Early day motion

An early day motion (EDM), in the Westminster system, is a motion, expressed as a single sentence,[1] tabled by Members of Parliament that formally calls for debate "on an early day". In practice, they are rarely debated in the House and their main purpose is to draw attention to particular subjects of interest. Government ministers, Whips, Parliamentary Private Secretaries, the Speaker of the House of Commons and Deputy Speakers do not normally sign EDMs.[2] EDMs remain open for signature for the duration of the parliamentary session.

EDMs can be tabled on matters ranging from trivial or humorous topics to those of great importance. The censure motion by which the Labour Government of James Callaghan was ejected had its origin in an early day motion (no. 351 of 1978–79), put down on 22 March 1979, by Margaret Thatcher.

MPs may ensure the text of an EDM is printed in Hansard by mentioning it by number in questions to the Leader of the House of Commons after the Business Statement (normally on a Thursday when the house is in session).

EDMs tabled on serious topics have included one demanding the release of Nelson Mandela when he was incarcerated in apartheid South Africa, and one calling for a consultation on the fingerprinting of children in schools without parental permission.[3] Shortly after the 2005 general election, 412 of the 646 MPs signed EDM 178 calling for a Climate Change Bill;[4] only three other early day motions had ever been signed by more than 400 MPs.[5]


Conservative MP Robert Courts has been an outspoken critic of EDMs, describing them as "parliamentary graffiti." Courts has said that EDMs are generally tabled by MPs on behalf of "lobbyists or groups keen to show themselves as doing something", that they are "politically impotent" and a waste of taxpayers' money.[6]

See also


  1. "Early day motions". parliament.uk. Retrieved 3 Apr 2010.
  2. "Early Day Motions Factsheet". House of Commons Information Office. June 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2015. "Parliamentary Private Secretaries must not associate themselves with particular groups advocating special policies”.
  3. "EDM 686 - Biometric Data Collection In Schools". UK Parliament. 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
  4. "Early day motion 178 - Climate Change". Michael Meacher, MP. 2005-05-24. Archived from the original on 2006-01-13. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  5. "October update on the Climate Change Bill". South Hams Friends of the Earth. 2006-06-12. Archived from the original on 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2007-03-15.
  6. "Early Day Motions". Robert Courts. Retrieved 2019-08-21.