UK Parliament/Andy Bailey

‘Zombie parliament’: House of Commons sitting hours fall to 25-year low

The prime minister has been accused of presiding over a “zombie parliament” as new research shows the House of Common sittings hours have fallen to a 25-year low.

According to analysis by the Financial Times, the working day for MPs in the House of Commons has been shorter on average this parliamentary session than in any other in the past quarter century.

It has been widely noted that the commons is adjourning hours before MPs have come to expect, with parliament’s lower House ending its day’s sitting at 3.53 pm on Tuesday last week.  

On one day earlier this month, almost five hours were dedicated to a “general debate on farming”.

Analysis by the FT has found that the average duration of a commons sitting day in the current parliamentary session has been 7 hours and 9 minutes, a record low since New Labour came to power in 1997.

Between 1997 and 2023 the average was 7 hours and 58 minutes.

Speaking in the commons after Penny Mordaunt delivered the weekly business question on Thursday, shadow leader of the House Lucy Powell questioned where the government’s “flagship bills” have gone. 

She said: “Despite the King’s Speech being only a few months ago, the government seem to be running scared from their own legislative programme. Where have all their flagship Bills gone?”

She added: “Do we really need time on the Floor of the House for so many statutory instruments or committee stage of the Pedicabs (London) Bill?”

Penny Mordaunt responded: “[Powell claims] that the Conservatives had no energy left for legislation, suggesting that we were not bringing measures forward and that we were a zombie Parliament, but I am afraid that it is the Opposition who are the zombies in this Chamber. 

“The House rises early when the Opposition are not opposing. The Committee stage of the Finance Bill was completed in 30 minutes, and in recent times the Opposition have found it hard even to find speakers for their own debates. It is they who are displaying zombie tendencies.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.