is trying to say that the Swedish PMQs are much tamer than the UK PMQs; isn't this POV anyway (although quite possibly true enough)?

Opticrom (talk) 18:38, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

what the fuck is a comb affair? (talk) 23:41, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

I haven't a clue... I can only assume that the sentence was written by a well-meaning Swedish person - my guess is that they meant to say "tame" instead of "comb". I'm going to remove it now. Opticrom (talk) 17:45, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Notable Occurences[edit]

I've removed this section as neither event was really notable (How is the second woman to take PMQs notable, while the first isn't?) and it's basically a trivia section by another name (In fact it was a trivia section and was renamed). If either event is notable then it could easily be incorporated into the main text. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:35, 19 May 2008 (UTC)


Section should be expanded. Also, Harriet Harman was not the first to face Nick Clegg. The role was first delegated to Jack Straw before the Labour election 2010.Cibwins2885 (talk) 08:19, 22 June 2011 (UTC)

PMQ on the BBC[edit]

I listen regularly to "Yesterday in parliament" on BBC Radio 4 LW. I have not heard the phrase "I refer the honourable gentlemen to the answer I gave a short time ago" since...well in my head, it's John Major's voice. Does this mean that the practice has changed in the house, or is it just that Auntie now edits it out? Noble Branch (talk) 05:45, 20 October 2011 (UTC)


Does PM questions have a fixed or usual starting time? If so, can it be added, in section 'practice'? --Corriebertus (talk) 10:16, 1 November 2014 (UTC)

Missing PMQs 27/07/16[edit]

There has been no broadcast of the PMQs today, nor are there any new episodes planned to be broadcast according to the BBC website. is there any reason for this? could the times where PMQs have been suspended be worked into the text? cheers — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:08, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Parliament is currency in recess until September for the summer holidays. Prime Minister's Questions only takes place when the House of Commons is sitting, which is stated in the opening paragraph. --Philip Stevens (talk) 13:43, 27 July 2016 (UTC)

Ahhh thanks for clearing that up! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:14, 9 August 2016 (UTC)

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