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The Prime Minister answers questions from MPs in the House of Commons every sitting Wednesday from 12.00pm until the end of Question Time at 12.30pm. Set times for questions to the Prime Minister were introduced in 1961. From 1961 until 1997, when Tony Blair took office, Prime Ministers answered questions twice a week, in two 15-minute sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3.15pm.

On occasions that the Prime Minister cannot be present at Prime Minister’s Questions – most commonly to attend an official engagement – either the Prime Minister’s deputy, or another senior minister will stand in to answer questions. In such situations the Leader of the Opposition and the leader of the third party will not ordinarily put questions to the minister, instead a shadow minister or spokesperson will substitute for the leaders.

The downloadable Excel file includes two tables. Table 1 shows the number of Prime Minister’s Questions times for each Prime Minister since 1979, the number attended, and the number at which the Prime Minister was not present. Table 2 lists dates of Prime Minister’s Questions which the Prime Minister did not attend, the reason for not attending, the name and position of the Minister deputising and the name and position of the shadow Cabinet member or spokesperson. Source details are available in the Excel file.

Parliament: facts and figures  

The Parliament: facts and figures series covers topics including elections, government, legislation, Members and parliamentary business.  

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Documents to download

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