Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2024

Westminster Hall debate

A pair of hands gently holding another hand

On Thursday 29 February, Wera Hobhouse MP led a Westminster Hall debate on Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2024.

Summarising the debate, she said:

"I want to thank everybody who took part in today’s debate on Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
"It was an opportunity for all of us to learn more about ARFID (avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder) — the theme for this year's Awareness Week – which now affects many young people and their families.
"I also want to thank the many eating disorder charities and those working in eating disorders services. They are all doing amazing work."
Wera Hobhouse MP
Wera Hobhouse MP

What are Westminster Hall debates?

Westminster Hall debates enable backbench MPs from any party to raise an issue, and receive a response from the government.  

They do not involve a vote on a particular action or decision.  

Instead, the aim is to:  

  • raise awareness of an issue, often as part of a wider campaign 
  • seek to influence government policy
  • put the views of backbench MPs, opposition parties, and the government on record.

The setting

Westminster Hall debates happen in the Grand Committee Room – the second chamber of the House of Commons. 

Here, MPs sit in a horseshoe shape. This can help to encourage a constructive atmosphere.  

Chairing the debate

Westminster Hall debates are chaired by an MP. The role of the Chair is to:

  • ensure debates keep to the time allocated
  • call on MPs to speak
  • make sure MPs follow the rules of debate.

To mark the start of the debate the Chair says:  

"Order, order" 

Opening the debate

The MP leading the debate makes the first speech.

They will generally:

  • outline their views on the issue
  • present examples
  • in some cases, call on the government to take action. 

Backbench speeches

After the opening speech, other backbench MPs take turns to speak in the debate. 

The main opposition parties

For longer debates, the main opposition parties then have a chance to respond.

An MP from the third largest party generally goes first, and is followed by an MP from the official Opposition

They outline their party's position on the issue.  

The Government's response

The Chair then calls the Minister to respond to the debate on behalf of the government. 

The Minister will generally:

  • respond to concerns raised by MPs
  • explain the government's position and policies
  • share relevant plans or ambitions for the future.

Closing the debate

If there is enough time, the MP who opened the debate can make final comments. 

The debate is then concluded.

Engaging with debates

  • You can contact your MP and ask them to attend a debate. Or you can ask them to lead their own debate on an issue you feel is important.  
  • For some debates, you may be asked to share your insights and experiences. This can help inform the MPs taking part in the debate. See the Chamber Engagement website for details. 
  • You can watch debates online or attend in person. Find out what's on by looking at the Parliamentary calendar

Lisa, Ian and Charlotte helped inform previous debates on topics like the menopause and pensions advice:

For more on Westminster Hall debates, see How Parliament Works.

Photo credit: UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor